Doctor Who – The Rings of Akhaten

Sorry this is late.

I thought that was phenomenal – a bonkers, barking, huge and magnificent folly. I know a lot of people thought it was a failure, but I’d rather the show think big and fail gloriously, than do the same old thing.

Let the screaming commence.

71 replies
  1. 1
    David Koch says:

    MAd-Men in 2 hours

  2. 2
    Buck says:


  3. 3
    Bart says:

    It was utter rubbish, a flimsy story stretched far beyond its limits. The worst SFX imaginable. “Think big”? At what point did this episode ever “think big”? Because it was pyramids in space?

    This is the worst season of “new Doctor”, and that’s saying a lot considering the RTD years were often atrocious sentimental claptrap.

    What the f… happened to Moffat?

  4. 4
    Alexandra says:

    It was better on a second viewing. Thought the little singing girl was sweet, but the monsters were a bit wasted.

    Not yet sold on flicky-hair perky bright as a button Clara, though.

  5. 5
    Supernumerary Charioteer says:

    I liked that the plot was ‘hey, let’s look at another culture and save some folks’ rather than being a part of this season’s arc, which I fear is going to be disappointing. And I liked how big the conflict ended up being.

    Talking it over with a friend later, though, we were confused over how all the pieces were supposed to fit together. Was it something like:

    1) The parasite star feeds on memories and wants to eat the planetary system
    2) Memories on an individual scale are appreciated, but insufficient to keep the parasite star satisfied
    3) The planetary system teaches the Queen their entire repertoire of songs and legends, giving her a whole culture’s worth of memories to feed the parasite star
    4) The mummy… kills the Queen and breaks her down into her component memories, and wakes the parasite star if she doesn’t comply? This is where it kind of fell apart for us.

  6. 6
    Peter says:

    I haven’t seen this episode yet, but concerning the Bells of St. John’s: this was one of those episodes that I can’t really find anything wrong with but at the same time can’t get incredibly excited over. I find the best Who episodes are structured like a mystery novel, although the question is not so much ‘whodunit’ (aliens, or possibly humans using alien technology, either way it’s not terribly exciting) as it is ‘whattheydone’ and ‘whytheydunnit’. All my favorite episodes are written like this. And in this one they tell us exactly what they did before the opening credits even rolled, and barely bothered hold why in reserve at all. There were some very clever writing twists and extremely impressive directing, but little sense of mystery, which is the lifeblood of Who for me.

    I mean, I know not every season opener can be The Impossible Astronaut. But I was hoping for something a bit more invigorating than this.

  7. 7
    Cassidy says:

    New Doctor? Is that like new Coke or Crystal Pepsi?

  8. 8
    The Gimp says:

    @Bart: Moffat didn’t write this one. It’s certainly no worse than Fear Her, Monsters in Love, or two episodes of farting Slytheen.

  9. 9
    Peter says:

    @Cassidy: It’s a common piece of terminology used to differentiate Who as produced after its late-2000s revival with the stuff that came before it.

  10. 10
    JKC says:

    Neil Gaiman supposed to be writing another episode this season. Am looking forward to that…

  11. 11
    jon says:

    Anyone else thing of this and have that damn song in their head for the rest of the episode?

  12. 12
    Peter says:

    @Bart: Two episodes in is a bit soon to be declaring it worse than series three or four. That’s a title you have to earn.

    @The Gimp: I honestly think the Slitheen episodes are perfectly fine episodes bogged down by terrible visual design work and fart jokes. If you take those out you have an episode that’s decent at worst.

  13. 13
    kdaug says:

    Anyone else watching Orphan Black? Can’t remember a series picking up it’s stride this quickly after two episodes.

    (Comes on right after the Doctor).

    ETA: Oh, and it’s badass.

  14. 14
    Maz says:

    I probably would have enjoyed it more if the parasite star didn’t make me think of The Great Pumpkin.

  15. 15
    Geoduck says:

    I enjoyed it OK, but they could have done a better job of establishing the geography of the system. A couple of things that might tie into the main season plot: Was the sudden lack of TARDIS-supplied translation a goof, or was Clara right that the TARDIS doesn’t like her for some reason? And did the leaf work because of the supplied explaination, or because Clara is clearly Not Normal?

