Saturday, 13 April 2013

Review: Doctor Who - The Rings of Akhaten and Cold War

Doctor Who’s seventh series (or thirty-third, if you will) continued after its storming  opener with the spellbindingThe Rings of Akhaten’ – an episode that is oddball for all the right reasons. It sees the Doctor take his new companion to the Rings of Akhaten, a system of seven planets revolving round one star which is home to a plethora of aliens of all shapes and sizes. And an old God who is about to wake…
‘Rings’ is a sudden shift in pace after ‘Bells’, preferring to develop its world and characters than be jam-packed with action. The Akhaten system rings out (see what I did there?) as one of the most well-realised planets of the show with its culture capably explored considering the 45 minute run-time; there’s a wonderful emphasis on music and stories, complemented by writer’s Neil Cross’ often lyrical dialogue. Clara is improving every episode, with her past further explored here. Less spiky and reckless than Amy, Clara is compassionate  thoughtful, resourceful and, most importantly, believable with Jenna Louise Coleman absolutely nailing her.
Overall, this is certainly one that will divide fans and, once again, the ending did feel rushed  but with some beautiful writing, an excellent example of alien world-building for Doctor Who and a solid heart, Rings is a terrific, idiosyncratic episode and Neil Cross is a very welcome addition to the show’s writing team.

After last week’s tonally different episode, Mark Gatiss delivers a good old-fashioned Doctor Who with ‘Cold War’, a, um, Cold War thriller set on a submarine marooned in the waters of the North Pole – with an Ice Warrior on board…
Gatiss pulls off a cracker of a script here, hitting the paranoia and panic of the time period in confident strokes but also giving us big swades of back story for those mean mean Martians. The individuals of the Soviet submarine are more or less left as outlines but we don’t care as the venerable Grand Marshall Skaldak, the Ice Warriors' most celebrated hero, is fleshed out incredibly well for a Who monster; he’s proud, lonely but also totally aggressive – we even find out about his family. The plotting is handled deftly with the premise lasting the whole 45 minutes, unlike some episodes of Who, and the suspense is also built up well throughout. A word must also be said for Douglas Mackinnon for some fantastic direction and Matt and Jenna give their usual first-rate performances while David Warner must not be forgotten as the sparkling Professor Grisenko. It’s great to finally see the veteran horror actor (he’s the guy who’s head is chopped off in The Omen) in on-screen Who and he is welcome back anytime.
Overall, ‘Cold War’ is an episode in the classic formula of the ‘base-under-siege’ story (which Doctor Who has been doing well since it was born) but still packs a few surprises along the way.  A rollocking adventure that plays it straight, it’s quite simply Mark Gatiss’ best written episode since ‘The Unquiet Dead’ back in 2005. Gatiss has said that he hopes to do more with the Ice Warriors now they are back, and, on the evidence of this episode, I would most certainly look forward to it.

Next up, things are going to get chillier than the North Pole as the Doctor and Clara travel to a proper haunted house – they're  going to catch themselves a ghost. Tune into BBC One next Saturday evening for a spine-tingling… 


  1. Cool blog...I am always up for more places to read about Doctor Who.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Derek; glad you like it here. I totally agree!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...