Doctor Who: ‘In The Forest Of The Night’ by John Rivers (TV review).

November 2, 2014 | By | Reply More

‘In the Forest Of The Night’ by Frank Cottrell Boyce is the latest episode of ‘Doctor Who’ to air. If you haven’t seen the episode then you may want to take a look at Geoff’s post here: Otherwise if you go down to the woods today you’re sure of a big surprise…


The biggest surprise of all is that despite London being engulfed in forest overnight, there’s not many people about whatsoever. Given any time of the morning between Knightsbridge and Trafalgar Square, there should at least be milkmen, delivery drivers, police, homeless, hipsters, shoppers and thousands of tourists. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if the episode tried to explain it in some way, but somewhere between the Little Red Riding Hood allusions and wisecracking kids it got lost. Similarly, any tension that might have been built-up with having the guys in ‘Fahrenheit 451’ hazmat suits, armed with flame-throwers torching the place, was lost in a matter of seconds. They look scary, they try setting fire to a tree and go home.

It’s not that Boyce’s episode isn’t any good, it’s very entertaining. The Doctor’s reaction to the school kids and in particular Abigail Eames playing Maebh Arden (taken from the the Forest of Arden in Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’) is particularly fun to watch. His attempt to reinforce his relationship with Clara when describing himself as masculine is adorably silly. Clara’s role in the adventure is somewhat neutered by having to look after the school group, but at least she gets to discuss the mystery with the Doctor and challenge him. Samuel Anderson fares the worst in this episode with Danny’s potential seemingly used-up in ‘The Caretaker’. The lack of conflict between himself and the Doctor, in fact the lack of anything, meant that he simply becomes another supporting character who moans at Clara about getting the kids home and how much she lies to him. A scene where Danny might have been offered some more character development was instead sacrificed for comic flashbacks to one-note character beats for the kids. Amusing for the episode, but less interesting for the longer-term fan.


The deserted forest did look good though, with the odd remnant of London life (a Green Park deck chair, a Natural History Museum sign) littered about, the aerial shots of the city were particularly nice and gave a taste of what an abandoned, overgrown London may look like. The editing and effects work for the tiger and the wolves was never going to match ‘Life Of Pi’ standards, but were still convincing. A little less convincing was Maebh’s back story and the disappearance of her sister which felt like it needed more weight or build-up at the story’s opening. Their Mum (actress Siwan Morris) had to spend most of the episode wobbling about on a mountain bike. The leopard print cycle helmet was a nice touch though.


Overall then, I would argue that ‘In the Forest Of The Night’ is probably an above average episode of ‘Doctor Who’. Only just above, in what has been a series that has set a very high standard, but as an entertaining and funny fairy tale it works. It also proves once again that ‘Doctor Who’ doesn’t need a gloating antagonist to be interesting. Structurally, though, I thought the episode needed more work, with more balance for the characters, especially Danny Pink. Plus, if he keeps guilt-tripping Clara, isn’t she just going to give him the elbow? It would be a shame to waste the fantastic work done by Jenna Coleman and the production team with her character this series just to have Clara constantly bat-away the jealous feelings of a controlling boyfriend.

Anyway, next week THE FINALE BEGINS, apparently.

© John Rivers 2014

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Doctor Who: In The Forest Of The Night:


Doctor Who Extra: In The Forest Of The Night:


Category: Doctor Who, TV

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