Doctor Who – Face The Raven Review (or “Who Cares About Spoilers When There Are A Few Extra Viewers To Round Up”)

Dateline: November 21st 18.02

I hate spoilers.

I don’t see the point in spoilers.

I don’t understand the mindset of people who want to read spoilers.

And for a TV station that is noncommercial and therefore doesn’t need to worry that much about viewing figures, I really don’t understand why the BBC would want to give away spoilers.

So I’m actually a bit pissed off at the moment.

Why? Because I was browsing the web earlier on and noticed that the main headline on Digital Spy this morning read ‘BBC Announce How Tonight’s Shocking Doctor Who Will End’.

I’m not daft.

I have a basic ability to work stuff out and I know what that headline means…

They’re going to kill off Clara.

But why would I want to know that before I see it? Why am I  – a regular viewer – having my enjoyment and sense of surprise ruined just so the BBC can attract some extra viewers who otherwise might not have bothered to watch.

Why are they more important than me?

To quote Bret Hart, “Frustrating isn’t the Goddamned word for it; this is bullshit!!!”

Of course, for all I know they might not be killing off Clara in Face The Raven, but I bet they will.

I’ll report back after the episode to let you know.

Dateline: November 21st 21:12

Doctor Who – Face The Raven Review

Nope, I was right; they’ve killed off Clara.

For fuck’s sake!!!

So as you’ll have gathered, I’m annoyed about this.

The death of a companion doesn’t come along often, so had the BBC not revealed it this morning, I would not have been expecting it (even though I knew Jenna Coleman was leaving at the end of the season). But

"Frustrated isn't the Goddamn word for it. This is Bullshit" said Bret Hart. I echo these sentiments

“Frustrated isn’t the Goddamn word for it. This is Bullshit” said Bret Hart. I echo these sentiments

since they did, and therefore I was, I think they ruined it.

To go all the way back to the 1980s and Earthshock, the big thing was that the BBC kept everything relating to it a secret. Nobody knew the Cybermen were going to be in it, and nobody knew Adric was going to die.

So both came as a huge shock.

There was that point where the first time viewer saw Adric left aboard the freighter and surmised that he would inevitably be saved. Then, slowly, they probably thought “Hmmm, maybe he won’t”, and when he died, it would have knocked viewers for six.

But the moment Clara suggested that she take over the death sentence, I knew that was it. So I felt robbed of that creeping realisation that she was going to die, and I feel cheated as a result.

And of course what happened was that a scene that probably should have been emotional ultimately wasn’t.

Now I would also argue that the overall presentation left something to be desired. I don’t think the music ramped up the drama, and I felt that the interaction between Clara and the Doctor – both in terms of dialogue and delivery – failed to capture the gravity of the situation. She was about to die and neither she nor the Doctor seemed particularly concerned about it.

It was just a bit weird.

My dad – who last week didn’t realise that the dreadful Gatiss episode was a single part story – didn’t pick up on the fact that she’s actually dead. Because it was played so loosely, he assumed that she’d be back in next week’s episode after the Doctor saves her.

And hey, maybe she will be. Maybe this isn’t the end for Clara and we’ll get something more dramatic in the two-part finale to send her off permanently.

But we probably won’t.

So to me, it felt like a damp squib.

I’d have expected better from all concerned.

So What About The Rest Of The Episode?

Well apart from that, this felt like the standard light episode you’d get before the finale in a Doctor Who season. The sort of Boom Town/Fear Her/In The Forest of the Night style affair that we’ve come to expect

Break Down The Walls of Jericho

Break Down The Walls of Jericho

over the years.

It brought back some characters we’ve already seen and it had the sort of frivolous plot you’d consider to be reasonable before the season builds to its dramatic conclusion. Basically it was fine; nothing amazing but nothing worth panning.

Exactly the sort of episode that would have been perfect to kill of a companion when the viewer least suspected it. So why ruin it!!!!!

