After an excruciatingly long wait devoid of all Fez, Doctor Who returns this week for the second half of Series 7 with a Steven Moffat-penned episode entitled The Bells of Saint John, a title which, when explained, is incredibly ingenious and will make you smack your head with its obviousness.
Amy and Rory are a tough act to follow, but once again the Moffat regime have topped themselves and created a fascinating companion character to play off The Doctor in Clara Oswin Oswald (although not her first appearance on the show). The idea to infuse an intriguing mystery that The Doctor madly wants to solve around the new companion’s existence is brilliant, and an approach unused so far with the modern companions. Jenna-Louise Coleman is every bit as feisty and unpredictable in The Bells of Saint John as her previous appearances, and seems to fit very comfortably into the show’s groove.
This time out, The Doctor finds Clara (who has died in each prior appearance) living in modern times and in the sights of new villain The Spoonheads, who use modern Wi-Fi and internet technologies to encapsulate people’s very souls and manipulate their bodies in any way once they are fully uploaded. It’s better than it sounds, but still a bit hokey, even if it does explain a cool bit of Clara’s mythology. In addition, The Doctor’s adventures take him through modern London with some really fun shots of him riding a motorbike around iconic locations such as Westminster Bridge and The Shard. There’s just something fun about seeing The TARDIS and The Doctor out in public and not stuck on a soundstage in front of a green screen.
Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman really sparkle with chemistry in this episode, washing away any doubts that the show will have trouble moving on from The Ponds. The reveal of the force (or forces) behind The Spoonheads is not completely unexpected, but is a welcome bit of continuity. Also nice to see is more of the redesigned TARDIS interior, which looks spectacular and a bit more brooding than we’re used to with The Doctor. The action scenes, while ambitious and unique, are accompanied by some sub-par CG effects compared to other recent episodes.
The Bells of Saint John is an extremely fun return for Doctor Who and sets things off in the right motion for the Clara Oswin Oswald era of the show. This episode is a bit campy at times, and didn’t have any long lasting implications, but delivers in spades on the pure popcorn fun. Throw on your bow-tie and purple tweed coat because The Doctor is starting strong and back for eight more episodes!
The Bells of Saint John will air on Saturday, March 30th. Check local listings for showtimes.
Matt & Jenna’s chemistry. The motorbike. The humor! Practical shots from around London. The mystery of Clara!
Action sequence special effects take a step back this week. The new villains are a bit goofy at times.
An extremely fun episode that firmly establishes new companion Clara and, while light on overall impact, never ceases to entertain.