Alien misadventures are wiped clean off the slate in last night’s visually splendid Doctor Who adventure “In the Forest of the Night”. Arriving in the contemporary London, the Doctor is befuddled when a little girl deliberately comes looking for him, and that the entire world has entered a new and rather lovely looking tree age.
Surprisingly, for an episode without any immediate sense of danger, fear, or dread, this episode wasn’t as flat as those previous words made out. Writer Frank Cottrell Boyce and director Sheree Folkson take us on a Narnia-flavoured tale of mankind’s relationship with a very natural enemy – which doesn’t turn out to be an enemy at all.
There’s a slight edge of predictableness towards the end where Clara attempts to shoo the Doctor away before the Earth is seemingly destroyed by an oncoming solar flare, and then the Doctor returns and manages to save the Earth. Only, he himself doesn’t save the Earth – the Earth saves itself, but you get the general idea. It’s a plot device that’s been played rather heavily in this series: that of all hope being lost about ten to fifteen minutes towards the end of the episode, only for some miracle opportunity to arise for the Doctor to act a hero. Or else he simply realises he get his facts wrong and can in fact save everyone when he previously said he couldn’t.
It lessens any real dramatic impact, and Clara and Danny’s relationship was handled rather clumsily than in previous adventures. Aside from a tender smooch, no real advancement appeared to have been made since the revelation that Clara had been lying to him about spending time with the Doctor. It’s frustrating that such a confrontation of minds is never met, and even more frustrating when you realise that this is what’s taking precedence over the Doctor himself.
Also, am I the only one who really couldn’t give a flying TARDIS who Missy is? I personally don’t think that we, as an audience, have been given enough hooks as to how she is connected to the Doctor and/or Clara, and her initial function in bringing the deceased victims of previous episodes seems to have been ignored, which was really her sole point for interest.
Perhaps Doctor Who would benefit if it cut off any pretention of a series-length story-arc. We’ve had some on a truly immense scale in the series history, and not since its 21st century revival. So far, this one has been rather dull in its appeal. Like recent episodes, “In the Forest of the Night” was enjoyable without being fantastic, and far more likeable once it was removed from the larger context of a story-arc, but there were some rather large plot holes that brought it down (see below for further annoyance). Its lack of excitement was actually an unexpected breath of fresh air – maybe the series, like the Earth in this episode, would be better off starting afresh.
Overall grade: C (this finale better be good!)
+ The concept of the episode was quite simple, yet well-played out.
+ The Doctor attempting to deal with the children.
+ The forest-covered London looked quite enchanting.
– The execution of Danny and Clara’s relationship.
– The ending was rather cheesy.
– Missy – enough said.
So… were the Doctor, Clara, Danny, the schoolchildren, the security guard, Mave’s mum, her neighbour and the rather exterminatory-looking firemen the only people in London when the forest pops up?
It’s all very well for the Doctor and Clara to indulge in viewing the forest evaporate from London, but aren’t there a few wolves and a tiger still wandering around the city?!
What did you make of last night’s Doctor Who? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!