(Note: Attempts at a spoiler-free review refers to not giving away any major reveals of the episode, and usually not more than what is found in the teaser given the week before. May contain spoilers of past weeks. Please avoid reading the reflection and comments for spoilers. Last week's review of "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" is here.)
Time for another episode of the smash hit, Doctor Who. This week we have the eponymous ancient poison of mysterious (and ancient) origins with a supposedly Stepford-esque utopia (at least that's the connotation granted from the teaser). You can stream Doctor Who episodes from Amazon via the picture below:
In fact, I'd say Doctor Who would have avoided any of the horrible taste Series 7 Part 1 left with us by producing more than a paltry 5 episodes of varying quality. From A ranking with "Asylum of the Daleks", B with "A Town Called Mercy" and whatever the heck the rest of the episodes were (a nostalgic C, which is pretty much a D or F from any non-nostalgia-induced reviewer).
So in "The Crimson Horror" we are reacquainted with Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax. It's strange to see a tame Sontaran, but Strax does quite well. Jenny also gets a chance to shine center stage for a while in this episode while Madame Vastra stays in the backseat, although providing some nice exposition she is uniquely qualified for.
I've heard that there were considerations of a spin-off with Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax, and I'm sure it would be entertaining to have watched, but I was initially concerned that the Doctor and Clara (who is quickly moving up the ranks of all-time favorite companions) were going to play backseat as well this episode! I'm all for episodes like that in hindsight, "Blink" was spectacular, but I watched "Blink" after it had already aired and the next episode was, maybe not readily available, but in existence at least! An entire episode without the Doctor playing more than a bit role would have been insufferable with how much the seasons are drawn out anymore.
Luckily, the Doctor and his companion make their appearance eventually, and the beginning serves more as an entertaining romp and set-up than the spin-off making episode I feared it might have become.
The episode was good, although I will say the enemies were not as competent as they could have been, especially considering they were up against not just the Doctor and Clara but also Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax!
Still, it was quite a nice episode.
Final Review: A- 9/10
Reflection — Warning: Spoilers!
Cool episode! Clara discovers one of her other lives (although so do the brats she lives with)! The Doctor is kissing practically everyone! Clara does not deny that the Doctor is her boyfriend (although that may have been to avoid a cliche)! And the Doctor kinda' just shrugs at (if not outright approves of) lots of violence and death!
It's still such a relief that Doctor Who isn't sucking as much as it did in Series 7 Part 1. Unfortunately, this means that my hopes are elevated for the series finale.
Next week we are re-introduced to the Mondasian cybermen, which have been absent from this series for quite a while (although it is implied that the cybermen that Rory talks to in "A Good Man Goes to War" are of the Mondasian variety). The Mondasian cybermen are the cybermen of the old series of Doctor Who in case you weren't sure, the new series cybermen have a big Cybus C on their chests and came from a parallel Earth.
I am a little concerned that Doctor Who tends to rewrite endings (which I know is to be expected in a time travel show!), but one of the big complaints I have with comics is the endless soap opera nature of them. This is usually avoided in movies and cartoon shows, because of their shorter nature, so that's how I prefer to consume DC and Marvel comics. The Mondasian cybermen already have a final end written, and it was a good one, so why rewrite it? Just for ratings? Will the story of Doctor Who ever end?
I'm not saying I want it to end. It makes you feel more than most (if not all) television programs, and has regularly gotten to me on a physiological/emotional level (adrenaline, dopamine, euphoria, glee, horror, despair, crying, laughing, shouting in triumph, etc).
But it shouldn't be afraid of an end.
It could do a pretty amazing one. It could do the best ever.
Anyway, what were your thoughts on tonight's episode?