Tag Archives: Peter Harness

The 12th Doctor – Series 10, Episode 7 – “The Pyramid at the End of the World” – An Interesting Idea Trapped in a Mess

   “The Pyramid at the End of the World” is a mess. It is a good idea trapped in a train-wreck and to  no ones surprise, one of the writers is Steven Moffat as after the great setup of the last episode it had to fall pretty hard. Suffice to say, it will be good to have a new showrunner if we get more episodes like this than the promise of this season will go away, and we will once again and “Doctor Who” will get “Sherlocked,” and end for Capaldi on a bad note. Hopefully this doesn’t happen.

The episode was directed by Daniel Nattheim and written by Steven Moffat and Peter Harness.

The episode kicks off with the Monks invasion as a Pyramid appears in a DMZ where three world powers are (China, Russia and the U.S.A.). It is up to the Doctor and his companions to solve the mystery before the world ends or humanity consents to rule by the Monks.

The Pros: The Monks – The Monks are one of the most compelling parts of this episode. They are mysterious and powerful and their need for their victims to consent to their rule is powerful and messed up. They are almost vampiric and so much more could have been done with this idea in the episode.

The War Zone – The War Zone with the 3 Major Powers (Russia, China and the U.S.A.) in a standoff with the Monks in the middle with the Doctor now President of the World is really interesting. The sad thing is the Generals have no development and exist only as ideas.

The Cons: The Lab – The Lab has a strange romance between two people doing experiments. Something goes wrong and before you know it this is where the end of the world will happen. I hated this, the acting here is strange and it isn’t ever clear what is happening. The whole place was contrived for the Doctor to be in danger so Bill would make a deal with the Monks and consent to their rule so the Doctor will get his sight back and won’t die. Suffice to say, it is pretty bad.

The Writing and Structure – The structure jumps all over the place, it isn’t really ever clear where we are on the timeline and every. The writing is a lot of contrivances to get Bill to consent and surrender Earth to the Monks (since you can only successfully consent if you love another in order for the Monks to rule). It really is a trainwreck.

Much like “The Silence” and the exploding TARDIS with the crack in time…the Monks are another great idea that doesn’t payoff in regards to their invasion. Nothing that happens this episode is tied into the last one and the conquest is so hackneyed. There is a good idea in there as the Monks doing conquest through consent is messed up, twisted and interesting…but I couldn’t describe the Doctor, Bill or Nardole in this episode to you. They are all plot devices and in the end this good idea is a mess and a failure of an episode.

Final Score: 4 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 9, Episode 7 – “The Zygon Invasion” – The Zygons are Amazing Again!

The Zygon Invasion

         The Zygons are great again! After their introductory episode in “Terror of the Zygons” (one of my favorite episodes) and sadly being turned into jokes in “Day of the Doctor” it’s nice to see them back in form as a worthy and complex enemy of the Doctor and humanity. The Zygons are one of my favorite enemies so I really hated how they were played as a joke in “Day of the Doctor.” This was an episode that did a lot right and is easily one of my favorite for the season.

      “The Zygon Invasion” was directed by Daniel Nettheim and written by Peter Harness.

       The story involves the peace treaty established in “Day of the Doctor” falling apart after the death of Osgood by Missy as a fanatical group of Zygons seek to establish a world where they can live as Zygons and no longer have to deal with humanity as a threat.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Introduction  and the Osgoods – The episode begins with the Osgoods (who we later learn have now become hybrids of one another as part of the treaty) are keeping a box safe that the Doctor gave them that is only to be used if one of them dies. It’s powerful as we see just how fragile the peace is even though the Osgoods are friends and their friendship was the basis for the treaty.

The Tone – The tone is wonderful! It is a high stakes political chase where tension is built over the course of the entire episode and we see how deep the Zygon manipulations go. It pulls you in and doesn’t let go.

UNIT – UNIT is competent again and we see soldiers emotions being manipulated by the Zygons taking the formed of their loved ones (like one of their’s mother) and Kate Stewart is back in action investigating the plot and searching for the missing Osgood (as they were core to the treaty).

Kate Stewart – We get to see why she is in charge of UNIT as she keeps the operation small and seeks to isolate the radical Zygons and figure out their plan. In the end she is ambushed by one pretending to be a human survivor but my guess is she survives and we see her patience in dealing with the Zygons even with all the secrets.

Clara – Clara is great in this as we see her playing an active role that eventually leads to her capture and replacement by a Zygone named Bonnie.

The Zygons – The Zygons are wonderful! It’s great to see one of my favorite aliens from “Doctor Who” back in form again. They are a huge threat and have a bigger kill count of their own people (the fanatical faction that has taken the good idea of living openly to the extreme of targeting those working with humans in cooperation). In the end they have the faction working with humans to keep the treaty either dead or on the run and UNIT in the United States and the U.K. annihilated or destroyed. They are fantastic threat and show that there should be reason to fear them.

The Doctor – The Doctor kicks things off rocking on his air guitar, which is wonderful and we see that he loves to fly around in a Jet even if he doesn’t want to be President. In this we see that he is willing to do anything to keep the peace and doesn’t realize that the folks he are dealing with don’t want peace until a rocket is being fired at his airplane. Really curious how he and the surviving Osgood are going to get out of this one.

