Mini Review: “Sherlock – The Final Problem” (TV Show Episode)

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Well, having watched the dramatic finale to the fourth series of “Sherlock” a while earlier, I thought that I’d write a quick review.

Although I’ll try to avoid major SPOILERS, there will probably be some for both this episode and the previous episode here.

“The Final Problem” continues the storyline that was introduced at the end of the previous episode. Luckily, Watson was only shot with a tranquilliser. But, Sherlock and Watson must find Eurus before something terrible happens. Fortunately, Mycroft knows where she could be. A secret government prison called Sherrinford that is located on a remote island.

Of course, when the intrepid trio arrive, they soon learn that things are not what they seem….

One of the first things that I will say about this episode is that it is probably the scariest episode of “Sherlock” that I’ve ever seen. The easiest way to describe it is that it’s kind of like a cross between one of the “Saw” movies, “Shutter Island”, “The Crystal Maze” and an old James Bond movie. There are also hints of “The Ring” and other psychological horror movies too. It is also a brilliantly chilling reinterpretation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Musgrave Ritual“.

Unlike the very first episode of series four, the move towards more thriller-style storytelling actually works here. The whole episode is crammed with suspense from the first minute until the dramatic, if somewhat bizarre, conclusion. Yes, despite the fact that it’s more of a 90 minute horror movie than an episode of a detective drama, “The Final Problem” does this well enough that the sudden genre change isn’t as glaringly annoying as the switch to the spy thriller genre was in “The Six Thatchers“.

However, despite this episode being significantly more gripping than earlier episodes in series four, the episode does have its flaws. The constant focus on suspenseful drama occasionally turns Eurus from being a chillingly complex and creepily mysterious character to being a two-dimensional “evil for the sake of evil” villain. This then makes it somewhat jarring when she begins to exhibit more emotional depth later in the episode.

Likewise, some parts of the episode drift slightly towards the kind of confusing “unreliable reality” stuff that ruined last year’s “Abominable Bride” episode [Edit: Whilst I normally enjoy “unreliable reality” stories, they aren’t really appropriate in stories about a logic-based character like Sherlock Holmes].

Whilst some of these parts help to add suspense and drama to the episode, there are a couple of major plot twists near the end of the episode that don’t seem to be foreshadowed properly. Plot twists of that magnitude need to be preceded by an appropriate amount of clues (so that they make sense in the context of the story) and, from what I could tell, they aren’t.

Yes, these plot twists are still dramatic and/or genuinely creepy. But, the lack of foreshadowing was somewhat annoying for plot twists of that size. Still, this aside, the story is both chilling and extremely compelling, even though it veers dangerously close to silliness occasionally.

Other cool things about this episode include the fact that Mrs Hudson is shown to be a fan of Iron Maiden (it’s rare to see characters with such good musical taste in TV shows), a 1980s horror movie style segment near the beginning of the episode and the brief return of a much-missed character during a flashback scene. Likewise, the montage scene near the end of the episode is surprisingly dramatic, if somewhat cheesy.

All in all, this is an excellent ending to a three-episode series that has varied somewhat in quality. Yes, this episode is about as far from traditional “Sherlock” as you can get. Yes, some parts of it can be somewhat contrived. But, as a 90 minute horror movie, “The Final Problem” works really well. It is one of the scariest and most unsettling films that I’ve seen for a while.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get four and a half.

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Mini Review: “Jonathan Creek – Daemon’s Roost” (TV Show Episode)

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Earlier this evening, I was feeling somewhat tired when I happened to remember a comment on my latest “Sherlock” review which recommended the “Jonathan Creek” Christmas special.

From the description and a few other things I’d read online, I was very curious about the show (curious enough to order some DVDs of it when I saw that they were going cheap online) and then I remembered that there was still an episode of it on the BBC’s iPlayer.

I’d originally planned to watch the first few minutes of “Daemon’s Roost” just to see whether the show was anything like what I imagined it would be like, but I ended up watching the whole thing. All ninety minutes of it. So, I thought that I’d review it.

