There’s always that point when you watch something when you decided within yourself how good it is.
Last week, during the scene where Bill wakes up after the airlock and the Doctor is revealed as blind, I knew I was watching one of the best stories in a long time. Good times.
This week watching Extremis, around the time the Doctor used some kind of special device to get his eyesight back for a few minutes and realised some faceless slithering creatures were right on top of him, I sadly realised I was watching the poorest episode of the season so far.
And when the episode ended, my first words were “Well that was a load of crap”.
I don’t like to dislike episodes of Doctor Who, but here’s why I did this time…
Doctor Who – Extremis Review: What’s This One About?
Underwhelming twists, the plot from the Android Invasion (yay?) and 45 minutes to get to the least shocking reveal in television history.
Thoughts – The Worst of Steven Moffat
I think we can all agree that when he’s firing on all cylinders, Steven Moffat is a brilliant and imaginative writer. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; The Girl in the Fireplace and Blink are two of the finest
episodes of Doctor Who ever written.
But he’s also prone to taking a good idea and recycling it so often that it becomes annoying. He did it in Coupling and he’s done it a few times in Doctor Who.
In Extremis, we once again get an ghoulish alien with a warped face lurking behind the scenes. So it’s like the Whisper Men who were like the Silence. For crying out loud let’s have something different.
Hell, even the plot is entirely unoriginal. It’s just The Android Invasion with a modern lick of paint. And that was hardly a brilliant story in its own right.
Then on top of that there were references to River Song, talk of future regenerations, another trip to the Oval Office, the return of that biography-cum-diary and all that nonsense with Missy.
Twists For The Sake Of Twists
The other major issue with Extremis was that it had twists for the sake of twists.
Again this goes back to Steven Moffat thinking he’s cleverer than he is at times. Either that or he doesn’t credit the viewer with being able to work out the simplest of things.
Now fair enough, this is the first part of a three episode story, but the conclusion to 45 minutes of viewing – that nothing we’ve seen actually mattered because it was just a simulation – felt to me like a waste of time
rather than a warm feeling of shock, surprise and satisfaction.
And as the story aimlessly jumped between that world and the scenes with Missy, do you think anyone hadn’t seen it telegraphed that it was indeed Missy in the vault? My jaw didn’t exactly hit the floor at that revelation.
So the big feeling was that this was recycled and aimless and tried to be too clever by half.
It Wasn’t All Bad
But let’s not kick this Extremis to death. It wasn’t all bad and may of course redeem itself in the next couple of episodes (though I doubt I’ll come around to those awful monsters).
There were elements that were enjoyable.
I liked Bill again and found her contribution to the episode to be generally strong, while there were also plenty of amusing lines of dialogue and scenarios early on.
But those were smaller moments of relief in an otherwise tedious affair.
- How come the Pope wasn’t speaking English? Does the TARDIS’s universal translator not work on leaders of the Catholic Church?
- Nardol was a bit hit and miss. He’s a good character for the most part, but in spite of Matt Lucas’s comedic skills I’d rather he was kept slightly more serious.
- I’m surprised at how well received this episode has been from some. It definitely feels a bit Marmite though; some will love it while others will…well let’s just say they won’t love it.
- As good as the cliffhanger was in Oxygen, I remain to be convinced after seeing this episode that the Doctor being blind has even the shortest term life span. I was getting tired of his inability to see pretty quickly.
Doctor Who – Extremis Review: Final Thoughts
Taken as a three-part piece, Extremis might turn out to be the beginnings of a good story, but as an individual episode, it was all fluff with very little substance to it.
I felt it was derivative, dull and if I was merely a casual viewer, I doubt I’d be inspired to tune in next week.
But then I’m not a casual viewer, so I will tune in on Saturday and hope to be impressed.
More Doctor Who Reviews
Remember that you can read a select amount of my Doctor Who reviews on this blog and all of them in my two ebooks, available here from Amazon