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[Doctor Who Review] The Bells of Saint John

“I don’t know where I am.”
So begins the 2nd half of the seventh series (season) of Doctor Who and the introduction (again) of the new TARDIS control room and the new companion, Clara Oswald played once again by Jenna-Louise Coleman.

The overall theme of the episode is shown in the tease: people’s souls getting sucked into the internet all of them saying: I don’t know where I am.
The new credits roll with SFX similar to past Doctor Who intros with the fact of the face of Matt Smith and we open on the Doctor retreated to a church in the 1300s for peace while he tries to wrap his head around where Clara is. The monks fetch him and tell him the Bells of Saint John are ringing.
The Bells of Saint John being the phone on the TARDIS exterior and it turns out to be Clara trying to find tech support to get on the internet. This set up in any of show would be laughable but this Doctor Who. The better set up would have been Clara trying to tech support with router with the Doctor on the line but having worked in tech support for four months the amount of people who don’t know how their internet works is no a big surprise.
The brief throwaway line of someone giving Clara the Doctor’s number for help is either a throwaway or I hope is getting a call back.
The Doctor and Clara are re-introduced and he saves her life from a walking robot that has a concave wi-fi station for a head. The SFX for the head twisting feels unpolished or the scene editing needed work. Once saved they travel to the next day to find the villains for this week.
The villains are led by Miss Kizlet played by Celia Imrie. And they seem invincible until Clara finds out where they are by hacking their systems, taking pictures of them and looking up where they work on the social media sites. With the amount of social media and work related hi-jinxs that happens in real life this amount of detective work is perfectly reasonable.
The face off between the Doctor and Miss Kizlet is interesting one because it stretches this idea of hacking into people to the next level by taking them over and puppeting them around. This type of trick has shown up in spec fiction before with the mad scientist with the device that can remote view a subject.
The Doctor’s ride into battle via motorcycle turns into a scene from the utterly unwatchable Ultraviolet looks perfectly fine since he’s the Doctor he can ride an anti-gravity motorcycle up the side of a skyscraper and it’s fun.
Turns out The Great Intelligence is gobbling up souls and sending robots to harvest people and the introduction of hacking people’s own intelligence is introduced. The thought of someone being reset back to factory standards is a lovely idea and works well in the end to see what people used to be before working a malevolent intelligence bent on eating people’s souls.
Only in Doctor Who does that last sentence seem even close to plausible.
Jenna-Louise handles her role just as well as she did the previous two times and thankfully has not ventured into Rose territory. She so far has proven she can handle herself and the loss of the Ponds hasn’t dampened things.
The over arching story line of her identity hopefully will be handled better than twisted knot that is River Song’s early years.
Overall, I give it three and half. Would have gotten a four is the SFX/editing was a little tighter and a few plot points were fixed.

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