The 12th Doctor – Series 8, Episode 4 – “Listen” – The Power of Fear

Listen

“Fear doesn’t have to make you cruel and cowardly. Fear can make you kind.” – The Doctor

“Listen,” is a great episode, I’m just going to say that now. It has some of the best Moffat writing and really shows the potential and promise for the rest of the season. Speaking of which, Steven Moffat was the writer of this episode and Douglas Mackinnin directed. They did fantastic.

The story shows us the Doctor’s curiosity as it begins with the Doctor wondering if there is someone or something there under the bed and just out of sight as he’s read about the dream throughout time and experienced it for himself. This also happens when Clara is going on her first date with Danny Pink, and the story unfolds from there.

SPOILERS

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Tone – The tone is one of reflecting and fear. The Doctor is thinking about fear and trying to discover if there is a creature it is tied too. This leads to his usual recklenessness (Clara tapping into the Psychic link to the TARDIS to find her first memory of it) and his actions on the last planet in the Universe.

The Cinematography – The cinematography captures the epic scale of what the episode covers and shows us the personal and universalness of the emotion of fear. Mackinnon did a great job directing.

Danny Pink – Danny is in this episode briefly at the end where he and Clara make up, and during the date where there is romantic tension, but where they both aren’t very socially aware. Fear has paralyzed them rather than forcing them to action. This is sorted by the end as they both learn kindness from their fears of failing each other. We also meet Danny as a child as Clara has a link to him from the date and she and the Doctor help him face the mysterious creature under the covers and letting it leave the room. It’s a great scene and we learn Danny was an orphan.

Clara – We see her awkwardness here in her first date with Danny, her connecting with the their descendant who is also a time traveler who gives her the soldier without a gun that she gave to Danny as a child and that she later gives to the Doctor as a child. She is active in this and reminds the Doctor that fear is important, as his lack of fear and curiosity almost gets him killed on the last planet in the Universe. This is another great Clara episode as she is connected to the Doctor but still her own person, she isn’t the Doctor’s McGuffin like in “Name of the Doctor.”

The Doctor – I’m saying the Doctor as a whole cause though Capaldi is amazing, this story is bigger than him. We get a glimpse into his childhood as he is afraid of the dark and his own fears and demons that haunt him so he chooses to sleep in a barn. The young Doctor is always in shadow, but he has long hair like the 1st Doctor. It is similar to when we saw the young Master, and just as if not more powerful as he chooses later to return to the barn as the War Doctor to make his big choice. We see his curiosity as we visit a young Danny Pink and his ancestor who it implies is related to Clara. The Doctor is the soldier so brave, he fights without a gun. He faces his fears armed only with his mind and in that succeeds.

The Message – Like the quote above, fear can make us kind as we realize what it is that is making us vulnerable and afraid. Fear can make us fight for the ones we love and fear can make us superheroes and make us run and fight faster and harder than we would (as expressed by the Doctor to a young Danny).

The Mystery – Something was under Danny’s bed, so there is a creature or creatures most likely still out there. Not knowing in this case serves the story, like in Series 4 and “Midnight” where we never find out what creature was haunting the train and possessing people and the Doctor.

This is perfect Moffat. He does the tone and mystery and making you scared of what you don’t see and having a bigger purpose. He turns associations of fear on it’s head and show how fear can be a positive. We also get amazing Clara, Doctor and Danny development. I highly recommend this episode.

10 / 10. Moffat at his best and in his element.

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12 Days of Doctors – The 2nd Doctor – Season 4, Episode 3 – “The Power of the Daleks” – The Daleks’ Manipulation

power-of-the-daleks
“The Power of the Daleks,” is our first introduction to Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor along with his companions Polly and Ben. As seen from the title it is one of the early Dalek episodes and involves the Doctor getting his bearing under his new regeneration and trying to solve the crisis on the human colony world of Vulcan where he is mistaken for the examiner and soon finds himself caught in a revolution against the Governor of the colony by his head of security Bragen.

This is the 2nd Doctor in our 12 Days of Doctors count up to 12th’s first Adventure.

“The Power of the Daleks,” is one of the missing episodes that I hope is eventually rediscovered. I was fortunate enough to find the story in two recreations on youtube. The links here for the first 5 parts:

and here for the final part 6:

I love these recreations as they are one of the only ways to see and hear what remains of the original work, and they are usually quite good at capturing the drama of the actors and the script. How does “The Power of the Daleks,” hold up? I’ll get into that in theĀ  assessment.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

Power_of_the_Daleks

Pros: The Second Doctor / The 2nd Doctor – The Second Doctor is fantastic. Patrick Troughton is good at playing the buffoon who is also the trickster and in playing things stupid as he is able to figure out about Braden’s rebellion and the Dalek threat by pretending to be The Excaminer and is believed to be for most of the arc, and he eventually convince the Scientist Lesterson about the danger of the Daleks and to help him stop them after Braden has the Daleks kill the Governor. His relationship to his companions is great too as he comes off confused about who he is and recognizes he is the Doctor but no longer the Doctor he was before. We see him figure this out when he uses his “500 Year Diary,” and we also see his creativity when he creates a Sonic Key (precursor to what the screwdriver would be used for) to free his ally Quinn to fight the Daleks. He is also really good at the recorder.

Polly and Ben – The Doctor’s companions aren’t bad this episode and they actually do have character too. We see that Polly’s empathy is able to pull the rebels over to their side against the Daleks, and we see Ben’s ingenuity help the Doctor in his fight against them too. They aren’t useless…though Polly is a pretty big Damsel in Distress for a few of the parts, which is kind of annoying, as well as her comment about Ben being a real man and him rescuing her (when surprise he’s been captured too). They are still good companions. Not my favorite by a long shot (I like 2nd’s later companions of Zoe and Jamie much more), but they do their roles very well and are the clarity of voice in the Doctor’s more sly approach.

