Saturday, 12 December 2015


After the universally loved and critically acclaimed Heaven Sent, the deck against Hell Bent was stacked so high, I couldn’t help but drop my expectations just to give it a fighting chance. But before I tackle Hell Bent, I’d just like to take a moment to express my deepest sympathies to anyone who was unable to recognize I was being facetious with the “Bad” section for Heaven Sent last week and that most of my criticisms were little more than jokes designed to poke fun at nitpickers and were in no way meant to be taken seriously by any fan. I mean I started the section with a sarcastic “seriously”. Oh well, now that that’s out of the way; let’s take a look at what Hell Bent brought to the table that is Series 9.

The Good

I’m just going to put the whole first twenty minutes of this story into the category. If Hell Bent is anything, it’s a work of cinematic beauty. To think it was done by the people behind some of the most successful movies in America, effects designed by the biggest hats in Hollywood. The score and the direction done by… wait what… it’s not?

It’s done by TV people? On a TV budget? Well, then in that case, take a bow Whovians and marvel at the fantastic CG, direction and cinematography that is Hell Bent. Doctor Who has come a long way (not quite 4 billion years) since the shaky Nestene Consciousness of 2005. God bless HD resolution!


Classic TARDIS! In color! Classic TARDIS! In default form dematerializing! Round things! How peculiar did that scene look with Twelve and Clara in the control room? Totally spectacular, but just a little bit uncanny…in a good way!

I guess we now know where that barn scene in Listen took place on. Suck it people! It’s on Gallifrey! Not some orbiting planet! This round goes to us logical thinkers.

And while I was questioning some of his decisions in this episode, I admit that watching an angry Twelfth Doctor go absolutely wild was glorious. It’s something I’ve wanted to see since Face the Raven (with Ashildr on the receiving end), but seeing an unhinged Doctor here… more of that please! Bonus points for not reducing the Time Lord Victorious to just a couple of minutes!


The Bad



I mentioned the fantastic twenty minutes of this story right? Well the rest is a slippery slope, mostly downward in this viewer’s experience.
“If you took everything from him, betrayed him, trapped him, and broke both his hearts…how far might the Doctor go? Returning to Gallifrey, the Doctor faces the Time Lords in a struggle that will take him to the end of time itself. Who is the Hybrid? And what is the Doctor’s confession?”
When I read the synopsis, I genuinely thought Hell Bent was going to be some kind of Time Lord insurgent clash. The Doctor vs Rassilon! Fetch a few of the Doctor’s supporters, a few of Rassilon’s and we got ourselves a good ol’ fashion rumble in the jungle with the whole of Gallifrey at stake. Rassilon: Namer-of-many-things taking on the Doctor: The Oncoming Storm! Instead, we put Donald Sumpter on a bus spaceship using only the Doctor’s reputation. You know I’ve never quite understood the dislike for Let’s Kill Hitler before. Until now. I get it people. I finally understand. International/planetary war criminals are not meant to be put in cupboards/spaceships and booted out of the story for the resident Creator’s Pet. I get it. Hell Bent somehow manages to convert the ten year long story of Gallifrey into a subplot in order to desecrate Clara Oswald’s departure.

Speaking of which, I hate Clara. There, I said it. I hate her. Most of you already know that though. But I am not above recognizing that her departure in Face the Raven was extraordinary. “Let me be brave”. A lot of people don’t comprehend just how satisfying her departure was. You had a character that split the fandom, much like Rose and River Song, but somehow Clara’s departure managed to appeal to both sides. The lovers wept over a beautiful and form-fitting last hurrah, and the haters celebrated. Hell Bent destroyed that and went out of its way to please only one side, minus the lovers who also believed Clara’s departure in Face The Raven was amazing. This act of betrayal (in my words) leads to another growing issue I’m noticing in Doctor Who: Technicality.

"Should ultimately have been called "Finally Escape The Raven".
Steven Moffat seems to enjoy killing characters off, but only if he can squeeze an eternity in-between the moment of their death and when they actually keel over off-screen. Amy and Rory died when the Doctor watched them get zapped away, but only died of old age some decades later. River Song was killed and given the gift of the biggest Library in history to explore as an afterlife until the end of days. Clara Oswald “technically” still dies, but now she is immortal/indestructible and she can choose when she dies. She even mentions she has no plans on returning soon because she’s going “the long way round”. This is something I personally wish to see change in the future. The whole point of death is that it’s abrupt and leaves in its wake a hole occupied with all the regret of things that could never be done. Never fall in love, never have children, etc. If every character is allowed to complete their bucket list before they die, it robs the concept of death of any real meaning.

hell bent trailers (43)

I will admit I saw the interracial regeneration coming ten minutes before it actually happened. Given that Steven Moffat now has thousands of Time Lords to play with, this was inevitable. What I didn’t foresee was just how far we’d drift into political correctness territory. While interracial regenerations isn’t anything new (Rassilon in the audios is portrayed by Don Warrington), putting two very socially argued topics in one regeneration felt shoehorned.

And I don’t care who comes after, but bringing Ken Freaking Bones back (voice rivals that of the legendary Sir John Hurt) only to regenerate him… that’s just poor form Doctor Who.

The Cloister Wraiths looked and sounded terrifying. Unfortunately too much of the plot focused on Clara to allow for any noteworthy experiences with them, instead reducing them to the Fisher King: Looks cool and menacing, does absolutely nothing!

The Nerdy


The Doctor is made Lord President of Gallifrey, only to swagger off in a rackety old TARDIS…where have I heard that before? Oh yes! The beginning of The Beginning (the audio story people) and the ending of The Five Doctors.

Ever since Series 5, the Cybermen have been present in every twelfth episode of Doctor Who.

Want to know how a Dalek got trapped in the Matrix? The Gallifrey audio Ascension featured a Dalek invasion of the Matrix. Looks like we had some leftovers.

Sorry to burst your bubble people, but Charley Pollard beat Clara Oswald to the whole “wiping the Doctor’s memory of me” plan. It was just as tragic in Blue Forgotten Planet.

Blink and you miss it, but Don’t Stop Me Now plays just as the Doctor first enters the diner.

With Hell Bent comes the end of an era, something that is sure to knock the status quo of Doctor Who fandom and reconfigure it forever, but not before we join Mr and Ms Doctor for what is promised a Christmas romp the likes of which is sure to put a smile on any dejected/disappointed/disillusioned fan’s face… unless of course River’s appearance is the reason your face looks like that. Tough break.

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