Okay: The Good Zygons – I would have liked to see them and their motivations explored more. Do they take on the memories of those they shape shift into or is it something else all together? Is it out of fear or do they respect humanity? I hope Part 2 answers why there are those who still want peace given humanity’s track record with aliens in “Doctor Who.”

  This is one of my favorite episodes and I really enjoyed seeing the Zygons as a threat again. If you are a fan of Classic “Doctor Who” or any good political thriller where each side has motivations that can at least be explored in a good way, this is the episode for you.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 8, Episode 7 – “Kill the Moon” – The Doctor’s Cruelty

Kill the Moon

“Kill the Moon” is an episode that really shows how cold the Doctor can be, and just how much he can take his companions, and humanity for granted. If he faced no consequences for that this episode I’d be rating it pretty low, but thankfully Clara calls him out on what he puts her and others through this time around. This episode he’s up there with the cruelty of the 9th and 10th Doctor though thankfully not up there with the 6th Doctor, or I’d stop watching the show.

The episode was written by Peter Harness and directed by Paul Wilmhurst. Both do a pretty good job this episode.

The premise is Clara is angry at the Doctor for telling Courtney she wasn’t special so the Doctor decides to make Courtney special by taking her to the Moon in 2049. The three of them are there with the last astronauts who are going to destroy it after a Mexican mining base was completely wiped out. From here the story unfolds as the creatures begin picking off the crew one by one and the truth of the Moon is revealed presenting humanity with a dilemma. From here the story unfolds.

SPOILERS ahead

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Courtney Woods – She is a a student and acts like it, from posting pics on tumblr of her adventure on the moon, to her fear in the face of the Moon Spiders. She holds her own though and is the one who accidentally finds out how to kill them with Windex. She is grateful to the Doctor in the end and doesn’t realize just how badly they were used and put into a situation that they never asked to be put in. In that way she offers the naive companion perspective which Clara discards by the end of the episode.

Lundvik – Played by Hermione Norris, she’s the military astronaut coming with the nukes to destroy the Moon. It is realizing the truth of the moon and Courtney and Clara who help her change her mind. She also doesn’t put up with the Doctor’s crap and ignores him at the end. She adds humanity to a difficult role and her loss of her crew is huge as she recites the reality of the grandson that one of them just had before the mission. She feels what the Doctor is unable to feel.

Danny Pink – Appears briefly at the end to comfort Clara and be there for her after the using the Doctor did. He also asks her to find a calm place in first to make the final decision and tell him about it as he knew from his own experience that being angry at someone means you are still thinking of them.

The Premise – The premise really is amazing, and pretty well executed. An innocent creature that has destroyed lives is hatching with unintended consequences and humanity has to decide what it wants to be. This is a great idea that we saw in “Torchwood: Children of Earth” and “Fire’s of Pompeii” in “Doctor Who,” and a few others. It’s an idea that deserves constant exploration as new dilemmas are presented.

The Doctor – I hated the Doctor this episode, and I think I was supposed to. He transports Clara and Courtney to a life and death situation and leaves them there to decide the moral fate of human kind on weather an innocent baby whose parasites have been killing all humans on the moon should live or die…not knowing if it will cost humanity. He tells them it isn’t his Moon, it his Earth…it’s theirs so their choice. This is wrong given he put them in the situation in the first place and this moral choice is one he’s ignored on countless occasions. I got the feeling he did it a lot this episode to teach a lesson when the lesson was never asked for. This is the most selfish we’ve seen this Doctor and pays the price for it when Clara leaves him at episodes end. He is as cold as the 10th Doctor taking away Donna’s choice to die or 9th torturing a Dalek. He doesn’t get it in the end either which means before he finds Gallifrey, he’s got to find himself and be a good man or at least try to be like he was prior in the season. He uses people and is their officer in battlefields he chooses. He’s cold and distant, the oncoming storm for both the people he cares about and his enemies. He’s the Doctor.

Clara – Clara is one of my favorite companions after this episode. She stands up to the Doctor and leaves him and if they travel again before she officially leaves she has got to set up boundaries. The Doctor has always taken advantage of his companions and that has got to stop. They aren’t his soldiers, they’re supposed to be his friends. Clara’s calling him out was the best scene of the film as well as her decision to ignore Earth along with Lundvik and Courtney to let the creature live. I wish we could have had this happen more with Smith’s 11th Doctor as he never got called out on much at all. The only other person who did this was Donna, it is good to know Clara has Donna-like qualities in facing the Doctor’s using of people and taking her and humanity for granted.

The Cons: Execution of Premise – The moon being an egg is an interesting idea, but the Moon Spiders as parasites felt lazy. They were never fully dealing  with the creature being born as a threat until the very end with the moon breaking apart so it could hatch. The parasites were just there. It gave an “Alien” feel to it that clashed at the end with the creature is good, which we’ve gotten a lot now. When are we going to see a bad complex alien that isn’t one of the Classics like Daleks or Cybermen?

This was a great episode that I highly recommend. It gives a moral dilemma and has consequences come from it as the Doctor finally has to face how much of a sociopath he is being to those around him and that his using people without their consent has consequences. I can’t wait to see what those consequences will be so he can grow up. If Clara did what needed to be done and stood up for herself, which we haven’t seen a companion do in a long time. Even with the premise not as well executed as it could be, it is still a favorite.

Final Score: 8.6 / 10