Returning to The Rings of Akhaten
At the moment BBC Three are repeating series 7b of Doctor Who, or the one with The 11th Doctor and Clara, and Neil Cross has confirmed he is returning to write for the show series 8, what better time to re-review the episode The Rings of Akhaten. When I reviewed the episode for Culture Jam I said:
The Rings of Akhaten is a slower episode but the lack of running around allows us to enjoy Akhaten and the people found there, well except for the villains.
by some stretch the least awesome Doctor Who we’ve encountered for a long time [while it seemed like] Cross hadn’t seen an episode since the 1980s. Even the left field mention of the Time War feels as if it’s come from a quick consult with Wikipedia [while he turned] the aliens into a freak show, something to be goggled at, rather than truly met.”
So how does the episode stand up to a second watch? Find out below the break!
Yes and no. The problems of the episode are still there, the villain is a bit rubbish and people keep disappearing because they no longer have anything to do in the story. I mentioned the Hellboy style robots in my first review, I can now add the bloke singing in the temple, the creature The Doctor describes as a vampire and even The Doctor himself disappears for a few moments for the sake of the plot.
The aliens on Akhaten still look beautiful and it is great to see so many. On the second time it would have been great to see a couple of familiar faces wandering around like an Ood servant or a Slitheen or two. It would have added a sense of recognition that would have made the planet seem even more realist. To see what I mean check out this clip of Captain Jack Harkness from the Doctor Who episode End of Time:
The major problem is the start of the episode. In my Culture Jam review I called the pre-titles sequence “fascinating“. The second time around I found it an example of when the old writing rule of showing, not telling didn’t work. While we need to know the importance of the leaf for the conclusion of the episode to work, the way it is set up feels rushed – which if you need a single word review for the episode rushed is it! If it had been told over two parts more time could have been spent turning the villain into something more than a big red ball in the sky.
Finally, the thing that I really noticed on my re-watch was the Matt Smith‘s interaction with Merry Gejelh. Smith has a great way with children and the quiet way he persuades her not to sacrifice herself is great. However, the great moment is his speech at the end. The 11th Doctor has made many great speeches and this one is up there with the best…enjoy!