31
Mar
2013
Doctor Who: Series 7, Episode 7
The Bell's of Saint John
Sam
At long last our beloved Doctor has returned, and this time, he's wearing purple. OK, so there are a few more developments in the Who-niverse, but I'd like to get this aesthetic development out of the way before the we dive into the meat of this very new world of The Doctor and Clara. Yes, the bowtie is still there, but now he's sporting a long purple jacket with matching boots. The Doctor's face seems suddenly less boyish and, dare I say it, old. Writer/show-runner/holder of truths Steven Moffat made this decision for very specific reasons. The guy we were following at the end of the last year was still Amy's doctor. This is Clara's Doctor now and he's still pretty cool.

Throughout these reviews I may be giving less room to recaps because from now on, I'm going to assume you've watched the episode. Plus, why would you want me to tell you what happens when you can watch it!? Yes, I'll hit on the big points like how a mysterious organization has hacked into the Wi-Fi and is stealing people's souls/minds/chakras. Yes, the Doctor pulled some hacking trickery by typing furiously to program a robot to trick evil head-mistress villain lady. But as in so many episode of Doctor Who, the villain/problem isn't the point of the episode. At least in premieres, it's about setting the table for the arc of the season. In this case, it's also about introducing a new companion - a living one who won't go off and die right away like an interstellar Kenny.

So for all the furious typing and a more-boring-than-maybe-the-writer-and-director-thought-it-would-be hack-off (heehee) between the Doctor and a minion working the evil Wi-Fi, this episode was about establishing a relationship between Clara (who luckily enjoys travel, yet doesn't have the means) and the Doctor (who luckily is desperately lonely and seemingly ready to have a new companion).
The success of "The Bells of Saint John" lies in the talking, not the typing. For all I care, it could have been rogue hoover vacuum cleaners sucking up people's souls (it's creepy because everyone has one, like the internet), but the fact that the back-and-forth banter between Jenna Louise Coleman's Clara and the Doctor was so strong (I'm talking 50s movies banter-strength here) I got what I needed to see. This was a tryout for what type of companion Clara would be, and she passed with flying colors. While Amy was fawning over the Doctor early on, Clara's catchphrase has almost already been cemented as, "Down boy," where Amy's would have certainly been "Up".

The last bit of plot that actually matters is the reveal that the Great Intelligence is behind the Wi-Fi baddies and will be our "Big Bad" for the remainder of the season. This is welcome news as the first half of this season was more concerned about pushing the Ponds out of the TARDIS with grace, than any unifying baddie.

This episode was like the first day of class - a little heavy on exposition, but you see what you're going to be dealing with the rest of the year. I'm confident the best is yet to come with Clara and the Doctor and I hope you join me for the rest of this season. Also, as with the first day of class, this episode of Doctor Who assigned no homework because that would be totally lame on the first day.

B+

Random observations:

-Without a place to wedge this in, but I was very impressed by the Who debut of director Colm McCarthy who had the tough task of making the internet look like something, and I'd say he was mostly successful. I could do without the good twenty minutes of people typing. If I wanted to watch that, I'd look down at my keyboard while doing this.

-The book the kids were reading - written by Amelia Williams. Slow clap.

-Curious what other viewers thought of the leaf and how it was the first page in Clara's travel book. Foreshadowing, backshadowing? Is the leaf her daughter? Grandaughter?

-Great to see Richard E. Grant return, and uncredited. How mysterious!

-I hope the Doctor wears Amy's glasses indefinitely. It would be a nice little tribute.

-Not the first time we've seen it, but again, the new TARDIS is the best we've seen.

-I'm not sure if this bugged anyone else, but how in the fuck is Clara the age she is and know as little as she does about the internet? Also computer knowledge is shown by making Twitter jokes. In that case - Hashtag! (Uproarious laughter)

-Doctor Who Line of the Day: "Eleven is the best, you'll cry your eyes out." - Clara on her favorite CHAPTER of Amelia's book.
Tags: Doctor Who
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