I’m just loving this series of Doctor Who which has found its feet midday through the series. As you may (or not) know, I was really worried after the first few episodes. With a brand new Timelord and new writers, the show could’ve fallen over. But I think that the series is shaping up to be one of the entertaining and the best since the 2005 reboot…
FLATLINE is imaginative and thrillingly entertaining. Comedy, fear, horror, action – and all in fifty-five minutes. The Doctor and Clara materialise in Bristol under surprising circumstances—the exterior of the TARDIS has shrunk, with the Doctor trapped inside. Cue Clara to take over with sonic screwdriver in hand and investigate the mystery surrounding the missing persons and murals that come to life due to the threat of two-dimensional aliens. This is the main thrust of the episode, putting Clara in the position of the Doctor and forcing her to make the big decisions. Along the way she meets Rigsby, an urban artist on Community Service whose graffiti skills come in very handy.
The episode is creepy from the outset, full of scares to enthrall and terrify the kids. The writer, Douglas Mackinnon, unlike last week where we saw far too much of the Mummy, makes full use of what we can’t see—of the shadows, of things hiding in paintings and murals, in the carpet under our feet and even patterns and wallpaper. The spatial and visual tricks were fascinating. The Women Police Constable sinking into the floor and the zombie-like 3D, stumbling aliens (reminding me of the a-ha video, Take On Me) were particularly frightening.
With the shrinking TARDIS, carried in Clara’s handbag, we have the Doctor’s eye peering out of the doorway and his hand passing her things. It leads to one of the funniest scenes in Doctor Who history in which the Doctor’s hand pulls the tiny TARDIS out of way of an oncoming train. I literally laughed out loud.
We also had an intriguing scene from Missy, saying “Clara, my Clara. I chose well”. There has been a lot of speculation about what this means. That maybe Capaldi is only around for one season, and Clara will become the Doctor after he leaves. I really, really hope not. But this role-reversal has been going on for a while in this series. I can’t imagine committed fan-boy Capaldi leaving after one year. I’m sure he wants to put his mark on the Doctor for a few more series at least.
It’s also been hinted at that maybe Clara is some kind of spy, working consciously or unconsciously for Missy. I have no idea, and prefer to be surprised, but there is going to be a helluva lot of speculation as we count down the remaining three episodes.
The trailer for next week – a London consumed by jungle (reminiscent of a chapter from my own sci-fi, BLUE INTO THE RIP)—looks fascinating.