Pardon the pun, but I wasn’t banking on a classic episode this week. My expectations for “Time Heist” were as low as the Tardis was last week, when it splashed down under the sea.
I hadn’t rated “The Curse of the Black Spot” or “Journey to the Centre of the Tardis”, both penned by Stephen Thompson. Consequently, I didn’t hold particularly high hopes for this week’s offering either. Nevertheless, I sat down in front of the TV, willing myself to like the episode.
Alas, it was not to be. This week I feel guilty for adding to the sum total of negativity in the world of Doctor Who fandom, as I am normally an irritatingly happy-clappy Whovian. In fact, I’m looking over my shoulder right now, just in case the Teller is on the prowl, intent on sucking all the guilt out of me.
Basically in “Time Heist” the Doctor and his partners in crime just run around in a bank for forty five minutes. Fans nowadays complain about excessively complex stories, but here the plot was way too simplistic, despite a twist or two at the end. Ms Delphox aside, the characters were two dimensional. What’s more, I found the pacing of the story slow. Though the episode felt glossy and lavish, it was style over substance.
This week’s monster, however, was spectacular. The Teller had looked a bit naff in the paparazzi pics taken during filming, but in the actual episode the beast was truly gruesome and frightening.
Keeley Hawes, though underused, came across as the perfect villain. She oozed both the slickness and sliminess that we have come to expect of bankers. She skillfully steered clear of a pantomime portrayal.
I was glad to see Danny again, but snoggity snog snog? Teachers smooching at school is a no-no! As was Danny’s blubbing in the classroom the other week. Call me naive, but surely these forms of behaviour are a million miles from the realms of reality. Both are hardly professional and don’t – or at least shouldn’t – happen in real life. I just hope Coal Hill doesn’t get an Ofsted inspection!
The Doctor needs to lighten up a little. Capaldi has now made his mark as the Doctor and has established his gruff new persona. But I want a Doctor who I can like. He may well be alien, but I don’t want to feel alienated by him. I believe that Capaldi’s natural wit and charm need to be emphasised. I want to see his warmth and friendliness shine through. We are running the risk of another Sixth Doctor debacle. Colin Baker is a likeable actor, but his Doctor was scripted as psychopathic loon. And the audience almost all switched off.
Given that “Time Heist” was set in a bank, let’s sum up the tale with some economic lingo. The story represents an “opportunity cost”. A potentially classic episode, written by the likes of Paul Cornell, Neil Gaiman or – why not – a talented newcomer, was not produced. Why? Because the show’s resources were used to make this story instead. We were “robbed” of an opportunity.
Besides, there is no need for substandard filler episodes. They serve only to damage the show’s reputation. However, it appears that I am in a minority – and I’m glad. “Time Heist” has enjoyed an A+++ reaction on both podcasts and forums.
I’m looking forward to next week’s tale, “The Caretaker”. I’m a big fan of Gareth Roberts. He writes witty and highly rewatchable stories, so I look forward to being much more positive and upbeat next week. I won’t be closing my Whovian account just yet.