I’m not being grumpy or unfair here. I like Matt Smith. I see a lot of potential in Jenna-Louise Coleman. I really enjoyed the debut episode of this half-season (is that what we’re calling it?). I definitely have it within me to be optimistic about Doctor Who, as can be proven by the fact that I regularly defend the Colin Baker era of the original series. Now, that being said…
“Rings of Akhaten” was crap. Sorry. I see a lot of my fellow Who Geeks rushing to defend the episode and its writer Neil Cross, but I have to call this as I see it. Lazy. Cheap. Dull. Irritating. Senseless. We have to own when the series lets us down, and it really did here in a big way.
The opening of the episode made me more uneasy about the Doctor/companion relationship than I have ever been in the revived series. I have made peace with the fact that the Powers That Be are going to force romantic entanglements onto the Doctor now, despite being annoyed by it for several reasons: 1) The original 26 year run got by just fine without it being a focus. 2) The most interesting and entertaining companion of the new series (according to my sacred and not-to-be-questioned opinion) has been Donna Noble–the only companion not to pine for the Timelord. 3) It’s been done. Over and over and over now. Rose. Martha. Jack. River Song. Amy. We get it. The premise is getting tired.
Okay, maybe I haven’t made peace exactly. However, despite my strong belief that the companion works better as “a mate” and not “someone who wants to mate,” I guess the producers assume that anyone under 40 won’t watch a show without sexual tension. Fine. I’ll get over that.
But now the Doctor stalks his companions even before they’re born? Creepy. The Doctor should be a tad creepy (that’s what made Hartnell so great), but not in a “stalking little girls at the playground” kind of way. He’s 1000 year old Time Lord. Doesn’t he have anything better to do?
Even if I make peace with a flirty companion, a Doctor who stalks her, and the fact that she is yet another “mystery who needs to be solved” (as were Rose, Donna, Jack, River Song, and Amy Pond)…I at lease want to see an engaging, well-planned story.
This wasn’t it. Not by a long shot. Clara deserved better for her first run in the TARDIS.
Aside from the nonsensical science (how do these planetoids orbit so closely to their sun?), the sets were wobbly and cheap, the costumes and makeup were lackluster, and the plot was uninteresting and thin. It is impossible to suspend disbelief and get lost in a story when it is this evident that the writers scrambled together a filler episode. How does a God stay appeased/asleep simply by a lot of people singing? Why is it necessary for Merry to be swept away in the first place if the voices of so many appease the God? If Clara’s “potential future” is more powerful to feed from than the Doctor’s 1000 years of experience, doesn’t everyone have a potential future to feed from? So what makes Clara special here? What makes her leaf special?
I know a lot of fans are praising Matt Smith’s speech, but even that seemed over-the-top and out of character. We’ve already had an emotional Doctor who cried a lot. His name was David Tennant. We’ve moved past that; that’s what I have enjoyed about Matt Smith. His Doctor has come off as more ancient and mysterious–as the character should be. If we’re going to have him blubbering in every other episode and fawning over his companions, it’s time for another regeneration.
This could have been a lot better. Given how great the season opener was, I am still optimistic that future episodes will be. Bring on the Ice Warriors!