Trees…why trees? This was just about able to keep my attention throughout the 45 minutes of this episode. The start was intriguing enough; a lost little girl called Maebh finds the TARDIS and seems to know about The Doctor even though she has never met him before. He tries to leave this forest he is in to go to London, but they are already in London. That is the exciting bit over and done. After this we get another recycled idea (the solar flare blah blah) and we get an episode that has no real menace or threat. A throwaway episode which really gave nothing to grip you. If not for the girl who could hear voices and the appearance of Missy at the end, I think this episode would be pointless. The Doctor is intrigued by the forest; he does nothing though to save the day as there is nothing to do. Maebh is part of a school trip that stays the night in a museum for Coal Hill School, led by Mr Pink and Miss Oswald. This brings the companion and love interest into the episode, but apart from finding Maebh they have nothing else to do except take selfies and run in and out of the TARDIS. I feel that this could have been a Doctor-lite episode and may have worked better with the threat of a changing world and The Doctor appears at the end to say “it’s ok”. What we get is a brief chase with wolves who then runaway, some great greenery shots blending London into them and no real story apart from a girl who seems to be able to communicate with the forest but can’t get a clear answer out of them.
The episode ends with a world that comes back to normal after less than 24 hours of it being a forest. No harm, no threat and a very unsatisfying conclusion. Danny and Clara start to talk about The Doctor again as Danny realises that Clara has still been travelling with him. He seems to remain calm throughout the episode and shows a great side where he keeps the kids as his Number One Priority where Clara almost seems to pick up her “Doctorisms” again (yes, I just made that into a word) and seems more concerned about solving the mystery than helping the kids, though she does snap back to human mode during the episode. Near the end when Missy appears and is still monitoring The Doctor and Clara gives us a chill. This makes you wonder what will happen when she appears fully in the Two-part finale starting with next week’s episode ‘Dark Water’. Also, yes there was a light mention to Maebh saying she had lost her sister, but to have her just appear at the end was a bit weird and almost made no sense.
Not too often is there a Doctor Who episode which just confuses me so much as there was no real need to have it made. Frank Cottrell Boyce may have written the spectacular opening to the London 2012 Olympic Games, but sadly he can’t write a much convincing episode of Doctor Who. ‘In The Forest Of The Night’ suffers from poor execution, a lack of menace/threat and lack of strong supporting characters. Abigail Eames is a good young actress and makes herself work well with Peter Capaldi at the beginning, but then she suffers from poor writing for herself. Jenna Coleman and Samuel Anderson do however seem to still work well and are considered a highlight in this episode. The forest effects looked great, it gave a fantastic atmosphere and that cameo from Michelle Gomez at the end worked well to set up the finale. The children are just not helpful in this episode and make me want to ask why Courtney from episode 6 and 7 can’t become a part-time companion. Definitely the weakest episode of Series 8, so much potential but felt wasted. Some good highlights, but good highlights can’t make a good episode entirely. But, next week we have Cybermen and Clara being a bit menacing…now this looks exciting!
Final Rating: 5/10
Written by Jonjo Cosgrove.