Archive for October, 2015

So… what did I think of The Woman Who Lived?

Posted on October 29th, 2015 in Culture | 1 Comment »

3.0 Stars

Some wise soul, I forget who, (Tat Wood possibly?) observed that a great many problems with the production of Classic Who could have been solved with one modern-style “tone meeting”. At these august gatherings, department heads go through the script together, with the executive producer guiding the conversations, and duties are assigned not simply as a matter of avoiding doubling-up, but to ensure that the production is united by a common vision. Thus one avoids Johnny Byrne’s script describing a gloomy, claustrophobic undersea environment being shot with every single studio light turned up to maximum.

This excellent process should not be confused with creativity by committee. What’s key is that the executive producer (or show-runner) is the last voice that matters. Everyone else can have opinions, but Russell T Davies or Steven Moffat will make the final decision. With too many people having what they imagine is the last say, a production – or even a script – can end up trying to serve too many masters and end up a porridge of ideas.

Now, singularity of vision is no guarantee of quality. I didn’t like Vincent and the Doctor but I appreciated it as a singular vision of Doctor Who from a top writer. I absolutely hated The Trees Are Everywhere La Di Da or whatever it was called, but even I must grudgingly admit that I hope the series still has the balls to experiment with new styles, whether or not I happen to think the results are worthwhile.

The Woman Who Lived has quite a serious problem in this regard. Just what kind of story was it trying to be? It felt somewhat as if Catherine Tregenna had written two different scripts – one a deep and rather sad philosophical meditation on the nature of longevity, the other a childish romp full of dick jokes and prat falls – and then due to some sort of Jeff Goldblum-style transporter accident with Final Draft, the two scripts ended up fused together into some sort of ghastly hybrid. Now a mix of styles can be bracing and fun, but it needs to be handled with a great deal of care, and both styles have to be worth doing and appropriate. My problem is that I adored one of Tregenna’s scripts and hated the other.

This episode and its predecessor are clearly the odd ones out in Series 9. Yes, they represent the two halves of a two-part story but there’s far less connective tissue between the two episodes than is usually the case, and there are different writers for each half. It’s odd then The Woman Who Lived directly followed The Girl Who Spoilered in the running order when there was no need for this. Sure, it’s pretty obvious that we would be seeing Maisie Williams again, but it also seemed obvious we’d be seeing Georgia Moffett again at the end of The Doctor’s Daughter but that was seven years ago and we’re still waiting.

Having the Doctor turn up after only a week of viewer-time and immediately be tracking the same gee-gaw as Maisie was clunky and unnecessary. Far more interesting to let us forget about Arya Stark for a few weeks, and then play the first meeting from the Doctor’s point of view. Anyway, once they get together and start talking, much of what they have to say to each other is rather striking. Tiny details like the endless shelves of journals, Lady Me describing the lives of mortals like mayflies of like smoke, the pain she feels from having outlived her own children – it all works brilliantly and Maisie Williams sells it like a pro.

When the Cowardly Lion turns up and starts breathing fire, I can’t quite connect this to the rather wonderful adult science fiction I’ve just been watching. And during the Doctor and Lady Me’s break-in, where apparently the entire household has been struck with hysterical blindness and deafness, I began to wonder if I’d fallen asleep and woken up during a repeat of Rent-a-Ghost. (Hat tip to my mate John Voce however, making much of very little as Mr Fanshaw).

Rufus Hound is a good and likeable actor, and was well cast as a swaggering highwayman, but having him cracker-joke his way off the gallows was just ghastly. The solution to the crisis was neatly hidden in plain sight, and I don’t mind the Doctor Fendahling his way out of a proper explanation, but even Maisie Williams can’t pull off the ludicrously sudden volte-face which Lady Me is now expected to experience.

And the climax sets up an ending which is off-kilter in at least two different ways. Firstly, the Doctor has left Me in a worse position than he found her. Now she is still cursed with immortality but with no prospect of being able to bring someone else along for the ride. Secondly and more seriously, the notion that she is hanging around looking over the Doctor’s shoulder for every Earthbound story post 1651 is rather odd and presumably it also means that she will be bumping into Clara The Impossible Girl quite a lot. Just how many magical guardian angels does one Time Lord need?

