Happy Saturday, everyone! Doctor Who is on tonight… so while you wait for the new episode, why don’t you read about something else Whovian? Today I’m co-reviewing last week’s episode, “Listen,” with Matt from The Little Engine That Couldn’t. He’s probably the funniest blogger I know, so I am VERY EXCITED to co-review with him!
P.S. You can find my earlier collaborative reviews of Doctor Who here.
Matt is a teen blogger who likes to read, write, snowboard, and obsess over anything related to Game of Thrones. He recently got a job at McDonald’s, where he still hasn’t been able to make an ice cream cone without messing it up. He still thinks the scariest Doctor Who monsters so far were the peg dolls from “Night Terrors.” You can find his blog at The Little Engine That Couldn’t.
Warning: Spoilers ahead, sweetie!
Hey, guys. Engie here. Matt and I decided to make a list of ten observations we had after watching “Listen.” It’s not a top ten list, though, not exactly. It’s just five thoughts from Matt and five thoughts from yours truly… and as you can see, sometimes we didn’t always agree!
Oh, and by the way, Matt’s thoughts are in italics. The odd-numbered list items, basically. I let him go first because I’m nice that way.
But before we start, I’d just like to say: I CORRECTLY PREDICTED THIS EPISODE. I wrote in an earlier post that it would be fantastically creepy to have an episode where Clara and the Doctor heard a strange noise and realized they weren’t alone. AND I WAS RIGHT. Yay! I think this is why Matt wanted to review this episode with me, honestly. He likes creepy stuff, so I’m glad my prediction was right…
1. I’m sure many felt otherwise, but I really liked how this episode ended.
Some may have found the reveal anti-climactic, or cheating on Moffat’s part, but I’d have to disagree. I think that a reveal of any monster would’ve been disappointing, no matter how terrifying it may have been. The idea that it was all in the Doctor’s head was at once surprising and made perfect sense (to me at least), considering that after every single scary moment in this episode, the Doctor or Clara would give the audience a plausible explanation for what happens. (Though neither of them nor the audience would believe it at the time.)
And despite the fact that this has to be about the five-hundredth time a Doctor Who story has been resolved with a time loop, it still felt inspired, somehow. It felt earned. In “The Name of the Doctor,” Clara jumping into the Doctor’s time stream had no effect on me, because it felt like she only did it because the plot demanded it, whereas her comforting the young Doctor made perfect sense for her character, because it was consistent with everything we knew about her so far.
2. The first third of the episode – the first story, the one set in the children’s home – was my favorite. After that, I felt the episode wasn’t quite as good.
Like… monsters under the bed? That’s relatable. Everyone’s thought about that, even if they refuse to admit it. I think the whole story should’ve been set in the children’s home. That story was super-creepy, and really-well-written, and then the other parts felt disjointed.
We don’t always need grand storylines, I guess. We don’t need to go to the end of the universe, where everything is dead, or even to the beginning of the Doctor’s life. I guess it just bothered me that Moffat was trying to make the story some big blockbuster thing. Keep it simple – that’s why “Blink” was so good!
If two-thirds of the story had to stay, though, I guess I’d pick the children’s home part and the part with the Doctor. But I realllllly didn’t like the Orson Pink thing.
3. Assuming that the thing underneath Rupert’s bedspread was, in fact, a child playing a prank, and not an evil alien thingy that will become of utmost importance in the final two episodes, I think I speak for everyone when I say: that was one strange kid.
I mean, I’ve tried to scare other people before when I was younger, but usually I’d finally make a sudden movement, or start laughing and give myself away. Basically, I can’t imagine any kid in such a situation staying quiet for so long. But I guess that’s still more plausible than it actually being a monster under the covers instead.
4. I checked under my bed after this episode. It’s kind of embarrassing, really.
Oh, well. I suppose it serves me right for watching a creepy episode late at night. WHAT WAS SITTING ON THE BED?! “Listen” really reminded me of “Midnight,” another scary episode, because we have no idea who or what the villain was and we can’t stand not knowing. Side note: Moffat likes to write creepy episodes about not doing things that are instinctive, doesn’t he? Don’t blink, don’t breathe, don’t look.
