Steven Moffat, please stand up and take a bow in front of your audience.
In Listen, the fourth episode of Doctor Who Series 8 broadcast on Prime tonight, you delivered a script which delivered so much fear that I nearly fell off the edge of my seat. There was so much hope that I was still smiling half an hour after I had stopped watching.
With this story the Doctor is well and truly back in the house. After the lightness of last week’s Robin Hood story it’s not a moment too soon. Last week I felt underwhelmed with the story. This week I am beginning to appreciate it as a contrasting flavour in a very large palette of Doctor Who stories of which there are many eras.
Peter Capaldi is, once again, making the Doctor both familiar, with subtleties from his other incarnations, and alien, with his take on the Time Lord. I love the way he commands the room and the screen in the same way that Tom Baker or even Colin Baker did back in the days when we were kids and time travel didn’t seem so fanciful.
The Doctor’s installation and use of a blackboard in the TARDIS is a nice reminder that the old man is the best history teacher in the universe because he has the ability to show after he has told. But it is also a nice parallel to companion Clara Oswald’s (Jenna Coleman) new teaching job at Coal Hill School.
Moffat’s brilliant script, realised with such spine tingling truth on screen, gives Capaldi and Coleman plenty of opportunity to explore the Doctor and Clara’s relationship in a way that has not been done before . . . even in the brilliant Name of the Doctor, Day of the Doctor and Time of the Doctor trilogy. They were recently released on DVD and Blu-ray in a special limited edition 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition boxed set.
Remember it was John Hurt’s missing Doctor, also known as Captain Grumpy, who headed out into a Gallifreyan barn in last November’s Day of the Doctor where he unpacked the doomsday weapon. He would bring an end to the last great time war by destroying the Daleks and the Time Lords with whom they were fighting.
Moffat also cleverly writes Oswald’s squeeze, Danny Pink, into the story in a way that had me grinning from ear to ear. Watch this, then argue there is no such thing as destiny.
In Listen Moffat, and his production team, have created a classic episode which will be returned to more frequently than other stories because it changes the way we view the Doctor’s past and will most certainly inform his future.