Published on June 20th, 2008 | by Simon Mills
Silence in the Library
Real time review of Silence in the Library, courtesy once more of Simon R. Mills…
We open as a young girl floats serenely above a beautifully realized future/alien city. We cut back to the girl in her home as she explains that she moves around by wishing herself to go wherever, but she starts to get scared… There’s banging on the doors of her library! "Something’s in my library!" she cries. The Doctor and Donna crash through the doors and the Doctor stops short… "Can we stop here for a bit?" he says as he looks straight ahead. Back in the girl’s home she gasps and is then drowned out by the almighty "Ooooweeeeeeeeoooooo!" that follows…
Kopic reflects on the pre-title sequence (and feels all warm and gooey seeing the "Steven Moffat" writing credit) and thinks it was very good. Ethereal floatiness brought crashing down to the ground by the TARDIS crew. Nice.
The Doctor waffles on about books and biiig libraries… "Books!" "51st Century…the smell of books" "so big it doesn’t need a name". He goes on to say that the core of the planet was hollowed out to accomodate the biggest computer hard drive ever. We have another city shot. Nice. The Doctor announces that they are in the "Biographies!" section. "Awwww, I love bigraphies." Donna notes that this is very much "him" because they always end in a death. To which he answers "I like a good death" and goes on to explain that you have to have death in order to fully aprreciate what goes before. He won’t let Donna look at any of the books, though, saying that they are all spoilers for her future. This is all getting very post-modern, maybe even having a dig at ‘fans’ in general who are always either looking for spoilers or trying avidly to avoid them! They then start to wonder why there’s noone else in the library. Donna asks if its because its a Sunday which leads to one of my favourite throwaway lines – "I never land on Sundays. Sundays are boring!" If I travelled in time, I’d definitely avoid Sundays, too. They discover that there are only two humanoids in the library… but over 1,000,000,000,000 readings when it comes to lifeforms. Much puzzlement all round.
We are treated to another lovingly CGI rendered cityscape. They like this city. Kopic agrees. Kopic wants to go there. Puts Gridlock to shame. There then follows a rather funny bit with them thinking the books might be alive and then jumping when data node says "Welcome" and then proceeds to issue warnings to "count the shadows". The Doctor looks warily around and warns Donna to "stay out of the shadows". This is great stuff, simple but spooky. Today’s assistant reviewer is Kopic’s young female offspring, known as SJ, and she is getting spooked already. Her hands alternate between covering ears and eyes – she can’t decide if she wants to hide from the scary words or the spooky shadows…
The head librarian’s additional report is reported by the data node in a rather amusing literal fashion, "argh. snark. snick…message ends."
The lights are going out in the library. Scary. "Run!" says the Doctor and then Donna is exasperated to find out the sonic magic wand "doesn’t do wood?!?!?!" Donna takes matters into her own hands…err…bovver boots and kicks the door in. We now catch up with the prologue and see that the girl from the pre-title sequence appears to have been viewing events through a security camera. A wooden one, at that. You have to admire the aesthetics of a floaty security camera made of wood. The Doctor sonics the camera and the girl hears the buzzing in her head in her own home, and daddy says "What noise?" when she asks if he can hear it. "Gotcha!" announces the Doctor as he’s trying to open up the camera… Whilst the girl simultaneously falls onto rug which has the library’s motif as it’s design. The Doctor realizes the camera is "alive" when it starts spelling out messages. "Others are coming" says the girl and this is echoed on the retro dot matrix readout on the camera. Donna is horrified to discover that the faces on the data nodes are real fleshy faces but the Doctor tries to explain this away by saying it’s like donating a park bench.
At this point the Doctor notices an extra shadow with no apparant source. "HA! I’m thick!" exclaims the Doctor, "head’s too full of stuff…need a bigger head!" Hmmm… Kopic thinks this Doctor’s head is quite big enough, thank you. The Shadow has gone, but the Doctor notes that "It’s moved."
The door bursts open with a flash and a bang. "The Library has been breached," announces The Girl in her home. Space suited figures walk in to the library and the leading lady walks up to the Doctor, removes her helmet and says, "Hello, sweetie." This is a great intro, so evocative and full of questions that we want answers to. This new group is revealed as a group of archaeologists on an expedition. The Doctor makes another funny, saying that he’s a time traveller and they "Point and laugh at archaeologists". The Doctor now takes charge and utters another quotable line, "If you understand me look very, very scared… a little more scared than that…that’ll do". This is turning into a story with lots of quotable quotey things and some funny stuff. We even have two Dave’s who have been christened by their colleagues as "Proper Dave" (because he was there first) and "Other Dave"
Donna gets chatting to Miss Evangelista who is Mr Lux’s PA. She seems very sweet but is obviously as thick as two short thick pig’s planks.
The Doctor explains that most cultures develop an "irrational" fear of the dark, but he goes on to say that it’s actually *not* irrational… its Vashta Nerada. They are the piranhas of the air and they inhabit the shadows. They are the dust that sparkles in the air.