So, for all the sensitive and detailed exploration of the pros and cons of Me’s situation, it’s a clear four. It can’t be more than that because it didn’t have time to go anywhere. For all the willy jokes and falling over, it’s a two and so that’s a three for the latest episode I’m afraid, and there’s no need for a score for the two parter because each half was very much its own thing.

Whether or not we see any more of Maisie Williams and whether or not that retcons this review into a more (or less!) favourable one remains to be seen…

Spectre

Posted on October 27th, 2015 in At the cinema, Culture | 2 Comments »

spectre

Note – this review will contain spoilers. Proceed at your own risk!

Production of James Bond films has slowed since the 1960s. When the series began, Sean Connery knocked out five in as many years. Roger Moore couldn’t quite keep up that pace, but still managed seven in 12 years. Pierce Brosnan largely managed to evade the legal difficulties which kept Bond off our screens for six years prior to GoldenEye and so starred in four films over a seven year period. Poor old Daniel Craig has taken eleven years to create as many adventures – so each one needs to be worth waiting for.

Prior to sitting down to watch Spectre (at the BFI IMAX at midnight!) I rewatched the previous three movies. Briefly, Casino Royale was slightly better than I remembered – the double-crossing at the end isn’t as confusing as I thought and the mix of human drama and bonkers action works brilliantly. It’s still a shame that the goons who retrieve the cash at the end are so anonymous, and we never meet Vesper’s boyfriend, but it’s basically brilliant. Quantum of Solace was even worse than I remembered – an unfunny, frantic, borderline nonsensical mess of a movie. And Skyfall was every bit as good as I remembered – astonishing action sequences, nifty plotting and fabulous performances. So Spectre had a lot to live up to.

One of the pleasures of Skyfall was the way in which it reassembled the Bond “family” – installing a new more traditionally avuncular M, casting fresh young faces as Q and Moneypenny and returning rogue agent 007 to the fold. Whereas the first two Daniel Craig movies were about the new rookie finding his feet and the third was about a damaged agent returning to the fold, Spectre just has to be business-as-usual, which is potentially slightly trickier to make interesting, although it should make it easier to get straight on with the thrill-ride. It’s disappointing then that early on, we spend so much time replaying tropes from the earlier Daniel Craig movies, Skyfall in particular. Bond is going rogue, again. Bond’s bosses are unable to track his movements, again. The double-0 programme is under bureaucratic threat, again. A shadowy organisation has people “everywhere”, again and so on.

The other major feature of Spectre is its desire to turn the four Daniel Craig movies so far into a coherent saga. Quite why this was felt necessary is not clear to me. Casino wiped the slate clean and started from scratch and everybody loved it. Quantum attempted to turn the Casino villain’s plan into part of a grander conspiracy and everybody hated it. Skyfall totally ignored the previous two films and everybody loved it. How Michael G Wilson and co. drew from this the lesson that what the public wants is for the films to all connect up is anyone’s guess.

The plan starts early with glimpses of Eva Green, Mads Mikkelson, Judi Dench and Javier Bardem floating past in the opening titles – which, by the way, are spectacular, rendering even Sam Smith’s wailing dirge of a theme song acceptable, which is quite a feat. The problem is that reminding us of characters from past adventures is all the movie ever really does to build its multi-part saga. We are apparently meant to think that if Christoph Waltz only mentions Raoul Silva then we will forget that every single thing Javier Bardem does in Skyfall is connected with his being an embittered ex-secret service agent with a personal grudge against M, and we will instead start to remember that his actions were a carefully calculated part of a masterplan being developed by a vast international conspiracy. Sorry, movie. No dice.

The problem is even more significant when it comes to Dominic Greene and the already fairly muddled events of Quantum of Solace. Possibly the Eon team attempted to get back the rights to the name “Spectre” in 2008 so that they could identify the villain’s organisation with that moniker, and when that failed, they used the word “Quantum” instead, tying it in with one of the few remaining Fleming story titles. But we are now meant to believe that the all-powerful, all-encompassing Quantum is itself a mere subsidiary of the even more all-powerful and even more all-encompassing Spectre – Google to the new film’s Alphabet Inc. I for one don’t buy it.

And in fact the problem is even worse because we also have Andrew Scott running around trying to create his own all-powerful and all-encompassing secret organisation – so we have three independent grand conspiracies, all of which overlap and intersect in poorly-defined ways. I long for the days when all we had was one mad man who wanted to blow up the world.