Random Observations

  • I don’t really get how Ashildr has gone from being an average – yet immortal – girl to someone with the knowledge and expertise to organise a refugee centre for aliens.
  • Nor do I get how certain species – such as an Ood – would end up being on Earth in the 21st century.
  • Or why – beyond a direct comparison to Harry Potter – it’s designed like a Victorian street.
  • Or even why they had to disguise themselves as human if they were hidden away anyway.
  • And do we really need another plot like this when we’ve just had a Zygon story?
  • The bloke who is killed by the raven first was in the episode of Jonathan Creek with Maureen O’Brien and Bernard Kay. I hope at least one person reading this thinks “Oh yeah, that’s where I recognise him from.”
  • Clara’s actual death wasn’t plotted particularly well. There wasn’t a satisfactory reason for why Rigsy could be saved but she couldn’t. Note that I say ‘satisfactory’ reason; I know there was a reason given.
  • And as for Clara, I think from every angle you could approach it, she would have been better off leaving in Last Christmas. A story originally designed to write her out, it would have given her character a proper sendoff. Instead, we got a companion without direction for 10 more episodes before her disappointing demise in a nothing episode. She held on just a little bit too long.

Doctor Who – Face The Raven Review: Final Thoughts

Like I say, you’ll be able to tell that I’m not too impressed by the BBC’s actions here.

You might think “But I didn’t get it spoiled for me because I didn’t look at Digital Spy this morning so you have no grounds for complaint”. But I would counter that by saying pointed out that I should not have to avoid general entertainment websites before an episode has been transmitted to make sure major plot-points are not spoiled.

I would have liked to have watched this without the ending being telegraphed, and even though I felt it lacked the level of drama and gravitas that it should have done (and I think everyone involved can take some of the blame for that) it still would have been better if it had come as a shock.

So I’m disappointed.

I hope the BBC got their extra viewers to justify it.

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5 Responses to Doctor Who – Face The Raven Review (or “Who Cares About Spoilers When There Are A Few Extra Viewers To Round Up”)

  1. Sam says:

    I basically had exactly the same issue as you. Innocent (and unconnected) web browsing before the episode led me to see a headline that I really didn’t want to see. However, unlike you, I rather liked the episode aside from the fact that it was spoilered.

  2. Ripperoni Pepperoni says:

    Nice review Stuart.

    For a movie review could you please review Memento?

  3. Slavin says:

    I’ve just seen the episode. It actually captivated me. While I knew that Clara was going to leave, I didn’t expect it to be that soon.
    I wonder if I’m the only one who thought, that Clara wouldn’t die when she Faced the Raven? For a few seconds it looked as if she was going to live, but…nope.
    A disappointing end for her though.
    😦

  4. Bret Hart?
    I personally think that if Sting showed up alongside the Raven with a baseball bat, then the quality of the episode would have been improved immensely.

  5. John Meadows says:

    I have not seen this episode yet but with the last two episodes titled “Hell Bent” and “Heaven Sent” I can imagine all kinds of “clever” story arcs that resolve Clara’s death, Danny Pink’s death, Me’s immortality, the Doctor’s moral complexity and angst and reaches a somewhat happy conclusion for all. Clara and Danny live happily ever after on earth (or in a reformed Nethersphere), Me gets to pass away. Not sure about the Doctor but maybe the silly reference to “The Fires of Pompeii” and the Doctor’s appearance will come into play on that matter. As a bonus, all the multiple appearances of characters that look like Philip Madoc and Donald Gee will be satisfactorily explained. Unfortunately I’m pretty serious about all of that (except Madoc and Gee).

    Of course, the whole season could be wiped away by the Christmas episode, a continuation of “Last Christmas” and the dream crabs which have been present ever since and the events of season 9 have been a dream. Remember the last scene from “Last Christmas”, the tangerines? Could have been a clue that the dream hasn’t ended.

    Unfortunately, with some of the convoluted story arcs of the past it honestly wouldn’t surprise me.

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