DOCTOR WHO - TIME HEIST Spoiler Free Review

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After last week's mighty impressive installment, Doctor Who Series 8 continues to deliver exceptional entertainment. Here's our spoiler free review of Time Heist.


One of Doctor Who's biggest strengths is its ability to offer totally diverse episodes across the space of a single season, yet still all coherently feel like Doctor Who. Take pretty much any genre you like, add a sprinkle of the 'Doctor's Special Seasoning' (3 parts Sci-Fi to 2 parts Timey-Wimey), stir gently and simmer for 45 minutes. VoilĂ !

Two weeks ago we delved into farce with 'Carry On Robin', last week we ventured into psychological thrillers, and this time we visit the heist genre. Take 'Ocean's Eleven' add that special seasoning and we have 'Doctor's Four' - or the slightly more catchy title, Time Heist.

Time Heist sees the Doctor turn bank robber. Along with a hand picked team, he's tasked with penetrating the most impregnable vault in the cosmos, which is situated deep within the deadly bank of Karabraxos. Joining him on his quest are guest stars Jonathan Bailey (Broadchurch) as a cyber-augmented gamer, and Pippa Bennett-Warner (The Smoke) as a shape-shifter. Plus there's the "mysterious Ms Delphox", wonderfully portrayed by Keely Hawes.

It's solid Doctor Who on offer here, and could (could) be the episode that the opposing elements of fandom actually agree upon - it does seem that those who praise Listen as one of the greats disliked Robot of Sherwood, and those who loved RoS didn't 'get' Listen. But we're on much more traditional territory here, Time Heist is not a game changer like Listen and it's not as jarring in style as RoS. There's excitement, adventuring, a new monster and a nice twist to boot. But then I'd expect all that from Doctor Who's Scottish A-Team - Peter Capaldi, director Douglas Mackinnon and writer Steven Moffat (who co-authored this one with Sherlock scribe Stephen Thompson).

Of the episodes we've seen so far, it's clear Douglas Mackinnon understands Moffat's vision for Capaldi. In Listen, and again in Time Heist, he has truly given us the darker Doctor we were promised pre-season, along with brilliant taut direction and pacing. It's good to know that he will be back behind the camera for one more episode this season, and by the sound of Flatline it'll be right up his street.

But back to Time Heist, part of that traditional style of the episode is evident in the Doctor/Clara dynamic. Previously it was Clara that seemed in charge, running the show and effectively taking on the role of the Doctor. In Time Heist it's not even a level playing field, there's no mistaking who's in charge - it's the eyebrows - and Clara is now much more the traditional companion - asking questions, taking direction. It's a shift in tone that will no doubt please some, and it will be interesting to see if it carries over into the subsequent stories.

So make no mistake it's all about Capaldi here, and as you'd expect he is amazing. There's even a moment of pure (pre-watershed) Malcolm Tucker. Capaldi's Doctor does seem more and more detached from humanity, and appears to have no idea about us Earthlings at all - strange, considering he's had dozens as traveling companions.

Story wise, it might not be as strong as Listen, and the last act has a touch of familiarity about it - you'll likely draw comparisons with an episode from Matt Smith's era, although I'd say this one does it much better - but what Time Heist does offer is a really entertaining self-contained episode, the type that Doctor Who needs to deliver more of.

If we stay at this level of quality for the rest of the series then we're in for one hell of a ride.



Time Heist premieres Saturday 20th September, 7.30pm on BBC One.
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