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A space girl fails to hit the apocalyptic snooze button and only Clara’s backstory can save the day

The Doctor has decided to not wait any longer for the prequel movies of Clara’s life and takes a sneaky trip through time to spy on her as she grows up. He observes the moment a randomly drifting leaf brings her parents together, ultimately leading to Clara’s birth, and the death of Clara’s mother, which leaves said leaf in Clara’s custody.

History spoiling escapades dealt with, the Doctor decides to take Clara wherever she wants to go. Her response of “something awesome” leads to a course being plotted to The Rings of Akhaten, a ring-based solar system with a shining pyramid at its centre.

While wandering around the market from Turn Left / the basement from Starship UK, Clara happens upon young Merry Gejelh, a runaway repository of the entire solar system’s folk memory, whose raison d’être is to undergo a musical Logan’s Run for the good of the galaxy.

Guess what! Clara’s promises are full of sh*t. As are the Doctor’s, it turns out, as Merry’s manages to screw up her song four words into it — maximum — thus wakening ancient powers that only the Doctor can extemporise a defence against through sheer egotism which, guess what, doesn’t work either.

(More screenshots will be added soon — watch this space!)

PS: As foreseen/promised, we had quite a bit to drink during this episode. Just bear that in mind… ;-)

Here's what we think of N096 The Rings of Akhaten

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

2.6

Drew | @drewbackwhen

1.1

Marie | Not on twitter...

3.6

Jim | @jimmythewho

2.8

Here's what we think of N096 The Rings of Akhaten

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

2.6

Drew | @drewbackwhen

1.1

Marie | Not on twitter...

3.6

Jim | @jimmythewho

2.8

Here's what you think 5 Responses to “N096 The Rings of Akhaten”
  1. Star Wars Syl | @StarWarsSyl

    This episode was quite a mixture of things. A bit of Teen Wolf (the Dread Doctors put in an appearance— sorry, I mean to say the Vigil), a hefty dose of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (the Old God) and a throne’s occupant from Star Wars: The Old Republic: War for Iokath (the Grandfather).

    The marketplace actually felt like there were a lot of different species of aliens present, and the masks were quite good.

    I liked when Tiny Clara kicked the ball and it hit the Doctor in the head.

    1.9 out of 5 planet monsters.

  2. Michael Ridgway | @Bad_Movie_Club

    Things that could have been:

    – Fantastic concepts. An ancient ritual/celebration to prevent catastrophe echoed ‘Cabin in the Woods’ & ‘The Wicker Man’. A world-consuming Parasite Planet is undeniably cool.

    – The Alarm Clock monster awakes. Clearly a homage to the child eater in Pan‘s Labyrinth (not a bargain-basement rip-off, with an OTT Doctor killing any tension and terror).

    – Awesome alien costumes. It would have been all too easy to slap cheap rubber masks or black nylon tights on actors heads.

    – Good use of the Sonic. By not opening ‘unopenable’ doors or defeating alien heavies, the writers saved this episode from becoming the filling of a sh*t sandwich.

    – The ‘song of hope’ and leaf finale. Beautiful, poignant, mesmerising. I retched buckets and nearly drowned in my tears of sadness/joy.

    – Satisfying closing scenes. The dog alien returning Clara’s ring in gratitude for saving its world (it was a bit of a git to demand this in the first place). Seeing the devastating impact events have on the races whose million-year-old religion has now collapsed. And the reveal that the Great Intelligence was behind the Planet’s awakening. The Queen of Years’s failed attempt to sing to sleep a hoard of rampaging robotic Yetis, who then clobbered her into pâté, was a brutal but brave move by writers.

    – The epic post-credits scene in a Chiswick Jazz bar where the 11th meets the Seventh Doctor, paving the way for the Seventh Doctor’s triumphant return!

    Summary: Rings of Akhaten is the finest piece of television ever made. Anyone who disagrees is not only wrong, but most likely a racist or baby-eating devil worshiper. Probably both.