This review contains some SPOILERS.

“Daemon’s Roost” begins with a wonderfully melodramatic 1970s Hammer Horror-style trailer for a film about someone called Jacob Surtees who used evil magic to murder men by levitating them into a fiery portal, whilst forcing their lovers to watch helplessly.

In the present day, the director of this film is an old man who is dying and has summoned his stepdaughter and her husband to his old mansion in order to tell them something important. The old mansion where Jacob Surtees used to live in the 19th century….

Meanwhile, Jonathan Creek and his wife Polly are moving into a new house in the countryside. There’s still a lot of stuff from Johnathan’s old house to be sorted through, a local scarecrow-building competition, an eccentric vicar and a paroled criminal who is out to get revenge on Jonathan.

Following a series of strange events at the mansion and a near-miss with the criminal, Johnathan and Polly end up retreating to the mansion to investigate….

One of the first things that I will say about this episode is that it is an absolutely perfect blend of old-school horror, eccentric comedy and Sherlock Holmes-style detection. In other words, it fits into three of my favourite genres! Ok, there wasn’t anything from the cyberpunk genre in there, but it was still one of the best modern TV shows I’ve seen for a while.

Imagine a cross between James Herbert’s “Haunted”, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Musgrave Ritual” and …something else (I’m not sure what)… and that would be a good description of the atmosphere of this episode. The horror-based scenes are genuinely suspensful. The detection-based scenes are well-thought out and filled with interesting deductions and fiendish schemes.

The comedy in this episode is slightly on the subtle side, but it not only will make you smile at least a few times, it also gives this episode a uniquely quirky atmosphere too. Plus, there are also a few brilliantly cynical moments of dark comedy in this episode (such as a laugh-out-loud scene involving delayed funeral directors, and a body’s temporary resting place).

In terms of the characterisation in this episode, it’s surprisingly good. Although I haven’t seen any other episodes of “Jonathan Creek” at the time of writing, there was enough characterisation to ensure that the episode wasn’t confusing. Many of the characters are realistic enough to be believable, but eccentric enough to be interesting. Whilst Jonathan Creek might be a genius detective, he also seems like the kind of person who you might find drinking cider in an old pub on a saturday afternoon.

The best supporting character by far probably has to be the vicar. Whether he’s trying to conduct an exorcism (whilst receiving instructions by phone) or talking enthusiastically about random subjects, he manages to be authentically vicar-y (if this is even a word), whilst also being gleefully irreverent and enthusiastically eccentric at the same time.

As for the mystery itself, some parts of it are a little bit contrived – but this is done in a knowingly theatrical way that is reminiscent of 1950s American horror comics or some of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s more unusual detective stories (like “The Problem Of Thor Bridge”). Plus, there is a logical explanation for every strange thing that happens in this episode. Something the writers of the BBC’s “Sherlock” series could learn a thing or two from! Best of all, there are even a few red herrings and hidden clues too.

Likewise, one part of the ending has a surprisingly Holmesian touch to it, when Jonathan actually decides to let the culprit go (since he didn’t entirely disagree with the crime and also feels guilty about not preventing it when he could have done). But, in a stroke of genius, this scene is also slightly played for laughs too.

Jonathan, Polly and the vicar go to all of the trouble to set up a meeting with the culprit in a fancy restaurant. There’s even a vaguely Agatha Christie/Conan Doyle-like scene where Jonathan explains how and why the crime was committed. And then everyone just kind of shrugs and lets the culprit go becacuse, they’re just four people sitting in a restaurant and.. well.. what else are they going to do? Cause a scene? This scene is both theatrical and realistic at the same time, and it is hilarious!

All in all, I really loved this episode. I’m honestly surprised that I’ve never watched an episode of this show before, despite hearing about it occasionally. This episode contains so many brilliant things – ominously creepy horror, distinctive characters, Holmesian deductions and quirky comedy. This is an episode that manages to be both brilliantly stylised and brilliantly realistic at the same time. It’s brilliant!

