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Clara Season - From the Snowmen to the Whispermen!,
This review is from: Doctor Who - Series 7 Part 2 [DVD] (DVD)
This is the second collection of episodes from `Series 7' of Doctor Who with Matt Smith, and joining him properly is Jenna Coleman playing Clara for the rest of this season. This is a refreshing new chapter in the Eleventh Doctor's life especially when Clara comes along. I really love Jenna Coleman in `Doctor Who' and she certainly brings a breath of fresh air on the companion compared to Amy and Rory who have recently departed the TARDIS. This collection of stories on DVD pave the way for a new direction of the series, with a new theme tune and a new TARDIS console room. It also has some interesting revelations about the future of the series, particularly towards its end.
This DVD collection comprises of the 2012 Christmas Special and the last number of episodes from Series 7 from 6 to 13. They are spread across 3 discs in this collection.
NB: Watch `Vastra Investigates' and `The Great Detective' on Disc 1 before this.
The 2012 Christmas Special and it's set in Victorian London, 1892. The Doctor is now living a life of retirement in London, as he is still in mourning from the departure of Amy and Rory. He becomes sulky and doesn't want to help out any more in defeating alien menaces and invasions. He comes across Clara who seems to be pretty fascinated by him (probably had a crush on him), and discovers an army of scary looking Snowmen attacking and devouring the peoples of London. He tries to avoid getting involved, until pretty soon he's gets caught in Clara's fascination of him and deals with the menace of Dr Simeon and his Snowmen.
This episode is notable for featuring the return of the Paternoster Gang - Madame Vastra the Silurian (Neve McIntosh); Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart) and Commander Strax the Sontaran (Dan Starkey). These are characters that featured before in 'A Good Man Goes To War'. I met Catrin Stewart once at a convention in Birmingham in 2011 and remember chatting to her about wondering what happened to Jenny and Vastra and whether they would return in `Doctor Who'. She seemed quite keen on the idea. Little did we know that those same characters would return again to `Doctor Who' becoming recurring characters which I was pretty delighted about.
Strax returns...hang on, I thought he died, didn't he? Yes he's been brought back to life - and a pretty weak explanation as to how he came back to life by the Doctor. But I'm glad to see Strax again and I've met Dan Starkey recently in Tunbridge Wells back in March. I found Strax's scenes where he loses parts of his memory by the `memory worm' very funny and Dan certainly does the comedy as the Sontaran very well.
But the biggest highlight in this episode really is Jenna Coleman playing Clara Oswin Oswald, the Doctor's new companion. I remember seeing Jenna in `Emmerdale' when she as Jasmine killed her boyfriend in that pretty intense plot running through the series. So imagine my delight when I heard the news she was going to be playing the Doctor's companion. Of course Jenna before this in 'Asylum of the Daleks' where she played a completely different character. Here she plays a young lady who works part-time as a barmaid and as a governor to two children of a wealthy Victorian gentleman.
The story's villain is Dr Simeons (played by Richard E. Grant). Richard E. Grant to `Doctor Who' fans played two Doctors - one of the Doctor's recently regenerated in `The Curse of Fatal Death' with Rowan Atkinson and the Shalka Doctor in `Scream of the Shalka' - the BBCi's Doctor Who animation serial. I've also seen in Richard playing Bob Cratchit with Patrick Stewart in a film version of `A Christmas Carol' one time. Here he plays a rather cold sinister character with no humour and becomes in league with the Snowmen formed by the Great Intelligence.
The Snowmen themselves I found pretty disappointing. We didn't get to see much of them in the story and I would have preferred them more subtler than their obviously scary look in the story. The Great Intelligence was voiced by Sir Ian McKellen who I thought was great, but I did find the villains' parts rather underused and not having a great impact for the whole of the story.
At the end of the story, Clara dies. The Doctor becomes upset. But how can she die when she's supposed to be in the rest of the series. That's where the mystery begins as the Doctor recognises the name `Clara Oswin Oswald' on her grave stone and remembers Oswin Oswald from `Asylum' beforehand. He begins to realise they were both the same person, and they both died. How can he have met the same person and both of them die?! That's the mystery the Doctor's got to work out, as he set the TARDIS on a new destination to find Clara again.
