And so we come to the end of this three-part Monk trilogy in The Lie of the Land.
If you’ve read my reviews from the last two episodes, you’ll know I wasn’t keen on Extremis at all, but enjoyed The Pyramid at the End of the World, so this episode is to an extent the decider on whether the story as a whole has been good enough.
My initial thought on seeing that it was written by Toby Whithouse was that it probably wouldn’t be great, but then I remembered that I liked his last effort from the previous season.
So there was always hope…
Doctor Who – The Lie of the Land Review: What’s This One About?
Earth has been taken over by Aliens influenced by John Terry’s antics at the Champions League Final.
Thoughts – Limping Over The Finish Line
Alas my hopes were dashed.
I didn’t think too much of The Lie of the Land.
It wasn’t that it was a bad episode, but rather that it failed to capitalise on the cliffhanger from last week and so it lacked any real punch.
Let’s take The Monks as an example. When last we saw them, they had just done a deal to ‘save’ Earth and menaced the Doctor with the line “Enjoy your sight Doctor; now you’ll see our world”. That’s a big cliffhanger and one that could have gone in any number of directions. But all they did was change people’s memories so that they’d think The Monks had shared in Earth’s achievements over the centuries.
In effect, their threat amounted to becoming a race of John Terrys, claiming credit for things they hadn’t done themselves.
Hardly menacing, just mildly annoying.
And they barely appeared.
Instead, they were relegated to the background in an episode about fake news, Missy and the possibility that Bill might have to sacrifice herself to save the world (even though we all knew that wasn’t going to happen) before being vanquished by her love of a fictionalised version of her mother or some other sentimental nonsense.
Maybe this is down to having a different writer. Maybe it should be that if you’re doing a multi-episode story, if you want consistency then you must have the same writer penning the lot, for better or worse. This has been a problem going all the way back to The Daleks’ Master Plan after all.
But on the whole, at this point I don’t think the trilogy worked. It was too disjointed, each writer wanted to achieve something different and the results were a story that lacked an overall sense of direction.
This one limped over the finish line.
Like I say though, it wasn’t a bad episode.
Its strengths lay in the interactions between the Doctor, Bill and Missy (alas Nardole was just an annoying background noise for the most part).
Though I’m keen to see where this is all going, I do like that Missy is – on the face of it at least – attempting to reform as a character and offering advice and support in her own way.
It’s not saying much, but the interaction and chemistry between Peter Capaldi and Michelle Gomez has resulted in the best Doctor/Master relationship since Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado.
Unlike any of the actors who have taken the role in between, I think Gomez gets that under the surface, there’s supposed to be a likeability about the Doctor’s arch nemesis.
Doctor Who Goes Global…Again
In my review last week, I raised concerns that this episode would end up being like Last of the Timelords. And I was right.
The opening section of the episode bore a striking resemblance to Martha’s journey, while the reset switch was also pressed at the end of it too.
And that’s something I don’t think works in Doctor Who.
To me, the show works best and has the most credibility when something happens on a smaller scale. The idea is that the Doctor should prevent an alien invasion before the public is aware of it rather than defeat it after they’ve already won.
When they’ve already won then the cat is out of the bag.
Too often now have aliens taken over contemporary Earth in Doctor Who, only for them to be defeated and for everyone to simply forget that it happened.
It just doesn’t sit well with me.
- The Lie of the Land didn’t just copy The Last of the Timelords either. The bit where they all wore headphones to remind them of the truth about The Monks was a rehash of how they fought back against The
Silence in the Matt Smith episodes.
- I wonder who the Monks got to build all those statues? If their source of power was originally Bill but that they needed the statues to amplify their control, how did they have control over enough people to build the statues in the first place? Answer me that!
- I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again; Magpie Electrical was an independent retailer in 1950s London whose owner died under the cloud of having collaborated with a monster who sucked the faces off his customers. Why would the shop now be a successful chain in modern times? At the very least, even if you take into consideration the possibility that someone decided to take over the business after he died, they’d probably have rebranded it.
- So does everyone now have strong memories of Bill’s mum?
- There was a comment on the blog from a reader the other week that has echoed some rumblings I’ve read elsewhere over the last three weeks. People think that The Monks are somehow the Mondas Cybermen. I guess this is because of the way they speak with voices coming out of open mouths. That is the only link anyone could make between the two and it’s the reachiest of reaches. If for whatever reason that prediction turns out to be true – taking into consideration that the Mondas Cybermen are humans with spare parts – then I’ll throw my hands up in disgust.
- Next week it’s a Mark Gatiss episode. Oh joy. I feel I need to remind you all again that despite the fact I’ve never had any interaction with him on a one to one basis, I noticed Gatiss has blocked me on Twitter, which means he’s read my reviews of his mostly crap episodes and has taken the hump. So if you’re reading this Mark, hiya pal!
Doctor Who – The Lie of the Land Review: Final Thoughts
Though the interaction between the Doctor, Missy and Bill was good, The Lie of the Land was an ultimately disappointing conclusion to a trilogy that – because it had different writers for each episode – has felt disjointed and lacking in direction.
I’m glad we’re moving on to something different even though it might turn out to be poor considering the writer.
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