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would just about get a five.

Mini Review: “Sherlock – The Six Thatchers” (TV Show Episode)

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Well, I thought that I’d take a look at yesterday’s episode of “Sherlock”. Although I don’t know if I’ll review all of this season (if I do, then the reviews will probably be at least slightly late, like this one), I thought that I’d take a look at the first episode at least. So, without any further ado, let’s take a look at “The Six Thatchers”.

I’ll try to avoid major SPOILERS here, but there might be some smaller ones.

“The Six Thatchers” quite obviously gets it’s name from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Six Napoleons”. The episode begins with a re-cap of the ending of series three, before showing how Mycroft managed to get Sherlock off of the criminal charges he was facing. Since MI5 or MI6 (?) is worried about Moriarty returning, they want Sherlock on the case. But, since there has been no further word from Moriarty, Sherlock decides that the only thing to do is to wait.

Whilst he is waiting, John and Mary have a baby and Sherlock is occupied by a few mundane cases. However, he soon gets drawn into a very strange case where the son of a prominent man is found dead after a car accident… several thousand miles away from where he was supposed to be. After this death, there is a break-in at the house and nothing is taken except for a bust of Margaret Thatcher. Needless to say, this is the kind of case for Sherlock…

…And it should be, except for the fact that it’s merely the beginning of something a lot larger and more complicated convoluted.

First of all, let me start by saying that this episode is infinitely better than the abomination that aired last year. But, at the same time, I can’t exactly say that I preferred it to the earlier seasons of the show. Whilst most TV shows change with time, this episode seemed to drift away from what set Sherlock apart from many other thriller and detective shows.

Yes, there are thankfully still quite a few elements of “classic” Sherlock here – including a clever reference to Conan Doyle’s “The Lion’s Mane” and a few small deductions. It’s still great to see Sherlock doing what he does best. Making deductions and solving mysteries.

However, he doesn’t really get too much of a chance to do this in this episode. The main murder mystery is nothing more than a small sub-plot which he solves in a rather perfunctory manner, with relatively little explanation of how he came to his conclusions (by “Sherlock” standards at least). The rest of the episode is more of a conventional spy thriller story, with a lot of heavy emotional drama thrown in for good measure.

Yes, I know that TV shows evolve and that characters have to evolve. But, Sherlock is at his best when he is focused on a case. When he spends an entire episode carefully unravelling one tightly-plotted mystery, with lots of intricate well-explained deductions and lots of subtle clues and hints scattered around the episode.

On the other hand, this episode has lots of international travel and other spy thriller type stuff that seems slightly out of place in “Sherlock”. Yes, some of this is quite thrilling – but Sherlock isn’t James Bond. Even the final resolution to the main plot of the episode felt just a little bit random and contrived (eg: why would the culprit want to meet Sherlock to confess/boast, when such an intelligent criminal could have easily done nothing and possibly got away with it?).

[Edit: Yes, there’s some dialogue (and a deduction) about the culprit feeling jealous. But, even so, the conclusion still seems at least slightly at odds with the rest of that character’s actions.]

Plus, at one point, Sherlock uses “intuition”. Sure, he tries to explain it as his subconscious mind noticing something out of place. But, nonetheless, it still seems a little bit too contrived for such a carefully-plotted series like “Sherlock”.

Likewise, the heavy emotional drama in the episode detracts somewhat from the core of the series (eg: Sherlock solving mysteries). Likewise, the animosity between Sherlock and Watson was one of the more annoying parts of season three, so it’s depressing to see that it might be returning. Even though the characters are a major part of the show, the case always used to be the focal point of an episode of “Sherlock”.

The thrill of watching an episode of “Sherlock” (or reading Conan Doyle’s original stories) comes from watching Holmes use his intellect to solve an array of bizarre cases through logic and deduction. Yes, characterisation and drama adds flavour to this, but – like with Conan Doyle’s original stories – it shouldn’t be the focal point. This emphasis on case-solving is why the original stories can be so easily transposed to the modern day. But, this episode seemed to drift a bit further away from that.

