Doctor Who News Doctor Who: The Rings of Akhaten

Published on April 12th, 2013 | by Christian Cawley

Reaction to The Rings of Akhaten

It’s been a week of accusations and mixed reviews for Doctor Who, with The Rings of Akhaten enjoying a muted reaction compared to the previous episode.

Doctor Who: The Rings of Akhaten

You’ll probably be aware of the low overnight rating, news of which made The Sun, but in fairness until we know what the final, consolidated figure is, the overnights remain largely academic.

Closer to home, however, our own readers voted in a poll launched right after the episode. It seems that The Rings of Akhaten attracted a fascinating three-way split, quite unusual for Doctor Who episodes. Of 474 votes, 37.34% (177 votes) we in favour of the episode, 32.91% (156 votes) considered it “okay” while the final 29.75% (141 votes) disliked the episode. That is a surprisingly tight result, and proves just what an opinion splitter the episode was.

Our own review of The Rings of Akhaten was largely positive, although its weaknesses were admitted, while in our podKast James McLean, Brian Terranova and Christian Cawley discussed its various merits, including Clara’s character development..

But what of the wider web?

Well, let’s start by wishing a fond “welcome back” (yeah, right…) to The Telegraph’s Gavin Fuller. Apparently last week’s reviewer isn’t good enough for long-term reviews (despite clearly understanding the show Fuller is supposed to be an expert on). He starts by observing the similarities with The Rings of Akhaten and other nuWho episodes – so thank goodness he didn’t review The Bells of Saint John or else the “review” might have been much longer than the 303 words he managed to churn out, presumably in his lunch hour.

What was not so clever was to have, in the week after the Great Intelligence and its world wide web of fear, another mind parasite for the Doctor to face, and, as happens so often in the rebooted series, a companion to ultimately save the day.

That would be a good point if the foe in The Rings of Akhaten was indeed a mind parasite. As it turns out, of course, it was more of an emotivore, and in the world of science fantasy there is quite a difference.

Elsewhere, IGN’s review made light of the Star Wars prequel similarities to set and costume design, observing that:

From the bustling alien soukh, and amusing cultural differences, to the beautifully galactic scenery and impressive array of wonderfully costumed, Guillermo del Toro-esque alien species, Akhaten felt like a fully formed world.

It’s just a shame it wasn’t a particularly interesting one.

‘The Rings of Akhaten’ couldn’t match its lofty ambitions and sci-fi inspirations, but succeeded in ingratiating Clara further into the Who-niverse.

Which really is a reasonable summary, we think. But we’ll leave the last word to SFX, who after noting the hard work put in my writer Neil Cross to create an interesting society (for instance the currency, the lullaby, the concept of souls being made of memories) perhaps hit the nail on the head with what went wrong on Akhaten.

…after a slightly overly-pedestrian, plot-establishing first half it starts to descend into Who 101, as the Doctor does the usual and saves the day.

So, let’s put The Rings of Akhaten to bed and concentrate on the final few seconds of the broadcast – the Next Week trailer for this week’s Cold War


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About the Author


A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

6 Responses to Reaction to The Rings of Akhaten

  1. avatar IGettings says:

    It needed script editing! 16 mins in and finally we get some jeopardy – but it turns out to be a girl who is worried about forgetting her lines. If she had been aware that she was going to be sacrificed, yet doesn’t want to go against her traditions or family, it would have made for a far more interesting story.

  2. avatar lozzer says:

    I watched this episode with my wife – I cringed a lot, and at the painful end of the episode she told me I have to watch Doctor Who on my own in future (really) – it was awful, I’m genuinely surprised by some of the positive reviews it got. .

    • The singing made me cringe. I almost turned it off.

  3. avatar Al says:

    I loved the episode, personally. The fact it was more about atmosphere than plot is fine – you need one of these once in a while, and it’s main job was to build Clara’s character, and it did so marvellously. The thing about those polls is they are a bit misleading – yes, it was a 3-way split, but you have to realize a lot of people automatically give an “okay” vote to episodes unless they are truly incredible, so they tend to “under vote” such things. Excellent and OK are still positive votes, which mean the percentage of people who approved of the episode in that poll is in the 60s, not the 30s.

  4. avatar Lynda B says:

    I loved it. Just wish it had made a bit more sense in some parts, but it’s one of those more fantasy than sci-fi episodes that I really love (like the Doctor’s Wife and A Christmas Carol). There are those who love these kind of episodes, and those who don’t. And you please everyone. Fortunately, Cold War was more of traditional Who story, so as we all know, wait a week and you’ll get one you like.

  5. avatar Misi Eedyot says:

    Unforgiveably dreadful. I really don’t know what keeps me watching this series. I think its some kind of misplaced loyalty and ‘faith’ – it doesn’t help that every dozen (two dozen?) episodes there is something brilliant, or at least passable. Akhaten is just more of the muddy dross that fills in the space between the good episodes, soon to be forgotten. Things like “The Family Of Blood” and “42″ made me want to kick the TV screen in. Akhaten just made me quietly whimper. What, what, what of the future, I have to wonder….

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