The general feeling that the people trying to stitch these films together haven’t actually watched them recently is compounded when Q makes a tart reference to the mess 007 made of his Aston Martin DB5 in the previous movie, and the beaten-up vehicle is shown undergoing renovations in his workshop. But the point of Bond switching to the DB5 in Skyfall was that it wasn’t a “company car” and therefore MI6 couldn’t track him. And again, when Christoph Waltz chortles that every one of Bond’s women has died – he is apparently forgetting Camille who walks off at the end of Quantum perfectly intact.

So let’s talk about Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhauser John Harrison Ernst Stavro Blofeld – complete with white cat! Waltz is marvellous in the part, and most of his evil plan makes some sort of sense, although it’s a lot of bother to go to to make one already fairly gloomy agent a bit frowny. But I didn’t really buy his back-story at all. When we can’t see the young James and Franz (and, to be clear, I wouldn’t want to), the notion that they were briefly step-brothers doesn’t really resonate. He’s just another cackling maniac, which is fine – just what a film like this needs in fact – and even better if he can be played by a two-time Oscar winner. So why bother with all this psychodrama if the film isn’t prepared to really commit to it?

But to be honest, as unsatisfactory as all this stuff is, it’s in the margins. When the film concentrates on the present-day storyline instead of dwelling in the past, and when the action starts, it works brilliantly well. The opening sequence, if not quite topping the extraordinary car, train, foot chase in Skyfall, is very rewarding, beginning with a gorgeous long tracking shot – which was no doubt stitched together from half-a-dozen-or-more set-ups, Birdman­­-style, but is still a very, very stylish way to open the movie. Daniel Craig is on blistering form throughout, his wry grimace as the ledge he’s scrambled on to starts to give way beneath him is just perfect, and he continues to absolutely nail the part to the wall. If he does bow out before his fifth contracted film, he will be an amazingly hard act to follow.

Other action sequences also meet if never quite exceeding the high bar set by recent outings. The car chase in Rome, where 007 discovers that not all of the gadgets in the new DB10 are quite up to scratch is very funny and exciting, the plane/car chase in Austria is novel and works very well indeed, and the bone-crunching train fight tops even From Russia with Love. Some of the quieter moments work well too. What a pleasure to see a new version of the Spectre boardroom, also from Russia and others, and – look! – a bonkers villain’s lair in the depths of a crater which blows up absolutely spectacularly towards the end. Monica Bellucci is criminally underused but makes the most of her seven or so minutes of screen time, and Lea Seydoux works miracles with a very thinly drawn character, fleshing out Madelaine Swann into something approximating a real human woman.

The only real disappointment, apart from all my grousing about saga-building above, is the final show-down in London. The chase through the wrecked MI6 works well, but as nice as it is giving Bond a family again, what Ralph Fiennes, Ben Wishaw, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear and Andrew Scott are up to is just far, far less interesting than Bond vs Blofeld. Even the movie seems to lose faith or interest (or both) in the frankly rather artificial count-down associated with the Nine Eyes system, and Rory Kinnear seems to run out of lines entirely about half-an-hour before the end, so he just stands around looking concerned. And it does suggest that not everyone is paying very close attention when the opening action sequence and the closing action sequence both require an out-of-control helicopter, but nobody ever mentions this fact to make it seem deliberate.

So very good, then, rather than great. Casino and Skyfall are, in my view, stone cold classics up there with From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, The Spy Who Loved Me and GoldenEye. While Spectre is certainly far from being as awful as Quantum of Solace (or A View to a Kill, or The Man with the Golden Gun), it’s stuck slightly in the good-solid entry stakes, both because there isn’t a single action sequence which completely redefines what’s possible, and because some of the plotting is simultaneously overly complicated and somewhat half-hearted.

What’s really important though is that it starts with the gun barrel (for the first time since Die Another Day) and ends with “James Bond will return”. You betcha.

So… what did I think of The Girl Who Died?

Posted on October 20th, 2015 in Culture | No Comments »

3.0 Stars

Let’s return to that discussion about brilliant execution vs vaulting ambition. If a “perfect” story requires both, but this occurs very rarely, does that mean I will only give five stars to one story every 2-3 years? No, I’m not quite that stingy. A really solid adventure, with strong characters, neat concepts, well-directed and with a couple of exceptional moments will still do me fine. But that also doesn’t mean you get a “pass” because your story was well done, but rather familiar, very simple and far from pushing the envelope, is apologetically backing away from it.