All in all, despite my criticisms, this episode wasn’t too much of a disappointment (it’s miles better than last year’s solitary episode!). But, on the other hand, it didn’t really seem as gripping, detailed or complex as the first 2-3 seasons of “Sherlock” did. As a spy thriller or a drama show, the episode isn’t exactly “bad” but there are so many other shows that do this these days. “Sherlock”, on the other hand, had something a bit more unique. And it seems to be drifting away from that slightly..

If I had to give this episode a rating out of five, it would probably get somewhere between three and a half and four.

Review: “24: Redemption” (Feature-Length TV Show Episode)

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As regular readers of this site probably know, I’m a fan of “24” and although I’ve seen most of the show, one of the things that I hadn’t seen for quite a while was “24: Redemption”. Well, I’ve seen it now and I thought that I’d offer a few thoughts about it.

Before I go any further, I should probably point out that I watched the “standard” DVD edition of “24: Redemption” instead of the extended “Director’s Cut” version, as such this is only a review of this particular version.

“24: Redemption” is kind of a strange thing since it was originally shown in 2008 and, as a result of the Writer’s Strike, it’s an 83-minute episode that took the place of the series that Fox was originally planning to film that year. Yes, not even Jack Bauer can fully escape the wrath of Hollywood writers.

Chronologically, this episode fits between seasons six and seven of the show. Jack Bauer is still on the run and has made his way to the fictional African country of Sangala, he’s staying with an ex-special forces soldier called Benton who runs a school/orphanage.

A member of the US Govt has managed to track Jack Bauer down and serves him a subpoena but, before Jack Bauer can decide what to do, the camp is ambushed by the local rebels who want to use the orphans as child soldiers for a military coup of some kind. It is, of course, up to Bauer and Benton to protect them and get them to safety.

Whilst all of this is going on, President-elect Taylor is preparing for her inauguration. However, her son is approached by an old friend who has uncovered evidence of a conspiracy of some kind.

“24: Redemption” is basically just two episodes of “24” that have been fused together, this is both a good thing and a bad thing. The good elements of this is that the episode feels a lot more like a TV show episode than a Hollywood movie.

Yes, there’s plenty of action and drama, but the pacing is mostly a lot more like something that you’d see in a TV show. However, the pace only really starts to pick up near the end of the episode and you’re left with the feeling you get when you watch the first half of a two-part episode and suddenly realise that there isn’t going to be enough time to resolve the plot by the end of the episode.

Plus, since the creators of the episode assume that you know all of the characters and the backstory, there isn’t too much time spent catching up – which means that there’s more time for the main story. Even so, this episode still sort of just about stands on it’s own two feet. Just about.

However, one of the things that makes “24” so great is the fact that, because it’s a TV show, it can tell complex thriller novel-style stories over the space of an entire season. Since this episode only has one and a half hours to work with, don’t go into it expecting the same level of plot complexity.

This is especially annoying since the sub-plot involving the President’s son seems like the beginning of a really interesting storyline. But, it’s just that – the beginning. Although this storyline is kind of resolved during season seven of the show, it’s been a while since I’ve watched that and I couldn’t quite remember every plot detail. So, if you watch “24: Redemption”, you’re going to end up feeling either intrigued or unsatisfied.

The main plot is fairly ok though. However, although it’s thankfully more like a TV show episode than a movie, the plot is basically just your standard action movie plot. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still thrilling and dramatic, but it’s a little bit more simple than what you’d expect from “24”.

All in all, “24: Redemption” is a rather fun episode of the show. It’s dramatic and thrilling, but the writer’s strike really took it’s toll on the show. “24” works best when it can tell long and complex stories, but this episode is still just about an ok episode of the show. It’s fairly entertaining and it can be found on DVD very cheaply second-hand, still don’t go into it with high expectations.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get a three.

