|After a rollicking opening to Series 7B last week, we were treated to a new episode in “The Rings of Akhaten” that received almost no love from any of the Three Who Rule. In fact, only one person had something nice to say about it, and you’ll never guess who! The episode may have left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, but the return of a full stats report, and a return of our new, impromptu game called “Guess the Stats!”, proved to be a splash of minty, mouthwashy goodness! That, and talk of the 50th Anniversary special, Christopher Eccleston, DVD news, and an endless list of Doctor Who t-shirt ideas, makes clear that it’s not where you start, but where you finish. Next week: Ice Warriorssss…|
– The Rings…of Akhaten!
Commiserations on your disappointment with The Rings of Akhaten,gentlemen.Didn’t completely work for me either,unfortunately.The most effective parts of the story were the scenes relating to Claras’ background and while i enjoyed much of the visual spectacle and creative invention of the alien environment,the lack of action and horror in the plot was very obvious.There was frequently no demonstrative threat and the story was very poorly resolved.Hope it isn’t indicative of intervention from BBC executives about what’s allowed and was just misjudged.
So this wasn’t the result of a competition for a whole episode to be written by a blue peter viewer?
I agree with some of the problems you noted in The Rings of Akhaten, but I really liked the scene between Clara and the Queen behind the TARDIS. That scene makes the show with me. Paul Cornell compared to a Steve Parkhouse Doctor Who Magazine strip which I think he meant as a complement.
The Rings of Akhaten looked really great with spiffy special effects but too much exposition, and very little dramatic tension. Though, there were some great Clara and Doctor moments – such as when he explained to her”we never run away” as well as the Doctor’s talk to the Princess of Years about how noone was going to die when he explained the creation of the universe was really well written and acted as well his confrontation with the alien “god”.
Looking forward to Cold War as well as Neil Gaiman’s episode (wow imagine if he was show runner!).
“No! You’re wrong!” Is what I was shouting at my phone as I listened to your review of the latest episode of ‘Doctor Who’.
It was a solidly good episode! The singing surprised me by actually working, the kid wasn’t annoying and the pacing was wonderfully measured.
I’ll give you that the psychometric economy and the resolution of the giant monster choking on the leaf after emptying the Doctor is a tad too sappy, another in a long line of resolutions that rely more on a sort of poetic logic than actual logic, but I am used to it by now. That’s apparently ‘Doctor Who’.
At least it worked for the overarching story this time in a way it just can’t when an incidental character blows up Cybermen “with love”. The Doctor delivered a powerful speech that helps build the character for the 50th and the new current companion gets to come to terms with losing her mother.
In a sense it was a lot like Clara’s version of ‘The End of the World’ except this time you actually got a sense of scale to the proceedings and the crazy aliens that were showed off felt like they were actually inhabiting the world instead of being literally paraded out for the audience to see.
The episode really hooked me with it’s approach to religion though. The locals might hold some crazy beliefs about how all life began at Akhaten but the Doctor knows it’s just their own little way of making sense of a universe of immense complexity, it seems to work for them though so he’s not about to spoil their fantasy. Until their fantasy threatens the life of an innocent little girl. At that point he makes no bones about it and comforts the frightened would be sacrificial lamb with the wonders of the truth before setting out to commit another deicide. The Doctor has seen creatures who would pretend to be gods and to an extent he has even been one himself. When he confronts this latest impostor he isn’t raising himself up to the level of deity but taking the giant ball of sentient whatnot down a peg.
So, no, this episode was good in my estimation and I think that purely objectively it at least comes out ahead of ‘The Power Of Three’ (the worst Moffat era episode so far).
The speeder bike looked like it was made of painted plywood though. That was weird. And it sort of bugged me how you can see the town-asteroid slowly rotating when viewed from the pyramid-asteroid but it never rotates so that the ceremonial stage area is out of view. Even in quick cuts it just starts to disappear out of view and then it’s fully in view again cutting back. It doesn’t make any sense since the pyramid appears locked in view when seen from the ceremonial stage area.
And with that I’m unlikely to have changed anyone’s mind about the merits of ‘The Rings of Akhaten’ but at least it’s been recorded on the Internets that someone enjoyed it.
I hope we all find ‘Cold War’ to our liking next week.
My big problem with this episode is that, like The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe, there was no conflict. In fact, apart from the throwaway dialogue from the Queen’s handlers, the aliens (speaking alien), and the chanting monk, the only characters who said anything of substance on Akhaten were The Doctor, Clara, and Merry. This meant that The Doctor had to basically have a conversation with himself at the end, instead of confronting a villain. Same goes for Clara immediately afterward with the leaf.
I keep feeling like I should like this episode less than I do but despite its shortcomings, the whole thing kind of worked for me.
It definitely wasn’t close to the best thing I’ve seen this series, but I could see myself watching it again.
I was feeling like a heartless jerk for hating so much of this episode, and you made me feel better. Thanks!
I’m still looking forward to the rest of the season.
Pingback: The Dork Report: Doctor Who and The Rings of Akhenaten: Imagine There's No Religion
“Oh Great Pumpkin, bow your head.
“Go to sleep or we’ll be dead”
“Oh Great Pumpkin, our great lord
Giant solar holy gourd”
“Sleep, pumpkin, sleep….”