Tag Archives: Sarah Dollard

Doctor Who: Thin Ice “You know what happens if you don’t move on? More people will die”

Sarah Dollard wrote one of the best New Who episodes in 2015 with ‘Face The Raven’, and I can honestly say ‘Thin Ice’ is another fantastic effort from the writer. Plus, we also get a reminder of The Doctor’s constant companion…DEATH!

Starting where the last episode abruptly finished, The Doctor and Bill find themselves in London in 1814 for the Frost Fest. After The Doctor explains that the TARDIS likes to make its own way around the universe, he comes to the conclusion there must be something they need to do. It doesn’t take long for us to learn about the creature in the Thames.

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The first steps onto the ice is the start to their investigation. Bill begins to notice there are lights coming from under their feet, and then we find out exactly what the lights are doing. From this, we get reacquainted with the ways that The Doctor operates and the way he seemingly cares nothing for those who die around him. Pearl Mackie again shows great emotional depth as she questions The Doctor and wants to know the kind of person he really is.

There were some great uses of the sonic screwdriver in this episode. In some episodes, I am sure it is just a cheap way to get out of a sticky situation (yet, I am not aware of any time The Doctor actually uses it to put up a shelf). The screwdriver does come into play a number of times and I do enjoy seeing it used as a distraction device than a tool.

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The villain is a bit…well…pants! I know that the villain isn’t exactly the key to this episode, it is the remainder of the supporting cast. This episode gets to showcase some great young talent. The young gang and the way they interact with the TARDIS crew and fit into 19th century London was great to see. The highlight being Asiatu Koroma as Kitty; This girl is set to be something special, showing some great acting chops against the more experienced cast.

Speaking of the cast, it was another great week for our TARDIS duo (it is a shame that Nardole is relegated to the end of the episode). Peter Capaldi does continue to impress in his final series and Pearl Mackie is slowly becoming a favourite in the show. Bill Potts in indeed the everyman (or woman) that the show needed. The writing reflects Bill’s progression to this point where she now has to think about her time with The Doctor and what could possibly happen on these adventures.

With the “thing” in the vault seemingly restless (is it The Master? Or Missy? Maybe both?), we know this is something that will be continually teased for some time. Overall, a great episode with some real depth (Was that a pun?). The winning part of this story is clearly Sarah Dollard’s writing and we can only hope she continues to contribute to the show.

Final Rating: 9/10

Written by Jonjo Cosgrove

NEXT WEEK: We get a ‘Knock Knock’ from David Suchet!

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Doctor Who Series Nine Review

Another series has come to an end, but what a great series it was. Seeing a more settled Peter Capaldi lead this series, he gets to show a superbly fun streak while keeping the deeply moving moments when needs to. From busting out guitar solos to heart-wrenching speeches, it was a fantastic series which built upon the 2014 run and came out high. Jenna Coleman may now have left, but we got some great episodes featuring Clara to show how much we shall all miss her. Plus, who can forget appearances from Reece Shearsmith, Maisie Williams, and even Ingrid Oliver coming back as Osgood.

  1. The Zygon Inversion by Peter Harness and Steven Moffat

Not by any means a bad episode (compared to series 8 which had a few weak episodes), but arguably I felt this conclusion to the Zygon two-parter lacked much substance to me. I felt at this point Clara was very much just being sidelined to make Osgood appear to be a replacement. The threat from the rogue Zygons never feels as grand as it should, there isn’t that worldwide ramification which is teased in the first part and to see Kate Stewart minimalised is a crime. But, the speech from Peter Capaldi does really stand out as one of the best acting movements from the Scottish actor.

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  1. Under The Lake by Toby Whithouse

Following on from one of the most thrilling two-parters ever, Toby Whithouse had to give a story which could keep the same attention as Steven Moffat had done for the previous two weeks. Though it seemed some of the cast was wasted to short parts, the characters of Cass and Lunn really make a good mark as the double act. But Morven Christie is superb as O’Donnell, it is just a shame that her great presence is then minimalised in part two. The tension builds nicely and makes for a great conclusion, which I will discuss later…

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  1. The Woman Who Lived by Catherine Tregenna

When we see Ashildr after so many years, we find that she is almost nothing like the Viking girl we met in ‘The Girl Who Died’. Maisie Williams proves to be the best guest star of series 9 with her appearances in the show. This one sees her very much become traitor as she looks to trick The Doctor to get away from earth and explore the world, but the alien Leandro looks set to make his own plans (I have to admit, he was a weak villain in an otherwise strong story). Also, it was nice having a companion-lite story and who would have thought Rufus Hound was cast so well? It may not be a classic, but Catherine Tregenna should come back!

