How is it possible for the writer of the worst ever episode of Doctor Who to wind up writing one of the best?
Warren Ellis recently observed:
I watched part of a recent episode of CRIMINAL MINDS this evening, and I swear to god, when Fat Tony, Forest Whitaker and him from DHARMA AND GREG weren’t on screen, it looked for all the world like the cast of FRIENDS standing around wearing stab vests. Fighting crime, feeling pretty …
Which is why I watch very little TV these days. It’s populated from a restricted gene pool where everyone looks like everyone else’s cousin.
And here is this episode of Doctor Who, bringing in real-looking people as its ultimate heroes:
But that’s just one aspect to love about it.
The other is a script by Gareth Roberts that harkens back to the great British TV series of the 1960s: The Avengers, The Saint, Department S, and the like. It’s as if he was channeling all the great writers from that era: Brian Clemens, Dennis Spooner, Monty Berman, and the rest.
And to match him pace for pace …
… was director Catherine Morshead (who, shockingly, lacks a Wikipedia entry!). She also directed another high point episode of this season. She too worked in the vein of the great 1960s, channeling directors such as Robert Fuest and Roy Ward Baker.
The script is filled with laugh-out-loud lines, once of which appears early on. Pay attention right here to the three-word sentence:
And Matt Smith delivers everything with a dry wit that is absolutely astonishing! Even Jimmy Lee Shreeve has been won over — it took him eleven episodes to see what I saw in Matt Smith in the original promos!
Watching this episode put a huge smile on my face. It reminded me why good writing matters and what the purpose of good writing is: to give you a vacation from your soul!