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26 October 2015 @ 07:27 pm
NuWho Rewatch: The Bells of St. John  
This is Clara's first "proper" episode in which the Great Intelligence is downloading people into the Internet for Reasons! NLSS Child was not impressed. In fact, for the first time ever, she complained to me that the story was "not realistic". I think the deal-breaker was uploading human minds over Wifi. I clearly haven't made her read enough Cyberpunk. Actually, given she isn't yet a teenager, I haven't given her any to read, but maybe I should?

It is an interesting move to reveal the season (or half-season) bad guy this early in the ARC. I recall, at the time, thinking this was a good development, particularly since the Great Intelligence is the kind of villain that can absolutely crop up in all sorts of times and places. It was a disappointment to subsequently discover that it appears again only in the final episode. Like Clara's "impossible girl" aspects, I can't help feeling this was mostly a missed opportunity.

*pause in writing while NLSS Child informs me she has found a Dr Who Christmas jumper on Amazon. There is some issue with putting this on her wishlist which I'm not following - something to do with not getting it until Christmas day.*

Clara is good in this up to a point; she stands up to the Doctor and is both curious and adventurous. But it does feel like the writing is trying a bit too hard (something that, on reflection, is possibly true of many of Rose's early stories). It wants us to like her, but most of her contribution boils down to being a vector to introduce the Doctor to the threat of the Intelligence. She gets to hack into the computer centre at the Shard, but its hard to determine how much of that is Clara and how much is magical computer skills. At the time I assumed her acquisition of said magical computer skills was supposed to explain Oswin's genius, and so was supposed to remain with her. However, I don't think we've seen these exhibited again and since everyone was "reset" at the end, I wonder if she lost them. It's a shame that the plot otherwise ultimately boils down to "rescue Clara".

The story feels quite RTD, in a way. There's the call centre environment, the plot that is ultimately fairly one note and little thin, promising much but delivering little. Not to mention the rather clumsy understanding of the Internet and social media. Others have rightly pointed out that both the sequence that is supposed to show that Clara understands nothing about computers "the Internet isn't working" and the one that shows that she has gained an understanding "you made a twitter joke" really demonstrate nothing of the sort and are painfully reminiscent of many scenes throughout TV history in which a writer tries and fails to demonstrate their familiarity with some modern trend.

To be honest, I think The Bells of St. John is about par for the course as a season opener and companion introduction. I thought it weaker than many of Moffat's attempts but no worse than most of the RTD ones. I was, therefore, a little surprised by the strength of NLSS Child's dislike.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/176081.html.