DOCTOR WHO - In The Forest Of The Night Review

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Green-fingered Christopher Morley takes a ramble In The Forest Of The Night.


Time to venture deep into a forest! Only this one is unlike any you've ever seen- mostly as it's in London & has overtaken the city, along with the rest of the world by the look of things. While it looks lovely ( as these things tend to) the Doctor's presence right in the middle of it, ' Sexy' almost obscured by greenery, might well suggest something's not quite right. And indeed it isn't- but not in the manner you might expect, which is surely to first-time Doctor Who writer Frank Cottrell Boyce's credit. He's the man behind Millions, Cosmic & The Unforgotten Coat - which has nothing whatsoever to do with the one sported by the Doctor himself during his Sixth incarnation. Depending on point of view you might class it as the coat you wish you could forget..........

Anyhow, back to business. The trees are taking over at absolutely the worst possible time. Home-time! The young minds of Coal Hill School's 'gifted & talented' programme have been exploring a local museum, one of them ( Ruby) excelling herself in noticing something odd about the rings of a tree sample within. The rings themselves are vitally important in the process of carbon dating as well as dendrochronology ( the proper scientific term for ' working out how old trees are'). Isn't nature just amazing? All this after an opening which seems to imply they've somehow had a sleepover into the bargain- somewhere Ian Chesterton & Barbara Wright are tutting & claiming it would never have been allowed in their day. Mind you they did follow Susan home from school against their better judgement/the rules of the teaching profession, so they're fine ones to talk!


Their modern-day forebears Miss Oswald & Mr Pink now face the challenge of guiding their young charges through a forest nobody saw coming. One of them, Maebh, has somehow made her way into the TARDIS & is causing the Doctor no end of puzzlement. Oh, and there's the small matter of a few escaped zoo animals. One of which is mentioned in the William Blake poem The Tyger from which this episode's title is creatively borrowed. Pay attention, hmm? And don't say we don't teach you anything, either- recite after us...
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?'
No, we won't be seeing a flaming tiger set loose on the Doctor. That's just cruel! One of its brethren who hasn't been set ablaze does cause quite a stir though- until that big strong Mr Pink comes along & saves his colleague/lady friend from a rather nasty lunch date with it, perhaps in hope she'll go on considerably nicer lunch dates with him instead. All that will have to wait, though. One of the children- the very same Maebh who turned up at the door of the TARDIS claiming to need to see a Doctor- is now missing somewhere in the tangled mass of green now engulfing our nation's fair capital city.


While we're at it what does happen when ' the stars throw down their spears'? Well, actually in this case it's a solar flare that's threatening to do some rather serious damage. Not for the first time either- they're also mentioned as a bit of a pain in The Ark, The Ark In Space, The Mysterious Planet, Evolution Of The Daleks, The Waters Of Mars & The Beast Below. They've also been used by the Controller of the Game Station as part of a bid to warn the Ninth Doctor about the Daleks, whom she knew as her ' masters' prior to the rather big revelation about the Bad Wolf. Soon after his regeneration from his War incarnation & meeting Rose Tyler for the first time in the immediate aftermath he'd come across Jabe, one of the Forest Of Cheem- a race of sentient humanoid trees- too! Their Earthly equivalents have been protecting the planet from harm for years. Trees, we salute you!

Is it now safe to presume that the Twelfth Doctor keeps a copy of the Cure's Greatest Hits, or at least their second album Seventeen Seconds ( from which A Forest grows) in the TARDIS?


Going by the lyrics, it would seem Robert Smith nails the gist of the entire narrative in the opening three lines-
'Come closer and see
See into the trees
Find the girl
While you can'.



Back in 1980 when that was released Peter Capaldi was making music himself, he was vocalist/guitarist in Dreamboys, with Craig Ferguson behind the drum kit...



Take a listen to their 1980 offerings Outer Limits & Bela Lugosi's Birthday...



Capaldi's musical past is a story for another day perhaps? As, of course, is Dark Water, and the claim that 'Clara Oswald never existed'....



Cryptic...........
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