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Doctor Who: Series 8 Revisited – Time Heist

Time Heist may have been advertised as ‘Doctor Who does a heist movie’, and it is, but in reality, it’s a break from the character development. Since Deep Breath we’ve been caught up in the Doctor and Clara’s relationship with each other, culminating in her message to the Doctor at the climax of Listen. Now though, we’ve got a break, as we join them in Clara’s flat…

Clara’s going on a second date with Danny, it’s easy to forget that Danny’s in it, he’s got a very forgettable half a minute of screen time. But Danny’s not what’s important here, it’s the TARDIS phone, and it’s ringing.

As soon as the Doctor picks up the phone however, he and Clara are plunged into a dark room where they find themselves clutching memory worms and accompanied by Saibra and Psi. Each of the individuals has their own special ‘power’ as the Doctor puts it, his being his ‘Leadership eyebrows’. Psi is half computer and can hack almost anything, Saibra is a mutant human, and transforms into any living thing she touches. Both these skills come in very handy as the team try to break into the impenetrable fortress that is ‘The Bank of Karabraxos’.

Impenetrable is a strong word. Clearly Ms Delphox, head of security, and her team of guards has never dealt with any intruders actually getting past the first level of the bank, because, once that happens, its a free run. Sure, now and again a few guards run by and the team have to escape, but luckily, there are always a few air vents leading conveniently away. All this may be explained away, ‘they couldn’t be detected because of the solar storm’, but while this makes a neat resolution to a later conflict, it would have been nice to have known something about it beforehand.

The Teller is a very powerful image, along with the things he does to ‘guilty parties’. Much better constructed than the last attempt to tell a monster love story (in 2013’s Hide), this story leaves a lot more time to fully resolve the plight of the Tellers’. It also deals rather nicely with giving a means to an end for Psi and Saibra, both getting what they need to enjoy their lives in the future, if putting them mostly out of action for any return opportunities. That leaves us with the Doctor and Clara, and it seems Clara will be left out slightly. The Doctor claims his victory in their visit to the private vault and the realisation that he know’s who’s behind this heist all along! Clara however is returned to her date with Danny, something she could have done anyway!

Credit must be given to Douglas Mackinnon and Murray Gold. Slow shots and jump cuts are perfectly combined with a tense musical score which keeps you guessing throughout the story. The Teller is always portrayed as menacing, even once you feel sorry for him, he’s still dangerous. Ms Delphox is a whimsical evil, a precursor to Missy, so it’s no surprise that Michelle Gomez had been up for that role!

For a third crack at the whip, with his previous repertoire for the show including The Curse of the Black Spot and Journey To The Centre of The TARDIS, Steve Thompson has done exceedingly well in creating a great standalone episode in a series of ‘Am I Good Man?’ and ‘The Promised Land’. So what if Steven Moffat had a helping hand in it? If it looks good, it’s all the better for us! Perhaps it doesn’t all quite stack up, none of the best Doctor Who does! Steve Thompson continues to get better so it’s a shame not to see him in the line up of writers for this year’s series. Hopefully we can look forward to seeing more of him in the future!

Tommorow, Andrew will throw a Danny sized spanner into the works, when he reviews ‘The Caretaker’.