An incomprehensible train sequence and, erm… So, Tesla has a working death ray now?
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The Thirteenth Doctor and Fam fall Through The Mists of Time into the domain of a chap who’s absolutely obsessed with High Voltage. It’s only that Live Wire Nikola Tesla, don’t you know! And a floating sci-fi orb has caught his attention, as has a band of electric zombie creatures who are out to get him. Hells Bells, guess it’s time for a very abrupt cut to a Rock N Roll Train where Doc gets Hard as a Rock at the reveal of Tesla’s name and off they pop to the Big Apple,
But they’re not Safe in New York City, because Tesla’s rival Edison thinks he’s got Big Balls and wants his Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, and the electric zombie chaps are Back in Black, Shooting to Thrill and out to kill. Then all of a sudden a floating ship’s worth of alien scorpions are bringing out the Big Guns and demanding Tesla and Doc join them upstairs to fix their War Machine. It’s A Long Way To The Top, however, and they’re about to get Thunderstruck.
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You know, I didn’t mean to only review an episode or two every few years but that seems how things have ended up, but with that very exciting reveal at the end of Power of the Doctor that I heard about online, i’ve been reinvigorated to return, but no more promises about me reviewing every upcoming episode.
With how terrible the last episode was, anything would seem like an improvement, that said I do think I actually like this one. The main reason I enjoy this episode is because of Goran Visnjic as Tesla, I feel they were trying to make as sympathetic and tragic as Van Gogh, and while it doesn’t reach those heights I do think it worked reasonably well showing a 21st century mind trapped at the beginning of the 20th. On the villain side of things, I don’t hate the idea of a race of aliens that are basically “technology vultures” but something about the way it’s presented makes it seem like they do it out of spite rather than opportunity, I don’t know, maybe that’s just me, alsoI feel the makeup on Queen Skithra may have been a reused/altered from the Racnoss Empress design from The Runaway Bride episode.
Overall I give this a 2.9 flying green orbs out of five.
Ok, jumping right in, let’s go over what made this one great.
The guest stars are fantastic. They totally steal the show. I fully believed the dynamic between Tesla and Edison. Both characters have nice depth. Edison is portrayed as something of a jerk, yet this is balanced by the moment he is genuinely shaken having witnessed the death of his workers. Tesla is played as combination dreamer, creator, visionary. And I always love it when a guest character is able to connect with the Doctor on a level that her regular companions cannot. Every iteration of the Doctor includes an element of loneliness, making such a connection that much more special.
Speaking of the Doctor, Doc once again gets her hands dirty building something. Should we dub her the McGuyver Doctor? Or does she give more of a steampunk vibe? For this episode the Doctor’s morality tends very classically toward protecting the innocent and meting out justice on those who refuse step back from violence. The Doctor’s remarks also give us a subtle parallel between the Skithra queen and Edison, both of them stealing ideas with little regard to the way it might harm others.
The episode title had me puzzled until I realized it was how Edison would opportunistically spin the night’s events when asked the next day. “AC a Threat to Safety! Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror! Beware!”
Even with the regular companions fading to forgettable, I can’t find much bad to say here. You know what? If I were to recommend someone watch their first episode of Doctor Who, and it had to be Whitaker, I think I might go with this episode. It features historical time travel, aliens, it’s engaging, and you get some fundamental aspects of who the Doctor is.
Rating: mouse using a mouse to play Minesweeper
This episode is one of my favourites from series 12. I just love how the doctor runs into him. It’s just something new and refreshing. Classic train jumping and suddenly a train. Where did the train come from? Due to the amount of time I had, I had to speed up the episode by 1.75 speed so speedy talking, bit slow around the 10 minute mark but still somehow on my good list. Just casually mentions the sonic is made out of spoons thanks for the reminder I’m sure we all forgot.
The possessed dude/ projected dead guy villain scorpion thing kinda looks like the booth dudes from Eleven’s season 5 episode The beast below. I do like the scorpion creatures. I do like the teleporter that needs to recharge is a cool concept. I do like the save the world plan using the tower fun idea. Also Yas’s outfit with those pants is amazing. Side point: The tardis lit up blue is something I want more of. Conclusion: Excellent. No bad points this time.
I give this episode a 4.6/5 awesome adventures with the thirteenth doctor that has come to an end.