5. One thing I particularly liked while rewatching was this tiny exchange in Rupert’s room…
TWELVE: [Thumbing through book] Where is he?
TWELVE: I can’t find him. Can you find him?
CLARA Find who?
TWELVE: He’s nowhere in this book.
RUPERT: It’s not a Where’s Wally one.
DOCTOR: Well, how would you know? Maybe you just haven’t found him yet.
RUPERT: He’s not in every book.
TWELVE: Really? Well, that’s a few years of my life I’ll be needing back.
I thought it was a nice bit of foreshadowing there. It actually gave away the entire twist of the episode, but the first time through I just thought it was the Doctor being quirky. So… well done, Moffat.
(Also, only just after this episode did I realize that Wally is apparently the UK version of Waldo, or perhaps Waldo is the American version of Wally. I will never know which came first. Sure, I could probably just look it up, but that seems like a lot of work, even though it isn’t.)
6. Clara and Danny’s relationship is a foregone conclusion now.
Ugh. Why? It’s strongly implied that Orson Pink is one of their descendants, and… I don’t know, I think I’m just grumpy because THEY’VE BEEN IN ONLY TWO EPISODES TOGETHER and they’re already snogging?! It feels like they barely know one another, and they have no chemistry together. I can’t stand poorly-written romantic subplots, so please please please don’t let this become another sub-par Amy-and-Rory thing.
7. I liked the soundtrack for this episode, mostly because I barely noticed it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Murray Gold’s score (I have jogged to “I Am the Doctor” many times) but there were times throughout the show where I’ve felt like it was played too loud, and the same themes would be repeated over and over again. In fact, I don’t remember a single moment throughout all of series seven where there wasn’t music thundering in the background. Sure, the soundtrack was catchy, but it was often distracting and a lot of times I felt the show relied on it too much to set the mood.
Here it was the lack of a score that caught my attention, particularly in the conversation between Clara and the Doctor at the end of the universe. It was one of those rare moments in the show where besides the Doctor and Clara talking, it was completely silent, which created a feeling of suspense and creepiness that no amount of “BAAA dum. BAAA dum. BA dum BA dum BA dum..” can more accurately purvey.
(I was trying to imitate the Jaws soundtrack, by the way. I’m not sure how clear that was.)
And the music that did play, like near the end when Clara was comforting the very young Doctor, was fantastic. Maybe it wasn’t as hauntingly beautiful as the soundtrack from, say, The Leftovers, but it was effective nonetheless.
8. I loved the episode’s intro, what with Twelve postulating ideas and all that.
It just felt so… Doctor-y. I like Twelve already, but I’m still getting used to him and I think this might have been the moment where he just felt right as the new Doctor. I love the science-y, theorizing side of the Doctor – and how, when Clara walked in, she said he’d been alone with his ideas for a little too long.
9. I think Capaldi’s going to end up being my favorite Doctor so far.
He’s definitely on his way there. He’s so much darker and crazier than all the previous versions I’ve seen, especially in this episode, yet he’s also clearly capable of being goofy and lovable. Like in that split second scene where Clara surprise-hugged him, something I could imagine Clara doing a lot to unsuspecting people.
10. I loved seeing Clara interact with kids.
She’s been a nanny several times, and there was that great scene in “The Rings of Akhaten” where she talked to that little girl, and now she’s a teacher. She’s really good with kids, and it’s nice to see that she’s interested in something, because otherwise I have no idea what she likes. I LOVED her scenes with Rupert and the young Doctor.
Hey, it’s Engie again. And I have one final question for Matt. Who do you think Missy is?!
I have no idea. I read this theory online a few days ago that she is actually Madame de Pompadour from “The Girl in the Fireplace,” but the more I think about it the less sense it seems to make.
Er. Yeah. That’s a really weird theory…
Thanks for reviewing with me, Matt!
What is YOUR opinion on “Listen?” I’d love to know!