This episode is not the greatest Christmas special written by Steven Moffatt. It has its flaws, but it certainly set things up that were ready to come in the following year, which I was eagerly waiting to find out.
`THE BELLS OF SAINT JOHN'
NB: Watch `The Bells of Saint John Prequel' on Disc 1 before this.
If there's an episode I would call a favourite of mine from the Matt Smith era, it's probably this one. This is where we get to meet Clara Oswald properly, and she's a nanny to the children of the Maitland family. This is the `real' Clara the Doctor meets as she doesn't know him at all when he comes to her house.
I love Clara's first meeting with the Doctor, as she's so bewildered by his manner but finds him really amazing and easy to like. I also enjoyed it when Clara misinterprets the Doctor when he tells her to get her inside the TARDIS thinking it's a `snog box'. When she gets in the TARDIS, the Doctor has little time to explain trying to make a `short-hop' and she's naturally bewildered and astonishing at seeing the interior going `bigger on the inside; actually bigger'. She's still got her cup of tea in her hand, especially when she and the Doctor are on the plane and they try to stop it crashing into a suburban area. I really like it when the Doctor and Clara out on the town of London on a motorcycle as they make their way for breakfast.
The story itself is about an alien `Wi-Fi' system taking over people's minds and uploading them to the internet without them realising and it's against their will. The Doctor's determined to save Clara from being uploaded by the Wi-Fi not to lose her again like before. The two of them get to share an adventure together to stop the Wi-Fi and save everyone trapped inside the data cloud when they find the Shard building that the alien Wi-Fi headquarters is being kept. We don't get to know the reason why people are being uploaded by Wi-Fi really, although we get a return appearance of Richard E. Grant as the Great Intelligence. It means there'll be something to look forward to towards the end of the series.
I love how Matt Smith's Doctor gets to look after Clara as he saves her from the Wi-Fi using her laptop, puts her to bed, provides a jug of water with a glass when she wakes up, along with some jammy dodgers to tuck into, even though he takes a bite out of one of them himself and puts it back on the plate - pretty ridiculous amusing stuff. I also like it when the Doctor goes in a whispered voice - `I invented the quadrucycle!'. Matt and Jenna certainly spark off each other pretty well and it's a pretty good Doctor-companion set-up and such a refreshing one. I found it a little too fantastic when Matt's Doctor drove up the Shard building on his motorcycle and shattering the glass with his sonic screwdriver, but at least the anti-grafts are explained.
At the end of the story, the Doctor invites Clara to join him on his adventures in the TARDIS (due to his curiosity about who she is due to her being impossible). She's unsure and asks him to come back to tomorrow as she goes out. She may seem hesitant and unwilling to do TARDIS travelling, but she certainly gets to be the new companion for me. As the Doctor eagerly looks forward to seeing Clara again, he's determined to find out who she is.
`THE RINGS OF AKAHTEN'
This is Clara's first proper adventure in the TARDIS, as the Doctor takes her to the Rings of Akahten - where small planetoids orbit around a large gas giant. They go there and meet a variety of all sorts of creatures and aliens in a market town, where the currency is giving things of sentimental value.
As Clara explores, she comes across a little girl who is the Queen of Years called Merry Gejelh (played by Emilla Jones), who's running away and trying to hide. My favourite scene in this episode is where Clara and Merry get to hide behind the TARDIS, they sit down and Merry tells Clara why she's hiding since she has to sing a song to an old god and is afraid she'll get it wrong. Clara comforts Merry due to her nanny experience by telling her how she learnt not to be scared of being lost and that she thinks Merry will get it right when singing the song. This demonstrates Clara's compassionate and caring nature as a companion, to which I always look for whenever I come across a Who companion. It made me like Clara all the more and enjoy her adventures in the TARDIS with Matt Smith's Doctor.
