Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's A Thing: In the Forest of the Night

Moffat-Era Tropes: Child-focused story, particularly one revolving around some unusually special little girl; fetishization of motherhood; trees; a thing that appears to be malevolent turning out to be benign. Little glowing tree-spirit things which are clearly the same ones seen in “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe”. Happy ending that makes no damn sense whatsoever. There's a slightly jarring call-back to the Davies Era in the montage of international news broadcasts (which suggest that everyplace everywhere is affected by the forests, a fact which is immediately forgotten).

A Thing in a Thing: A forest in central London.

The Doctor is A: Scotsman. But why do none of the kids recognise him as the school caretaker?

The Master Is A: TV viewer. Presumably Apple TV.

Clara Lies About: Calling the Doctor instead of the school. This week Danny's the one to find out about her Big Lie in “Mummy on the Orient Express”, and the results are predictable. It also turns out that she just tells the class they're “Gifted and Talented” to make them feel better, which speaks volumes about her wanting Courtney to think she's “special” in “Kill the Moon”.

Reasons Clara Should Drop Danny Like A Hot Potato: Seriously, he's offered the chance to see the Earth from space being hit by a solar flare, no strings attached, and he turns it down like a kid in a sulk, saying he doesn't want to see anything new because “I was a soldier” (trust him to bring that up again)? Unless Clara wants to spend the rest of her life never going out, she'd better end this now.

Child Count: 8 (that's a pretty tiny class by anybody's standards, let alone those of modern hyperinflated student-to-teacher ratios). Possibly 9 if Mabh's sister counts, but it's hard to tell how old she is.

The Thick(et) of It: The Doctor tones the Mr Nasty act down a bit this week, probably because of the children present.

Where is Max when you need him?
It's Actually About: Something narratively interesting happening, and then absolutely nothing that follows making sense. Why is central London entirely deserted except for one school group and a disappearing security guard? Why was nobody, apparently, awake at the point at which the forest appeared? Why aren't the children's phones ringing themselves flat with calls from anxious parents, why is Mabh's mother the only one concerned enough to take any kind of initiative to find her daughter, and why doesn't Clara ring the school (indeed, why doesn't the school ring either Clara or Danny)? How does Year Eight get from Kensington to Trafalgar Square in next to no time? What idiot at COBRA thought burning the trees was a good idea (since it would clearly cause massive damage to very expensive property if it worked), and why do the emergency crew not react to the sight of two civilians walking out of the forest with cries of “bloody hell, stop the burning, we thought the area was deserted, now then, miss, tell us how many more people are in there?” Why are international relief efforts not being coordinated? Where, indeed, are UNIT, Torchwood, and all the other usual suspects? Why do Mabh's mother and her neighbour react so calmly to the revelation that the street is covered in trees? How does the Doctor not know how ice ages work? Why do zoo-habituated wolves and tigers immediately go on the attack, rather than finding a safe place to hole up till they can get the lie of the land and investigate? Who left a set of beach chairs out in central London? How do planes land? Since the sea is now also covered with vegetation, what's happened to the boats? Why does Clara think that dying is preferable to being orphaned, and who does she think she is, making that decision on behalf of the whole class and Danny? How does a phone call to everyone on Earth from a single schoolchild result in mass global consensus as to the correct course of action (why can't we get Mabh to advise on Mideast peace)? Why does nobody consider that the solar flare would knock out every single communications satellite, plus kill off everyone on the international space station? Why the strange anti-medication message-- yes, there's controversy about diagnosing and medicating some childhood-onset disorders, but suggesting that every child with psychotic symptoms is just talking to the tree-fairies is a little regressive. And was Mabh's sister hiding behind a bush the whole time? There's a great story to be told about a forest appearing in London overnight, but this really isn't it.