  16. 16
    Supernumerary Charioteer says:

    @kdaug: It looked interesting, but I’ve got such a limited TV budget that I didn’t spend it on the premiere.

    Do you happen to know if it’s anything like Caprica?

  17. 17
    El Cid says:

    Thought Matt Smith delivered one of if not the finest angry-defending-the-innocents soliloquoies of the series.

    Jenna Louise-Coleman carries the story and screen by herself; it isn’t just placeholding until the Doctor returns.

  18. 18
    El Cid says:

    @kdaug: It’s kicked ass so far. If you haven’t seen Utopia, wait ’til you see that.

  19. 19
    kdaug says:

    @Geoduck: Oh, and hey, mopeds in space with no protection? Srsly? Come on, guys… that was just lazy.

  20. 20
    gnomedad says:

    Love Doctor Who, but not enough to pop for cable, so someone spoil me this far, please: is Clara dying every episode (take that, Rory!), or is there some other gimmick?

  21. 21
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    I was watching the Doctors revisited ep about Jon Pertwee and the ep they featured was the live shop dummies one. No surprise then that they chose to relaunch the show with that premise.

    As for this ep, I loved it, the idea of an unfulfilled life being endless was brilliant.

  22. 22
    kdaug says:

    @Supernumerary Charioteer: NOthing like Caprica.

    Point-blank nada.

    Think clones. Ain’t going to spoil it. But the actress pulls off an amazing array of accents.

  23. 23
    raven says:

    Call the Midwife at 8, Mr Selfridge at 9. Quality viewing.

  24. 24
    hildebrand says:

    I have enjoyed both episodes of this half of the season.

    Rings had an old-timey Doctor Who feel to it – effects weren’t the best, story was a bit stitched together, but the vibe was of the Doctor and the new companion hitting the ground running against a fairly interesting alien menace (I especially liked the alien menacing other aliens, and not another ‘OMG, the Earth is SCREWED’ kind of episode). I love story arcs as much as the next person, but a good stand alone is a good thing.

    I have a secret hope that Clara is somehow related to Romana.

  25. 25
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    @kdaug: I love the fact that Clara is obviously Lancastrian.

  26. 26
    Ken says:

    @gnomedad: She’s not dying every episode. Also, the first five minutes or so of this episode showed the Doctor checking up on her past – seeing her parents meet, seeing Clara as a child, etc. – and verifying that she’s completely human.

    (The scenes of him checking out her past were a bit creepy to me; like last week’s, when he was looking through her things while she was unconscious, it felt like he was stalking her.)

  27. 27
    kdaug says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: As an Austonion, I am hardly in a place to judge.

  28. 28
    kdaug says:

    @Ken: She’s died twice.

    If you had a TARDIS, wouldn’t you want to figure out what’s going on?

  29. 29
    Seanly says:

    No BBC on my cable so no confusing New Doctor tales for me.

  30. 30
    hildebrand says:

    @Ken: I guess after ~1000 years you start to get a little gun-shy about who you invite into your ‘snog-box’. Think of it as your typical background check to get the job as companion.

    Did I mention that I really want Clara to be somehow connected to Romana? (Sorry, I have been missing her since she left the show.)

  31. 31
    gnomedad says:


    She’s not dying every episode.

    Okay, thanks, I’m relieved. Rory’s death habit at least had some comic absurdity to it; dying every episode would get old really fast.

  32. 32
    Peter says:

    @hildebrand: that would be cool. She does sort of look a little like Romana II.

  33. 33
    maurinsky says:

    From an emotional perspective, it got to me when Clara held up the most important leaf in the universe. I know there were plot holes and things that don’t make sense, but I’m feeling the emotional resonance big-time.

    I think Jenna Louise Coleman is fantastic. I love her.

  34. 34
    Ken says:

    Sure, he has his reasons, but it still bothered me. Maybe because he was spying on her as a child.

    That aside, I think my favorite line was “I visited here once with my grand-daughter.” A nice call-out to 1963.

  35. 35
    hildebrand says:

    @Peter: I think it is a galloping load of wishful thinking on my part, as Romana was easily one of my favorite characters in all of Doctor Who. Both Romanas, I and II, were solid, engaging characters that need to be, at the very least, mentioned during the 50th anniversary year.

  36. 36
    Woodrowfan says:

    It was OK. Rather liked the big bad.

