JReviews: Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 10- In The Forest Of The Night

Sorry this wasn't up on Saturday guys, I've had a rough couple of days with IRL stuff and I haven't had a chance to actually watch the episode until today.

Anyway, on with the review.

Now in many ways, this episode doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The entire plot hinges on a massive deus ex machina in the form of a giant forest that grows overnight and even swamps the ocean (which is ironic because actually in terms of the reasoning for this forest in the storyline, this is a stupid move, because plankton gives out much more oxygen the trees do). It seems this episode was an excuse to mash together a load of bits from fairy tails and then shoehorn some sort of sci-fi reasoning to make it feel like a Doctor Who episode. And did it work. Well, in terms of the story, not really. The plot didn't grab me, it spent too much time taking a step backwards for every step forward. And there were some quite hilariously odd bits of logic; flame proof trees (the reason could be as sound as anything, but it just made me think "what?") , a pack of wolves running away from a solitary tiger, the entire world actually paying attention to what one little girl says and of course the hideous ending scene where the girl who has been missing for I believe a year turns up in a bush outside her house. Honestly, why did they do that? It was unnecessary, illogical and overly sweet whilst still managing to leave a bad taste in my mouth afterwards.

But then you have the flip side, the bit that did make sense. The characters. I won't really talk about the Doctor or Clara too much here, because the Doctor didn't really shine in this episode and Clara is, well, Clara and as such did only one thing in this episode and the rest of the time was just there. But the other characters were where this episode was most interesting. Of course, Danny Pink continues to fill the Best Character slot very nicely, as proven by his "One Person" speech near the end of the episode. He takes charge in a crisis, he reacts to a completely baffling situation in a way that is both sensible and useful, he looks out for the children in his care and basically does everything you'd expect from a former soldier. He might not have the answers to the problem, but he's going to keep everyone safe whilst the Doctor does his thing. Then we have the children, who are an interesting bunch. Only four of them actually did anything or had speaking roles, which I suppose works as it means the story has a focus, but if you were to look at a class of kids of that age, even on a normal school day (I think we can safely say this episode does not represent one of those), yes there are often four or five centres of attention and loud mouths, but usually there's only a handful of quite ones who don't want to be noticed, not seven or eight like in this episode, all the kids usually have something to say. Trust me, I worked as a teaching assistant at my old school for a bit and the class I was with was the same age group as the kids in this episode. Anyway, apart from that, the kids were quite interesting. At some points they could turn round and do or say something that either amazes or amuses (enter the world most cynical twelve year old with her utterly brilliant "There wasn't a forest, then there was a forest. Nothing surprises us anymore." line, which is now quote of the season), then they could turn around again a minute later and do or say something that makes you think "why did you do/ say that?" (the same girl with her "I have no imagination" speech). In that respect, entirely believable characterisation. I also like the fact that none of the kids seem at all phased by the giant forest that magically appeared overnight or the TARDIS. Makes sense because children are much more open to the unusual or strange than adults are, because they have a greater imagination. I do find it interesting that when we compare the kids during the episode to when they're shown in flash back, they're all acting out of character. The ginger girl is shown to be ignorant and lacking in understanding during the flashbacks, but in the episode she's observant and insightful. Same with the kid who's scared of the dark. In the flash backs he's rude and quick to anger, in the episode he seems quite calm about this whole, very stressful, situation and even says please, something that is noted by his teachers. At first I thought they'd be somehow connected to the forest, which obviously one of them was, but the others were just there and acting out of character because. Hmm, could have been worked better maybe.

Last things, Missy didn't seem overly happy with the outcome of the solar flare for some reason, or maybe she's just bored, waiting for her turn in the spotlight next episode. Also, what the hell does the title mean? How was that the forest of the night? The entire episode occurred at day. OK the trees all sprung up overnight but that doesn't really mean anything.

Anyway, overall, an average episode. It had potential but the outcome didn't live up to it. There wasn't a tangible enough threat for it to work as an action episode (which, when you spend the entire episode running around a forest, would make sense), but there's also not enough implied threat for it to work as a psychological episode (they're just trees after all and a solar flare that we don't find out about until really the second half), so it sorta falls somewhere in the middle. Score: Meh/ 10

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