I am sure of two things. One: Jenna-Louise Coleman’s Clara Oswin Osgood will most likely be my favorite companion for a long, long time. Two: I need to watch more of the classic Who before November 23 hits.

Cast and Crew Information

Matt Smith as the Doctor (11)
Jenna-Lousie Coleman as Clara
Michael Dixon as Dave
Nicola Sian as Ellie
Aidan Cook as the Mummy
Feth Greenwood as Dor’een
Emilia Jones as Merry

Written by Neil Cross
Directed by Farren Blackburn

Availability Information

This is available from Amazon.com, iTunes US and iTunes Canada in digital format now. It can be preordered on DVD along with the rest of season seven, part two from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca for its May 28 release.

Premise

The Doctor investigates Clara’s past before taking her on a grand day out to see the Rings of Akhaten. Once there, they discover trouble couched in an ancient ceremony.

High Point

“There’s one thing you need to know about traveling with me. Well, one thing aside from the blue box and the two hearts. We don’t walk away.”

Low Point

How many people who haven’t seen Hartnell episodes were jolted out of the episode when he mentioned a granddaughter?

The Review

This seems original to me, but having only seen half of the first ten stories, it’s entirely possible that this is a sequel to a story I’m just not aware of, particularly given the granddaughter comment. Of course, since he only mentioned seeing it with his granddaughter and not her school teachers, it’s quite possible that this takes place prior to “An Unearthly Child” and is merely being used to set up the origin story that has been promised later this year. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects were decently done. There are some issues with lining up the cracks in the glass with the physical objects causing them, which threw me out of the episode for a moment. Also, if you are going to point the cameras at the aliens who are singing, make their mouths move. If you can’t afford mouths that move, point the cameras somewhere else. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story does a nice job of setting up the dynamic between the Doctor and Clara, and (unless I miss my guess) adding to Clara’s mystique while setting up the character arcs colliding during the fall of the eleventh that was promised at the end of series six. I’m not sure how necessary the mummy was, though, but given how elaborate the makeup was and how little relative use they got from it, I’m betting we’ll see that species again. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting from the leads is brilliant. Smith has a very clear picture of who his Doctor is, and Jenna-Louise Coleman is immediately likeable and brings an independence and challenge to their dynamic that is wonderful to see. Dixon and Sian are also impressive in their roles. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production is nicely done. The BBC is clearly increasing the funding for the series, and Moffat is clearly stretching every dollar to its absolute limit. I do have minor quibbles, particularly in regards to the original placement of the camera when the Doctor started crossing his hearts, making it difficult to see that both hands were, indeed, crossing himself. Similarly, the shots of the “singing” aliens were disorienting, and we saw too much of the crowded area to really believe the Doctor’s disappearance early on. Each is in a minor complaint, but I had six or seven such moments in about 40 minutes time, which is enough to be a problem. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response was excellent. From the high point speech to single passenger moped, this worked very well. The comfortable banter between the Doctor and Clara, such as when she asked if he was going to fight, helps endear the pair to the viewers. Part of me also wonders if last episode’s “big bad” is going to be seen traveling in time to posess interstellar matter just as it posessed snow for the Christmas special. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, we’ve got a decent second chapter to this part of the series, propelled in large part by a very strong companion. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, The Rings of Akhaten receives 34 out of 42.