Under pain of death do journalists dare spoil even the mildest intrigue from Series 7b opener The Bells of Saint John - so consider these cautiously optimistic words from The Telegraph and Den of Geek as quiet whispers that something truly exciting this way comes.
Firstly, The Telegraph, who have confirmed that the opener is a bit of a blinder (“deafener”, surely? – Ed):
In all, Moffat has penned a witty nail-biter, liberally sprinkled with clever, modern ideas…
Which is what we were all expecting right? Perhaps something unexpected would be the similarity between this episode and the dark, dystopian nightmares of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror:
Much like in the Christmas episode, we’re back in London, but now the action takes place in our own, internet-driven age. Perhaps Moffat – who wrote this episode himself – has been enjoying Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, as there’s a similar theme of the possibilities of evils within technology.
It’s those ‘evils within’ that have also piqued the interest of Den of Geek, who drew an entirely different parallel to Moffat’s parable:
We like to think that when Steven Moffat sat down to write The Bells Of St John, he was also trying to watch a little bit of Eastern horror on a laptop, one that wasn’t really working properly, all the while as a Google StreetView car drove down his road gathering its data. That’d certainly explain just a small number of the themes and ideas he’s woven into The Bells Of St John, an episode that ushers in a feel of a fresh era for Doctor Who.
But don’t let those themes weigh you down; all be told, the episode is a bit of a hoot:
Were Moffat a man with longer foliage on the top of his head, this would be described as one of his stories where he’s let it down a little more, and from start to finish had raging fun with his episode. It’s a delight to watch it unfold.
That fun is infectious, too. First time Who director Colm McCarthy takes little time getting his hands dirty, starting off with one or two Sherlock-esque visual tricks, before showing a deft ability to change pace, and mix up the comedy and the action.
Aside from the obvious appealing chemistry between the newly reunited leads, which Den of Geek calls ‘effortless’, there’s also a star turn from Celia Imrie, who leaves a lasting impression in her relatively brief screen time – all in all, they, like you hopefully, were impressed the Doctors return:
It’s a really nicely structured, balanced piece of work this, with something close to the end that’ll have you awaiting further episodes and developments with real interest. It also feels like Doctor Who has taken a breath of fresh air, building on the rightly-acclaimed The Snowmen, and packing in so much of what there is to love about the show in 45 minutes. The introduction of a major new character is an opportunity that has not been squandered.
Bottom line? If the plan for Series 7 was to give us a blockbuster a week, The Bells Of St John achieves that as well as any story we’ve seen this series so far. We had a real blast with it, and suspect you will too.