SEARCH MY BLOG

Monday, October 27, 2014

Doctor Who: In The Forest of the Night Review

Doctor Who is nearing the finale with an episode with many interesting ideas, and maybe not the best execution.
*Spoilers Ahead*
Overnight, the entire world is covered by billions of tree, and the Doctor must discover why. 

"In The Forest of the Night" is the type of episode, unlike "Kill the Moon," to make an outlandish premise work. Of course, there are many logical issues with tree growing everywhere, as well as several other dumb moments, but it is far from a bad episode, just not a great one. 

As usual, Peter Capaldi is exceptional as the Doctor with a slightly less grumpy attitude in the episode. Jenna Coleman continues her excellent performance as well, with Clara and the Doctor getting along rather brilliantly. In fact, Clara is almost more Doctor-like than the Doctor himself in the episode with her telling the Doctor to leave in the TARDIS, and to save those they can, not everyone, although that was Clara lying, which is another trait of the Doctor. At this point in the series, Clara’s progression from disagreeing with the Doctor's methods to embracing them is an excellent character transition.  

Moving back to the plot, the Doctor lands in the middle of London, where a little girl, in Red Riding Hood-esque clothing, named Maebh, is running from something. Early in the episode, one would expect dark monsters in the forest type story, yet that is not the case. Aside from the zoo animals, there is not much threat in the episode. While this is not exactly a bad thing, it would have been better if even the zoo animals seemed legitimately threatening. Speaking of the animals, the scene where Danny saves the Doctor, Clara, and Maebh from the tiger starts out fine, but after saving them, everyone acts as though everything is perfectly safe. Sure, they are zoo animals, but they are still killers lurking around them! Yet everyone just acts like everything is just fine and dandy!  

Conceptually, the entire planet being covered by plants is rather unique. It would be a very interesting idea for a disaster flick where the plants are actually trying to takeover the planet. In the episode, the concept is executed well enough, and even though Frank Cottrell Boyce's screenplay felt a bit childish at times (not surprisingly since he writes children's books), he managed to just pull it off. 

One notable positive and several negatives are the children. Abigail Eames as Maebh is rather excellent as a child that is not so annoying that she ruins the episode. In fact, her scenes are rather strong all around, especially how the Doctor says something about her being able to see the glowing creatures due to her medical problem. The Doctor’s interaction in general with her is great; especially considering how painfully annoying Courtney was in "Kill the Moon." Early in the episode, I actually thought that Maebh directly caused the world to be covered in forest, and that she somehow controlled in a Haruhi Suzumiya-esque fashion (no one is going to get this reference), although that is not actually the case in the end, which is probably for the best. As for the rest of the children, why do they have to be so obnoxious!

Danny Pink continues to be a highlight of the series with even more excellent dialogue, and general likability of his character. However, I am still wondering if Danny is going to actually travel in the TARDIS at some point during the coming finale episodes. Thus far, he seems to have no interest in doing so after his very well written speech about his time as a soldier. 

Thematically, the episode referenced many fairy tales like “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Hansel and Gretel,” which gave the episode a bit of a whimsical feel and tone, and it worked. Other thematic elements included the clich├ęd "save the trees," although the episode managed to not make it annoying either. Also, the series featured a callback to "Kill the Moon" with the Doctor's dialogue with Clara, which you can see below.
 
 In terms of direction, Sheree Folkson, uses some interesting and unique techniques with a lot of POV (point-of-view) camera work , which actually worked well. As usual, the special effects are a bit dodgy at times, particularly the falling statue.

At the end, the Doctor's speech about how humanity will forget about the trees growing everything is odd. It had nice sentiment with a satisfying conclusion of the themes, but did the Doctor mean people would forget metaphorically or actually forget, because, unlike ancient times, there are videos and news reports about the trees; no one is going to forget this! 

Lastly, the strange light bugs that protect the earth resurrect Maebh's sister. So, basically, these things can bring people back to life out of thin air.... Going back in time to save someone's life is one thing, but if Fullmetal Alchemist has taught us anything, bringing people back from the dead is never a good idea, haha.

EDIT: Apparently, Maebh's sister was only lost, not dead.

