A couple of notes before I launch into this review.
1) This is late because I’ve been away on holiday, although I did get to see the episode as it was transmitted.
2) I’ve just gone through the comments section of my blog and realised there were about 30 Dr Who comments that I hadn’t actually approved. So if you’ve been making comments and wondering why they haven’t appeared, I apologise.
But anyway, back to the review and it’s Kill The Moon.
Like I say, I watched this on holiday with friends and I had to impress upon them with great sternness that they must not talk at any point during it. And they managed to achieve that, but by keeping quiet, they also fell asleep after about 5 minutes.
I certainly wasn’t complaining…
Doctor Who – Kill The Moon Review: What’s This One About?
The Doctor makes a schoolgirl feel special (and isn’t it sad that people will read into that the wrong way in this Yewtree era) and falls out with Clara after pissing her off once too often. Also, some fans who look for reasons to dislike have also now got the trump card of “I can’t watch The Moonbase anymore without thinking it should be called The Eggbase”)
Thoughts – Fallout Watch
Every time I write a new Doctor Who review, I promise myself I’m not going to spend too much time analysing what other people think. As you’ll remember, a few reviews back I was pretty critical of fandom to the point where it upset some people, and what I
don’t want is for people to think that I’m scoffing at their opinions.
And everyone is entitled to an opinion, although I’ll take it more seriously if it’s well thought out (and I’m sorry, but hating on this story because it “Ruins the Moonbase” is not something I’ll take seriously)
My opinion will come soon, but writing this on the Thursday following its broadcast, the dust has well and truly had time to settle and the reviews are in.
And there’s no doubt that Kill The Moon has been divisive.
Forums are split between people giving it 5 stars and 1 star, Twitter was ablaze with negativity and positivity and reviews have fallen on two sides of a very large fence.
But what I’ve noticed is that the ones who are being more full of praise are people looking to be entertained for 45 minutes on a Saturday night, while the ones who are being negative are ones who perhaps are holding Dr Who to a certain standard, not necessarily of script quality but rather or maintaining a certain ethos.
Or to put it another way, if you go to a general entertainment site like Den Of Geek, IGN, Digital Spy or the majority of the newspaper websites, you’ll read glowing reviews of this episode, but if you visit Dr Who forums, there will be large sections of the membership base who’ll dislike it because it doesn’t follow what they believe Doctor Who should be about (an example of which was that Clara threatening to slap the Doctor was wrong because you never saw a Classic Era companion do that)
And that’s an opinion people are entitled to have, although I’d question why they continue to watch the show.
Having checked out the fan polls of each of the season’s stories so far on a few sites, I see some people have given every story either 1/5 or 1/10. To those people, may I suggest that you save yourself pain and just stop watching?
Anyway, that’s enough of me discussing other people’s opinions, here are mine.
A Top Story With Issues On Second Viewing
Now I know there are going to be some people who sit back and scoff the moment they read this, but I really enjoyed it on my initial viewing.
It worked for me because it told a story that developed from beginning to end, it kept me engrossed, it had me guessing and it provided me with that brilliant “Ah, now it all makes sense” conclusion. The whole point – on first viewing – was that the Doctor had brought them to a key and decisive moment in the Earth’s history so that Courtney could feel special and so Clara could blossom. That’s fantastic and ticks all the boxes for a good story.
On second viewing though, I think there are some issues.
The first thing is that the prolepsis pre-credits sequence is utterly pointless. But I’ll let them off with that because I think sometimes the need to have a pre-credits sequence works as a bit of crutch anyway. The idea is that it has to be dramatic and hook you in before the opening credits, even though it makes not the slightest bit of difference in the UK – where we don’t have a commercial break between these scenes – whether or not you start with one of not.
And because Kill the Moon is a slow burner, there’s no obvious point where you could insert a pre-credits cliffhanger moment anyway.
The main issue I have with it on second viewing though is the Doctor’s involvement.
On first viewing, I didn’t really spare a huge amount of thought to how he acted for the first 35 minutes of the episode when it was revealed – or at least heavily hinted at – that he knew what was happening there the whole time. On second time, you can’t help but focus on it and question why he acts like he doesn’t have a clue what’s going on before the reveal.
That they outright did not say that he knew what was going on pardons that to some extent, but it still gets marked down a touch in my eyes for it.