Mini Review: “Doctor Who – Last Christmas” (TV Show Episode)

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Since I’ve just finished watching the Christmas special episode “Doctor Who”, I thought that I’d write a review of it. Since I’m in kind of a hurry at the moment, this will only be a short review (compared to the ones I wrote for the last series of “Doctor Who”) and it probably won’t contain too much of a plot summary.

Before I go any further, I should also point out that this review will contain SPOILERS. You have been warned.

Like many Christmas specials, “Last Christmas” initially starts out as a story where the Doctor and Clara have to team up with Santa Claus (played by Nick Frost) in order to save Christmas.

The Doctor, of course, isn’t a huge fan of Santa Claus – but, even so, it seems like it’s going to be like any one of a thousand other Christmas specials for a thousand other programs.

However, when the TARDIS touches down near a research facility at the North Pole where half of the scientists there have fallen victim to facehugger-like creatures called “dream crabs” (who kill their victims by slowly dissolving their brains whilst distracting them by inducing a dream-like state), it soon turns out that things aren’t quite what they seem…..

Normally, I’m extremely sceptical about Christmas episodes of “Doctor Who”, since some of them have been mediocre at best. So, when I saw that this was an episode involving Santa Claus, I didn’t exactly have very high hopes for it. However, I quickly realised that I had seriously underestimated this episode. This is probably one of my favourite episodes of “Doctor Who”. Ever.

As well as the similarities to “Alien” ( and, yes, one of the characters actually mentions this during the episode), this is an episode about the whole concept of unreliable realities.

Unreliable realities are one of my favourite things in both the sci-fi and horror genres and the entire episode is filled with lots of wonderfully surreal moments and lots of confusion about whether the characters are dreaming or awake. In other words, it’s a horror episode. And it’s a really cool one.

Not only are the “Alien”-like scenes in the North Pole base really cool and suspenseful, but the special effects in these scenes are remarkably good too. The creatures actually look like something from a Hollywood horror movie and they are some of the best “Doctor Who” creatures that I’ve ever seen – even if they are pretty much just a rip-off of the facehuggers from “Alien”.

However, there is at least one major plot hole. Near the beginning of the episode, the Doctor at least implies that if someone is attacked by a dream crab, then forcibly removing the crab will probably kill them. Yet, by the end of the episode, he is somehow easily able to remove dream crabs from people’s faces just by stunning them with his sonic scredriver.

But, for all of the wonderfully-directed horror scenes and chillingly dark plot twists in this episode, there’s a surprising amount of humour too. Seriously, the scenes with Santa Claus and his elves are absolutely hilarious and casting Nick Frost as Santa Claus was an absolute stroke of genius.

Plus, the episode handles the subject of whether Santa is real or not in a far more mature and intelligent way than I had expected from the brief preview of the episode that was shown during “Comic Relief” a few weeks ago.

All of the supporting characters in this episode are surprisingly good too and my favourite character is probably one of the scientists at the base called Shona, who is wonderfully sarcastic, eccentric and cynical.

However, one of the other scientists (I can’t remember his name) was so obviously unlikeable – albeit in a subtle way – that it wasn’t really a huge surprise when it turned out that he doesn’t survive the episode. Seriously, as soon as you first see him, you just know that he’s not going to survive to the end of the episode.

But, apart from this one predictable thing, the rest of the episode goes in all sorts of gloriously unpredictable and dramatic directions.

Not only that, Danny Pink also makes a wonderfully poignant cameo appearance in this episode too.

All in all “Last Christmas” is an absolutely brilliant episode. It’s intelligent, it’s creepy and it’s hilarious. Let’s hope that future Christmas specials of “Doctor Who” are up to the same standard as this episode.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get a five.

Review : “Doctor Who – Time Heist” (TV Show Episode)

2014 Artwork Time Heist Review sketch

Well, I’ve just finished watching the latest episode of “Doctor Who”, so I thought that I’d write a review of it (apologies in advance if it’s slightly rambling. EDIT: I’ve also just spotted and corrected a few spelling/grammar errors (and other mistakes) I made when I originally typed this review too).

