Sunday, 21 September 2014


Flashback to 2006: Tooth and Claw was promoted as having a modern Tarantino-esque feel, with exciting bullet-time monks. The reality was a great episode, with the bullet-time monks limited to the first few minutes. I was reminded of this with Time Heist, heavily promoted as taking inspiration from Ocean's Eleven and other modern heist movies; it certainly managed this for the first twenty minutes, with some very clever pacing and scene transitions, but, like Tooth and Claw before it, it quickly turned into a standard run-around. The direction in the first half was certainly a highlight of the season so far, but unfortunately fell short by giving up midway through.
The story was enjoyable and rattled along at a great pace. Everything hung together well, without feeling like it needed slowing down for any missed examination of the characters or plot, neither did it leave too many moments to breathe - much of modern Who has struggled to get the balance here just right, but Time Heist did well in this regard. The twists were, on the one hand a surprise (the clones), and on the other entirely predictable (cloaked figure with masked voice, who appeared alongside a memory wipe, turns out to be one of the main characters, and the 'exit strategy' being exactly what it says on the tin), but each was handled in such a fun way that this really didn't matter much.
The focus on characterisation is still clearly heavily on the new Doctor, and to an extent Clara, with supporting characters suffering as a result. The two allies were very forgettable (pun very much intended) and while the actors did well the script didn't serve to make them much more than two dimensional.
With Moffat's well-known (pre-2010, at least) clever-yet-coherent script in action, Capaldi relishing every new dimension his Doctor gets given, some beautiful visuals and some exciting direction (for twenty minutes), Time Heist could be an absolute classic. A few shortfalls here and there let it down from this, but it's certainly continuing the consistently high standard set for this season so far.
Matt Dale

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