Every once in a while, when I am facing a bit of writer’s block or have fallen SUPER behind on a deadline (both of which happened on this post), I will cheekily say “SOMEONE WRITE THIS FOR ME” on Twitter. I never expect someone to actually volunteer. Lo and Behold, the delightful Graeme Burk, big deal author of Who is the Doctor? and Who’s 50: The Fifty Doctor Who Stories to Read Before You Die (both co-written with Robert Smith?), actually volunteered AND got me his post within hours. Thanks for bailing me out, kind sir! I owe you a drink at L.I. Who.
Kim was complaining about not being able to find sufficient wind thrust or velocity or whatever it is people do to get the feels about “Time Heist”. So I offered to write something for her.
After all, why not? Kim’s super-nice, looks amazing in polka-dots, and she’s appeared on my podcast, Reality Bomb, to do totally weird things with absolutely no notice. I figure I owe her.
Except, here’s a confession…I don’t actually read recaps. Yeah, I’m sorry Head Over Feels readers. I feel so judged right now.
Hopefully I can do this because reading what Kim and Sage have done, these don’t have to be rigidly recapped. And I’ve written reviews in my Doctor Who books (most recently Who’s 50, Sage and Kim approved and available in bookstores everywhere!) All the same I’m a little worried I’m going to suck at this. So I’m going to make an effort at writing a recap of “Time Heist”. It’s probably going to suck. But Kim has promised that she’ll totally bring it with the animated gifs, so hopefully you’ll be entertained.
“Time Heist” begins with the Doctor and Clara doing Doctor and Clara-y things. Most of it involving him doing that shtick where he doesn’t seem to understand that she’s dressing up for a date and trying to look nice and generally putting down how she looks. And I’m kind of waiting for RuPaul to crash through the door and call the Doctor “girlfriend” (Does RuPaul do that anymore? Look, just go with it because it amuses me) and to tell him this thing is now officially old. That or have Clara kick the Doctor in the ghoulies and, you know, leave. Which would be sad, because I’m in love with Clara Oswald. Don’t tell my wife. (Because Clara is fictional and that would, in fact, embarrass me.)
(Note from Kim: Clara looks SUPER hot in this episode. And thanks for an outfit that is easily cosplay-able, Costume Department)
Anyway, the Doctor gets a phone call, and the next thing you know he’s talking to a worm and he’s in an episode of Hustle.
And isn’t that awesome?
Okay. I think I’m getting the hang of this recap thing.
Really, if you’ve never watched an episode of Hustle, you honestly should. It was the best program the BBC was making in 2005 not called Doctor Who. It’s Ocean’s Eleven on a TV budget but with Marc Warren from “Love & Monsters” and the-should-one-day-be-cast-as-the-Doctor Adrian Lester. It’s about a bunch of grifters performing cons and occasionally heists and it’s done with real style and panache. And when the Doctor, Clara, Rogue from the X-Men and Cyborg from the New Teen Titans came into the Bank of Kalabraxos all in slow-mo that was totally a Hustle move.
Now, with Hustle, if you’re moderately observant, after a while you can eventually predict how you’re being misdirected and what the end result will be. It took my wife till the first conversation about the Architect for her to predict the Architect was really the Doctor. I’m going to just let Kim cue up some gif from Community before making the humble and yet unbelievably sad brag that I figured it out in the first two minutes.
But here’s the thing about Hustle… it doesn’t matter if you figured it out. It’s just so damn entertaining. The same is true here for “Time Heist”.
No wait, I’m digressing too much. Ummm, they get into the bank and find that the Architect has littered the place with stuff for them to get to the next point in the journey, starting with a bomb. And the Doctor’s really funny here. Oh, wait, I need to quote some dialogue, don’t I?
Doctor: He wants us to blow through the floor.
Saibra: We’ll die if we do that.
Doctor: Well, not necessarily. There must be a plan.
Clara: What if the plan is we’re blowing up the floor for someone else? What if we’re not supposed to make it out alive?
Doctor: Don’t be so pessimistic, it’ll affect team morale.
Clara: What, and getting us blown up won’t?
Doctor: Only very, very briefly.
Okay. Basically I love this story for the same reason I loved “Robot of Sherwood”: the Doctor gets to be very, very funny and Peter Capaldi does comedy like a boss. (I only said ‘like a boss’ because Kim says that all the time.)