Aha! Now the cowboys are circling the wagons! To be precise, they are making a circle of light to keep the shadows at bay. Good move. Professor River Song tells Mr Lux to put his helmet back on and darken the visor…because she doesn’t fancy him. She goes on to say "Pretty boy! You’re with me." and we have a nice exchange between Donna and The Doctor when he realises she meant him. "Oh! I’m pretty boy." Donna makes a mildly amused affirmative noise and wonders at why she agreed so quick… Yet again, its the little things like this that show the casting of Catherine Tate was inspired. In fact, I think Russell T Davies deserves an OBE for this service to TV drama.
River Song gets out a TARDIS-shaped book and asks the Doctor, "Shall we do diaries?" She looks quizzical and runs through a list of events that she seems to believe they’ve shared. There’s another Greco/Roman reference here that Kopic wishes to point out when River mentions the "Crash of the Byzantium". These are probably red herrings thrown in by RTD, but we had "Byzantine Fever" and the "New Byzantine Calendar" in The Doctor’s Daughter River obviously knows the Doctor in his future, announcing that he looks young, but he hasn’t met her yet. Donna is perturbed? Possibly even jealous? WHO IS PROF RIVER SONG AND WHAT IS SHE TO THE DOCTOR?
Doctor breaks through to talk to the girl in her own home via the TV. "Would you like to speak to my dad?" she asks. "…Or your mum…that’d be lovely." replies the Doctor. Communications break down at this point. The Doctor reaches for Song’s diary, but she stops him saying that he’s not allowed, its against the rules… "your rules"
The Girl gets annoyed with remote and books start flying off shelves in library. "CAL Access Denied" is seen on screen in library. "What’s CAL?" Indeed, we wonder…
Donna is nice to Evangelista who says that people think she’s "Stupid because she’s pretty." Oh dear. She’s got "red shirt" stamped all over her, now…
Lux rattles on about Intellectual Property and getting The Doctor and Donna to sign contracts. Again, we have another nice set piece when they simultaneously rip the contracts in half.
"Lets’ start at the beginning…what happened" "The lights are going out…computer sealed the planet" Secret door opens and Evangelista is ignored. Apparently 4022 people were saved…but there were no survivors. Most peculiar…
Nice wonky camera angle as Evangelista explores the open secret door. Silly girl. Hasn’t she seen "Scream"? Doesn’t she know the rules for surviving a horror story??? EEEEK! They all go running and find skelly bones. Realise the bones are Miss E’s. Moving scene as she "ghosts", which River describes as a copy of neural patterns in communicator thingy. Evangelista’s data ghost says "Hello?" and describes Donna as "the nice woman." They spend a few minutes talking to Evangelista’s data ghost as a mark of respect and to help her pass on. Miss E’s last words are "I…I…Ice cream…Ice cream…" Which is a rather sad parting. Song says "whatever did this to her I’d like a word with that" "I can arrange that" says serious Doc.
Dr Moon is going now, but wants to have a word with the girl on her own. Moon says there’s the real world and the world of nightmares. He reveals that the real world is a lie and her nightmares, the library is real. People are trapped in there. People that need to be saved. The shadows are moving again. Only you can save them. During this scene we see girl’s pictures on the wall of a blonde girl and a wolf. Very nice. Obvious reference to Rose, the one and only Bad Wolf?
Donna and River talk. River says she sent message and it arrived too early in the days before The Doctor knew her. River knows of Donna and doesn’t answer when Donna asks where she is in the future. In fact, she looks a little uncomfortable about the subject but they are distracted.
The Doctor explains more about the Vashta Nerada and that sometimes people go missing, not everyone comes back out of the dark. Oh, good. More scary stuff to frighten the kiddywinks at home! They run around a bit more and Donna notices they are in the gift shop, which is always by the exit. Oh no! Proper Dave has two shadows now! This is how the Vashta Nerada hunt, they latch onto a food source. The Doctor finds the teleport. The Doctor and River have matching sonic magic wands and they dial up the strength on the space suits, whatever that means, to make them harder for Vashta Nerada to penetrate. The Doctor sends Donna back to Tardis via teleport… but something goes wrong and she disappears with a blood-curdling scream. Boy, what a great screamer. Chilling.
Proper Dave’s extra shadow has disappeared… "Hey, who turned out the lights?" Then he gets eaten. "I’m fine, I’m OK… I’m fine…" He’s been eaten and is ghosting. Scary bit as suit moves on its own and skull appears at faceplate of helmet. A bit scooby-ish, Space Ghost. River does the Capt Jack trick and sonics up a square whole (like in The Empty Child) in the wall to escape.
Back to the girl. "Donna Noble has been saved". What does this mean? Saved how? Like a document? Is this what happened to the 4022? Have they been saved in this way?
River says Doctor gave her the screwdriver but The Doctor argues he wouldn’t give it to just anyone. Realizes Donna isn’t in Tardis. Node turns head and it’s Donna! Says "Donna Noble has left the library. Donna Noble has been saved.". Space Ghost turns corner and The Doctor and River run while the Donna node rambles on and Proper Dave’s data ghost waffles on about lights. A cliffhanger!