Sunday, September 21, 2014

Doctor Who: “Time Heist” review

by Melissa Parkin

What do you get when you combine Ocean’s Eleven with sci-fi characters reminiscent of X-Men? Doctor Who, of course.

Despite the Doctor’s insistence, Clara passes on the chance to take a trip on the TARDIS, so that she can go on a second date with Danny Pink. Just as she’s about to leave her flat, the TARDIS’ phone rings. Considering only a short list of people in the entire universe even know the number, the Doctor can’t help but answer, in spite of Clara’s objection. “Nothing happens when you answer a phone,” he says.
Pippa Bennet-Warner
Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

As he grabs the receiver, he and Clara both suddenly find themselves in an unfamiliar room with two strangers. To make matters worse, no one remembers how they got there. Now in the company of Psi, a convicted hacker with a computer in his brain, and Saibra, a mutant human who shape-shifts into anyone she touches, they try to figure out what happened. Each possesses a unique ability.  For some reason, they've all been summoned. A mysterious cloaked figure, known simply as “The Architect,” informs them, via transmission, that they are obligated to rob the Bank of Karabraxos, the most heavily protected bank in the universe.

Following the chamber-piece thriller, “Listen,” this week’s “Time Heist” utilizes its bigger budget with adventurous scenery and creative special effects. The chemistry between the Doctor and Clara is topnotch, and newcomers, Jonathan Bailey and Pippa Bennett-Warner, fare well as this dynamic quartet joins forces. The Teller, an alien who can sense guilt and feed on the minds of suspected criminals, is a lovely addition to the colorful creatures of Doctor Who.

However, the episode does suffer some. The pacing is frequently rushed, and the more enticing elements don’t receive proper recognition. Concave-headed victims, memory-wiping worms, clones, and more are brushed off by each scene’s end. This surplus of ideas and plot complexity makes for a rather manic watching experience. Condensed into a crammed 45 minute runtime, the thrill of the caper also steals the chance of deeper character development for Psi and Saibra. An additional 10 minutes tagged on to the episode would fix the pacing setbacks.

“Time Heist” is still an amusing adventure, but not one of series eight’s best. None of the arcs formed throughout the previous installments are touched on here. Fans, who crave a standalone episode, would enjoy this one.

Episode Rating: B -


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