Second week back for Doctor Who, and we’re headed for deep space, as the Doctor tries to impress his new sidekick with how weird he can go. Or is he simply bringing her here to force her to share stories from her past?
Either way, it all goes a bit wrong. Can our heroes save the day entertainingly? Find out after the break – spoilers will happen so do watch the episode on iPlayer first.
Space Mopeds – Does Clara Need A Licence?
The Rings of Akhaten slightly reminds me of last week’s effort The Bells of Saint John – there’s fun material with Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman, as Clara asserts herself as a natural adventurer – is she too immediately good at this stuff? Oh, and the mysterious leaf from last episode gets quickly demystified.
In fact, the whole opening sequence was nicely done (and only slightly creepy), as was the opening half of the episode. Having a new pair of excited eyes in the TARDIS was a fun change of pace after the Ponds got so comfy there, and the costumes/prosthetics/effects team all did some good work bringing the new world to life.
Switching Off The Sun – Good Idea?
However – and this is where I kinda begin repeating last week’s review – much as I enjoyed the little touches, the actual story of this episode seemed to be missing something. Especially the final ten minutes or so, as the Doctor and Clara defeated the big alien by yelling about their memories.
Smith and Coleman still managed to put emotion into their monologues, but the first half hour didn’t establish the “rules” of this monster firmly enough, so its defeat didn’t carry much weight. The Doctor emptied his memories into the beastie to bloat it out, then Clara finished it off by using a leaf which contained her mother’s unfulfilled potential?
In a silly episode like the old James Corden ones, you can kinda get away with the Power Of Love saving the day, but when you’ve tried to make the threat seem serious, it’s kinda a damp squib to feel like the reason they won was “Um, feelings?”. Is this the world’s first Power Of Leaf ending?
Also, a few sequences seemed to jump forward suddenly towards the end – was this originally intended as a two-parter? Anyway, I enjoy the cast and the subplots, but this particular episode wasn’t great. Although I’ve compared it to last week a few times, that one did hang together much better than this. Still, plenty of time yet. Next week: Mark Gatiss, Sir Davos and Ice Warriors!