The new-but-not really series of Doctor Who begins, complete with the debut of new-but-not-really companion Clara (aka Jenna-Louise Coleman). Coleman first popped up in Asylum of the Daleks as a surprise, before making her “real” appearance in The Snowmen.
Both those episodes were good, if not great, so can this one live up to their lofty standards? Spoilers, so iPlayer.
It’s Recruiting Time!
The Bells of Saint John is a type of episode we’ve seen a few times: the Doctor returns to the modern world, fights a contemporary villain and adopts one of the natives. This time though, unlike the ones where he recruited Rose, Martha, Donna or Amy, the alien is intentionally coming to abduct a young woman, which only seems creepy a couple of times.
Milking that twist keeps things interesting steadily for the first half of the episode – as you’d expect from her last two appearances, Jenna-Louise Coleman is great, and her banter with Matt Smith works here too, marking her out as an interesting, more gleefully adventurous change of tone from the Ponds.
And, as you’d expect from a Doctor Who series premiere, there are plenty of hints at what’s coming later – what does that leaf mean? Who told Clara to call the Doctor? The Great Intelligence is back!
So yeah, greatly enjoyed all the general series-advancing arc stuff and the episode served its purpose of getting me interested in Who again for the new run. Still, if I’m being honest, the actual plot was a bit vague and hard to get into. Yes, taking mundane everyday stuff like wifi and making it scary seems to be Steven Moffat’s pet theme, but not sure he nailed it this time. Oh, except the final disturbing horror shots of people in the wrong bodies, that was cool.
But aside from that, clearly a story that existed just to get our heroes together, nothing quite as memorable as the Judoon when he met Martha, the Adipose when Donna came on board full-time, even that snake thing from The Eleventh Hour.
So, not a classic, but a fine start to the sorta-series, and I’m still well on board to see where we’re headed with the Clara/Great Intelligence/Doctor saga. Roll on next week, when Luther creator Neil Cross makes his Who debut.