The Girl Who Died – taken as a stand-alone story – does almost nothing wrong. The narrative line is clean and strong, there are no obvious plot holes which I spotted, the threat is real and makes sense and the Doctor’s solution is clever without being incomprehensible. The banter between the Doctor and the Vikings I actually found funny (unlike Rubbish of Sherwood last year) and Clara has a significant stake in the action.

But shorn of part two, it feels a teeny-weeny bit “so what?”

Let’s look at some of the good points in more detail. As other commenters have noted, this is a rather bracing science-fiction, historical splicing together of Dad’s Army and The Seven Samurai, which is not something we’ve seen before in Doctor Who at any rate. Capaldi is the perfect Doctor to train this wet and weedy bunch of Norsemen, barking out caustically hilarious nicknames for them as he frantically scrambles to contrive a strategy which will keep them alive. The Vikings themselves are storybook versions of the real thing, which makes perfect sense. “Real” Vikings are much less fun to look at, and part of the point of the show is that they look like the fearsome warriors of our imaginations, but in fact they can’t hold a sword or swing an axe without mishap.

The Mire are a perfectly serviceable villain of the week, even if “Odin” is little more than a stumpier version of last week’s Fisher King. Maisie Williams as Ashildr makes an instant impression and those stupid sonic glasses got snapped in two. Even “I can speak baby” was tolerable this time around.

But, it’s a pretty trivial matter for the Doctor to get involved in really, and without that sting in the tale it amounts to very little. Sadly, the sting in the tale is not without problems of its own. Firstly, I’m not at all clear what Maisie Williams has died of. She seems to have come down with a fatal case of wearing a hat, which is not altogether convincing. Secondly, we’ve had this debate before, with rather more piss and vinegar, in The Waters of Mars and this new version didn’t add an awful lot to the pile. Thirdly, it’s not at all clear to me why destroying the galactic reputation of a war-mongering race represents a “ripple” in time and giving one girl from 800AD a longer life represents a “tidal wave”.

That having been said, the notion of a precocious Viking girl getting to live forever is rather a beguiling one, with something of a Torchwood feel to it (and not just because it’s about immortality). I am keen to see where this goes next week, and I did enjoy the episode, but it’s a curtain-raiser rather than a completely satisfying story in its own right.

 

So… what did I think of Before the Flood?

Posted on October 17th, 2015 in Culture | No Comments »

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The Doctor: People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly… timey-wimey… stuff.

Sally: Started well, that sentence.

The Doctor: It got away from me, yeah.

Blink has got a lot to answer for. On balance I’m thoroughly glad it exists, since on its own it’s absolutely marvellous. But in terms of its legacy, it may very well have done more harm than good.

Remember, one of the factors in the creation of Blink was it that was to be that season’s Doctor-light story. With David Tennant and Freema Agyeman filming another episode at the same time, Steven Moffat’s script had to put something else in the place of the quirky hero most were tuning in to see. Blink succeeds in part because the Doctor’s presence is felt throughout, but also because the mind-bending paradoxes fulfil our desire for something otherworldly and strange and so make up for the Doctor’s absence.

Steven Moffat’s insight was that Doctor Who is a series about a time traveller which very rarely tells stories which are about time travel. The TARDIS is frequently used only to deliver the leads to where and when the adventure is taking place. But this was not accidental. 26 years of episodes produced with hardly any time-travel adventures was not coincidence, lack of ambition (time travel paradoxes are very cheap to film), or inattention. It was because most time-travel stories are self-limiting. Time travel turns out to be more of a curse than a blessing, or the use of paradoxes eventually undoes the causality of the story, which is why they are very often mere narrative window dressing. We don’t watch Terminator 2 because it uses time travel to “undo” the first movie. We watch Terminator 2 for the epic life-and-death struggle, the then (heck, now) eye-popping special effects and the thrilling stunt work.

Similarly, Blink doesn’t succeed because of the time travel paradoxes. They are neat solutions to seemingly impossible problems, and they create the mystery which Sally Sparrow is unravelling, but we watch for star-of-tomorrow Carey Mulligan’s luminous performance and the pathos of poor Billy Shipton’s inevitable death. Note also, that the final solution to the threat of the angels has nothing whatever to do with time-travel – it exploits a hitherto unnoticed feature of their biology: they can quantum-lock each other by mistake.

