Senin, 01 April 2013

Starting Over Yet Again

The Doctor appears to be scouring time for another Clara and maybe his detour to the monastery at the start is a subtle reference to 1967 s The Abominable Snowmen which largely took place in a monastery and introduced the Great Intelligence to the series. (More on the GI later.) Soon the exterior TARDIS phone is ringing (the titular bells of Saint John St John Ambulance is emblazoned on the TARDIS door) and Clara is on the other end needing help with her Wi Fi. How did she get the number Seems the woman in the shop gave it to her and presumably we ll find out who this mystery woman is later on.

So the Doctor still doesn t recognize Clara s voice until she utters the Run you clever boy line Even when he s obsessed with this woman to the point of painting her it still takes that bit of dialogue for him to get it Moffat frequently underestimates his audience. They couldn t possibly be as clever as I The Bells prequel that hit the internet last week is a perfect example. It was obvious the little girl was Clara did he have to punctuate it by naming her at the end Couldn t it have been left up to our interpretation Bells suffers from this too. Something I notice time and again about Moffat is that he tries too hard to write clever sci fi and it comes off strained. The lengths to which he goes to explain the many facets of The Evil Plan within this episode are way way too convoluted. (Best stupid line of the episode In 24 hours you re dead for a while. ) By contrast there were rarely lingering questions with like minded Davies scripts such was the streamlined manner in which he put these sorts of things together.

The only reason I complain about it is because it s all so unnecessary when he s able to make two characters duet for 45 minutes the way the Doctor and Clara do here. Moffat may not be a great sci fi writer but his flair for character driven comedic charm is unmatched. Matt Smith and Jenna Louise Coleman seemingly provide the perfect counterpoints for one another. (It s so refreshing to see him having fun with his companion again ) The way the Doctor is determined to not lose this Clara like he lost the other two is the real meat of Bells and since she s been introduced to the Doctor s world twice already Moffat handles their mutual entrances into one another s lives differently than usual. (I noted at one point that it almost felt as though the episode was introducing the Doctor to Clara s world rather than the usual opposite.) It s bam bam bam and we re immersed in the ludicrously loopy action. Having said that for how long does the Doctor intend to keep the whole I ve met you twice and seen you die twice before thing a secret from Clara Surely not a good way to start things off with your brand new bestie.

It s I believe a fairly well known fact that Moffat had something of a falling out with Twitter a year or two ago. Almost overnight he dumped the whole thing and since then we ve been getting scornful Twitter jokes in the series. Is much of Bells Moffat s direct commentary on the pitfalls of online social media culture or does it emerge in the script from his unconscious mind (He s said in interviews that he chose Wi Fi only because it s something everyone uses.) The idea that a person can lose their soul to this aspect of daily living could be viewed as a harsh criticism of some of the show s most ardent fans. Or maybe it s just a gentle warning. In any case it s again an area where this script in particular resembles a Davies satire only Moffat doesn t play the commentary in nearly as broad a manner as Davies would ve and instead emphasizes the horror. One style isn t preferable to the other just a difference in writers.

Perhaps the most Davies esque aspect of The Bells of Saint John however is the show s return to a contemporary London setting. I d imagine that because of Russell s heavy emphasis on London city life throughout his era Moffat felt the need to go in the other direction for a couple years and as a result the Ponds lives had the more intimate setting of Leadworth. But here London is back big and bold as ever with the Shard and Westminster Bridge playing sizable roles and it s a most dazzling welcome return.

Finally we come to the story s villain who turned out not to be the creepy Spoonheads or the deliciously whacked Miss Kizlet (Celia Imrie) but was in fact revealed to be the Great Intelligence from The Snowmen represented by the disembodied head of Richard E. Grant which was the episode s biggest surprise. Where this is going and the Intelligence s eventual role in the Doctor s life remains to be seen. At Christmas I said that it was a noteworthy narrative move to not have the Doctor recognize the Intelligence and in this story he s blissfully unaware that the Intelligence even is the enemy. Only Miss Kizlet seemed to know and now that she s (presumably) out of the picture the Intelligence must return at some point perhaps in the season finale if not before.

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