These are not game changers for me though; I hugely enjoyed watching Kill the Moon on both occasions.
The Way The Doctor & Clara Are Written
Central to my enjoyment was the way the Doctor & Clara were written and performed.
I’ve given a lot of credit to Peter Capaldi on this blog, and he deserves it. Once again, he delivered some fantastic lines – best of which was his superb delivery of “Oh don’t be so stupid” when Courtney asks if the TARDIS has any games – but it’s easy for me to only
give him the credit and not the writer for coming up with these lines in the first place.
The Doctor – now probably more than ever before – has a character that feels deep, interesting and believable and that is massively down to Moffat and his team.
The best comparison for that would be Matt Smith’s Doctor, who for me was unbelievable. He was quite clearly a guy trying his very hardest to act wacky and alien and he was written inconsistently by writers who didn’t seem to know what his character should be from one episode to the next. Capaldi on the other hand almost comes across like he’s making these lines up himself, such is his comfort in the role and credit must be shared all round for that. When you go back to watch this entire season in quick succession, you’ll watch one episode and see how even the best of actors can have a bad day when the lines they have had written for them don’t match the character. Most of the writers (*cough* except Gatiss *cough*) have done themselves proud.
The credit for them doesn’t stop there, as – like I’ve been saying all season – Clara is also written well and she too is comfortable and believable in her role.
I had read some criticism of her performance here in the aftermath of its transmission and I just don’t have a clue where that is coming from. She’s terrific throughout, and is on fire in her scene with the Doctor at the end.
And that scene, by the way, was probably the very best thing about the episode. It would have been the perfect way for a companion to leave if that was the aim, and it’ll be interesting to see how they follow up on this next week.
Put it this way; if Clara goes back to being a happy-go-lucky companion without a clear reason for why she has forgiven the Doctor, then I’ll be disappointed.
- There’s no doubt that the science is crap here, but I really don’t care about that. This wasn’t the Wheel In Space where the plot was based around a ludicrous lack of logic, but instead it was based around the notion that we accept the Moon is an egg and that when it hatched, it laid another moon sized egg in its place. If you can’t do that for the sake of enjoyment, then how can you accept any of the monsters?
- The other thing I’ve seen people criticise the story for is that it’s a tail about abortion beneath the surface. Even after two viewings, I didn’t pick up on that, although it’s an interesting theory. I’m not fussed by it though, because it would only make a difference to me if it was so obvious that it overshadowed the story, and it didn’t.
- To go back to how the Doctor is written, I loved the “You can’t post pictures of me online” bit, as if that was the most important thing to talk about.
- I also thought the “Somebody deserves a thank you” bit was great.
- One criticism I would have though is that the other two astronauts were only there so they could be killed off.
- Another one would be the way Courtney Woods suddenly ignored the life threatening situation she was in to have a crack at Clara for dating Danny. That seemed silly.
- Will the kids of Coal Hill School not be thinking “The Caretaker dresses a bit fancy does he not?”
- Or even “Why is the substitute Caretaker still hanging around?”
- It’s good to see a new writer given a chance here. Peter Harness (which unfortunately for him sounds like a brand of underwear) knocked it out of the park with Kill the Moon.
- I’ve noticed that society has a problem – especially when it comes to children – with not being considered “special”. This whole episode was based around trying to solve a “disruptive influence’s” behavioral problems. You see that these days in schools and kids sports clubs where certain age groups now never have winners or losers, and everyone gets a medal. Not that this is the sort of place for this debate, but I think that’s absolutely ridiculous. If kids are mollycoddled to that extent in school then they are in for a shock when they enter the real world.
- So the point is, maybe this whole episode should have finished in less than five minutes with the Doctor suggesting that Courtney get a grip and see a behavioral psychologist?
- If you’ve ever thought of watching the horror film Apollo 18, don’t. This is far better.
Doctor Who – Kill The Moon Review: Final Thoughts
While Kill the Moon has certain issues that make you criticise it more on second viewing, it is still – on the whole – a fantastic episode of Doctor Who.
For me, it felt fresh, it flowed well and it had a top ending with Clara reading the Doctor the riot act.
Once again, another episode in this season has been a success.
Surely the run has to stop soon?
As always, here’s my reminder to buy the book – Stuart Reviews Doctor Who: The Classic Era