Sunday, 8 June 2008

Doctor Who Series 4 Episode 9: Forest Of The Dead

Just a quick review this week, for I am making much of the lazy this weekend.

Stephen Moffat set a lot of plates spinning by the end of part one of his series 4 two-parter, and he starts off part two by adding yet more plates to that collection. In the process, we get one of the smartest and most fulfilled episodes of doctor who we’ve seen in a fair while. The episode picks up straight up from last week, with Donna stuck in a different world where the mysterious Doctor Moon starts talking gibberish to her. The girl starts freaking out, and as she does so things start going haywire in the library too, as the Doctor rushes to try and work out just what the heck is going on before everyone dies.

It’s a good episode, bolstered by a string of great guest stars, with Alex Kingston taking central stage as the boisterous River Song, a woman who may know the Doctor but may not and oh heck, but it’s all confusing. This is the sort of episode that probably works best the second time you watch it, in fairness. Stephen Moffat’s script allows for a lot of plot whilst also developing up Donna’s character a treat, but at the same time – we finally get to see some progress made with the Doctor. He’s been sat by the sidelines all season, commenting on things before swooping in to save the day at the end of this episode, so it’s a relief to see someone start working on him, changing his persona and giving Tennant something to work with. He is terrific in this episode, his level of knowledge pretty much the same as that of the viewer as things slowly start falling into places, and watching him as he slowly works out what is going on is a joy. Tate is completely in step with him now, holding up her side of the story all on her own. Both characters work well together, but this is the first time this series that anybody has done anything worthwhile with them as individuals.

It helps that Moffat has collected together every childhood fear that anyone would have into one episode, giving us shadows, walking skeletons, nightmares, all sorts of things in one episode. I found this episode to be excellently done, because Moffat could be cruel or he could be kind. You get the feeling he will kill off whoever he wants, and that sense of danger is what propels the episode along. It’s a slick, fast, effective episode, and it bodes well for Moffat’s tenure as the ringleader of the merry dance of Doctor Who. Also, spoiler, it seems as if Tennant may be getting a haircut sometime soon. About time, I say – that barnet of his is veering dangerously close to Pat Sharp territory.

Rating: A.


  1. I said:
    "Don't you think it would have been good if River Song had turned out to be the Master and was only pretendng to be the Doctor's future wife or whatever?"


    "Ken lee tulibu dibu douchoo, Ken leeeeeeeeeeeeee..."

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    You live in Wales? Lucky.

    Moffat's takeover of the show can't come soon enough! I loved this episode.

  3. Best two parter since Human Nature/Family of Blood. I was actually moved to tears, and I didn't know it until Donna said goodbye to her "husband". I hope this isn't the last of River Song, but who does her doctor look like?