Doctor Who: In the Forest of the Night Series 8 Episode 10 Review
There are only two episodes left in Series 8, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. The season has been mostly forgettable to me. My frustrations with the show had grown more and more each week it seemed, until we got to The Mummy on the Orient Express. When I saw the writing credits and titles for the episodes back in early August, this was the one, based on title alone, that I thought I would like the most. I hoped that I would like it the most, and so far it probably is my favourite. The season started out poorly I thought, and you probably know why if you’ve followed my tweets, read earlier posts of my blog, or actually spoken to me. I’ve really grown tired of Steven Moffat as showrunner, and I hope that he moves on after this season. The show needs less of him right now. It’s funny as I think about it, I said that Mummy will probably be my favourite episode, already disqualifying Moffat’s two part series finale. In years past I looked forward to Moffat’s episodes, and then he took over the show. His writing of late often reminds me of the old proverb about “too much of a good thing”. Hopefully the finale will be good, hopefully tonight will be good. I’d hate to lose the momentum and goodwill the last two weeks have built up for me.
Suddenly, overnight London, and the rest of the world have been overcome by forests. Let’s see what happens as we enter the Clara Show, because by the first commercial break, it looks like we’re just going to get the Doctor shoved to the side again (and acting like a mean old man to a young school girl) as Clara and Danny Pink argue about their relationship…also, I really really hate commercials.
Mr. Pink and Miss Oswald are having a class sleepover at a museum. When they got o leave in the morning they discover that the museum, London and even the entire planet has been overtaken by trees. There are forests everywhere, and the forests are still growing. One lost little girl, Maive, from Cole Hill School finds her way to the TARDIS, parked in Trafalgar Square and to the Doctor. The Doctor and Maive eventually meet up with the rest of the class and basically stumble about and fill time. There are hints of greatness in this episode, but they get brushed aside so quickly. When the Doctor compares a tree to a time machine, a 400 year old tree still holding a bit of 1746 inside it today, is a wonderful idea. Too bad the focus then shifts back to Clara.
And now, halfway through, I’m mildly bored by this episode, unless the Doctor is on screen. It’s funny, the companion used to be the audience. They were our human eyes looking at these wonderful worlds that the Doctor would take us to each week. Now, it seems the Doctor is the audience, and he just pointed something out to Clara that I think the audience wanted to point out to the showrunner. Is the show being written to take subversive jabs at how bad the overall direction has gotten? “I’ve just told you your planet’s about to be destroyed by a massive solar flare, and you’re worried about a row with your boyfriend.” Exactly. There’s the possibility of a decent science fiction story here, and someone keeps shoving these “Clara and her boyfriend” stories onto us.
Maive it now turns out is a special girl, who has been communicating telepathically and subconsciously with the trees all the while and the Doctor learns through her what is going on. Her homework in the TARDIS (that Clara was marking) also shows what the trees have told her. There is a massive solar flare coming that will wipe out the planet, a planet that is covered with trees that can’t be burnt down. Well, it only took me a few seconds to put this one together, but still they dragged it out until it was discovered that the trees were going to act as a shield for the planet, with the extra oxygen they created burning away and absorbing the solar flare. So of course, after dragging out the how and the why, everything was then wrapped up in a minute. I hate to say it, but I almost want a manic, high powered ending like Matt Smith would have had written for him. Send the TARDIS into space to help the trees, buy them time to save the planet, something, anything. Wow.
I have to say I was rather disappointed by it. The effects were kid of shoddy; the burning of the tree (or non burning) looked poor, as did the CGI wolves and tiger. Even the sound seemed off to me. It may be my aging ears, but I had a hard time hearing what the tree people were saying over the background music. I’m sure it wasn’t important, Danny and Clara were going to argue soonThe bad pacing of the episode may have been what hurt it the most though…..that and too much focus on Clara and Danny again. I liked the idea of the trees, I liked how they arrived, I liked how they saved the earth, I liked how the Doctor sorted things out. I didn’t like how the trees just disappeared at the end, leaving it like they hadn’t even been there, roots and all….roots that didn’t even crack the pavement to grow. Couldn’t the trees just have been burned up in the storm? Leaving lots of ash and embers on the cities? Might make it a bit more believable, and believability would make it a bit more enjoyable….but I suppose that really hasn’t been a mandate these last few years.
Well, it seems next week we get the Cybermen, and a whole new bunch of headaches. Please let the “finale” be the finale of Moffat.