But let me go back to Hustle, “Time Heist” and being entertaining. (You’re not missing anything in recap-land, they travel through a bunch of corridors, which they’ve thoughtfully put in a different coloured floodlight to disguise the fact it’s the same corridor. Hey I could have worked on Television Without Pity…) This is the thing that bugs me about TV in a social media age. Everyone wants television to be superawesomeincredibleamazing. And when its not superawesomeincredibleamazing they get upset and then the echo chamber of the internet starts adding some beats to it and then all across Twitter you start hearing DOCTOR WHO IS NO LONGER SUPERAWESOMEINCREDIBLEAMAZING LIKE IT WAS TWO WEEKS AGO. EVERYTHING IS AWFUL. MOFFAT MUST GO like some bad piece of hip-hop.
Here’s the thing. Television isn’t designed to be superawesomeincredibleamazing. Superawesomeincredibleamazing television is meant to happen once in a while because it’s superawesomeincredibleamazing. Most of the time, television is meant to be entertaining.
Which brings me to Hustle, Doctor Who and “Time Heist”.
This veneration of superaweseomeincredibleamazing has led to us forgetting that highly entertaining television is actually really good television. If something has left you entertained, it’s not something to be disappointed about . It’s done the job it set out to do. Which is why I like Hustle, even the later years where its superawesomeincredibleamazing hit rate was astonishingly low. Because it was still always entertaining.
And to quote from my one-line Twitter review of “Time Heist”, I harbour no illusions that “Time Heist” is the “best” story of the season. It’s a heist story with time travel twists and the Doctor being too devious for his own good. But, oh my god, it was entertaining. Every time I watch it I come away with a smile on my face. And I’ve watched it at least four times. (I’ve only seen “Deep Breath” and “Listen” twice.)
It’s just such a delightful story. There’s something for everyone. There’s a great looking monster with a scary ability to melt people’s brain into soup. (And, ew, when the counterfeiter lowers his arm…) There’s Alex Drake from Ashes To Ashes who is so-so as Ms. Delphox but rocks for the entire three minutes she gets to play Madame Karabraxos. (Keeley Hawes is so wonderful when she realizes there’s no reason to have her hands up). And while their character arcs are pretty simple, Psi gets some great moments with Clara, just as Saibra shows us the Doctor’s tortured conscience.
And the ending when it all comes together is great. I figured out that the Doctor was the architect and it all had to do with Madame Carabraxos but I didn’t get the rescue mission for the Teller. Two out of three ain’t bad but especially when it comes together so…joyously. I love the happy gonging the Doctor does when he figures out he’s the Architect.
Actually that’s what I love about this story period. The Doctor is so damn funny. I love it when he tells Carabraxos, “Frankly, you’re a career-break for the right therapist.” And “Come on, then, Team Not Dead.” Or this exchange about Saibra’s gene suppressant:
Clara: She wanted to be normal.
Doctor: Everyone has a weakness.
Actually my favourite moment in all five episodes thus far is the Doctor hanging out with his crew after it’s over, having a Chinese meal, making a joke.
I loved that. It’s like those montage endings in House where you’d see House and Wilson joking around only you had no idea what they were saying because they were playing some Crowded House song or something. That used to drive me nuts because I wanted to understand what would House actually joke about that would make Wilson want to hang out with him (I mean, beyond Wilson’s need to be a submissive, of course).
And here we got to see it. The Doctor telling a joke about the Borgias and the Leaning Tower of Pisa and laughing. After four episodes where he hardly made more than a sardonic smile.
Did you get that!?! The Twelfth Doctor made a joke! And laughed with people!
ALL THE FEELS!
That felt good. I’ve always wanted to say that.
So I think I forgot to recap, but you saw the episode right? In summary, “Listen” or “Into The Dalek” are Superawesomeincredibleamazing but “Time Heist”, it’s really, really entertaining. And that’s wonderful.
Quick fire round!
– Moffat enjoys adding bitchy remarks to these scripts, doesn’t he? He gives another dig to Capaldi’s eyebrows and then even takes a swipe at the costume “What do you think of the new look? I was hoping for minimalism, but I think I came out with magician.”
– There’s all these ominous forebodings about the Doctor and Clara’s relationship, with Psi pointing out that Clara pretty much has a career of making excuses for him and Clara being none too impressed with the Doctor’s lack of consideration for Saibra’s “death” (perhaps realizing that she wasn’t dead and the Doctor planned it that way might have let him off the hook for another week…)
– Okay, we all know that scene where Psi starts displaying the universe’s worst criminals and continuity porn comes on the big screen? (Somewhere, 45 year-old fanboys are basking in the warm glow that Absalom Daak, Dalek killer is in the television show continuity…) Now, personally I’d like to find out about the John Dillinger Sensorite but I have a suspicion the gif below this is going to be of Captain John Hart…
Thanks Kim. It’s been a blast. Good night, Head Over Feels!
Kim: NO! Thank YOU, Graeme!