Doctor Who #944: Angel of the North

"What was in them?" "Nothing." "Well these nothings have escaped."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jun.14 2010.

IN THIS ONE... Gryffen gets out of the house to investigate a Korven ship at the North Pole.

REVIEW: Though K9's creator Bob Baker was credited as co-writer on the previous episode (that damned clip show), this is his first Who-related solo credit since Nightmare of Eden. It's also of a greater quality than most installments in the series, and the production has gone all out, even providing a brand new matte shot (the base in the Arctic) and corridors that, for once, don't look like the same old sewer system. And Baker writes in revelations that inform the show as far back as the pilot. The space-time manipulator, for example, isn't one of Gryffen's inventions; it was salvaged from a "fallen angel" that came down in the North Pole (that's terminology that I've long thought the show didn't do enough with), and that alien ship is filled with recently awakened Korven, a species from early in the series. AND there's a link between their STM technology and K9's programming, which - judging only by the titles - will be explored later.

So it looks like the Department has turned humanity into a race of scavengers, living off the alien tech it's managed to steal off unlucky alien passerby. Well, the proper, canonical Whoniverse has done much the same with UNIT and Torchwood, so that's consistent. It's a story that puts Gryffen's genius into question, but if he's the guy trusted to experiment with the STM, he must be pretty smart. He need not have invented it. (Of course, this is also a global organization that forces two of its dept. heads to share an office in a moving bus just so they can eavesdrop on each other's calls.) It's a good episode for Gryffen regardless, as he finally gets to leave the mansion and play action hero, braving winter storms and panic attacks to do so. K9 and Stakey get in on it too, the latter's impulsiveness actually putting K9's mission in jeopardy. The plot is better constructed than most, that's for sure.

K9's best director, James Bogle, once again gives an episode extra style, turning out TARDIS console scenes from the STM sequences; the energy feels more like Doctor Who than this often placid, point-and-shoot series. His camera is mobile without being nauseating. He keeps the energy for specific moments, gives extra shudders when, for example, Korven weapons make something explode. Staging remains a problem, and there are several moments when characters appear to have little-to-no peripheral vision. Hiding in plain sight is an old Doctor Who tradition, but still.

- Looks cool, has important things to say, and says them well. I'd say Baker has pulled off one of the show's better episodes.



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