Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Rings of Akhaten

In this post, I'm going to stick to giving my opinions of last Saturday's episode of Doctor Who.  For a summary of the episode, click here.
Saturday before last at the blog Bronze Age Babies, authors Doug and Karen, as they occasionally do, left the days topic up to their readers.  The first commenter, who happened to be me, decided that he wanted to talk about Doctor Who, as the seventh series was resuming that evening.  One of the later commenters criticized the current incarnation of the series as being "awash in sentiment."  While I wouldn't say this applies to the first four seasons under Russell T. Davies, I would agree that for the Matt Smith era with Steven Moffat in the center seat (yes, I know--wrong SF franchise) it certainly holds true. 
Our friend at BAB seems to think that this is a universally bad thing.  For me, it depends on whether its appropriate within each individual episode.  the sentimental ending of " The Angels Take Manhattan", for instance, would have been totally fine if the rest of the episode had made on damn bit of sense.  In the case of the latest installment, "The Rings of Akhaten", on the other, the sentiment totally works. Its not overpowering or overwhelming and is totally appropriate in the context of the story.
Just now, I condemned "The Angels Take Manhattan" for not making sense, and I'll admit that the leaf of infinite possibilities device upon which the conclusion of this episode's crisis rests does not, in the real world, make much sense, either.  However, it makes sense within the context of the story and the universe of Doctor Who in a way that much of "Angels", especially the Statue of Liberty as giant Weeping Angel bit, did not.  There Steven Moffat sacrificed story sense for the sake of a cool visual.  "Rings of Akhaten" has plenty of cool visuals, especially the view of the Akhaten system and the Doctor and Clara riding a space-tobaggon to the rescue, but these effects serve to enhance the story rather than leave the viewer scratching his head trying to make sense of it all.
As I mentioned last week, I was sort of expecting this episode to be the new Neil Gaiman written story featuring the Cybermen.  According to my sources, that episode is scheduled for sometime in mid-May.  This week we were treated to the writing of a different Neil.  This is Neil Cross' first work for Doctor Who, and the first thing I've ever seen from him.  He turns out to be a fine writer in his own right.  This is, in my opinion, the best episode so far of the seventh series and probably the best Doctor Who story since Gaiman's "The Doctor's Wife" early in series six.  Apparently, Cross has another episode coming up later in the series and I look forward to seeing it.
This Saturday--Ice Warriors.  On a submarine.  A Russian Submarine.  In 1983.  Sounds like it could be cool.

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