Monday 3 December 2018

Doctor Who - It Takes You Away

Norway Out

Doctor Who - It Takes You Away
Airdate: 2nd December 2018

Well this... was better than last week’s show at any rate.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that this week’s episode, It Takes You Away, was pretty good, classic Doctor Who storytelling in some ways. Admittedly it looked a little cheap at some points and, excuse me but those flesh eating moths might just as well have been imported from the B-movie Brides Of Blood (review coming very soon) in that they looked completely ludicrous, unthreatening and, basically, couldn’t have looked much worse if you could have seen little threads of cotton holding them up.

So this week’s show had The Doctor, Graham, Yas and Ryan pitching up in a forest region in Norway of 2018. They find an almost deserted cottage with a blind girl barricaded in it, who has lost her father to... ‘a thing’. So it’s up to our regular crew... played as marvellously as ever by Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole... to get a shift on and find out what has taken the girl’s father and why. Of course, since this is one of the better Doctor Who stories this season, at least in terms of plotting, there’s also a little twist involving a copycat world through a portal between a kind of airlock/bubble filled with deadly moths and an alien whose soul purpose, it seems to me, is to fill in bits of the plot to let The Doctor, and the audience, know just what’s going on. Maybe he came from the legendary planet of Exposition.

In terms of pacing it has to be said that, while the episode was interesting in terms of dialogue, it felt a little light on action but it more than made up for it in terms of giving us a kind of enchanted... or maybe I should say disenchanted... frog creature and also yet another appearance from Graham’s dead wife. Yeah, I knew they hadn’t finished yanking on that string just yet and I suspect we’ve not seen the last of her in the shows to come.

So... performances were all good and this included a stand up series of moments of Graham having to come to terms with the fact that his dead wife is not real and having to choose to reject her to keep himself... and everyone else as it happens... safe. Bradley Walsh shows just why he’s the right choice for a show like this here although, honestly, I’d really like to see an episode where it’s just him and The Doctor talking about the things which went down in that first story. It would also make sense for The Doctor to address this elephant in the room much more than she did here... although what she did in this one certainly made for a good start.

There were some nice lighting effects in the protective bubble which manifested as a cave/buffer between the worlds but ultimately, yeah... it just looked like a cheap set so I wasn’t so impressed with the execution this week. However, the revelation of the beast which the blind girl’s daughter is trying to hide from was a nice little reveal I didn’t see coming and it wasn’t an over cooked moment either. A throwaway reveal can sometimes be a lot more powerful than something which is built up constantly throughout a show and I think this one was handled with just the right lack of gravitas, to be honest. That being said... there was absolutely no follow through logic to the reveal which kinda made it completely redundant and questionable, to tell the truth.

There was also a nice, classic moment when Yas came up with the idea of ‘reversing the polarity’, which obvsiously had it’s origins in Jon Pertwee’s incarnation of The Doctor before being carried through as almost an unofficial, conservatively used catch phrase over the years and The Doctor’s response to Yas 'talking her kind of language' was a special moment.

And that’s all I’ve got to say about this one and here I am again at the end of another very short Doctor Who review in a year of episodes which has pretty much been inspiring nothing but short reviews. So I’m sorry for not having much else to talk about here but... there’s not a heck of a lot of substance to these latest shows, I guess. I think the problem is possibly we have a very good incarnation of The Doctor, right off the bat, with stories and ideas which aren’t really up to the strength of her personality. I think it might have been a bit of a mistake to not use any of the character's old foes in this series as some of those would have brought some considerably weighty baggage with them which may just up the stakes when the story needs a lift. I’m hoping next year’s series doesn’t take the same path as the current one. So, yeah, short review for, frankly, a very short series. Next week’s show is already the last episode and I feel like things have been deliberately truncated even more so than the previous ten years of shorter seasons. Let’s hope that, next week, they really go out with a bang.

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