  37. 37
    hildebrand says:

    @maurinsky: I love Matt Smith’s ability to imbue his big Doctor Who speeches with something approaching feeling and gravitas – it is a solid bit of acting to get folks to believe that he actually has been around for a rather long time.

  38. 38
    Gravenstone says:

    @gnomedad: So far she’s .500 on the whole dying thing. Only 6 more episodes this arc to go, so she may be able to knock that down to .200 if she can stay upright the rest of the way.

  39. 39
    JPL says:

    @David Koch: Since I don’t have cable, I just watched the fifth series of Mad Men on Netflix. I found it dark and depressing and during the finale, I was hoping Don would just jump from the window.

  40. 40
    Kristine says:

    @kdaug: I’m watching Orphan Black. Liking it a lot so far.

  41. 41
    lol says:

    This was a new writer, wasn’t it?

    It had a sort of old school DW feel to it. I liked it, wasn’t surprised that The Fandom hated it.

    Now that new version of the show has been on a number of years, we’ve reached the hipster phase of Fandom where entitled bores try to one up each up as to declaring each episode the WORST EPISODE EVER and how this proves that RTD or Moffatt or Tennant or Smith absolutely has to go and why won’t anyone listen to THE FANS but not THOSE fans who enjoy the episodes and certainly not the general public because they have no taste and don’t realize how terrible the show has become because they’re not the REAL FANS who kept the show alive all these years because they deserve it.

  42. 42
    Kristine says:


    Did I mention that I really want Clara to be somehow connected to Romana? (Sorry, I have been missing her since she left the show.)

    Romana was my favorite companion. I have this hope that she survived the Time War by slipping back into E-space, and that someday soon….

  43. 43
    hildebrand says:

    @lol: Bingo – hit the message boards of any number of geek sites and they are simply awash in hatred for everything that has been done in the last year or so. It is unbelievable. I guess I just have never been quite that anal-retentive about any TV show that I watch. Goodness gracious, if I want angst and self-centered assholes pontificating on every last little bit of assorted whatnot, I will read a politics-centric blog.



  44. 44
    hildebrand says:

    @Kristine: Yep – I want to see Romana and K-9 rolling out of the arch in e-space and saying, ‘Okay, Doctor, what mess do you need us to fix now?’

  45. 45
    fergie says:

    I’m about to rewatch it now. These last two episodes the Doctor says he is 1000 years old. I thought he was 1204.I don’t think River has gone to the library yet?
    The episode was confusing. I have been confused several times since series 7 started. I think its in part because I soooo want to see the new shows, and expect (hope) them all to be The Library, or The Satan Pit, or Impossible Astronaut/The wedding of Riversong, or my favorite (and new) Assylum of the Daleks (which is to me the very best episode ever lol!)

    I love it that there are Baloon Juice people who love the Doctor! (and play wow:)

  46. 46
    Peter says:

    @hildebrand: Same as it ever was. Doctor Who fandom is so hideously fractured that there will always be a vocal percentage of the population who hates whatever you’re talking about.

    The latter part of RTD’s run on the franchise really was genuinely awful, though. Especially The End of Time, I feel like I need a shower even remembering that it exists.

  47. 47
    Bruuuuce says:

    Still don’t think Matt Smith has the chops. I’m sorry, he can say “I’m over a thousand years old” all he wants, but he never acts much more than twenty-five.

    Aside from that, this ep felt very like it’s there to set up stuff to come later in the series. Not a lot there, for me. Two things stood out: first, the Doctor’s call-out of Sagan’s “starstuff” bit, and second, the idea that the Doctor’s thousand-year past can’t stand up to the infinite possible futures represented by the leaf — and that it took Clara to recognize that — is pretty awesome.

  48. 48
    Kristine says:


    The latter part of RTD’s run on the franchise really was genuinely awful, though. Especially The End of Time, I feel like I need a shower even remembering that it exists.

    Wow. I really enjoyed that episode.

    Which goes to prove your point, I guess.

  49. 49
    Peter says:

    @Kristine: What exactly did you enjoy about it? Actual curiosity, the only thing I found remotely enjoyable about it was that last good-bye scene, but that was totally disconnected from the rest of the episode.

