Doctor Who Review: “The Eaters of Light”

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?

4 replies on “Doctor Who Review: “The Eaters of Light””

  1. zocalo says:

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

    To be fair, the Doctor *did* ask for the WiFi password, and cellular coverage in the highlands of the 1st centuary is probably only marginally worse than it is in the present day, so the modified cell phones they’ve used in the past probably wouldn’t work too well. :) Still, given that the TARDIS’ translation system works over suitable distances, you’d think it would have some kind of comms system – or perhaps it does only it fell victim to the Doctor’s apparently non-existent maintenance schedule…

    I also found the idea that the language translation should make everyone sound like a child an interesting concept. Obviously from the Doctor’s perspective almost every human is a small fraction of his age, but in hindsight I wonder if that’s actually meant to be the TARDIS’ doing since it was supposedly already old when he liberated it and presumably would find humans even less mature than the Doctor does.

    • I also found the idea that the language translation should make everyone sound like a child an interesting concept.

      Also, the original intended audience was children.

  2. Kiersten says:

    I love Nardole SO MUCH!!! :)

    • zocalo says:

      Have to admit, while I wasn’t looking forwards to this season quite so much once I heard he was going to be a regular after Matt Lucas’ high-pitched and manic portrayal in the Christmas special, the character has definitely grown on me over the course of the season. Now I’m kind of hoping that the rumours of a “clean sweep” with new show runners, a new Doctor, and a new companion are either bogus or don’t actually extend to Nardole…

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