Published on April 4th, 2013 | by Christian Cawley
Spoiler-free Preview: The Rings of Akhaten
Well, I’ll tell you what – some websites have treated this episode like a poor cousin of The Beast Below, generally decrying it as “not as good as last week’s” but I’ll tell you what – this is a clever tale that riffs off The Daemons and End of the World (among others) and comes across as quite original in the Doctor Who canon thanks to superb special effects and an unprecedented cast of monsters that make the bar in The End of Time, Part 2 look like The Rover’s Return. Something that is admirable about this cast of monsters is that they’re not all left without character – Dor’een is a particularly pleasing addition.
As alien settings go, The Rings of Akhaten is probably the best yet seen in nuWho, presenting a planet with a society, inhabited by native and visiting creatures. This is rare in the modern series (and was rarely done well in the classic era) and helps – along with things being seen from her point of view early in the trip – to bring Clara’s first genuine adventure to life.
It’s also worth saying that despite this being a spoiler-free review, I’m going to let something out – nothing is as it seems in The Rings of Akhaten. Merry Galel (Emilia Jones), for instance, might appear to be a cute little girl who can sing, but there’s more to her than that – likewise the Mummy (Aidan Cook).
Neil Cross’ first Doctor Who script is certainly memorable, and features great CGI effects from The Mill. Visually stunning, you might judge from the preview gallery that in a few weeks time that remember the way the episode looks perhaps more than the story. However, there are important elements to this episode concerning Clara’s family that will contribute to this being a key entry in Series 7.
So, phone in the pizzas, pour out the wine and get settled down at 6.15pm on BBC One and 8 ET on BBC America this Saturday evening and enjoy a great adventure!