As I say every week, I’m not sure how many episodes of this series I’ll get round to reviewing (or how promptly I’ll be able to review them) but I’ll try to look at as many as possible.

Before I go any further, I should also point out that this review will probably contain SPOILERS. You have been warned.

“Time Heist” begins when The Doctor visits Clara’s house whilst she’s preparing to go on another date with Danny. However, just before Clara leaves, the phone inside the TARDIS starts ringing and the Doctor decides to answer it.

Suddenly, the Doctor and Clara wake up in a mysterious room and discover that their memory of the past few hours has been wiped. Not only that, they are also joined by a cybernetically-augmented computer hacker called Psi and a shapeshifter called Saibra – both of whom have also had their memories wiped. Not only that, the room also contains audio recordings from all four of them saying that they’ve agreed to wipe their memories.

There is also a mysterious briefcase in the middle of the room and, when the Doctor opens it, the screen inside the case plays a “Saw“-style distorted message from a hooded man called “The Architect”. He tells them that they have all been hired to rob the bank of Karabraxos – an ultra-secure bank which holds the wealth of the wealthiest people in the universe…..

Yes, it’s a sci-fi bank heist 🙂 Seriously, there really aren’t enough of these in the sci-fi genre – I mean, the only other one I can think of is in a three-part episode of “Farscape” (I can’t remember the episode title, I think it was either “Liars, Guns and Money” or “We’re So Screwed”). So, yes, I liked this episode even before I started watching it.

As you might also expect, “Time Heist” is a very cinematic episode and it has the kind of fast editing that you would expect in any good heist movie.

Not only that, as I said earlier, many of the scenes involving “The Architect” (and his mysterious trail of clues inside the bank) are also at least slightly reminiscent of the “Saw” movies too. One of the things that I really love about this new series of “Doctor Who” is the fact that it’s taken a lot more inspiration from famous sci-fi/horror movies than any of the previous series did.

Another great thing about this episode are the two other main characters – Psi and Saibra. Saibra is a wonderfully gothic character and Psi reminded me a lot of the main character from William Gibson’s “Neuromancer” too.

Although we don’t get to learn too much of their backstories (mainly because Psi has wiped quite a few of his other memories previously and because Saibra has spent most of her life imitating other people), they’re probably two of the coolest supporting characters that I’ve seen so far this series and it would be absolutely great if there was a spin-off series featuring them.

Likewise, Keeley Hawes gives a wonderfully chilling performance as both the manager of the bank and as Karabraxos. Seriously, I haven’t really seen her play an “evil” character before, but she does it absolutely brilliantly.

The set design in this episode is absolutely spectacular too. The bank looks as palatial and futuristic as you would expect and all of the gloomy service corridors beneath it really add a lot to the cyberpunk/horror atmosphere of the episode.

Likewise, the special effects in this episode are fairly good too – including a really cool-looking telepathic alien creature called “The Teller” who can literally melt people’s brains with his mind. Yes, it isn’t as gruesome as it sounds – but it’s still pretty cool when you see it for the first time.

As for the writing in this episode, it’s spectacularly good – and there are a couple of really good time-travel related plot twists near the end of the episode too (which make a lot more sense than the plot twists in the previous episode did).

And, yes, you probably have a heart of stone if you don’t shed at least one tear when you finally get to learn exactly why everyone is robbing the bank near the end of the episode.

Not only that, since most of the episode focuses on the main characters trying to outwit the bank’s deadly security systems, there isn’t really time for any annoying bickering between The Doctor and Clara – which is a refreshing change from previous episodes too 🙂

All in all, “Time Heist” is probably one of my favourite episodes of the new series of “Doctor Who”. It’s dramatic, it’s intriguing and it has a lot more cyberpunk stuff in it than I’d expect from an episode of “Doctor Who” too.

Although this episode is called “Time Heist” you won’t feel like it’s just robbed you of 50 minutes of your time (unlike the previous episode). Let’s hope that the rest of the series stays at this amazing level of quality 🙂

If I had to give it a rating out of five, then it would get five.

