Doctor Who Review: “World Enough and Time”

Cast and Crew

Peter Capaldi as The Doctor
Pearl Mackie as Bill
Matt Lucas as Nardole
Michelle Gomez as Missy
John Simm as Mr. Razor
Nicholas Briggs as the voice of the Cybermen

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Rachel Talalay

Original Airdate

World Enough and Time originally aired on June 24, 2017.


A 400 mile long ship is falling into a black hole, and extreme dilation affects only the subset of physics that is convenient to the plot of the episode. What was intended as a training mission for Missy’s redemption takes a very different turn, particularly for Bill.

High Point

This is the most effective cliffhanger we’ve seen in a long time.

Low Point

I spent most of the episode hoping Mr. Razor would become a new companion, but it does not appear that is in the cards.

The Review

I feel bad not giving a huge score for originality, because the episode as a whole is great. It’s another story based on old villains, but they are doing something new-ish with those villains, including one particular element I’ve been hoping they’d do for a long time. I’d be more specific, but that’s a large component of the cliffhanger. I hear it was spoiled by earlier “coming up” bits, but I’ve avoided those, so it was a very welcome surprise for me. I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects were limited to makeup and exterior shots for the most part. The tear didn’t look terribly realistic, but the rest looked good. I was going to knock it for makeup that looked like makeup on one character, but I now see that was clearly intentional. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story was compelling. True, the science nerd in me wanted to gripe about how the time differential was “working” as signals from the “top” of the ship wouldn’t reach the bottom nearly quickly enough to function as depicted here, but the emotional component of the story worked so well that’s easily forgiven, or handwaved by a society that had 1000 years to study the issue and implement some sort of high speed signal amplifier/work around. I give it 6 out of 6.

The acting was great from all. Mr. Razor’s bumbling is amusing and endearing, few can chew the scenery as effectively as Michelle Gomez as Missy, Matt Lucas’ delivery is as spot on as ever, and Bill had some shining moments here. That’s all on top of what we get from Capaldi himself. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response is great. Two weeks ago, I expressed dissatisfaction with Empress of Mars for feeling bland. That felt like a continuity fix that had just enough story to hold it together. This, on the other hand, feels like a compelling story that happens to fill in some continuity questions along the way. I give it 6 out of 6.

The production is remarkably difficult this week. They needed to directly echo a story from the era of the first Doctor without laying all of their cards out on the table and without seeming out of place with the modern sensibilities, all the while telling a tight little horror story. Somehow, they pulled it off. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, this is the strongest episode of the season to date, and one of the strongest from Capaldi’s entire run. I give it 6 out of 6.

In total, World Enough and Time receives 39 out of 42.

6 replies on “Doctor Who Review: “World Enough and Time””

  1. Based on the time dilation shown by the “calendar” display, time at the bottom runs about 182000 times faster than time at the top (about 500 years at the bottom for 1 day at the top). Even so, there’s no reason a *signal* can’t get down the ship in a reasonable length of time, especially given the technological capabilities of the builders of the ship and the identify of a certain character, even if the math would mean that even light would take a long time to travel whatever that 400 miles turns into due to the equations. (This is a universe with time machines, after all.) Then, as far as the receivers go, it would take under an hour (as experienced at the bottom) to receive a complete frame (at 60fps), which could easily be buffered and the frequency shifts processed out. The ultimate in slow scan television.

    I’m more concerned about the structural integrity of the ship itself given the obvious gravitational gradient there. It’s astounding that it still holds together. And where they’ve been getting fuel to run those engines full out for 1000 years. Or how engines that are pointing away from the black hole are somehow providing thrust against the gravitiational pull.

  2. Some random points:

    The ship/orientation engine thing was kind of necessary, I guess. To rotate the ship and have the same relative time dilation (yet still without spaghettification) you’d need to have the bridge at the back by the engines, rather than the more industrial levels as depicted. Doable if it was not part of the cylinder and a raised up a bit, but then you end up with a sub-optimal design for a ship that under normal operating conditions would be best served by having the bridge at the front. Still, we have a black hole that clearly “sucks” (*sigh*) amongst various other issues, and a ‘verse with numerous other example of apparently physics defying tech, so why not add an engine tech that includes “reverse” into the mix too?

    “Razor” (something you shave with) or “Razer” (one you razes things to the ground)? Not sure if they made that clear, but the latter makes a better fit with The Master for me. Also, based on The Master’s comments, I’m starting to wonder exactly where Missy fits into The Master’s regeneration cycle; I’m getting the distinct impression that it might actually be pretty early, in which case could The Doctor’s failure to save Bill actually help push her over the edge and create his nemesis of previous seasons? Not the first time that we’ve seen that happen, and not the first time we’ve seen some misdirection over a regeneration sequence either…

    Small gaffe: Mondas was shown upside down to its traditional depiction! Grrr! Its continents are supposedly similar to Earth’s but inverted, so either they forgot, overlooked it, or up the south pole at the top.

    Loved the idea of the tear, despite its visual flaws. Very nice touch that will presumably lead into an explanation for a certain design oddity perfectly once they conclude that arc next week. Just a shame that they couldn’t have kept Simm and the Cybermen more under wraps; the slow build to the big reveals (despite some rather obvious clues for old timers) would have given watching the show even more impact.

    • On a lesser note, they explained the creepy but ultra-low-budget look of the original Cybermen while making use of their disturbing origins. Their appearance has steadily improved, but they have been used more often as Stormtroopers than as the genuinely disturbing, portentous characters they can be.

  3. “Zathras work in hospital, no-one listen to Zathras”

    “Missy the One, Zathras also the One. Doctor… Not the One”

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