The song that Merry sings is `The Long Song' and when I heard it being sung by this cute little girl it brought me to tears. Even the Doctor was confronting the `old god' in the form of the gas giant Akahten itself it really lifted my heart and blurred my eyes with tears. It was such an uplifting song to hear and Emilia Jones performed it again for the Proms of Doctor Who for this anniversary year.
This is a nice little episode by Neil Cross who writes for the series for the first time, and it's truly a lovely character piece for Clara Oswald, especially when the Doctor at the beginning explores her family history when visiting her mum and dad in the 80s and sees Clara born and is growing up. He watches Clara through her growing up in order to find out more about who she is as he finds her impossible. We're still none the wiser by the time we come to the end of this episode.
The special features on Disc 1 are as follows. There's a little featurette on the making of `The Snowmen' called `Clara's White Christmas' with interviews from Jenna Coleman, Matt Smith, Caroline Skinner (executive producer), etc. There are also some prequels leading into various episodes. The first two are `Vastra Investigates' and `The Great Detective' (the latter was shown on `Children In Need' night in 2012) preceding before `The Snowmen'. The second is a prequel leading into `The Bells of Saint John' where the Doctor meets Clara again but as a little girl and he doesn't realise it's her.
I managed to see this episode at a lodge hotel in Chiswick before going to a convention the following day. I had to put the subtitles on due to being close to the tube stations making so much noise - sad isn't it.
This episode features the return of one of the Doctor's oldest enemies from the classic series - the Ice Warriors. Written by Mark Gattis, this episode is set in a Soviet Russian submarine in the North Pole of 1983 during the cold war. The Doctor and Clara arrive there and find the submarine sinking due to a large `something' in a block of ice that has been in the sea for over 5,000 years. This `something' happens to be an Ice Warrior - Grand Marshall Skaldak.
The Ice Warriors first appeared in `Doctor Who' in the story 'The Ice Warriors' by Brian Hayles with Patrick Troughton. Mark Gattis had the challenging task of bringing back the Ice Warriors and re-creating them for a new era. It would have been nice to have seen more Ice Warriors as well as Skaldak, but I suppose he'll soon meet up with them again. And in a way this is a clear introduction about who the Ice Warriors are and their codes of conduct by featuring only one of them. Particularly as he's a war hero amongst his Martian race to which the Doctor is terrified about. Skaldak is played by Spencer Wilding and voiced by Nicholas Briggs (who's done Ice Warriors before in Big Finish).
This episode also guest stars Liam Cummingham playing Captain Zhukov (who was a potential contender for playing the Eighth Doctor before Paul McGann). And also there's David Warner playing Professor Grisenko, who has done many things in Big Finish for `Doctor Who' and appeared in two Star Trek films and the Next Generation (and have met him recently at a convention in Swansea).
`Cold War' is a rather gripping tale and certainly something to enjoy with the return of an Ice Warrior in this.
`Hide' is a creepy atmospheric story set in a house in 1974, where ghosts appear and the Doctor and Clara turn up to investigate with their ghost-busting skills. Another story written by Neil Cross, which happens to be his first contribution to the series inspired by the works of `The Quatermass Experiment'. When I saw this it certainly gave me the creeps and made me wonder what this ghost was and made me jump out of my skin at times to the moments that make you jump.
This episode features an appearance by Jessica Raine from `Call The Midwife' playing Emma Grayling. She would later play Verity Lambert in the 50th anniversary docu-drama 'An Adventure in Space and Time'. Here she plays an empathic who can sense the presence of these ghosts and has a romantic interest in Professor Alec Palmer who she works with (played by Dougray Scott), but he's shy to express his feelings.
I find Jessica to be very lovely and sweet when I watch scenes with her, and she certainly displays a compassionate quality in terms of her character. I like her scenes when she's alone with Clara when they're having tea instead of whiskey (finding it disgusting), and talking about the Doctor and Emma's love for Professor Palmer.
The Doctor and Clara arrive, posing as military intelligence, and meet up with Professor Palmer and Emma to help them out with this investigation of the ghost. They take photographs of these ghosts appearing every second whenever an apparition occurs in the house. The Doctor goes one step further as he and Clara go in the TARDIS to take pictures of the same place from the dawn of time to the end of time on Earth to calculate how many times this ghost has appeared.
