08th Nov2014

‘Doctor Who: 8×12 – Death In Heaven’ Review

by Paul Metcalf


I wanted to like Death in Heaven, and I think I worked out what I had to do to actually do that…turn off my brain and just don’t ask questions. If you accept everything you see without wondering just why, or how things are happening then you start to wonder what the hell happened to the plot. You just have to accept what you see, and be a zombie which is a nice connection to the shows subject in a way.

Following on from last week’s episode the main task this week appears to be to use returning characters cheaply and to get The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman) in the same place at the same time for the big finale. The episode manages to do this, then we get to the important part, the answer to the question that has been asked all year. Is The Doctor a good man?

That is not a spoiler, because I’ve not given the answer to the question. The fact is though it is easy to enjoy Death in Heaven and there are many pluses that really do work, but the vacuum behind the stylish visuals we see on the screen makes everything seem a little vacant, except of course for the finale where Capaldi gets all talky. If you’ve read any of my previous reviews for this year’s episodes you’ll know the one problem I’ve had is if an episode is good just because of the end and not the episode as a whole? The only answer I can think of is to say the end does not justify the means. This is the episode where Peter Capaldi finally shows he is The Doctor, I think the fans already knew it…but the show for some reason had to catch up.

Another issue I had this year has been the fact that the show is becoming too knowing of its fanship. There is a certain scene tonight that is made for Tumblr and there will be a GIF being made right now, I can almost guarantee it. I’m not going to insult people and say that Doctor Who is not made for Tumblr, I’m going to state that Doctor Who is loved by people who use Tumblr and us it as inspiration to post brilliant things. It does not need to know how Tumblr works and definely does not need to adapt scenes to look pretty in lovely animated pictures to make people’s jobs easier. It should concentrate on the important things like the plot, leave it to the fans to make the GIF files.

I know this has been bitchy but now for the good stuff. I criticised the character of Clara last week feeling that Coleman’s performance didn’t have the impact that Samuel Anderson’s did last week, I’m glad to say this week she was on top form, and this maybe is down to the fact that the scenes have more impact and are more connected to her character, even though her new stubborn nature seems a little harsh all of a sudden. Michelle Gomez put on a performance that truly shows that shows the character she is playing must be truly insane now, there is a borderline between crazy and annoying and her character was doing a hop over it constantly in this episode. It was fun to see her and Capaldi verbally sparring again though, both of them were on top form in every scene they were in.

I know that Doctor Who is science fiction, it’s not meant to make sense, but well thought of fantasy creates make-believe scenarios that have well thought out explanations for fantastical events. Death in Heaven could have had a more believable explanation for most of the things it threw at us, but that was not the important thing here really. It seems that it is more essential to just get to Peter Capaldi’s scene where he has his great epiphany and everything is answered. Even when David Tennant was telling us about “Timey Wimey” thing, at least he gave enough of an explanation to give some credence to what we were seeing. That is what Death in Heaven was lacking. Was it a good episode? I’d say yes, but mostly because of Peter Capaldi and the rest of the cast, it just needed more than a paper thin story for them to work with.

**** 4/5

Death in Heaven is very much a case of style over content but Peter Capaldi and the rest of the cast are on fire… Now to the Christmas episode.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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