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  1. Sleep No More by Mark Gatiss

This episode took me by surprise, making a twist to the found-footage genre and giving it a Doctor Who episode was definitely out of the ordinary. On first viewing, I was greatly impressed. But, the second time really was a killer. I still get a great chill from that last scene, as it really does infuse a horror element to the show with an effortless performance from Reece Shearsmith. The creatures themselves were a great invention, though I would think this story could be expanded upon and a follow-up could be better.

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  1. Hell Bent by Steven Moffat

The finale came and wow! First off, The Doctor is back on Gallifrey and is finally free from billions of years stuck in his confession dial. Though the Time Lords ask for his help, he merely despises for their actions and eventually dethrones Rassilon. The humour is great and to see many story strands conclude here is all well and good. But, as much as I loved Jenna Coleman, bringing Clara back really seemed to destroy the outstanding exit scene she was given just two weeks prior. On the plus side, we do get to see a second TARDIS and Ashildr returns.

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  1. The Zygon Invasion by Peter Harness

The Zygons exploded back onto the screen this year, and they brought Osgood back with them too. With the fear of a fracture in the treaty between human and Zygon, The Doctor is called upon by UNIT to help stop everything going to hell. The choice to have a mostly female led cast was genius and highlighted the best in Doctor Who with Osgood, Kate and Clara. The cliffhanger may not be the most stunning in its history, but the Clara reveal was well played and really made the stakes high.

INVASION OF THE ZYGONS (By Peter Harness)

  1. Before The Flood by Toby Whithouse

A two-parter unlike any other, this second part saw The Doctor travel over 100 years to the past to see what happened to cause these ghosts to appear. As well as meeting the mole-like Prentis, we also get to see The Fisher King, one of the most haunting and creepy monster’s to appear in the show. The combination of three separate actors bringing The Fisher King to life was indeed impressive and how long will you be questioning if Beethoven really made his own music?

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  1. The Witch’s Familiar by Steven Moffat

Fighting the Daleks, stealing chairs and drinking a cup of tea from an unknown source was just the starters of this episode. Seeing two hero/villain double acts fill the majority of the episode was impressive. While Clara and Missy teamed up to save The Doctor, The Doctor and Davros were getting chatty and some serious and fun moments evolved from that. The joke about the only other chair on Skaro will be a long lasting one. Also, kudos to the special effects team, Skaro looked really cool.

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  1. The Girl Who Died by Jamie Mathieson and Steven Moffat

Jamie Mathieson wrote the superb ‘Flatline’ last year, and it was not an easy task to follow on from that. But, he did so and more. A Viking village is attacked by alien race The Mire and young Viking Ashildr declares war against the warrior race. The Doctor and Clara then have just 24 hours to train the village to become warriors like those they have lost. Putting in many great jokes, some stunning action sequences and seeing The Doctor talk baby again. A winning episode which finally tells what helped the Time Lord get the familiar looking face he currently holds.

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  1. Heaven Sent by Steven Moffat

Imagine being stuck in a loop for billions of years, being chased by a creature that can’t die and won’t stop. Imagine being all alone with no companions and no exit. The Doctor literally punches his way out of this nightmare trap over the years and slowly wears a wall away until he is free. Seeing a vulnerable and frightened Doctor, it was a great in-depth look into the mind of our hero and a story which could never be replicated. A grieving Time Lord after losing his friend is a dangerous thing.

HEAVEN SENT (By Steven Moffat)

  1. Face The Raven by Sarah Dollard

We knew it was coming, but who would have thought the death of Clara Oswald would have been so moving? Jenna Coleman provides one of her greatest performances as she does her best to save friend Rigsy and tries to be like The Doctor. Learning the hard way she can’t be like the Time Lord, the ultimate price is paid for trying to be more than human. The Doctor physically and mentally is shaken by the series of events, and even looks to destroy former ally Ashildr after she sets up the trap which puts all these events into motion. Seeing Clara fall to the ground will haunt Doctor Who fans for many years to come…

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  1. The Magician’s Apprentice by Steven Moffat

To start off on such a massive high is a huge gamble, but started what was to be a fantastic series can’t be denied. With The Doctor missing, Missy and Clara working together and the best axe battle of all time, there was a lot to enjoy. The biggest surprise comes in the opening minutes when The Doctor meets a young Davros on a battlefield and leaves him to die. He then goes to hide, knowing that Davros survives the events and is looking to get him. With the pace being hectic, yet grounded, we have such a strong opener which floods the screen with references and characters. All perfectly placed, all pieces move towards what becomes the biggest ever cliffhanger in the history of the show!