  50. 50
    biggles says:

    @gnomedad: southpark did it first (and yes that did get old)

  51. 51
    Kristine says:

    @Peter: The scenes on Gallifrey, which took me back to some Tom Baker episodes I really enjoyed. The scenes in the landfill, which oddly enough reminded me again of Old Doctor episodes where they shot in all these desolate places. The continuation and possible end–not sure I believe it is the end–of the Doctor’s relationship with the Master, and the interplay they had as they discussed their pasts. John Simm eats scenery like nobody’s business, but he showed those hints of vulnerability that made the evil that much more biting. Bernard Cribbins’ performance. David Tennant’s performance–the Doctor wrestling with the prospect of killing yet again. “Worst rescue ever!”

    I could go on. I guess what it boils down to is that it just worked for me.

    In contrast, one episode that many folks loved that didn’t work for me at all was the Van Gogh episode in S5.

  52. 52
    Yonga says:

    @Bart: I loved the RTD years, the Doctor used to win the day using his wit or his charm or his luck. Since Moffat started, The Doctor just wins the day by stating how utterly awesome he is.

  53. 53
    Johannes says:

    @Kristine: FWIW, I liked all of these things in EOT too; I also liked last night’s ep, though don’t hold it out as a classic.

  54. 54
    scav says:

    All the running about on motorbike and similar gizmos seems to be pulling from Doctor Three to me. He’s the one with Bessie et al. With the grand-daughter mention, I almost wonder if a scarf is going to show up at some point. Umbrella? Cricket bat?

    Personally, I always find the xmas episodes iffy. The Titanic one is near nadir in all directions, and that damn shark one is close is close (with fewer dimensions of cringe). At least the Titanic got us Cribbins. There was a solid bit of the allons-y Alonzo in the plane crash last week as well. They may be dialing up the echoes a bit this season.

  55. 55
    Ron says:

    I liked it. I think that they are deliberately taking their time revealing the whole bit about Clara, but that’s really been their MO for a while, especially after Moffat took over. It’s not on my list of top ten episodes, but I thought it was well done (and the ending with Matt Smith’s speech and Clara with the leaf was just great). I’m trying to figure out if the reference to the granddaughter was something that they will expand on later or is just a throwaway line to remind people that there were other doctors.

    I think there are going to be 2 main story arcs this half-season:Clara and the great intelligence. I don’t know how I feel about Clara yet, but I think companions always take a while to warm up to, because we get used to the previous ones.

  56. 56
    Marc says:

    You don’t need BBC on cable. You can buy individual episodes or an entire season on iTunes, download usually available the day after the episode first airs…

  57. 57
    hildebrand says:

    @scav: There was a scarf that closely resembled Tom Baker’s scarf in the Bells of Saint John – hanging close to the door where Clara lived. Not quite an exact copy, but close enough to make the reference work.

  58. 58
    Hal says:

    I think which Doctor/companion you like best may be influenced on when you started watching the show. I started with and really love Matt Smith and absolutely loved Amy/Rory/River. The River/Melodie reveal still gives me chills. Personally I’m liking this season, and tend to avoid Dr Who message boards because all it turns into is which Doctor/Show Runner/Writer etc were the best and how shitty this or that Doctor was etc.

    Now I’m just eagerly awaiting the new Sherlock. Which I think isn’t airing until Christmas unfortunately.

  59. 59
    Ron says:

    @Hal: I started with Eccleston/Rose, but I’ve really enjoyed all the Doctors and their companions. This episode wasn’t perfect, but I enjoyed it.

  60. 60
    Citizen Alan says:

    It was good but not great. Two things about it bugged me enough to prevent my enjoyment. One was the little girl because (a) small children in jeopardy is just cheating and (b) every time she sang and the crowd joined in with her, all I could think of was Cindy Lou Who and all Whos down in Whoville.

    The other was, as noted, the Doctor’s creepy stalking of young Clara Oswald. Which, in the Doctor’s defense, makes sense on his part. After the Melody Pond incident, he really does have to worry about his enemies actually going to the trouble of fabricating companions as traps to use against him. The fact that the TARDIS itself appears to dislike Clara for some reason is also cause for concern about her.

  61. 61
    nastybrutishntall says:

    a treacly, unwatchable abyss of string sections forcing unearned pathos down my throat. the show gets worse and worse, while celebrating itself more and more. terrible. I thought the Brits were a bit better than this corny maudlin circus.

