extremis

Written with no prior knowledge of what’s going to be in the episode – I watch the ‘Next Time’ trailer and make sure I see, hear and read nothing else – and written immediately after my first viewing. This is my unfettered, emotional response to this week’s DOCTOR WHO fare.

Next year, when presumably he’ll no longer be contributing scripts, we’re really going to miss Steven Moffat.

Even those who stand as detractors (and I know there are many) would – even if they don’t like his tricksy style – surely concede that his scripts have ambition to them, they have intelligence. At their best his scripts have more unfettered ambition and pulsing intelligence than most shows on TV manage, let alone most DOCTOR WHO episodes.

Take, for example, ‘Extremis’.

Looking at the ‘Next Time’ trailer, I thought it was going to be DOCTOR WHO meets Dan Brown, and that’s great. As if THE DA VINCI CODE had been a big hit in 1974, surely Robert Holmes would have leapt on it and we’d have had a version starring Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen.

The Doctor meets X current popular thing is a long and noble tradition in the programme.

But we’re wrong-footed at the start as it clearly isn’t just DOCTOR WHO meets THE DA VINCI CODE, indeed the imagery couldn’t be any more GAME OF THRONES if they had George R.R. Martin playing the chief executioner. And before we know it THE MATRIX is thrown in there as well. All this in forty-five minutes, with an alien invasion, existential terror and the comedy ending of a date somehow crammed in as well.

Okay, it’s a particularly dark episode and I can see why some people will resist because of that. It’s taking the themes of THE MATRIX and really squeezing them. In the Kenau Reeves movie, when characters realised they were in a computer simulation they tried to liberate themselves. Here it’s suicide, or mass-suicide. It really is dark.

But I loved it.

I thought the script (as you might have surmised by now) was fantastic.

The direction was magnificently atmospheric.

P-Cap was superb.

P-Mac doubly so.

Even M-Lu, whose acting I haven’t had cause to praise thus far, was excellent.

I’m fully aware that a duff episode next week may tarnish the gleam of this one, but for now I’m a very contended Whovian.

 

Random other thoughts:

  • I didn’t notice any First Doctor references this week, but maybe I was too caught up in the story.
  • Although, apparently there’ve been lots of David Bowie references this series as well, and I’ve missed them too.
  • I’m starting to suspect I’m not very good at spotting references.

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