Sunday, 5 October 2014

Review: Doctor Who - Kill the Moon

Stepping on the Moon might be one small step for a man, but it's also one massive decision for all of mankind in 'Kill the Moon'...

 'It's time to take the stabilisers off your bike.'

Over its long history, Doctor Who has posited quite a few difficult moral decisions - should humanity share the world with the Silurians? Should the Doctor save Pompeii? Is it right to destroy Gallifrey for the sake of the Universe? Well, the latest episode of Series Eight offered us a new, more avant-garde, one. Would you kill the Moon?

Without saying too much (I know, if you're reading this you've probably already seen the episode, but you just might be here to get some sort of spoiler fix, and I don't want to indulge that - see a Doctor), this episodes sports a terrific premise and one that's pure Doctor Who; an ingenious twist on a familiar (if outer space) object. Much like 'Listen' elsewhere this series, the episode also earns marks for audacity for switching styles half-way through, beginning as a sci-fi horror story (with that wonderfully eerie image of cobwebs on the Moon) and then developing into a moral debate which shakes the solidarity of our heroes' friendship...

On the other hand, 'Kill the Moon' isn't perfect. First-time writer Peter Harness is, in my opinion, still learning the Who ropes and much of this episode lacks the witty repartee that distinguishes most stories. Furthermore, there was some dissonance between the matter of the episode and how it had been promoted - the shocking action that the Doctor was said to make here was not quite so Earth-shattering (or rather Moon-shattering) as it had been made out to be. This could be seen as a plus, though, as rather than breaking the character in the end it just pushed the Doctor towards measures he doesn't usually take but kept the morals of our hero intact. 

It hardly needs saying any more, but Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman once again did their best with the dramatic possibilities of what they were given. Clara's tearing the Doctor apart is particularly impressive, even though I generally find it more enjoyable to watch a Doctor and a companion getting on rather than arguing (yes, I'm looking at you, Sixth Doctor and Peri). Likewise, Ellis George did a commendable job this week as guest traveller Courtney. The school girl was not a crucial element to the episode but at least was not as superfluous as the Matiland children from 'Nightmare in Silver.' Still, after last week's sparks between the Doctor and Danny I'd have much rather seen Mr Pink join the TARDIS crew in place of his student. As a soldier, he might have been on the 'Kill the Moon' side of the argument - which would have given it a more interesting voice than Hermione Norris' sadly undeveloped character, Lundvik

For all my grumblings, however, 'Kill the Moon' was a worthy addition to the series, moving this run of episodes up a gear as it heads into murkier territories. It might not have been out of this world, but, with a thoughtful subject matter, an unpredictable Doctor and a lack of easy answers, it certainly had gravity.

Dark Side of the Moon - a difficult decision has to be made... but what will the Doctor do?

Next week: The Doctor has a ticket to board the Orient Express... in space! With a Mummy! I bet you'll never guess the title...
'Mummy on the Orient Express' is next Saturday at 8.30pm on BBC One. 

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