Saturday, 29 September 2012

Doctor Who: The Power of Three (Episode Review)

Sorry about this being one week late, delays were suffered due to technical difficulties. In other words I couldn’t get a hold of a computer to watch or write about the episode. Now without further ado, onto the regularly scheduled review:

The first thing to say about The Power of Three is that it doesn’t quite achieve what it set out to do.

The story is supposed to question and highlight Rory and Amy leaving the Doctor; showing their conflicting lives and what happens with them. The problem is that while the episode is given many good moments to reflect on this, both the introduction with them talking about their two lives and the Doctor speaking of his previous companions, it often feels like a side story.
This is because the plot largely focuses upon what the Doctor is doing there and now; investigating billions of identical black cubes which have appeared all over the world. The year, Amy narrates, is the year of the Slow Invasion and the one time the Doctor truly became a part of their normal lives…

This is supposed to be an episode commenting upon Rory and Amy’s lives with the Doctor but it keeps being derailed or taken away by other plots; namely the alien invasion. The thing is none of the plots themselves are actually that bad – The idea behind the alien invasion itself and the force launching the assaults is really good and even by this series standards fairly original. The problem is that it domineers over what should have been a very small scale tale focusing upon the companions and with only one more episode to go I’m worried that pushing them to one side now is limiting the effect of their departure.

I do understand what the episode was trying to do, show the “normal lives” of the companions clashing with that of their “Doctor lives”, it’s just it could have been far better handled with a much more forgettable threat. It would have left the writers the opportunity to save the villains of this episode for one of their own and fully show the impact the Doctor has on the Ponds’ lives.
It is never the less very fun to watch, even when the Doctor goes missing for a big chunk of it and the more normal moments do contrast heavily with the zaniness of whenever Matt Smith is on screen. What helps to ground and bridge the two lives is the presence of Brian Williams (Mark Williams) who shows a very normal person who has been changed by his brief meeting with the Doctor. He’s adventurous in his own way but still manages to preserve the mundane aspects of everyday life. In other words he’s actually got a reason to be here as opposed to Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.

Atop of this we get the return of UNIT and more reflections upon Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart’s death, a very nice thing to include after Nicholas Courtney’s passing away last year. They favour a more scientific approach now and the black cubes actually prove to be an interesting foe for them face because they’re not outwardly menacing and their slow un-menacing appearances just leads society to accept their existence.

If there are any real flaws to criticise, besides “this should have been two separate episodes”, they’re these: First is that Chris Chibnall has some strange ideas about how time travel works. One of Rory’s co-workers notes how he’s apparently missing for months on end and this just strikes me as being very strange. He’s in a time machine for crying out loud; they could quite happily go back to mere seconds after they had left. Sure, the TARDIS tends to be somewhat inaccurate but there’s nothing to stop the Doctor repeatedly trying to get them back to the right time and place until he succeeds.
Another big problem is that the conclusion to events felt fairly contrived. Well, perhaps not contrived but it certainly felt like something just short of one big last minute deus ex machina rather than something the episode had built upon since the second act. Neither of these wrecks the episode but they do stand out as things you’d expect the writers to be past by this point.

And, finally, there's a brief mention of how Amy has been travelling with the Doctor for ten years now; something which is very hard to believe even if you were to be extremely generous.

Still, for all its flaws The Power of Three is none the less an extremely enjoyable episode. Despite falling short in a few areas and lacking the more serious story driven moments we’ve come to expect it still managed to just about hit all the right notes. It felt like a more lighthearted break from the more serious A Town Called Mercy and showed Brian having been changed from when we last saw him, meaning that Dinosaurs on a Spaceship actually contributed something good to the series. If you’ve not already seen it check this one out on iPlayer, it’s definitely a fun way to pass the time.

Oh and if the villain seems familiar to you, you might want to watch Octopussy again.


Doctor Who and all related characters and media are owned by the BBC.

No comments:

Post a Comment