  62. 62
    Yutsano says:

    Okay, finally got to watch the thing. Not perfect but not bad. I about wanted to scream at the fact that they leave the granddaughter line completely hanging, like there was a horrible edit there or something. And having Clara be the exact opposite of her role in The Bells of St John was…interesting. Not the best one I’ve seen but not too terrible.

  63. 63
    Bart says:

    @The Gimp: I know, but he’s the showrunner. And so far this season has been spectacularly bad.

  64. 64
    Bart says:

    @Peter: This is the second part of the current season. The first one was all about Amy & whatshisface being sick of traveling with the Doctor and moaning about this at length.

  65. 65
    Gomro Morskopp says:

    This week’s monster had the same M.O. as The Great Intelligence in “The Snowmen” –“it’s a parasite/vampire!”– and the same weakness! “Ak! Sorrow! I’m melting!” “Ak! Melancholy! I’m dissolving!” (Next week’s critter won’t give in to tears and memories. The Ice Warriors are made of stronger stuff.) I know anyone can look at the train wreck now and say “I wouldn’t have thrown that switch”, but I think it would have been so much better if we had booted the Old God off the set, kept Grandfather as the Big Bad — and then had it turn out that he wasn’t a Big Bad at all, and he blesses the Queen of Years for messing up the Long Song and waking him up! Actually he’s a fine fellow, despite his sinister appearance, and the people of Akhaten have been dreading him all these years for nothing! Wouldn’t that have been more fun than a solar jack o’lantern?

  66. 66
    maurinsky says:


    I watched some of the older ones when I was quite young, but it was too scary for me, so I stopped. I started up when they re-started the series with Eccleston, and as much as I love Tennant, and as much as Matt Smith is growing on me, Eccleston just has this scary edge underneath his performance that made me believe that he was capable of genocide.

    Matt Smith reminds me of my soon-to-be son-in-law, so I can’t help but like him.

  67. 67
    dlw32 says:

    I love Dr Who and Matt Smith and so far Clara. But, though there were some amazing scenes in the Akhaten ep, the conclusion was a hot mess…


    The Doctor offered his memories to be eaten but then seems to have retained them as well. And if there is dark knowledge in the Doctor’s head that no one should ever know, why offer it to the horribly evil parasite?

    The leaf holds a finite amount of memories but an infinite amount of possibilities? Isn’t that true of all the objects? If John Lennon had lived longer wouldn’t those little round glasses have seem even more amazing things? Or is Clara’s mom’s death wrong somehow? And how would Clara know that? How did Clara know the Dr needed help? And how did she know the leaf was more special than all the other objects that were already offered?

    And so far we have the Great Intelligence which in one of the novels is Yog-Sothoth (not sure that’s cannon though) and now we have sleeping gods that wake to devour the universe… is this the Lovecraft season?

    I still love Doctor Who and like I said there were some very fine moments… they just needed to work on the end bit.

  68. 68
    tones says:

    Doctor Who has been my favorite for years, so I love it by default.
    That said, I spent a lot of this episode yelling “what the frick?” and rewinding again and again.

    I mean, kids singing for half an hour?

    the great pumpkin?

    Clara looks exactly like CAL to me- I think she has to be the girl in the library…
    These are our forests!These are our forests!

    The leaf is page one…

  69. 69
    Chris Howard says:

    @maurinsky: I felt exactly the same way. Good ending with a nice emotional wallop. I’m not sure why people are complaining about plot holes – logical inconsistencies and a plot by the seat of your pants vibe have been fixtures of every season of the new Who.

  70. 70
    Sondra says:

    I am so starved for a new Dr. Who episode it pretty much doesn’t matter what it’s about and I’m going to love it. I’ve been a fan since the beginning so I’ve seen every episode, and this is the first companion that the Dr. has ever actually picked as his own because he is totally intrigued by a girl who just cannot be.

    Rose Tyler and Amy Pond and Rory were well loved by the Doctor, but Clara is something different and it will be fascinating to find out why.

    It’s not always about the monsters.

  71. 71
    skinman says:

    The parasite special effect was terrible. A gaping maw would’ve worked, but did it have to have eyes and a nose?

    Otherwise the ep was fine. I’ll be interested to see if they pursue the Doctor’s mention of his granddaughter.

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