Doctor Who Review: The Rebel Flesh

Dramatic title? Check. Monsters which suddenly turn around and hiss at you? Check. Yawning? Double check.

Cast and Crew

Matt Smith as The Doctor
Karen Gillan as Amy Pod
Arthur Darvill as Rory
Mark Bonnar as Jimmy
Marshall Lancaster as Buzzer
Sarah Smart as Jennifer
Raquel Cassidy as Cleaves
Leon Vickers as Dicken
Frances Barber as Eye Patch Lady

Written by Matthew Graham

Produced by Marcus Wilson

Directed by Julian Simpson

Originally shown on the 21st of May 2011


A solar storm dumps the TARDIS on an island where things are coming to life, and nobody seems to have heard of health and safety.

High Points

  • “A lot can go wrong in an hour”. Very true. Especially given how long an episode of Doctor Who is.
  • sigh “What are you doing down there?”

Low Points

  • Oh, that dramatic twist? Yes, saw that one coming.
  • And that one too.
  • Ah, the sudden turning around and hissing. Everybody’s doing that lately.
  • Why is there never any health and safety in the future?
  • Oh no, it’s a two-parter? But they should be interesting stories.


Originality: I feel like I’ve seen this or read this before somewhere, and this is a fairly standard treatment of a classic sort of artificial life story. Three out of six.

Effects: The solar storm is spectacular but rather over the top. Most of the rest is low-key, but there are a few rather dodgy shots. Four out of six.

Story: Artificial life, identity confusion, are they real people, Rory gets a backbone, yadda yadda yadda. Four out of six.

Acting: Despite the story, there’s some good acting going on here. It’s not universally brilliant, but there are moments where the characterisation really comes across strongly. Unfortunately there are also the other moments, when it doesn’t. Four out of six.

Emotional Response: Well, okay, I was moderately interested. Three out of six.

Production: Incidental music is overdone. Well, maybe not more than usual, but somehow it irritated more this week. Especially at the end. Otherwise, the sets don’t look particularly convincing. It’s just a load of corridors and rooms with random machinery in, like bits of a video game where nobody’s thought through how the environments actually work. Three out of six.

Overall: There are glimmers of something interesting here, but only glimmers. Three out of six.

In total, The Rebel Flesh receives 24 out of 42.

8 replies on “Doctor Who Review: The Rebel Flesh”

  1. It really felt like a Who episode. And I guess that’s ok. Having all arc episodes is a hard thing to do and I don’t fault them for having one off stories.

    Although the Flesh’s similarity to Odo was hard to ignore…

  2. I must say, that this is the very first time I actually LIKED Rory….

    (at least they didn’t kill him this time.

    Does it seem to you that these episodes are all about Amy and her fears?
    Rory dies. Rory flirts with another female. Rory blames Amy for the 2k years of waiting <– which we know is just silly, it was his choice. He would never feel that way.

    I think it comes back to Amy and her choices. Separate universes? A universe within a universe?

    She better not be dreaming! That would totally upset me.

    On a separate note, I want Idris back!! :)

  3. My notes:

    The “Sets” were actual locations.

    They didn’t kill Rory… Yet. It is a two-parter.

    I found this episode kinda dull, too. I had figured out what was going to happen for the rest of the episode (possibly both parts if my predictions pan out) before the opening credits. Though, I think all of that is Neil Gaiman’s fault. His episode just upstaged the season, that’s all.

    • bsm: that would be a cheap trick, but then, so is killing the doctor at the start of the season, so maybe.

  4. What I really liked about this episode had nothing to do with originality – what I liked was that it felt like a well-executed, but not particularly notable, Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker story. You’ve got the Doctor trying frantically to make peace between two fairly innocent groups, and humans (as usual) screw it all up because they can’t manage to be better.

    It was… comfy.

    I liked last season’s Silurian episode for the same reason (but more so, because it had Silurians, who had been gone for way too long). I am always left with the feel that the Doctor is slightly more sympathetic towards Silurians than humans.

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