Next up, Fugitive of the Judoon. Are they on a moon, or a platoon or next to a lagoon? I guess we will find out soon.
Another great episode for Jodie’s era, sees a pseudo Historical account, of an encounter with a young Tesla.
The performance by Goran Visnjik in particular was excellent, as was actually all the cast.
It was a well rounded performance by the “ Fam” for once, with both Graham and Yaz in particular impressing with their presentation.
I loved the sets, production was top notch and once again Dr Who had me
Googling away to learn more about one of the central characters of a story, so well done for that!
Villian wise, the Skithra were OK, even if they can’t run for shite! But at least the production / CGI team made an effort to show that they found the surface slippery
when pursuing potential victims. It’s little things like this that make a good episode become a great one.
I found Jodie quite “Doctory” too, which is always a good sign.
Overall it was an atmospheric and moody story, and quite thrilling in parts. One where you can forgive a few silly bits.
A welcome return to top form this season!
Rating: 4.2 Tesla Experiments
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Why it’s only bloody Nikola Tesla (who the fam apparently have NEVER heard of!? Seriously HOW DO THEY NOT KNOW WHO HE IS!?)
I dig the vibe of this episode. It didn’t even feel like a doccy who episode until 13 showed up out the blue, and I really liked it. On the topic of things I liked, the actor who plays Tesla was brilliant – gives off major Eleventh Doctor vibes. Speaking of the doctor, one of my favourite things she does is when she science’s it the fuck up – and she did quite a bit of that in this one so it was big smiles from me.
As for companions, really like Yaz in this one, I think she does better when she’s not with the rest of the fam. Also loved Dorothy, thought she was great. Graham and Ryan were… present? (Also Ryan, no guns mate it’s been a whole season come on)
The Skithra (headcanon relatives of the Racnoss?) were really cool. Anjili Mohindra (a.k.a. Rani from the Sarah Jane Adventures) absolutely killed it!
BEST BIT: “have you ever seen a dead planet” *cut to the doctor* BEST SCENE!!
WORST BIT: when the group is jumping the train carriage to escape from big bad with a gun at the start of the episode, the doctor struggles to unhook the chain connecting the carriages because it’s rusty…was anyone else screaming USE YOUR SONIC!?
I’d rate this a 4.3/5.0.
– Likeable, historically interesting guest characters. I highly recommend the Tesla museum in Belgrade – lots of functioning Tesla coils to zap yourself and friends with.
– Giant space scorpions, and their creepy red-eyed human disguises.
– Was the scorpion queen a little too Racnoss? Was that the intention? Is she a relative? Why not just bring back the Racnoss?
– Streets conveniently cleared by Eddington. I feel cheated out of a massacre by space Scorpions.
– Shameless waste of freshly baked bread.
– Perhaps the plot was a little thin. It was basically a long chase.
– How is there no fallout from the 50 Eddington employees that won’t be going home for supper?!
Rating: 3.5/5 Eddington employees not going home for supper.
So, not bad. I don’t really have much to say. It’s a fairly normal sci-fi historical with us meeting a famous historical person, that being Nikola Tesla. The scorpions wanting him is almost The Girl in the Fireplace (that feels such a long time ago).
I think this was, for me, a little dull-ish. Not a lot stood out apart from some nice visuals. And the actors for Tesla and Edison seemed to do a great job with their parts. Robert Glenister who was Edison previously appeared in the Caves of Androzani, so just a bit of wait between roles. And the alien queen is played by someone from the Sarah Jane Adventures which I have never actually watched. Her costume design was quite similar to the Queen in the Runaway Bride….Wait that’s a lot of similar elements. Is this a trope of the Chibnall era? Or is it just more noticeable because the plots are somewhat dull so you notice it more? Hmm…
Anyway, rating? I find it a bit dull but decent so 3.0/5 So how does Edison explain the room full of dead workers?
This story isn’t bad. It commits a worse sin; it’s dull. The characters are not engaging, the plot is whatever, aliens are rehashed and it goes on for far too long. My heart sank when I thought it was nearly over only to see there was another 15 minutes remaining.
Some good news though. Despite teasing it with her look-to-camera, tone of voice and facials, there was no moralising lecture forthcoming.
A less than electrifying 1.9/5
Follow up from the podcast: Napoleon has appeared in screen Who previously. He was in the First Doctor story The Reign of Terror, albeit briefly. He didn’t meet the Doctor.