purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
[personal profile] purplecat
I'm sort of divided in my mind about Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead. I like them a lot but I don't think they are up to the standard of Moffat's previous episodes in part because there really is an awful lot of running down corridors in them which ultimately feels a bit like padding.

It's probably a little unfair to compare this pair of episodes to either The Girl in the Fireplace or Blink, both of which seem to be aping the form of a short story more than anything else. A better comparison is with The Empty Child/the Doctor Dances another double episode story with less of a focus on having any single central bit of cleverness, and more of a focus on scares and running around... and really the central spine of this pair of episodes is a lot of running until the Doctor manages to scare the Vashta Nerada into letting everyone go.

That's not to say there aren't plenty of clever bits, like the reveal of the imaginary world, the echoes in the communication devices, the wordplay on "saved" and so on, but they feel incidental to the main story rather than a fundamental part of the plot.

Arguably the story is also suffering from the fact it has no real role to play in the story of the season. Of course it is introducing River, who will turn out to be hugely important later, but she doesn't actually have anything to do with this season arc. In arc terms the most important bit is probably Donna's time in the imaginary world and also, of course, the reveal that she isn't with the Doctor when River meets him. One thing that struck me about the imaginary world was Donna's devotion to her children and it makes me wonder a bit why, having subsequently married her off, the show has never chosen to show her with children of her own. One feels they would have given her life a focus that it clearly lacks without the Doctor. Donna's time in the imaginary world is also the emotional heart of the story I would say. At this point we simply don't know enough about River Song, and the story is deliberately keeping her a little distant and mysterious, to care as much about what happens to her as we do about what happens to Donna. I think it's also fair to say that I've never liked River as much as a lot of fans do, finding her portrayal a little too arch. I don't dislike her, but she doesn't fill me with any particular enthusiasm.

NLSS Child was very excited that we had reached these episodes. We realised during Voyage of the Damned that she must have seen it before because she had vague memories of the Heavenly Host, but Forest of the Dead is the first Doctor Who episode she really remembers seeing. She alternated discussing why she didn't think she'd been very grabbed by it originally (because it was part two of a two part story) and asking questions I felt she was probably better qualified to answer than I such as "what do you suppose you would think was happening if this was the first time you'd ever seen any Doctor Who?"

A vaguely disappointing pair of episodes, though possibly only because at this point I had high expectations of a Moffat story. I feel a little churlish since I enjoyed them a lot more than The Sontaran Stratagem/the Poison Sky (to pick an obvious point of comparison) but they seem oddly low key given we're in the part of the season that is normally ramping up for the season finale and fail to deliver the sense of cohesive satisfaction that I'd associated with Moffat's previous work.


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