Doctor Who - Series 8, Episode 4: Listen

Doctor Who

We look back at Series 8 ahead of the series 9 premiere with our Who guru, Steve Hendry, who tells doubters to jump off now as he gives his review of Listen! some incredible compliments...

Did you see it coming? Me neither. In its thirty-fourth season this incredible story still has surprises waiting when you least expect them. Just as we all thought we were about to get some more background knowledge on Danny, those two words rang out and sent a shiver up my back- “Time Lord”. If there are any doubters left about Season 34, now is probably a good time for them to jump ship altogether.

All my reviews this year are getting a bit samey now, in that I can’t get enough of the twelfth Doctor and Clara. These two are a ridiculously good pairing, and the 1970s-style vibes emanating from this superb series are capped off with a Four and Sarah-Jane feel from them. So, what of Danny Pink? I can only conclude that Moff has massive, River Song/Jack Harkness scale plans for this character for him to be disturbing this outstanding partnership. It’s like adding a third member to Morse and Lewis, Holmes and Watson or McMillan and Wife. Yeah, McMillan and Wife, I went there. Check the Den archives, I bet I’m the first on this site to ever mention it. Jenna Coleman features in every scene after the opening credits, almost matching Catherine Tate’s 100% record in Turn Left. She matches Tate pound for pound as well, and I really never thought I’d say that. As for the man himself, just wow. Peter Capaldi was born to play The Doctor, and has surpassed all my excited expectations already. He’s only going to get better as well, I only hope he stays in the role for at least four or five years.

In my review of Deep Breath I wondered aloud (even though no-one was listening) about whether the well measured pace of the season opener would continue beyond that feature length episode, and if the longer than usual conversations between characters would be a characteristic of the whole season. Clearly there was nothing to worry about on either count. Douglas Mackinnon certainly knows his way round a Doctor Who episode now, and this just pips Cold War as his best work on the show so far. In last year’s brilliant Ice Warrior tale, you felt like you were on board that sub, penned in with a Martian soldier; this time Mackinnon’s skilful work had my heart racing like little Rupert’s.

Steven Moffat’s magical script makes his life easier of course, and it is a script that is written, for Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman especially, with absolute faith and total confidence in the actors to translate its beauty onto the screen. I have enjoyed this episode five times now, and there’s been something fresh for me each time. As much as I enjoyed Robots of Sherwood for the type of story it was, this was real high calibre stuff, Moffat at his very best. The dialogue is right up there with The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances, and that John Hurt flashback sequence was jaw-dropping. Paul Cornell tweeted that Clara’s line to the young Doctor about fear not having to make you cruel or cowardly was when his tears came, and I suspect that was the same for many others.

Pitched beautifully, paced perfectly and presented with total expertise, Listen is the recipient of my first 10/10 rating this year and we don't even have a scoring system. Bravo.

Image - BBC.