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Doctor Who XXXIV(8).4: Listen

September 14th, 2014 (12:35 am)

I know I've missed Robot of Sherwood - my reactions to that were more complicated and I've not finished writing them up - but Listen extracted a less ambiguous reaction. As I've written elsewhere...

Definitely a touch of the Lungbarrow about 'Listen', but this was very good and saw Steven Moffat playing to his strengths.

...although the percentage of the audience who immediately capitalised 'House' in the barn scene was probably very small. The twelfth Doctor is a slow learner but there is something of the remote scientific enquirer in Capaldi's performance which he carries off better - and oddly perhaps, less brutally - than his immediate predecessors.

It feels like a pendant to 'The Day of the Doctor' that Moffat was compelled to write, which speculated about the Doctor's underlying psychology, used Clara's 'impossible girl' backstory without being glib, and used Moffat's fascination with (especially male) infantilism and incapacity with relations with other people (particularly the opposite sex) while only seeming mildly gratuitous.

Capaldi's near-Dalekesque 'There is danger in this room' was a good touch, as was the episodic structure and the Whistle and I'll Come To You referencing.

Perhaps what validated it as drama was that it made one think about oneself, and one's own fears; we returned to the Doctor's warning to Kazran in A Christmas Carol not to stay in his room making a new kind of screwdriver, and it's Clara here who acts on it.

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/2014/09/14/doctor-who-xxxiv-84-listen.html.


Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: September 14th, 2014 12:09 pm (UTC)
Victoria Waterfield

Loved this story. Genuinely gripping and genuinely mysterious. Capaldi excellent. Also pleased with what Moffat is doing with the Rupert Pink character.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 14th, 2014 02:26 pm (UTC)


Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 14th, 2014 12:49 pm (UTC)

I liked this. I really did, particularly the way it all came together at the end and the idea of doing a character-based story without a monster (probably). But I spent most of it (until the twist ending) feeling that it felt like a second-rate writer trying to imitate Steven Moffat. All his old themes are there and while I don't usually have a problem with writers exploring the same themes over and over, they seem to be getting a bit tired.

Watching a load of original series Star Trek recently has also, I think, really shown me how much I dislike the modern style of TV writing where every other line is a joke, a put-down or a pop cultural reference. But it would be wrong to blame Listen alone for that (if anything, it was a bit better than usual).

Still, I did enjoy it and it was refreshing to get something so different, especially as next week's seems to be unusual too, judging by the trailer.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 14th, 2014 02:39 pm (UTC)

I didn't think the themes were being repeated so much as experimented with, which was good. sebastienne has made a list of tropes being inverted; and I agree that Listen relied less on 'banter' (for want of a better short word) than before.

Posted by: Matthew (emperor)
Posted at: September 17th, 2014 12:14 pm (UTC)

I've just caught up with s8 having returned from North America. This was one of the stronger episodes so far, I think. I disliked inside the Dalek, as it seemed a bit like just-another-dalek-episode, with the usual commentary on how pathological the Doctor's hatred of daleks is.

I assume that Missy is going to turn out to be the TARDIS, behaving rather like the computer River ends up in after silence in the library...