Published on June 24th, 2008 | by Simon Mills
Kopic’s Newsround The “Turn Left After The Silent Library And Straight On To The Forest Of The Midnight Dead” Edition Well, well, well. Here we are on the day after the Monday following the episode before the penultimate one prior to the finale and we’re straight in with a passage from David Baddiel at The Times Online where he can’t decide whether to read “Sophie’s Choice” or not. He’s talking about “spoilers” you see and seems to have loved Silence in the Library somewhat :
I know – somehow, absorbed from the cultural ether – what the choice is that Sophie has to make. I already know what narrative secret lies at the heart of that book. And I can’t work out how much that bothers me. Spoilers are a big deal in this overinformative age: film critics are now extremely circumspect at not revealing plot twists, and Wikipedia puts huge capitalised signs up saying SPOILER WARNING when its plot descriptions of films or TV dramas edge towards the ending. This concern to retain narrative suspense is now so much part of our understanding of storytelling that “Spoilers…” became a catchphrase in Steven Moffat’s brilliant recent Silence in the Library episode of Doctor Who.
David Howe was also impressed with The Grand Moff’s latest offering.
With the author of this story, Steven Moffat, now announced as the new showrunner for Doctor Who, taking over from Russell T Davies for the 2010 series, I feel that the show is in safe hands. Moffat seems to have an instinctive grasp of what makes Doctor Who good, and certainly his writing for the show has given us the best episodes of its run to date. Personally I hope he can keep up the quality, and the darkness. Remembering that Doctor Who is, at its heart, NOT a science fiction show, but a horror show, plundering the depths to bring us thrills and scares in equal measure. If he can manage that, then I’ll even forgive him ‘The Curse of Fatal Death’!
TV Squad’s review of Silence In The Library reveals some interesting trivia I hadn’t noticed and haven’t seen elsewhere:
Several books in the library were by past Doctor Who writers or were books featured in previous episodes. Among those were the operating manual for the TARDIS, Origins of the Universe ("Destiny of the Daleks"), The French Revolution ("An Unearthly Child"), the Journal of Impossible Things ("Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood"), The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (written by Douglas Adams, former Doctor Who writer and script editor), Everest in Easy Stages ("The Creature from the Pit") and Black Orchid (a book first seen in the Fifth Doctor serial of the same name).
Now that’s what I call neat. Slightly fanw@nky too, but we’ll overlook that for the time being.
SFX gives Midnight 5 stars plus a glowing review, but what caught Kopic’s eye was the volume of comments from readers. The SFX forums and blog comments do seem to attract a vast swathe of opinion, and reaction to this episode was no different.
Among the usual raft of “this is cr@p and if you liked it you’re stoopid” comments were some rather pertinent observations:
Midnight is a very clever episode. It manages to be creepy, frightening and packed full of tension, without a Dalek in sight. The Doctor is forced to confront an enemy he’s not used to dealing with – us, at our very worst. Arguing, bitching, sniping and bullying. And look! In the spirit of the episode, many of the comments above are in that very vein. Ah, sweet… …A bottle show to save money that just proves you don’t need huge scale or big FX to tell a brilliant story. It was especially good as it actually had something to say… …The lack of any explanation of the monster heightened to tension. For one who knows everything it was great to have the Doctor up against something he had no clue about. Fantastic. Though I bet Eccleston would’ve got out of it :)…
Mad Larry (aka Lawrence Miles), whilst exponentially increasing his word count from week to week, has hit on an interesting parallel (read it if you have a week to spare) between Turn Left and Father’s Day:
Remember Your Green Cross Code
Throw yourself in front of an oncoming vehicle, in order to repair the balance of history and prevent the destruction of the Earth.
So, kudos to RTD for producing another outstanding story, but points deducted for regurgitating someone else’s key plot point!
And just to show that we’re not biased here at Kasterborous Towers, Kopic has found someone who didn’t actually seem to enjoy Turn Left! Shock! Horror! Jade Wright at The Liverpool Echo thought it lacked DT’s charisma and goes on to say:
As a stand-alone episode, it was all a bit disappointing. Billie Piper seemed awkward, doing little more than treading water, while Catherine Tate failed to carry the plot without the Doctor by her side.
Personally, I think Billie was awkward. There’s no “seemed” about it. Billie admits to struggling with the chav accent of yesterday’s Rose having spent her time since Whodom acting in various period dramas (and that Belle du Jour thing) and actively, like, training her accent to be more posh, like. However, as noted, by Ben Rawson-Jones over at Digitalspy in his Turn Left review, her accent (and upper lip flexibility) does improve considerably
The stars might be disappearing, the darkness is apparently coming, yet we’re too busy trying to figure out Rose Tyler’s speech impediment. Maybe she assimilated Chris Eubank while passing through the Void? Fortunately, she finds her character’s voice again in the next episode and is back on fine form.
…which is a relief!
And now, looking forward, what does superfan Lizo (formerly) from CBBC think about next week’s episode, The Stolen Earth?
Just like last week’s episode, people who’ve followed all the goings on in the Who-niverse over the last four years will love the way that so many different themes and characters combine to create one of the best episodes of the series.
He gives it four and a half out of five. If its one of the best, then why not five out of five? He also gave four and a half out of five to Turn Left, Forest of The Dead and even the superb returning monster story Planet of The Ood. The only stories he’s rated higher this year have been Silence in The Library, and Fires of Pompeii. So that’s five other stories rated the same or higher which is nearly half of the entire series. What point am I making? I don’t know! Probably one about spurious rating numbers that include half points.
It would be interesting to see what score he would give them all after seeing the whole series. This is an issue we’re addressing in the Kasterborous Forum (free registration required) with our dynamic rankings thread. Join in…have fun!