After last week’s season [potential] definer; Listen. What could Who throw out of the bag this week? Answer : Time Heist
Time Heist was a complete change in gear up, from the slow plodding psychological horror of Listen – to a much more action tinged episode.
The Doctor decided to drop in on Clara (again), who was in the process of going out on another date with Danny Pink. By the way, I like how the Doctor and Clara aren’t joined at the hip in this new Who – the Doctor comes and go as he pleases.
Anyway, the Doctor and Clara were drawn into a plot, to rob an impenetrable alien bank called Karabraxos. Along with a dream team of redshirts; a shapechanging alien called Saibra (useful), Psi – a human cyborg who could download computer information (handy) and………Clara! (With her ….thing!).
Moving on, the team were being aided by a mysterious unknown third party called the Architect, who provided the quartet with some nifty gear to breach the security of the banks vault and had wiped their minds of why they were there save to follow the Architect’s instruction.
It wasn’t all easy though, Bank Karabraxos was the bank that likes to say “no”. As it was guarded by armed guards, a really officious bitch and worse; the “Teller”. The Teller was a 7-foot tall slug faced alien, in a bright orange straight jacket which was the bank guard dog. (Clever play on words – Bank Teller and just “Teller” as people spilled their secrets to it, geddit?)
The Teller used to sniff out unreputable thoughts in banking customer and then vapourised their brains with telekinesis (soup!); leaving a dribbling vegetable with a slot in the top of their heads, which would have been handy for resting a cup of tea on.
Using his crack squad, the Doc infiltrated the vault of the bank and discovered that his real mission was to save the Teller and his locked up alien girlfriend. Meanwhile, a solar wave which had knocked out the banks last line of security destroyed the bank.
It’s fair to say that Time Heist could not be considered a patch on last week’s excellent Listen. However, it did – for 3 quarters of the episode, provide a very welcome and stylish ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ -style heist caper. Complete with complimentary “cool” fast editing and scene transitions.
Ms. Delphox/Madame Karabraxos was reasonably and officiously played by the lovely Keely Hawes and brought just the right amount of creepy cold business efficiency and secretarial sexiness to proceedings. However, the real star of the show was the alien “Teller”.
The Teller was a very real and credible threat to the crew, although a lumbering beastie – it’s telepathic range and ability to latch on and drain its victims heads, made it dangerous. We got an example of how this works on an unfortunate Counterfeiter in the bank foyer, which was pretty gross really!
Especially, when Clara thought he had tears coming out of his eyes (in pain) and the Doctor corrected her by telling her it was actually “brain soup”! Gross!
Some other nice touches included Psi the cyborg downloading his memory of Master criminals on the computer and amongst others, up popped the image of the cowboy cyborg from A Town Called Mercy, a Slitheen and an Ice Warrior – amongst others.
The Doctor was on form again, as usual – by swinging between a range of different emotions but his character is definitely most effective; when he presides over the demise of another character he cannot save, with real cold and real detachment.
For three quarters of the episode, proceedings bumped along at a pretty breakneck speed and viewers weren’t given the opportunity to catch their breath. However, the usual plot resolve problems began to surface, with the final act and tie-up of the various loose strands.
For a start, the Architect was so clearly the Doctor in disguise that it was painful. I mean who else would ‘play’ the Doctor like that? Answer : only the Doctor himself.
The resolution of the Doctor saving the Teller, by freeing his girlfriend was a bit too sentimental. It was like a Scooby Doo moment of unveiling a previously non-participating character – who was tied up in the cupboard.
The ‘deadly monster revealed as a forced participant to proceedings and the Doctor’s mission to release it from its bonds’ scenario’ has been played out before many times in the old and new series and I guess has become a staple part of the show’s ethos of twisting the monsters role in the episode.
However, in this case it felt a bit too sappy an ending layed on, if anything maybe the Teller should have been left as the last of it’s kind – left to roam some deserted alien waste.
They could have even drawn some carefully crafted parallels with the Doctor. But they didn’t, they kind of went for a couple of naked Tellers striding off into the bushes like Naturists.
However, comparing this to that Sherwood dirge a couple of weeks ago. I can’t help but feel that Time Heist had everything in the right place for an enjoyable fast-paced adventure and bar a couple of slack eventualities, was a welcome change of tone to the new series – so far.
BBC1 – 8:35pm- Saturdays