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Written by Jonjo Cosgrove

 

Doctor Who – Face The Raven. “You’ll find it is a very small universe when I’m angry with you.”

After all the weeks of foreshadowing, it finally happened…but we will get to that eventually. Sarah Dollard, you really did a superb job tonight! First of all, this was probably the most well executed episode of the series (The Magician’s Apprentice, you are still superb too!) and it all comes down to the tight story which is grand and intimate in fair measure. Coming off the back of an adventure (maybe a future audio adventure?), the TARDIS phone begins to ring and it is old friend Rigsy, who is now in a happy relationship and has a baby. Unfortunately, it is not a friendly call. Rigsy has a countdown on him and it is leading to his eventual death. The Doctor looks to help Rigsy as he and Clara search London for a secret street which may hold the answer to the death sentence. Finding a street housing many different aliens, The Doctor finds himself coming face to face with Ashildr. After her heroic sacrifice and more deceptive turn in previous episodes, we see Ashildr has become protective of the aliens and is ultimately planning something which will not be good for our heroes.

FACE THE RAVEN (By Sarah Dollard)

Clara, as she has done on many occasions, tries to show she is just as smart as The Doctor when she offers to take on the death counter and free Rigsy. They find a Quantum Shade is present in the form of a raven, and will kill who it is that has had the timer placed on it. But why does this countdown exist on Clara’s buddy? Rigsy has apparently killed someone in the “trap street”. The twist is? There was no death. This was all staged as part of Ashildr’s plan. She has made a deal with an unknown enemy to send them The Doctor and free Rigsy, but the deal is broken when Clara takes the death sentence instead. Surely Ashildr can remove this? Well no. The deal was for her to be able to remove it from Rigsy, but Clara unfortunately has to live (and die) with her decision. Clara has saved The Doctor many times, but this time she accepts that she has to pay for her mistake. The Doctor is very angry as this would not have happened if Ashildr had not tricked Rigsy and the TARDIS crew, but Clara reminds him to not seek revenge but to remember who he is. The Doctor seemed to lose a lot of compassion when he regenerated, but he has always cared and needs to care again. In recent weeks (and even in ‘Flatline’), The Doctor shows great concern of Clara trying to be too much like him. So, with the countdown nearly at zero, The Doctor finds out he is to be transported away somewhere and his confession (from the premiere, to be revealed on his own death) has been taken from him. With the TARDIS key taken, The Doctor has no chance to escape. Clara goes out to the street and prepares to face death. The Raven comes for her and she is then killed instantly, providing the most upsetting Doctor Who moment for years! Clara Oswald meets an end after not only restraining her best friend, but also giving him a new focus. The threat to Ashildr proves he may never see her again, but angry Doctor is definitely back and this next journey he is about to face may just be too much for him. He shows he can control his own emotions and shows the greatest of restraints (and I am sure he would destroy Ashildr and all she cares for if he sees her again).

This episode proves what makes Doctor Who so popular. My first heap of praise is once again to Sarah Dollard; her first Doctor Who episode is indeed a classic in the making. ‘Face The Raven’ was tasked with not only providing her writing debut on the show, but to give a fitting end to one of the most popular companions in the history of the show. Joivan Wade is a welcome return as Rigsy; hopefully we may see a further appearance from him in the future is possible. Maisie Williams really hits her peak as Ashildr in this episode, her character has evolved so much and this really shows her still as an easily manipulated character that will do what she can to protect herself and those she finds she cares for. Peter Capaldi really lets himself go and the last few moments really show the top acting chops which cements him as one of my favourite Doctor’s (maybe even Number 1!). Finally, top marks tonight go to Jenna Coleman. Jenna has been seen as a great counterpart for both Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi; tonight we saw just how much we have loved her for the last three years. It is with great sadness that Jenna Coleman leaves tonight, and it will take a great actress or actor to take that place in the humongous void which has now been created! Clara Oswald may have gone, but The Doctor is about to embark on a huge mission of his own in ‘Heaven Sent’. The best episode of Series 9 by far, and the emotional rollercoaster will have many fans tearing up for a long time.

Final Rating: 10/10

Written by Jonjo Cosgrove

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