Monday, January 31, 2011

"Silence in the Library"

This episode's a little slow for a Moffat production in my opinion. It probably doesn't drag out to the extent that his Eccly two-parter did back in New Series 1 but it's not that pacey. There's a lot of arbitrarily running around and a lot of arbitrarily standing around having a chin wag but not actually figuring anything out, and there's a lot of cutting away to a really annoying little girl in a sitting room whose identity is a mystery. The CGI of the Library is good to establish a sense of scale but the emptiness feels less like a story decision and more like something budgetary, because in a place so huge devoted solely to books it's hard to imagine that there wouldn't be some uninhabited areas. I also think they could have got someone without a speech impediment to provide the warning message, which when read out in that falsely cheery voice is obviously meant to sound creepy but comes across as more cringe-inducing than anything. While I enjoy the concept of the library and it's nice to be off world again it's not exactly used particularly well either. I mean realistically they could be anywhere.
So the Doctor's got a message on the increasingly annoying psychic paper which I seem to remember him not needing back in the Classic Series and then he and Donna run around a bit before locking themselves into a room where a bunch of cyphers and River Song show up. Now River Song's going to be important in the future so keep an eye on her, but Mr Lux, Dave, Other Dave, Anita and arbitrary short-lived hotty du jour Miss Evangelista are pretty insubstantial and undeveloped, especially the middle three, and because this is a Moffat episode you're expecting horror and you know most of these characters are there to get picked off, which starts with Miss Evangelista, who's death is used to introduce the concept of 'ghosting'.
This is a typical piece of Moffat creepery but it's done reasonably well and it's good to hear the voices repeat the way people often do when they're slowly falling asleep. Of course now we know our villains are the Vashta Nerada, a 'swarm' of aliens who look like shadows and eat people. This doesn't make very much sense and unfortunately isn't explained very well, but you can tell it was just done so that Moffat was preying on the basic fear of the dark. River Song, however, is suitably mysterious, and as she will play a role in future events it does boost this episode by a reasonable margin.
The apparent death of Donna is clearly just for the sake of a cliffhanger and the stumbling space suit zombie repeatedly saying "Hey! Who turned out the lights?" feels like a blatant repetition of "Are you my mummy?" from Moffat's 2005 two-parter which is a little disappointing. There is also something rather unappealing about the library sets and the central round room in which most of the action takes place feels significantly overused by the end of the episode. Unfortunately I just find this one a little dull and like a lot of Moffat episodes I think repeated viewings harm it significantly because the secrets are already known so you're not feeling as confused or intrigued as usual. I like episodes to have more rewatch value, and sometimes the Doctor alone is enough for this, but even Tennant doesn't convey an adequate sense of curiosity about River and the mystery of the situation. I think there's something about the Tenth Doctor in this episode which is restrained, normally a good thing, but in a way that feels kind of lifeless and arbitrary. Sadly it's all just a bit dull, and I must remark that when you've heard the Tenth Doctor say "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry" this many times you start to wonder where all this 'genuine emotion' is that people praise him for.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.