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03 November 2015 @ 08:23 pm
NuWho Rewatch: The Rings of Akhaten  
The Rings of Akhaten introduces us to one of NuWho's only completely alien worlds. Possibly its the only completely alien NuWho story (I'm not sure). Here the value of things is measured in terms of the personal significance of objects which, in turns, ties into the angry god hidden in the sun who must be sung to sleep.

Having noted that The Bells of St. John was very reminiscent of one of RTD's season openers, I was struck, in re-watching The Rings of Akhaten, how reminiscient it was of The End of the World (Rose's second story). This is the story in which Clara is first introduced to the wider universe, a place full of strange aliens and stranger customs. She doesn't react with quite the shock that Rose did, but then, by this point, there is less need to introduce the audience to these concepts. However the story nevertheless takes the time to state/re-iterate fundamental tenets "we don't run away" (interesting that the current season is, in part, about how the Doctor does run away). There are also visual similarites: Clara standing on the viewing platform before the blazing sun vs. Rose at the viewing window facing the remains of the Earth.

There is a lot to like here, though the actual plot is fairly thin and not terribly well explained. What actually went wrong to wake up the sleeping god? Why did it kidnap the little girl?

The Rings of Akhaten is a competent episode but, to be honest, oddly forgettable. Lots of the trappings of Clara that get introduced around now - the book, the leaf, turn out to be irrelevant and the show does not need, yet, to retell the story of what it is and how it works. The Doctor is no longer a mystery to be unravelled and so this is mostly, more of the same, as opposed to something that moves matters forward.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/176484.html.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on November 3rd, 2015 10:51 pm (UTC)
I'd broadly agree with this. I want to like this story, given that it is trying to do something a bit different and given how much some people seem to hate it*, but it isn't giving me enough to work with.

* There seems to be a rule that whatever story comes last in the Doctor Who Magazine season poll is something I rate higher than anyone else does, but it was hard to be really enthusiastic for Rings, although I think I still prefer it to Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and Nightmare in Silver. And now I have written a footnote that is longer than the main text...
louisedennislouisedennis on November 4th, 2015 11:10 am (UTC)
I'd have said Nightmare in Silver was worse, certainly, though I dislike it for reasons which are not entirely its fault. When I went back and looked at my review of this story at the time, I found it was most a vigorous defence of the inclusion of singing - I don't know if that has remained a controversy, it seems an odd thing for people to castigate the story over.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on November 4th, 2015 11:18 am (UTC)
Nightmare in Silver I think probably felt worse than it was becauses we expected more from Neil Gaiman, particularly after The Doctor's Wife. But more on that when you reach it shortly, I expect.
parrot_knightparrot_knight on November 3rd, 2015 11:29 pm (UTC)
I largely liked The Rings of Akhaten, but as you say it seems to set up all sorts of things with Clara which never come to pass.
louisedennislouisedennis on November 4th, 2015 11:13 am (UTC)
This half season, in general, seems to set up things about Clara which then fizzle. I think something very odd was going on with her character here. The Clara we have in seasons 8 and 9 and the Victorian Clara feel to me like a very different person to the Clara we see in this half season who is often rather passive, frequently gets little to do, and is surrounded by all these oddities that seem like they should have significance but apparently don't.
parrot_knight: parrotparrot_knight on November 4th, 2015 12:13 pm (UTC)
Given that Rings was commissioned and made so late (only being thought of while Hide was in production), I wonder what was intended for the slot originally?