Television

Published on September 15th, 2014 | by Brad

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Doctor Who – Listen Review

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Every now and then, an episode of a TV show comes along which can be thought of as definitive. An episode you would single out as a reason people who don’t watch the show should do so. With the constantly changing nature of Doctor Who, these episodes tend to be the one you would class as the best of each Doctor’s era. Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is only four episodes old, but Steven Moffat’s Listen may just have defined him.

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We open with the Doctor alone. This is not a safe state for him to be in. He begins to theorise, out loud, to no one in particular, that if evolution has created perfect hunters and perfect defence mechanisms, why not perfect camouflage? Or what if such a creature already existed? How would you know? You’d never see it. What if there’s one of these creatures for each of us, and the only knowledge we have of them is the nightmare everyone has at some point of a hand grabbing them from under the bed at night. Determined to prove the existence of this hypothetical perfect hider, he enlists Clara, intending to travel to a point in her past where she had said dream.

Clara, meanwhile, is a little distracted, after her first date with Danny went… disastrously wrong, I think it’s fair to say. She returns home to find the Doctor and the TARDIS hiding in her bedroom, just in case she brought her date home with her (because why would they go in the bedroom?) They travel back by linking Clara’s mind to the TARDIS, but Clara, as I said, is distracted by thoughts of Danny. They end up at a boy’s home in the 1990s, where they meet the young Rupert Pink, the boy who will grow up to be Danny. Some shenanigans and predestination paradoxes later and they’re at the end of the universe with Orson Pink, a descendant of Danny and one of Earth’s first time travellers, before visiting a very familiar barn.

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Peter Capaldi gives an absolute tour de force in this episode, easily his best performance in the role so far. What sets this aside is that this is the first episode to date which could only have featured the Twelfth Doctor. You could see Matt Smith trying to make a good Dalek, you could see David Tennant swash buckling with Robin Hood, but you could not see any of them doing what Capaldi is up to here. We finally get a sense of who this Doctor is; he’s a madman. And not the quirky, eccentric, “Mad Man in a Box” that the Eleventh Doctor was – this Doctor is manic, potentially self-destructive, willing to endanger his life for the possibility of proving a theory he came up with while he was alone to justify his own fear of the dark. Listen is magnificent. The best episode since Neil Gaiman’s seminal The Doctor’s Wife, at the very least. Essential viewing.

Brad

Brad

Consumer. Scribbler. Occasional drunkard. Nice beard, though...
Brad

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