It turns out that the ghost isn't actually a ghost at all, as she happens to be Hila Tukurian (played by Kemi-Bo Jacobs) who's been on the running in a pocket dimension from a monster lurking in a forest that's been chasing after her. For what the Doctor, Clara, Emma and Palmer has been seconds with the ghost, for Hila Tukurian has been thousands of years. Hila is significant to human history as she becomes the first time-travelling pioneer reported missing.
The Doctor goes into that pocket dimension with Emma's psychic help to rescue Hila from the creature that's hunting her down. But soon the Doctor gets trapped and becomes afraid, as he tries to speak to the creature hunting him. But he soon gets rescued by Clara who's managed to make use of the TARDIS to travel into the pocket dimension and get to him.
I like this story's filming locations as it was taken place at Margam Country Park, Gethin Forest owned by the National Trust in Tyntesfield. It adds a certain realism to the story and provides familiar location work compared to having a story set on a space ship or a space station.
The Doctor asks Emma about Clara by the end of the story, as he's no closer to finding out who Clara is. Emma using her psychic ability tells the Doctor that Clara is an ordinary young girl who's clever and brave and does not find anything unusual. This doesn't satisfy the Doctor's curiosity, but he's happy to keep on travelling with Clara despite the mystery.
`JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE TARDIS'
This is a fan-pleasing episode by Steve Thompson about the Doctor and Clara getting abducted by space salvage collectors a huge spaceship, and the TARDIS gets dragged in and blows up. Once on board, the Doctor acquires the services of these traders led by Gregor Van Baalen (played by Ashley Walters, who I've seen in `Stormbreaker' - the Alex Rider film) in order to find and rescue Clara. Once they find Clara, they have to reach the centre of the TARDIS in order to save it from being blown up.
This episode allows us to go deeper into parts of the TARDIS where we've never been before. Obviously they'd done in the classic days with `The Invasion of Time'; `Logopolis' and `Castrovalva' and more recently in 'The Doctor's Wife' but this is first time we actually get to go deeper and the TARDIS ship's interior is more central to the story. We get to hear voices from past Doctors and companions as well as the current ones when one of the Baalen brothers breaks into the TARDIS console. We get to hear voices like Susan, Ian, the Third Doctor, the Fifth Doctor and even the Ninth Doctor himself. Moments I'm sure would be pleasing to the fans if they were to listen out for them closely during the episode.
There's a really tense scene between the Doctor and Clara when they get trapped and he confronts her about who she is since he saw her die twice in the Dalek Asylum and Victorian London. She has no idea what the Doctor's talking about, but eventually she forgets him ever mentioning it once they get the TARDIS back to normal.
`THE CRIMSON HORROR'
This is another good one written by Mark Gatiss. It features the return of the Paternoster Gang back in Victorian London, 1893 - Vastra, Jenny and Strax (Neve McIntosh, Catrin Stewart and Dan Starkey). It also features special guest star Dame Diana Rigg (well-known for playing Emma Peel in `The Avengers') playing Mrs Gillyflower who runs Sweetville in Yorkshire, along with her daughter Rachael Stirling playing Ada.
It takes a while for the Doctor to appear in this story properly as he comes in a third of the way in. And when he does appear, his skins' very red with his mouth wide open. Eventually he reverts back to normal and he gets to rescue Clara and they along with the Paternoster Gang fight against Miss Gillyflower. Jenny gets to have an adventure of her own when she goes to Sweetville under cover to solve the mystery, which was very gripping to watch.
`NIGHTMARE IN SILVER'
The penultimate episode of this series by Neil Gaiman features the return of the Cybermen. It's a really fun and enjoyable episode.
The story has the Doctor taking Clara with her nanny responsibilities Angie and Artie Maitland who have come to have an adventure in the TARDIS. They go to a planet that is the venue of Hedgewick's World of Wonders - an extra-terrestrial theme park (filmed in Castell Coch, a castle in Cardiff close to where I live). But there are Cybermen waiting to reawaken and ready to rise to take over and it sets the scene for a battle between them and humanity.
