The Rings of Akhaten – Season 7 Episode 8


Tonight’s episode was The Rings of Akhaten, and it was an almost brilliant episode, that for the first time all season gave me that feeling again while watching the show.  Clara was rushing to save the Doctor after delivering an epic speech to the old god, and then I learned how to keep the inside of my dishwasher sparkling clean….I hate commercials.

I do envy those viewers in the UK who can watch their shows uninterrupted.  First a quick bit of explanation from Wikipedia for those who don’t know what I’m talking about:

In the United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies, any household watching or recording live television transmissions as they are being broadcast (terrestrial, satellite, cable, or internet) is required to hold a television licence. Since 1 April 2010 the annual licence fee has been £145.50 for colour and £49.00 for black and white.  Income from the licence is primarily used to fund the television, radio and online services of the BBC. Total levies from the licence fee were £3.681 billion in 2011–12 of which £588.4 million or 16.0% was provided by the Government through concessions for those over the age of 75. Thus, the licence fee made up the bulk of the BBC’s total income of £5.086 billion in 2011-2012.

So essentially taxpayers fund the television shows so there is no need for advertising and the shows run on uninterrupted before happy viewers.  I actually remarked on this to someone earlier this week, as I just finished watching Season 1 of two separate shows; Copper and Ripper StreetCopper airs on BBC America, and the 10 episodes were 45 minutes each, allowing for commercials in a one hour time slot.  Ripper Street airs on BBC and the 8 episodes were a full hour each, meaning no commercial breaks.  Both were excellent, but I preferred Ripper Street.  But that’s enough about those shows, this post is about Doctor Who.  If tonight’s episode was designed for the UK audience without commercials, how come it was only an hour long here in Canada?  Were segments cut out to make it fit?  Did I miss things?  The way the show broke for the commercials did not seem natural, so maybe there are missing minutes…

I quite enjoyed tonight’s episode for several reasons, and looking back I think I have it pinpointed, The Rings of Akhaten borrowed a lot of things from past episodes that I really liked, ironically none of which were by Moffat, who I thought wrote some of the best episodes of the first four seasons.  First, I rewatched Season One’s Rose last week, and then realized that I hadn’t really watched the Doctor Who Confidential episodes.  Watching The Rings of Akhaten tonight I recalled Confidential’s comments about the second episode End of the World.  The series had just returned and needed to show some aliens.  I think that was true of tonight as well.  Not only did we get a “monster” but we also got a lot of the much needed aliens, and also got a feeling similar to End of the World.  The Doctor takes his new companion to some far flung time and lets her explore.  The monster tonight was an angry god full of fire reminiscent of Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit, an episode where the Doctor also makes a dramatic monologue.

While I did enjoy the episode, there were a few things I didn’t like about it, and it all really boils down to continuity.

  1. Shut the TARDIS door.  Last week we heard the Doctor doesn’t like to take the TARDIS into battle because it’s the most powerful ship in existence, but here we see him (and Clara) exiting and leaving the door open.  Clearly neither the cast or crew grew up in my house, where leaving the door open a crack would get you yelled at for letting the heat out or the cold in…fortunately my neighbourhood didn’t have hostile aliens that could have entered.
  2. What happened to the translation circuit?  Remember how critical that was in Christmas Invasion?  Remember how they addressed it (and Donna’s use of Latin) in Fires of Pompeii?  Remember Planet of the Dead?  Why did the Doctor have to bark like a dog to the one alien to rent the transport?  It should have been translated.  Keep it consistent please.  (And Moffat fans don’t worry, I hated it when they overlooked this in Stolen Earth too.  It just seemed silly for the Doctor to speak Judoon…)
  3. How do the inhabitants of Akhaten survive in such proximity to their sun? What about the heat and radiation? And what constitutes the atmosphere among this cluster of asteroids? There seems to be breathable air wherever the Doctor and Clara go.  I’ll give them a pass when they’re on the asteroids/planet, but when they’re “biking” towards the pyramid through space?
  4. My last big complaint comes down to props.  The critical “page one” from Clara’s 101 Places to See book was a nice maple leaf last week…and this week it seems to be a poplar or something.  Sorry I’m not a botanist but I am Canadian.  I remember a maple leaf when I see one.


So tonight was an enjoyable night of Who, and I anxiously look forward to next week’s Cold War, an alien monster trapped on board a Russian nuclear submarine…and I know what the monster is (Ice Warrior! highlight for the slight spoiler).  Seeing as next week is a bit of nostalgia, I would have enjoyed a bit more nostalgia tonight.  I guess technically Series 8 is the 50th anniversary season, but I don’t think there is a wrong time to give a nod to the original series.  I was starting to get goosebumps (for the first time this season) when Clara was rushing back to save the Doctor after his monologue to the old god (until the untimely commercial break), but I would have had a tear if the Doctor began to sing a certain Venusian lullaby.  In my mind it makes sense as a perfect link to the old series, and even more so given what happens next week.


Posted on 13-04-06, in Doctor Who and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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