Review: “Doctor Who – Into The Dalek” (TV Show Episode)

2014 Artwork Doctor Who Into The Dalek Review Sketch

Whilst I don’t plan to review literally every episode of the new series of “Doctor Who”, I’ve just finished watching a recording of the latest one (since I missed it when it was originally shown on Saturday evening) and I thought that I’d take a look at it here.

But, before I go any further, I should point out that this review will contain SPOILERS. You have been warned.

“Into The Dalek” starts out in spectacular fashion with a fighter pilot called Journey Blue trying to outrun a Dalek mothership in an asteroid field. However, the Dalek ship is gaining on her and it manages to fire on her ship. But, a second before her ship explodes, the TARDIS appears and the Doctor rescues her.

After the Doctor returns Journey to a nearby military ship called the Aristotle (which is hiding behind a large asteroid), the captain of the Aristotle wants to kill him in order to keep the location of the Aristotle secret from the Daleks.

But, once the captain learns that the mysterious guest is called “The Doctor”, he decides to spare his life because there is a medical matter that his crew needs help with.

The soldiers lead the Doctor to a room, which contains a malfunctioning Dalek that is leaking radiation. To the Doctor’s astonishment, the Dalek actually seems to possess a rudimentary conscience and it wishes to join the humans in their war against the Daleks.

So, after returning to Earth and finding Clara, The Doctor returns to the Aristotle where, along with Journey and a couple of other soldiers – they are miniaturised into order to go into the Dalek (hence the title of the episode) and repair the radiation leak that threatens it’s life…..

One of the first things I will say about this episode is that the set design is absolutely amazing. Seriously, the Aristotle looks like something from “Aliens”. Not only that, the scenes set inside the Dalek are especially cool and they have a very grimy and industrial “Blade Runner”-like look to them too.

Plus, one rather disgusting part of the Dalek’s anatomy also looks like something from the “Alien” movies too. Seriously, this is sci-fi set design at it’s best 🙂

The writing in this episode is fairly good, although the story is a lot more “serious” than most episodes of the previous series were and there is a lot of heavy-handed introspection about morality, ethics and war. As a fan of military sci-fi shows like “Stargate SG-1” and “Battlestar Galactia”, I was kind of interested to see how a (mostly) pacifist character like The Doctor would react to these kinds of situations.

Another interesting theme in this episode is how the Doctor reacts when he sees a “good” Dalek for the first time. Since he has spent most of his life fighting with the Daleks, this really freaks him out and he spends most of the episode trying to work out whether or not he can trust the Dalek.

And, yes, the episode gets a lot of drama out of all of this stuff – especially in one brilliantly ironic plot twist about three-quarters of the way through the episode, just after the Doctor links his mind to the malfunctioning Dalek’s mind (in an attempt to show it everything good that the Doctor has ever seen). It’s probably just my extremely twisted sense of humour, but I found this scene absolutely hilarious.

In my review of the first episode of this series of “Doctor Who”, I mentioned that I wasn’t sure whether Peter Capaldi was a good choice of actor to play the new incarnation of The Doctor.

If “Into The Dalek” is anything to go by, he might make a fairly good Doctor – yes, he’s grumpy and cynical (and probably interprets the role in a more “old school” kind of way), but he has all of the eccentricities that you would expect from The Doctor.

Also, it might be the different chemistry between her and the new Doctor, but Clara isn’t really as much of a likeable character in this series as she was in the last one. And I was kind of disappointed at the end of the episode when The Doctor declines Journey’s offer to be his new companion because he doesn’t like working with soldiers.

Seriously, now that the Doctor is more gloomy and cynical, it just somehow makes a lot more sense for his companion to be a badass fighter pilot rather than an “ordinary” schoolteacher.

All in all, this is an extremely good episode of “Doctor Who”, with lots of drama and some absolutely brilliant set design. Yes, you probably have to have watched at least a few other episodes of the show to get the most out of this episode (since it relies fairly heavily on the mythology of the show), but it’s still one of the best episodes that I’ve seen so far.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, then it would get five.