TARDIS File 04-09: Forest of the Dead

TARDIS File 04-09: Forest of the Dead

The Big Idea: Donna Noble has left the library but the Doctor is still trapped inside, running from deadly, moving shadows with a woman who knows him far better than he knows her…

What’s So Great…

  • It has become a tradition with Steven Moffat scripts, but one which the audience should never grow tired of where a puzzling mystery (what happened to the patrons?) is solved with a completely logical explanation (they were “saved”…t o the computer’s hard drive!)
  • The scenes in hard drive featuring Donna and the mysterious hooded figure in black and Donna’s children are some of the scariest of the new series and are particularly well-directed by Euros Lyn.
  • River Song’s farewell scene, with a Doctor who doesn’t know her but knows who she will become, is a very moving and a classic example of Moffat bringing out genuine emotion without resorting to the use of contrived or clich�d devices
  • Somehow, even though we know to begin with that Donna’s world and life isn’t real, we care and are scared by events in it because Donna believes they are real.
  • The script strongly hints as to who River Song is (or will be) but never actually comes out and says it, leaving the audience to wonder and speculate — which often can be more fun than finding out the actual answer.
  • The surprise ending. It seemed that this story was destined to end similar to The Girl in the Fireplace on a down note but with clever writing and direction it instead ends similar to The Empty Child. Another optimistic, happy ending which celebrates the brilliance of the Doctor, and that of the program itself.

Quick Bits of Trivia: . The scenes of River Song greeting her colleagues in her garden in the CAL-created world at the end of the story were actually the first scenes those particular actors shot. This episode had many previous names attached to it (including The Doctor Runs, Forest of the Night, Children of the Library, Saved, The Forest Wakes, River’s Run and Return of the Dead).

Things to Geek Out About…

  • The Ood’s comment to the Doctor “Your song will end soon” from Planet of the Ood can definitely be interpreted as having foreshadowed the events in this story!
  • Will we see more appearances in the future by River Song … including the time she first meets the Doctor (as opposed to the Doctor meeting her)? With the character’s creator now at the creative helm of Doctor Who, I wouldn’t bet against it (though they better hurry as they aren’t always going to be able to make Alex Kingston look younger than she did when she filmed River’s last chronological appearance). Only time will tell.

Not to Complain But…  the specific explanation of the need for River’s sacrifice is perhaps a little too rushed and technobabble-ish, even on repeat viewings.

All Things Considered… bring on Series Five! With this story Moffat goes four for four with thus far with this scripts for Doctor Who (or five for five counting the mini-episode Time Crash). With a 100% batting average Moffat is clearly the best choice to be the new creative maestro for the series.

There are so many aspects to this story it’s difficult to know where to begin. It resembles a very good soup _ a lot of different ingredients (in this case mystery, romance, adventure, sci-fi, humour and horror) mixed in resulting in something delicious. Because Steven Moffat stories are so complex there is a tendency for fans to be just as complex in analyzing them, but it means that we often lose sight of what really matters most, and it is the seamless blend of the basic elements present listed above that make his stories so enjoyable.

It is difficult to single out the most enjoyable plot strand of the story. Is it the disappearance and fate of the Library patrons, Donna’s cyber-space world inside CAL, or is it the story of River Song? It’s an embarrassment of riches and one of the nicest “problems” for a story to have.

That’s not to forget that the sadness of the Doctor’s romance in this story is mirrored by Donna’s. She loses a husband and kids that she thought were real, and then is unable to find her “husband” afterwards in the real world. It’s left to the viewer to decide if this is a un-happier turn of events than the Doctor knowing that all the time he will spend with River in the future will always be with the sad knowledge that it’s going to end prematurely. The dual sadness shared by our heroes makes the happy ending to this story all the more sweet.

Line of the Week: ” Hey! Who turned out the lights?”

Index of TARDIS Files

TARDIS File prepared by Gian-Luca Di Rocco

Read our review of Series Four in two special issues of Enlightenment

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Writer Gary Russell to visit Toronto June 9th

Who Party Toronto Presents:
An Afternoon With Gary Russell
Sunday June 9th, 2013 from noon until 6:00pm
Paupers Pub (second floor), 539 Bloor Street W.
Cost: $15 for the afternoon

On Sunday June 9th, 2013 join The Doctor Who Information Network and Who Party Toronto for An Afternoon With Gary Russell on the second floor of Paupers Pub at 539 Bloor Street West.

The afternoon will feature a Q&A session with our guest Doctor Who writer and Script Editor Gary Russell as well as a live video commentary of a Doctor Who episode that he worked on, an autograph session, a trivia competition and an afternoon of discussions and socializing with other Doctor Who fans.

Issue 169

The Snowmen Cometh (Christmas Special Reviewed!) : The 2012 Christmas special gets a look-over! Plus…

  • Can good Doctor Who be bad television, and vice versa?
  • Robots with human souls
  • News and reviews

Doctor Who returns in UK, Canada and US on March 30th!

It has been announced that the final eight episodes of Series Seven of Doctor Who will be airing on BBC1, SPACE and BBC America starting on Saturday March 30th, 2013.

Issue 168

Archaeology Tomorrow (Season Reviews and Benny’s 20th!) : The 2012 season review issue, and the importance of being Bernice Surprise Summerfield! Plus…

  • Why Doctor Who is Steampunk
  • Where are the new series’ truly iconic villains?
  • News and reviews

Doctor Who returns in Britain, Canada and US on September 1!

The seventh series of Doctor Who comes to our screens on September 1 at 9 pm on SPACE!

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