But continuing to write more and more stories in which time paradoxes form the core of the plot, or worse are the means to resolve it, leads to diminishing returns. It leads to stories whose climaxes are not thrilling-escapes-from-death, or brilliant last-minute improvisatons, or moments of emotional catharsis, but instead are unrewardingly clever, like the solution to a crossword puzzle, giving a brief flash of insight but nothing more. And as writers work harder and harder to out-do each other and stay ahead of the audience, the danger becomes greater and greater that climaxes start to tip over into Bill and Ted or The Curse of Fatal Death absurdity.

So I don’t mind the Doctor breaking the fourth wall to give us a little lecture at the top of the episode, it’s fun and so is his penchant for the electric guitar. Maybe it wasn’t strictly needed, except to pad out the running time, but I don’t object in principle. It’s just that what he was saying was a little laboured. You don’t have to have studied science-fiction in depth from H G Wells to the present day to have seen a bootstrap paradox before. You just need to have seen one episode of Doctor Who with Steven Moffat’s name on it somewhere and you’ll probably be fully up-to-speed. So it’s the foregrounding of this element which undoes this episode for me more than anything else.

As I noted last week, the idea of travelling back in time to see how the events of part one were set in motion is one I found very fresh and invigorating, and early signs were good. Although I could probably have done without O’Donnell’s fan-squee over the Doctor’s previous (and future) Earth-bound exploits. We don’t want to return to the days of Eric Saward where the Doctor and the Time Lords were pretty much intergalactic celebrities, do we?

O’Donnell is written like that partly to give her death some added pathos, but it doesn’t really work. She’s too thin of a character, both in the writing and in the playing, and the directing is very weak here, with the camera playing the part of the Fisher King and swooping grimly near her while she just stands and feebly goggles at it, before being discovered dead but apparently uninjured.

The Doctor’s second trip in the TARDIS is also strangely redundant – another narrative loop, like his trip in Davros’s wheelchair, which again suggests that there wasn’t quite enough material to sustain 90 minutes of television. Back on the base, Clara et al are trying to work out what the ghost Doctor is saying – when the ghost O’Donnell turns up. This is very strange. Prentis, who was alive when the Doctor arrived, is seen floating around the Drum right from the start. O’Donnell’s ghost only appears at the Drum after the Doctor witnesses her dead. No explanation for this is ever given.

The Fisher King (strange name) is also rather a blank of a villain. Steven Moffat somewhat pompously opined in the new issue of Doctor Who Magazine that writing a straight-up-and-down Bad Guy is not “proper” writing, but the Fisher King just wants others to die and himself to live, plus a bit of gloating on the side. He cuts an imposing figure and Peter Serafinowicz does a good job on the voice, but he’s a bit ho-hum.

When the solution finally arrives, it’s a bit of a flurry of other-shoes-dropping. The Doctor uses the missing power cell to shatter the dam, flooding the valley. Was that really the only way to deal with the threat of the Fisher King? It’s uncharacteristically brutal, especially given his refusal to even try and save O’Donnell or any of the rest, and the risk of collateral damage seems very high. For reasons which aren’t particularly clear, the Doctor stuffs Bennett in the TARDIS and he takes the trip back to the Drum via the stasis chamber. Finally, the Doctor’s ghost is revealed as a hologram, similar to the illusion of Clara used to mislead the ghosts in part one. That all just about makes sense as far as it goes, and the speed of the execution is thrilling enough, but there’s no catharsis of any kind, not even when that wet and weedy romance between Lunn and Cass finally sparks up.

So, it’s another disappointing denouement I’m afraid. I think three stars is appropriate. Capaldi does very good work, as ever, and Paul Kaye is fun. But I think that drags down the two parter’s overall score to three-and-a-half. A tremendous build-up and a limp finish is so much worse than an early stumble and an amazing climax.

PS: Sorry this was so late, I will try and get a review of tonight’s episode up by tomorrow evening at the latest.

So… what did I think of Under the Lake?

