Ah Toby Whithouse, you never disappoint me!
Here we are, week three of this run of Doctor Who and we’re back looking at my top ten moments from ‘Under the Lake’. Straight off the bat I should say that Whithouse is one of my favourite Who writers, with his Series 6 story; ‘The God Complex’ being one of my favourite episodes of the show. From this first part alone it seems he has cooked up yet another belter of a story and because I enjoyed it so much, just like last week, it has been very hard to come up with just 10 separate best bits, but I tried my best.
As ever, there will be spoilers.
10. The Updated TARDIS
It was great to see the Doctor back in the TARDIS again; we haven’t seen that since December 2014! I love the addition of the roundels this year and the lighting combined with the steam in the console room was a particular delight. It was also great to hear the Cloister Bell once again. I don't think I’ll ever tire of that sound.
9. The Music
You may think I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel with this one, but this was honestly one of my favourite aspects of Under The Lake. There are some brilliant creepy aspects to the soundtrack but some of my favourite pieces are a lot more techno - I have a feeling we might hear more of this style this year as we have already had some in ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’
8. Classic Tropes and Pace
I do love a good base under siege story, and this is exactly what we got here. There’s just something about them that screams classic Doctor Who, and after two weeks of fast paced action it was nice to dial it down somewhat. Whilst it felt like the episode went by really quickly, this slower pace allowed for a much tenser build up which is exactly what a ghost story needs.
7. Cue Cards
There’s not much I can say about this one other than the fact it was hilarious. I love how this Doctor still doesn’t quite understand human etiquette and it’s great to see Clara’s inner teacher helping him out with that. Nice nod to Sarah Jane Smith too…
6. The Crew
I was a bit anxious when I found out that the episode would have a large guest cast like this, as a lot of the time most characters are no more than cannon fodder. But even here, the characters that were expendable still played a big part, so I have to commend Whithouse for that! What I liked most of all was how all of the surviving crew (at the time of writing anyway) were used well and each had their own characteristics and felt fleshed out.
5. The Ghosts
These ghosts were actually pretty spine-chilling… not as much as the trailers made them out to, be but even so. The first glimpse of Prentis (a member of the brilliant Tivolian race from ‘The God Complex’, who we’ll meet properly next week) actually creeped me out somewhat, so I can only imagine how the jump scare that followed made younger viewers react. I loved their blacked out eyes and I’m wondering if there is any reasoning behind that or if it’s just a design choice.
I was a little bit worried when they announced there would be a deaf character in the show; I didn’t know if they would feel out place, but I think it was tackled fantastically. I was actually really pleased that Sophie Stone’s character was portrayed as a strong willed and independent person, and not as a vulnerable character, which was something I feared was going to happen.
Doctor Who writers do seem to like the name Cass, don’t they?
3. Clara’s Addiction
“I want another adventure. Come on, you feel the same. You're itching to save a planet, I know it.”This episode once again showed Clara’s addiction to traveling with the Doctor, and I can’t help but feel that her recklessness and need for “monsters” and “things blowing up” will contribute heavily to her possible demise…
2. The Twelfth Doctor
“Every time I think it couldn't get more extraordinary, it surprises me. It's impossible. I hate it. It's evil. It's astonishing. I want to kiss it to death.”Sometimes I feel that Steven Moffat still doesn’t know what sort of Doctor he is writing for with Capaldi, but I certainly think that Toby Whithouse does. Like Jamie Mathieson in Series 8, Whithouse gets the balance of Twelve’s more abrasive and cold persona and his gentler, more grandfatherly side spot on in this story. After his moral dilemma last series, the Doctor is certainly a lot warmer this year and clearly loves the thrill of adventure, but there is still a more alien side to him which comes through now and again and I think when a script like this gets the tone just right it enables Peter Capaldi to give one of his best performances as the Doctor yet. He absolutely nailed it in this episode… the Doctor appears to be more comfortable in his current body and I think Capaldi feels more comfortable too.
1. A New Ghost
Now I did not see this one coming… I was expecting it to be the Fisher King from next week’s episode, but instead we got the Doctor’s ghost! I can’t help but feel that the Doctor’s death is going to be a recurring theme this year.. it’s cropped up in all three episodes so far… Though the most pressing question is, how on Earth is the Doctor going to survive this one?
Join me next week as we travel back to ‘Before the Flood’, but first, what were your favourite parts of this episode?
Nick is a 2000 year old alien who travels through time and space, saving the good and conquering the evil... or so he likes to think.