The Cybermen in this story undergo a complete make-over and new upgrade for a new audience. I'll leave it to you to decide whether you think the Cybermen look great in this one. I think they look great, but I prefer their original make-over when they came back in 2006. There are lots of Borg influences from `Star Trek' in this story. The way the Doctor looks with those metallic implants on his face makes him almost like a `Borg' and certainly Webley's face that's half human, half Cyberman is pretty creepy like a Borg. The Cybermen also can adapt just like the Borg when getting shot adapting to new frequencies or trudging through the moat and overcome the obstacles stating `Upgrade in progress!'. Even with those little Cyber mites are like Borg references in injecting people with implants. The Cyberman voices are still done by Nick Briggs but sound rather throaty and on first viewing I couldn't quite hear them to be honest. I preferred it when their voices were deeper and more menacing compared to the new voices.
I found the Doctor as the Cyber Planner quite frightening on some level. The Doctor gives a vicious performance when he's playing two characters inside his head. It's a terrifying performance from Matt Smith who enthuses such venom. Although I'm not sure if the Cyber Planner should have expressed so much emotion in the way Matt played him since these are emotionless beings.
This episode features guest stars Warwick Davis playing Porridge and Jason Watkins playing Webley. I remember Warwick Davis when he was in the BBC version of `The Chronicles of Narnia' as Reepicheep and have also seen him in `Star Wars' and the Narnia movie version of `Prince Caspian'. To see him in this episode is a true delight. Jason Watkins as Webley is also good too. I remember seeing him in the `Dirk Gently' TV series before this and recently afterwards in `Nativity 2: Danger in a Manger' with David Tennant. I liked his eccentric almost whimsical nature at the beginning of the episode . It's a shame he gets Cyber/Borg-ified almost rather quickly in the episode and becomes menacing, cold and terrifying.
This episode also features Eve de Leon Allen and Kassius Carey Johnson playing the Maitland children - Angie and Artie - who are in Clara's care. Angie's rather abrasive, difficult and sometimes a bit unreasonable, but is pretty clever and works out who Porridge is as the Emperor. Artie's clever in chess, though he doesn't do too well in his match with the Cyberman playing chess at the beginning. I liked when he traded in a sandwich to Webley that's quite funny in itself. It's terrifying when Angie and Artie get cyber implants in their ears, and Clara's not happy as she expects the Doctor to get them back to normal.
I really have enjoyed Clara in this episode. Jenna's such a lovely person to play a companion. I enjoyed it when Clara gets to be the leader of some soldiers in the fight against the Cybermen. Matt Smith's Doctor is good in this too, and I like how determined he is to save the children, and immediately puts his faith in Clara in taking charge of the troops.
So `Nightmare in Silver' is a really good entertaining episode to watch. The Cybermen are good in this, although I have missed the 2006 new series design and voices. It's fair they have to change and update themselves with new technology coming in, but I still feel that the new series Cybermen from the early David Tennant years were much better.
`THE NAME OF THE DOCTOR'
NB: Watch `Clarence and the Whispermen' on Disc 3 before this.
The series finale and it features the appearance of all the Doctors from the series, as Clara keeps appearing in their lives through their timeline. Clara comes across the First Doctor on Gallifrey long, long ago and persuades him to take a different Type-40 TARDIS since he's going for the wrong one. She also calls out to Doctor 3 in Bessie in `The Five Doctors'; bumps into Doctors 2 and 8 in a park; calls to Doctor 5 in the Matrix on Gallifrey in `Arc of Infinity'; calls to Doctor 7 hanging from his umbrella on a cliff-face in `Dragonfire' and misses Doctor 6 in a corridor. This episode features the revelation of why Clara is impossible...as she was born to save the Doctor.
The episode includes the return appearance of the Paternoster Gang again - Vastra, Jenny and Strax - who come together for a dream-like meeting to save the Doctor. They invite Clara along and also Professor River Song who returns in this episode - now a data ghost following her death in 'Silence in the Library'/'Forest of the Dead'. Also the episode features the return of `The Great Intelligence' with Richard E. Grant and his new servants the Whispermen - who have horrific faces and wear Victorian England clothes.