    Rating: 5/5 Baftas ‘Rings’ was cheated out of in 2013.

  3. Tracey | @yecartniatnuof

    Hey folks, how’s everyone doing? Take your time!

    Drew

    Marie

    Leon

    is Jim in attendance?

    Now let’s talk about Clara Prime’s first off-world adventure!

    I want to like this one. I really do. It starts out really promising, with clearly a healthy budget for costume and set design. I love the concepts here: the idea of stories having some psychic energy that gives them value, music as sustenance, the neverending song which must be taken up generation after generation, the soul of a person as their stories- this is such powerful stuff!

    But the pacing is all wrong. It’s unclear what danger they are truly in at any given time. Lack of even a hand-wavey explanation means we are not clearly introduced to the scifi mechanism behind any of this. Hence, we don’t really know what’s going on as Merry Galel tries to sacrifice herself, as the Doctor tries to sacrifice himself, and as Clara ultimately sacrifices…a leaf.

    In short this one begins very promising and somehow falls flat.

    Rating: Waking up on an air mattress you swore there were no holes in, but you were mistaken and now your back hurts.

    PS Could Leon please mispronounce it Rings of A-cotton some more? It’s adorable.

  4. Keil | @MASSFLPanthers

    Hello guys and gals,

    What in the world is going on with this season of Doctor Who? No wonder why I can’t remember it. This season kills the Matt Smith Era in the doctor ranking. Not all his fault. The only doctor given worse material was Colin Baker.

    Now for the good

    The singing was nice.

    Now for the bad.

    The whole thing.

    So, the doctor is the hero for once when he gives his memories. Yet it’s Clara who got to come in and save the day. The doctor’s memories, who are about 5000 years old, are less powerful than a leaf.

    Doctor stalking Clara. She remembers that he stalked her. And she doesn’t run out that Tardis, fast. I get he’s trying to solve the Clara Mystery. But at same time, the doctor has always had standards. Better, if you take the doctor out of first 10 minutes and just had Clara telling the doctor as a flashback.

    Never good, when the sonic screwdriver is made out to be the doctor weapon or crutch. Good: when opening a door. Bad: when he’s using it for whole episode.

    How did the Doctor get the ring back? He is breaking the time laws again. I don’t buy the explanation, nor do I think we are supposed to.

    Rating 0.7

    So, keep the booze flowing and the Who Glowing

    Keil

  5. Trenton Bless

    I just realized I never sent in my Mini Review for this story. Oh well, here it is anyway!

    The Rings of Akhaten is basically The Doctor destroying a religion. And maybe an entire star system. Well, at least he had good intentions, right? Let’s start from the top.

    Clara wants to go somewhere awesome. The Doctor chooses Akhaten. He mentions Susan in a throwaway line, and from there it’s downhill.

    Clara is way too much of the focal point. The Doctor seems to be shoved to the side to make room for her as he tries to solve the mystery around her. And who saves the day? Not The Doctor, but Clara and her leaf. The most important leaf in Human History.

    The villain was no better. That ugly mummy thing was a bait and switch and the Vigil creatures were pointless and just there to be on the artwork for this episode. Even The Old God was just pointless and forgettable.

    Also, when could the little girl use telekinesis to pin Clara down? What happens now that The Old God just sorta imploded? Will the Rings of Akhaten just sorta float off into space? So many unanswered questions now because the Doctor just destroyed a star!!!

    This episode’s saving grace is that speech. You all know the one. “Go on then! Take it! Take it all baby! Have it! You have it all!” That speech is one of the Eleventh Doctor’s best, hands down. Only his regeneration speech tops it (oh, we’ll get to that).

    Overall, The Rings of Akhaten may not be the best, but it’s harmless. It doesn’t make me angry or anything. It’s just… there, I guess? 2.5/5

    Also, I still don’t like Clara.

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