Posted on October 9th, 2015 in Culture | 1 Comment »

lake

When those two Patrick Troughton stories, Web of Evil and Enemy of the World were recovered – the biggest haul of missing episodes to date – I couldn’t wait to watch them and immediately bought them on iTunes. I’ve since rebought them on DVD and watched them both twice. They’re just fantastic. It’s my favourite era of the show and these are two terrific stories that it’s astonishing to have back.

I remember having the same conversation with a couple of other fans. Which do you prefer and why? Both are significant stories in their own way. Web is the debut of Nicholas Courtney as Lethbridge-Stewart, whose influence on the programme is still being felt today. It paved the way for the UNIT era of the 1970s and solidified the appeal of the Yeti (although they would not reappear save for a fleeting guest-appearance in The Five Doctors). Enemy has the thrill of Patrick Troughton’s dual role and represents the first association with the programme of one Barry Letts, who would run the show for five years, return for Season 18 and still be contributing audio stories in the 1990s.

But, in terms of their content, they are wildly different. Web is a base-under-siege story, which had become the go-to template for last-sixties Doctor Who, combining as it did attacking monsters, all the money spent on one big set, and guest stars going happily bonkers as the threat closed in. Depending on exactly how you count, around one half to three quarters of all Patrick Troughton stories adhere to this model. Enemy is one of the exceptions. Possibly the most ambitious second Doctor serial, certainly one of the most “out-there” in terms of its plotting, and that’s even before you factor in the star also playing the villain.

And yet, it’s Web that I preferred – and for this reason. Firstly, I rather like a base-under-siege story. Secondly, and more importantly, Web achieves absolutely everything it sets out to do. The London Underground setting is completely convincing (so much so that the BBC received angry letters about what they hell they had been doing filming down there without permission), the newly redesigned Yeti are utterly terrifying, the supporting cast are wonderful and the set pieces are immaculately staged. For all its imagination and ambition, however, the problem with Enemy is that its reach exceeds its grasp. Too many of the things the story wants to happen, neither the budget nor the detail of the script can actually convince us are real, and so watching it is occasionally awkward when it should be a delight.

Thus, I am unmoved by claims that Under the Lake is a rehash of earlier stories. Yes, it’s a bit of a mash-up of The Impossible Planet and The Waters of Mars with bits of The Unquiet Dead, The Rebel Flesh, The God Complex and even Last Christmas (only two stores ago) stirred in – but it feels completely fresh and the pieces have been assembled with uncommon skill and care.

At first I was a bit concerned, since the gang of undersea explorers seem a bit of a bland bunch, and differentiating a clutch of cannon-fodder has been an issue for more than one episode of the revived series. At a glance Colin McFarlane seemed the most charismatic, which is why it was both a delightful shock and rather a disappointment when he was the first to go. Having a deaf character accompanied by an interpreter is also fresh and managed not to feel like tokenism, although I did wonder exactly what year we were meant to be in, if the best solution to the problem of deafness is the same as it is now – having a hearing person who also understands sign language follow you around. Especially as it turns out she can lip-read.

I was less sorry to see the back of Steven Robertson’s Pritchard who was an entirely standard-issue company man, in the mode of Paul Reiser in Alien and countless other corporate ne-er-do-wells from modern genre fiction, but the remaining crew managed to at least begin to establish roles, relationships and attitudes. What was really rewarding about this episode, however was the carefully paced, very suspenseful and constantly surprising working out of the puzzle. As more and more pieces started to come together, I was more and more captivated, until we were delivered neatly to one of the best cliffhangers the new series has ever done. Far more interesting than Missy and Clara being zapped by Daleks, the suspense here has nothing to do with whether the Doctor will survive and everything to do with how.

The throw-forward, promising a second episode with an entirely new slant on the same events, location and scenario if anything makes this first episode seem even better, so I’m not at all concerned about the fact that some familiar ingredients have been recombined and I’m eagerly looking forward to next week (i.e. tomorrow’s episode).

Capaldi and Coleman did good work as ever, and the ghost effects were very nifty, but I do have a few gripes. I’m not a fan of those cue cards which make the Doctor seem a bit of an idiot, a Faraday cage is not a complex technical device, it simply describes one of properties which a space enclosed in conductive material possesses, and I don’t buy for a second that the TARDIS would refuse to pop over to the other air-lock and pick up Clara, but I suppose the two leads have to be split up somehow.

Four-and-a-half stars. Bring on part two!