The story itself is about the Doctor's secret being discovered and him being terribly distraught as it is found in the place where he must never go on his travels in the TARDIS. Trenzalore - the Doctor's grave. The name `Trenzalore' was mentioned by Dorium Maldovar in 'The Wedding of River Song' when it was to be the setting for the first question to be asked and for `silence to fall'. The Doctor and Clara have to go to Trenzalore as their friends Vastra, Jenny and Strax have been kidnapped and taken there. It's a trap the Doctor falls for as the Great Intelligence are there waiting for him and they get him to open the tomb door using his name, as the Whispermen threaten to kill his friends.
Fortunately the Doctor doesn't get to say his name, as River says it for him appearing as a data ghost whilst nobody else is listening since she knows his name. I was glad we don't get the Doctor's name being mentioned since I wanted that mystery to be kept secret.
We go inside the Doctor's tomb, and there we find the Doctor's time-stream sizzling in the centre of his dead TARDIS where his memories and experiences are kept. As the Doctor slowly weakens and dies, the Great Intelligence take their revenge as they go inside the Doctor's time-stream and change every victory of his into a defeat. And that's when Clara goes in and rescues the Doctor with her final words to the Doctor saying `Run you clever boy, and remember me!' Once she goes in, she gets splintered across time and space, as she gets to save the Doctor from being destroyed by the Great Intelligence.
So that's why Clara died twice in `Asylum of the Daleks' and `The Snowmen'. They weren't the real Claras. They were aspects of her when Clara went into the Doctor's time-stream to prevent him being destroyed by the Great Intelligence. She encounters all of the Doctor's lives from William Hartnell to David Tennant, before ending up lost, alone and frightened in the wilderness. The Doctor fortunately goes into his own time stream and rescues Clara, eventually finding her with the use of a memory of her leaf that held memories of her parents first meeting. The Doctor and Clara are reunited, both delighted and happy after being so scared. The Doctor knows now that Clara has been saving him all this time and is happy to have her back.
Then the Doctor sees someone in the distance in his own time-stream. Clara sees him too and is confused, thinking she has seen all the Doctor's incarnations. The Doctor tries to get away with Clara, before revealing that the man in the distance is him. But it's a version that the Doctor has chosen to forget since he was the `one who broke the promise'. He is the Doctor's greatest secret. The man in the distance reveals `what he did he had no choice, but did it in the name of peace and sanity'. The Doctor knows this to be true, but bitterly says that the man didn't do it `in the name of the Doctor'. As the Doctor carries Clara away, the man turns round to reveal himself, looking sad and grieved.
`Introducing JOHN HURT...as THE DOCTOR...'
Whatever this means, I had no idea at the time of watching this episode. And I couldn't wait to find out what it was. TO BE CONTINUED...
The special features on `Disc 3' areas follows. There's a prequel leading into `The Name of the Doctor' called `Clarence and the Whispermen'. There's also an hour-long documentary about `The Companions' with interviews from Jenna Coleman, Matt Smith, David Tennant (the 10th Doctor), John Barrowman (Jack Harkness), Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams); Karen Gillian (Amy Pond); Noel Clarke (Mickey Smith); Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones), etc.
The second part of Series 7 is a truly enjoyable collection of episodes. I enjoyed watching Clara and the Doctor together for this series and found their Doctor-companion relationship really refreshing and reassuring. They spark off each other remarkably well and I looked forward to what would happen to them next.
The next story for the Eleventh Doctor is 'The Time Machine'
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Jul 2014 09:35:12 BDT
Very helpful to know which episodes are on each disk - thankyou
In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jul 2014 10:51:00 BDT
Tim Bradley says:
Thank you for your nice comment, Lidar. Glad you found this review of mine helpful. Tim.
Posted on 4 Jul 2014 11:23:29 BDT
As ever Tim Bradleys Doctor Who reviews continue too deliver the goods.
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