TV REVIEW: Doctor Who, Series 7 Episode 4 – “The Power of Three”

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As we approach what I’m going to call the mid-series break (I refuse to treat this block as a separate series, so there!), we’re presented with a look at Pond life when the Time Lord is not around. Sort of, anyway. Chris Chibnall’s latest episode is a modern-day (slightly future?) Earth and sees the Doctor trying to fit into his companions’ regular lives while he tries to figure out the purpose of billions of strange black cubes that have appeared all over the planet. Read on after the break for the full review …

The Doctor and the Ponds puzzle an unlikely invasion of Earth, as millions of sinister black cubes arrive overnight, almost like presents falling from the sky. But what are they, what’s inside them and most importantly, who sent them? With the international community at a loss, it’s left to the Doctor to unearth who is behind the mystery.

I think this episode is meant to be a look at “Doctor Life” from the perspective of a pair of co-travellers who may well be wanting to just settle down. Before the titles roll, the Ponds determine they are approaching the point where they must choose between normal life and Doctor life. In this regard, I feel the episode fails. That’s not to say its bad, necessarily, just that in my opinion it missed it’s point. The episode runs very much like a standard adventure – it just so happens that it takes place over the course of a year.

That said, there is one very nice scene where Brian (making a return after his Dinosaurs appearance) has noticed that Amy and Rory have been off adventuring during the course of one night. The interaction between Brian and the Doctor is nicely played and makes Brian’s final lines in the episode seem quite considered. On the whole, it’s the wanting to be more than it is that lets this episode down. There’s one sequence in particular that I found grating. The most unlikely hour ever. And it’s made watchable merely by Matt Smith’s delivery of the line “I can’t do it”. Considering this episode is meant to be the one where the Doctor spends time in the Ponds’ normal life, he spends a lot of time (admittedly off-screen) travelling. Both with and without the humans. There’s a great contrast between the ever-moving Time Lord and the careful, considered Brian Williams which does come across though.

From the above, you may think that I thought this a really bad episode. But (as with Dinosaurs on a Spaceship), I’m going to step away from my adult, fan self and put myself figuratively in the mind of a younger viewer. On this level, without repeated viewing, I think these elements work. Unfortunately, Who of late has grown into being a more mature show that treats its younger audience with a respect that means it doesn’t talk down to them or expect them to accept superficial story-telling. I’m afraid I found the majority of this episode to fall into this category. On top of this, there are  a couple of unnecessary TV-celebrity cameos.

It’s a shame, because like Dinosaurs, there’s a lot of potential here and there ARE some lovely moments and lines of dialogue. The general concept of the invasion is interesting and on the whole is handled well. It’s a shame that it’s so secondary to the script. The cast are all on top-form, and though I thought UNIT were wasted, it’s always good to see them. What I made of the new head of the organisation? I’m still not sure.

I think this was a necessary episode (particularly with the Ponds’ departure imminent), but one that could have been handled better. Despite what may have come over in the paragraphs above, I think this is a perfectly entertaining episode. One thing I do keep coming back to though. When the Doctor dropped Amy and Rory off at their new house last season? That’s when they should have left. Their story was done. They’d travelled and had decided the time had come to stop. The occasional visit back would have been great. But that’s just me.

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Rating: 3 /5
Reporter: WedgeDoc

 

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