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TV Review: Doctor Who 7.7: The Bells of Saint John
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Doctor Who - The Bells of Saint John Review

Doctor Who
Series 7, Episode 7 – “The Bells of Saint John”
Directed by Colm McCarthy
Written by Steven Moffat
Starring: Matt Smith, Jenna-Louise Coleman, Manpreet Bachu, Sean Knopp, Eve De Leon Allen, James Greene, Kassius Johnson, Geff Francis, and Celia Imrie
BBC America
Air date: March 30, 2013

The seventh series of Doctor Who returned tonight with a brand new episode, “The Bells of Saint John.” As those began to ring, what adventures did our faithful Doctor encounter, and what role did Clara Oswald play in them? Hit the jump to find out.

“The Bells of Saint John” works fairly well as a mid-series premiere. There’s enough here to certainly build towards an ongoing arc for this back half, but I don’t think it works quite as well as an individual episode as others have in the past.

The plot is pretty standard Doctor Who fare, but the hook of having the threat be based around the Internet and invaders through the Wi-Fi is a unique idea that gets some good moments. It’s nice to see an episode in which The Doctor (Matt Smith) gets to play an action hero, but I never felt he was ever in danger of not winning the day. It was just a matter of him finding out what was going on and then deciding how to proceed from there. It doesn’t work quite as well as Series Five premiere “The Eleventh Hour” as an introduction to a new companion, but that episode had a lot more going on than just introducing Amy Pond.

However, I’ve always felt that (especially in premiere episodes, whether it’s mid-series or just a regular series) that the character interaction often trumps most of the plot. That’s certainly the case with this episode. After being teased for so long, we’re finally introduced to Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman). As we know from both “Asylum of the Daleks” and the Christmas special, Smith and Colemanare incredibly fun and entertaining to watch on screen together. I’m already enjoying how quickly Coleman seems to be interacting with Matt Smith. The two actors seem to bring an equal amount of energy, playing off one another in a unique way that makes them more equals than I think Amy and The Doctor were. There’s just some amazing interplay between the two actors and I can’t wait to see how that interaction progresses as the series continues.

There’s plenty of groundwork laid here for the rest of this season, but I’m not sold on the narrative that’s being built for the long term here. I’ve been far more impressed by past season-long plots (the way last year’s overlapping narrative with the Silence, the Ponds, and River Song all played out was pretty impressive to me) and I’m just not quite in for this back half plot quite yet. I hope that changes soon, but for right now, I’m very much in for the interactions between Clara and the Doctor.

Quick Thoughts:

– Snog Box. Yes.

– Did any of you happen to catch the author of the book that Nina was reading? I won’t spoil it here, but it’s a nice treat.

– Very, very interested to see how that villain will play out through the rest of the series.

– Also, glad to see we’re finally getting back to the Doctor’s true intentions when it comes to the mystery of Clara. Right now, this is the plot I’m the most invested in, as Moffat and company have done a good job of making Clara and her various forms an engaging riddle I want solved.

What did you think of the episode? Sound off in our comments below!

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