Lesterson – The scientist who has good intentions but is easily manipulated is this guys trope. He is a great character though, especially after he sees the Dalek rally in their ship and tries to convince his assistant Janley that he was wrong and the Daleks need to be stopped. He succeeds in this and sacrifices himself in order for the Doctor to overload the Dalek’s power and destroy them. He’s a fully 3 Dimensional character.

Janley – She’s ambitious (joining Bragen for power) but makes the right choice in the end when she realizes the Dalek’s mean to kill them all so works with the people she had originally back stabbed. She also dies in the process but her redemption arc is complete.

The Governor – I wish that Bragen had more reasons to kill him than ambition…when you first meet him he seems to have full control of the colony and their are hints of a dictatorship, but we never know for sure because Braden is so blatantly bad, which reveals that though the Governor is arrogant he does in fact care about the colony.

The Action – There is a lot of great action in this episode. Especially with the sheer quantity of Daleks and their manipulation the war between the Governor’s forces and the rebels. You can never tell where peoples’ loyalties lie until the Daleks arrive on the scene.

Rising Action – The Rising action is great, we see the factions established over a good amount of time as well as the plotting of the Daleks as they slowly take control. It is brilliant and there is a terror as they pretend to be good and eventually end up destroying most of the characters in the ship.

The Writing – Is brilliant. There is lots of showing and not telling. David Whitaker did a great job with this script and Christopher Barry was fantastic on direction.

Okay – Bragen – This guy could have had reasons beyond ambition, instead he plays up the paranoia once in power and we do see his regret when a Dalek asks, “Why do humans kill humans?” It is a brilliant critique of us in that one statement and the anger in Bragen’s eyes since right after goes full Dalek and turns on the people who aren’t part of his security force.

Quinn – The Doctor’s ally and the Governor’s second in command, this guy isn’t really memorable. He is generic good there at the end to pick up the pieces of the broken colony that has lost all power and many of the people. He serves his role, just isn’t super memorable.

This was a fantastic episode that I highly recommend. I can’t wait until the first recreation finishes up Part 6, since that recreation was superior to the second that played more like a radio drama with scenes overlaid. It was still really good and this is one of my favorite episodes now that I recommend to any lover of the 2nd Doctor and Classic Who.

My final score for this episode is 9.5 / 10.

Second Doctor Power of the Daleks

12 Days of Doctors – The 1st Doctor – Season 1, Episode 1 – “An Unearthly Child” – An Okay Start

An Unearthly Child

“An Unearthly Child,” with William Hartnell is the first ever Doctor Who episode. The episode was broadcast on November 23rd, 1963. The writer for the episode was Anthony Coburn and Webber and the director was Waris Hussein. This was a big risk to take, no one had really done the concept of the time traveling man in a tv series before this. How does the episode hold up? Well I’ll get into that in the assessment.

“An Unearthly Child,” begins with two teachers Barbara and Ian worrying about their new pupil Susan who has been both super brilliant and in their minds oblivious on a lot of things. When they go to where she lives they find nothing there but eventually are drawn to a police box. From here they run into The Doctor her grandfather and the conflict unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

Pros: The idea – The idea is fantastic. A time traveling alien who looks like us visiting the present with his granddaughter. Why is he there? Why can’t he get home? These are the questions that are posed to us in the first episode as well as reveal how would a refugee alien interact with species that he is so much more advanced than technologically.

An Unearthly Child 13

The First Doctor – I like the First Doctor, you have a guy who tackles the world from a point of separation because for him most of this has already happened, not to mention he fears Susan getting hurt or people learning about who he is initially. It is only because of Susan that Ian and Barbara learn who he is and he deals with their denial of it (largely from Ian) for a good portion of the episode. I don’t know anyone who would willingly choose to put up with that. He is old but he is also childlike too, at one point he traps Ian and Barbara and when Susan says she will leave him with them…leaving him alone he turns on the T.A.R.D.I.S. (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) in order to run away from them revealing him to the world and running away from Susan leaving. This running is a major part of his character and why he wasn’t on Gallifrey in the first place. Hartnell is fantastic in the role.

TARDIS An Unearthly Child

The T.A.R.D.I.S. – Looks like a police box, inside is shows the larger interior of the space ship. It is a great introduction to this vehicle and we get to see it go back in time when the First Doctor runs away with them in it.

Okay/Con – The Companions – The teachers are concerned but are unable to accept the truth that is right in front of them, Susan is also pretty useless too. She is the innocent who must be protected and the one time she tries having agency leads to the Doctor running. Susan, Barbara and Ian are basically generic people in this…which is a shame since Susan is a Time Lord too, but we don’t really get that beyond her knowledge that she most likely got from the Doctor, making her no more than a generic human companion who those with agency (the Teachers and the Doctor) try to protect.

Execution – The teachers are stalking a student because they are worried, and Susan does not look 15. This would have worked much better at a British University or school where her disappearance tied to her age would be more noticed, or cast someone who looks like they are a teenager.

So, how is the first outing with the Doctor and our first time with the First Doctor? It is Okay. The T.A.R.D.I.S. and the Doctor are the best parts, but the script isn’t really elevated. I would have continued watching if I was watching it when it first aired cause I’d be curious where they were taken to and I would like to see more character development from the companions and learn more about the Doctor. I wish the Doctor had been introduced earlier in the episode, we don’t even meet him until it is already halfway though and Barbara and Ian cannot carry the script.

I recommend it because it is the first episode, but it is very average and forgettable. Going to give it an extra point because it does introduce us to the Doctor and the T.A.R.D.I.S. though.

Final score is 6 / 10.