Overall: 7.5/10- Riding the fine line of disaster and success, "In The Forest of the Night" is able to just barely make the outlandish plot work thanks to strong performances and satisfying thematic elements. 

Please check back tomorrow or Wednesday for my review of Godzilla.

 


If you want to contact us or have any questions please send an e-mail to johnstarslayer@gmail.com.

11 comments:

  1. Great review! :) I agree, this was a good episode(much better than Kill the Moon and The Caretaker; really glad the season got back on track) and even though the logistics were off, I ended up really enjoying the light tone. And I agree, the little girl Maebh was actually well done and the actress did a good job with her character(good child actors, yay!)- I especially liked her scenes with the Doctor. Also, I am continuing to love the direction Clara is going- there have been a few bumps, but overall I'm enjoying it a lot. As for the quote with the Doctor talking about humanity forgetting, I'm thinking he means metaphorically(like he said, we do remember having war and having babies, but we don't really remember it vividly, since memories of how bad things are fades over time).
    And yes, after watching FMA:B, it's obvious that bringing people back from the dead is a bad idea(just like watching Doctor Who has made me know it's not good to mess with time); I kind of thought maybe the girl had ran away and the forest brought her home, but she also could have been dead.
    The finale looks awesome! :D Can't wait for it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, it was still a solid episode, despite some problems.

      I think you are right about the girl only running away, not dying, so I updated that. :)

      -James

      Delete
  2. Not an episode that bears any close scrutiny (flameproof trees saving the world?), but as an exercise in modern fairy tale, it works well and I loved the kids, especially Ruby and her lack of imagination. Danny Pink also came out well. As a change of style, and pace, to the last few, it worked well enough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Other than Ruby's one line about imagination, I honestly could not stand most of them. But overall, a mostly solid episode.

      -James

      Delete
  3. We pretty much agree again! Good review! I really liked Maebh and the actress who played her. That was a highlight of the episode for me--the other kids really annoyed me though. :( Obnoxious is a great word for them. I actually predicted that the trees were forming a protective umbrella or canopy in some way, early on in the episode, but I wasn't sure how it would make sense scientifically. Overall it was a stable episode...although I did find it crazy that two teachers would go so long without noticing they were missing a student. On any field trip, teachers or assistants to teachers are doing regular head-counting! Big families do it all the time just going to the grocery store! While I realize it had to work like that for the plot, it also speaks badly to Danny and Clara's ability to keep track of their students! At least, that felt incredibly odd to me...

    ~Jamie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True, although I did not think of that while watching the episode.

      -James

      Delete
  4. I found the episode a bit boring, but otherwise it was an alright episode. Awesome review, James!
    -Tegan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, it was a bit boring. Thanks Tegan!

      -James

      Delete
  5. I actually liked this episode better than "Flatline" even if it wasn't always executed well (like Jamie said, I thought it odd it took Clara and Danny so long to figure out they were missing a student!) I really liked the actress who played Maebh, though and I found the other students surprisingly un-annoying as well, although I'm sure you're not the only one who'd disagree with me on that point ;)

    I suppose I liked the fairy tale aspect of it, and though I would have liked the zoo creatures to be more of a danger and a focal point, I didn't mind the overall lack of a "bad guy."

    Oh, and judging from the age of Maebh's sister I assumed she was a runaway, especially since Maebh asked her to "come home" on the telephone call. Which I guess her sister heard and listened to?

    Oh, and I love how The Doctor quoted Clara back at her, there. He seemed much more approachable than in other episodes....it's almost as though he and Clara have sort of switched, personality-wise. I'm wondering how that's all going to play out...

    good review :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really? Interesting. I really did not like the kids, except for Maebh.

      You are right about her being a runaway. I updated the post to correct that.

      I agree, that callback to the previous episode really worked. :)

      Thanks!

      -James

      Delete
  6. Good review! I finally watched this, and pretty much agree -- I enjoyed it until it suddenly turned all cliched and environmental, but then it did get better by then end again. Not as great as it seemed to have the potential for, but not bad either. Danny's the highlight for me too. He'd better actually travel somewhere with them eventually!

    ReplyDelete

One rule: No strong profanity. If you want to link to one of your posts, please do; I am always interested in other reviews and such.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...