We’re in classic Doctor Who territory this week, in a story that could have been written to a similar resolution without his presence.

Title: “The Eaters of Light”

Cast and Crew

Director: Charlie Palmer
Writer: Rona Munro

Peter Capaldi as The Doctor
Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts
Matt Lucas as Nardole
Rebecca Benson as Kar
Daniel Kerr as Ban
Brian Vernel as Lucius
Rohan Nedd as Simon
Ben Hunter as Thracius
Sam Adewunmi as Vitus
Billy Matthews as Cornelius
Aaron Phagura as Marc
Jocelyn Brassington as Judy
Lewis McGowan as Brother

Premise

The Doctor and his companions travel to first century Scotland, where they groove with some Picts, a large cosmic animal, and the remnants of the lost Ninth Legion.

High Points

The episode explains an historical mystery and makes clever use of a creature and time-distortion to explain a myth.

Low Points

The Doctor (who seems preachier than usual this week) and Nardole make a number of statements that have no clear basis, save for, perhaps, past knowledge they choose not to share. How does the Doctor (unless he’s faking for the children’s sake) know the true nature and aims of the alien creature?

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 We have an entertaining, but familiar-seeming episode.

Story: 4/6 We follow up last week’s romp on Mars with another old-fashioned feeling (though contemporary looking) episode. Doctor Who built its reputation in the 60s with a family-friendly blend of history, science fiction, and monsters, with some moralizing and education on the side.

The story works on its own terms, though the ending feels forced and abrupt. The plot actually might have worked better without the Doctor and his companions.

Effects: 5/6 The episode features better-than-BBC-average CGI.

Acting: 5/6 The leads retain their strong chemistry.

Emotional Response: 4/6

Production: 6/6 As with “Smile,” the episode makes excellent use of location shooting.

Overall: 4/6

In total, “The Eaters of Light” receives 30/42

Lingering Questions

Why don’t the Doctor and his companion use communication devices of some sort?