To be honest, reviewing the new series of Doctor Who wasn’t something which had ever really crossed my mind (mostly because I haven’t been liking it at all), but I enjoyed the new episode so much that I just had to write something. I’ve also been somewhat inspired by the collaborative reviews over on nevillegirl’s blog as I like reading them a lot, and I figured it couldn’t hurt to try it myself.
As someone who hates Clara, you would think that such a Clara-centric episode would be an absolute nightmare. Surprisingly it wasn’t – it pains me to say this, but I think Clara has improved. Just a little, mind, as I still don’t like her, but there was nowhere near as big a temptation to throw things at the TV as there usually is. Obviously this was of huge benefit to the episode as a whole, as it meant I could relax and watch it without sneering, rolling my eyes, or passing internal comments whenever she opened her mouth – so Brownie points for Clara, I guess?
I think the main thing which has kept me watching Doctor Who (other than it’s something tI’ve watched and loved since it came back in 2005, and I’m still clinging to the hop of improvement) is the Doctor himself. I liked EARLY Matt Smith, but towards the end I Was getting fed up with him (coincidentally around the time dear Clara appeared…), but I think that’s also down to his episodes and not just him. Luckily Peter Capaldi is restoring my faith in the Doctor; he’s great – hindered somewhat by his wonderful companion, I feel, but… Okay, I’ll let Clara have her moment, she did well in this episode (apart from one appalling moment, but I’ll come to that later), so I promise to stop complaining about her for now. On with the Doctor – I really do think he’s great. He’s dark, but not too dark. His sarcasm and sense of humour really remind me of myself: “This is huge! Well, not literally huge, slightly smaller than usual” so that’s probably why I like him. He’s also Scottish! Not the first Scottish Doctor (but hopefully the last; and I mean both Scottish and the Doctor. Oh, who am I kidding> If the BBC can keep spinning money out of this, it’ll be on for another 50 years), of course not, but as a Scot I think it’s acceptable to get excited over it – and that accent! I don’t have much of an accent myself, so I love the opportunity to hear Capaldi’s, especially when it gets more pronounced the angrier he gets. Admittedly there are some moments where I can’t quite make out what he’s saying, but the fact that my parents like to talk over it probably don’t help that.
Having read over this after a day of not writing it, I’ve realised this is more of a character observation than an episode review, so it’s about time I stop getting sidetracked… I thought the concept of this episode was a very interesting one, and the creatures were certainly pretty creepy to look at when they where moving whilst inhabiting the bodies. There was something about the way they flickered that was really quite sketch-like, and often reminded me of the episode Fear Her, which featured 10, Rose, and the girl who made people disappear by drawing them. I also liked the fact that you couldn’t quite see the creatures before they attacked; sure you saw the lumps and bumps as they moved, but they weren’t like the typical monster than you can see fully.
It was definitely pretty clever that the victims “became” the graffiti under the bridge; it looked good and even though you knew they were really victims and not a memorial, it was still pretty smart. I must say, though, that I was a bit disappointed that Rigsy didn’t react much at all when realising his aunt was dead because of the creatures. He had mentioned in the beginning about how she had gone missing and was now a part of the memorial – it would have been interesting to see his reaction to the realisation of what had really happened to his aunt. Unfortunately, as they so often do, it was either skimmed over or totally forgotten about, which is a shame. But never mind.
The were two main things about this episode that really annoyed me, the first being when Clara and Rigsy were trying to escape the house and Clara ANSWERED THE PHONE. Why?! Yes it was to emphasise that Danny (I’m not a fan, by the way) didn’t know she was still with the Doctor, but it was just really unrealistic in that situation. As annoying and stupid as that was, though, it’s a pretty minor thing in comparison to this next one…
“Why can’t you say I did good?” There was a collective gasp of shock and horror from my parents and I when that line was uttered by Clara. What she was looking for was “[…] I did well?” – and she DID do well, up until that point. Clara is a teacher, shouldn’t she have known that was horrendously wrong?! And how did the writers let it pass by?! That one mishap really didn’t help me to warm to Clara at all; I just can’t understand why t was said. The thing is, she got it right the first time round, why change it? I was half-expecting the Doctor to pick up on it and say something about her being a teacher so should know better – but no. It was left like it was an acceptable thing to say (it really wasn’t), and that was just disappointing to me.
I’d like to end this on a more positive note, so can I just say how much I loved the title? It hadn’t occurred to me until just now, but “Flatline” is wonderfully ambiguous in this sense:the word often refers to when a patient’s heart and/or brain is showing no “activity” (according to wikipedia), and so technically dead. And that’s accurate in this episode as the victims are dead. BUT the creatures are 2D – they are FLAT LINES. That’s such something I think is brilliant, and it only just occurred to me so has made me wonderfully happy!
Overall, I felt this was a really good episode, and probably one of the best of the entire series – certainly the best in a very long time. I’m hoping the episodes will start to improve, and I’m hoping that Clara also continues to improve – I would like to like her, but that’s just not really happened so far.