Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Doctor Who: The Woman Who Lived - Spoiler-Free Preview

Doctor Who: Series 9, Episode 6
The Woman Who Lived

Written by: Catherine Tregenna
Directed by: Ed Bazalgette

Broadcast Date: Saturday 24th October at 8.20pm on BBC One

The Gallifrey Times have seen The Girl Who Died and have put our spoiler free preview together.

The question that you will no doubt be asking is whether this episode is the second half of a two-parter? The Woman Who Lived certainly picks up from where it left off, with the story looking at the effects of immortality and how it can affect one's life. Having a different writer from The Girl Who Died, the episode inevitably has a different feel, with more comedy moments and a different dynamic between Maisie Williams' character and Capaldi's Doctor.

Maisie Williams' character is very different to the young, innocent girl we saw in The Girl Who Died. Instead we have a confident, world-worn woman that is very similar to the Doctor. To see such a stark contrast (pun intended) to the the Ashildr we saw her play in the previous episode is testimony to Maisie Williams' ability as an actress. Whilst viewers may not find the character as likeable, there is certainly more to this woman that meets the eye and Tregenna has moved the character on to become yet another strong female role in the show.

As has been the case in many episodes this series, the alien is a fairly poor creation that is once again underused and never really comes across as much of a threat. Leandro - looking less like the Cat People of New Earth and more like the Cowardly Lion from 1939's The Wizard of Oz - is only really introduced later in the episode, although he is not really the focus of this episode and is more thrown in as a plot device to make things work.

There is a good blend of drama and humour in this episode, with most of the comedy being provided by this episode's 'other' guest star, Rufus Hound. Sadly, Rufus's highwayman, Sam Swift, doesn't appear until about halfway into the episode, but his character certainly makes an impact. Rufus puts in a commendable performance, especially during a scene with Swift and the Doctor having a showdown of sorts. To see two comic actors bouncing off each other is a treat, but be warned that this scene contains a lot of intentionally cringeworthy jokes.

As we know, Clara will be departing the TARDIS soon and Series 9 being dubbed her 'golden years' with the Doctor. It seems strange then that Jenna Coleman makes a brief appearance in this episode in the final scene. The absence of Clara does not take away from the story though. If anything it gives us a chance to see the Doctor on his own for a while and how he deals with others when Clara is not around. The pre-titles sequence especially allows Capaldi to have some fun with the Doctor off exploring on his own with some new tech.

The Woman Who Lived varies in its tones, flitting between touching scenes with Maisie Williams and lighthearted fun with Rufus Hound, but despite the frequents shifts in tone, the episode feels cohesive and never suffers from tonal whiplash. Overall, Catherine Tregenna's Doctor Who debut delivers an interesting story about survival that puts a few things into perspective whilst still managing to tell a good story and have some fun.