Hallo Verity! fans. I think it’s about time to give you something we promised in the very first episode: a “Last Word” post. This is where we have a chance to rattle off all the bits and bobs we forgot (or didn’t have time) to mention while we were recording the most recent Verity! episode. It turns out I’ve got a few more things to say about “The Bells of Saint John.” So without further ado, here are my as-yet unaired observations, in no particular order:
The Doctor’s coat! I mentioned it was just “okaaay,” mostly ‘cause I thought it was so long it bordered on cloak-ey. It’s since grown on me, so costumers, please direct no vitriol my way. I’m now onboard with the new look. Purple really does work for Matt Smith. I was a bit worried after the promo poster looked SO purple it was almost cartoonish. In reality, it’s quite nice.
Possibly the most important thing I forgot to mention is that the denouement was the most fun and Doctorish I’ve seen in some time. The spoonhead-Doctor caught me by surprise—twice! I had that delicious moths-in-the-stomach dread when it first spun its head to upload Clara. I love it when they can get me like that. But the Doctorish bit I most adored was when he hacked the server to go confront the baddies in his place. A lovely example of the Doctor using brains over brawn and turning the tools of the villians against themselves. Classic. And as I said, I didn’t see it coming, which is fantastic.
This episode saw yet another mention of Twitter. Is this the third now? I know some people don’t like Doctor Who to date itself that way, but the Doctor talking about Twitter always makes me smile—perhaps because it was Twitter that led me to my Doctor Who friends and podcasts (not to mention my spouse!). I have a lot to thank Twitter for when it comes to Doctor Who, so I will smile with glee each and every time it pops up on the show.
The one bit I didn’t like so much was the sequence with the motorbike. I know I mentioned this on the ep, but I forgot to say how squirmy the beginning of that scene made me. The TARDIS appears in plain sight, and then the Doctor and Clara beg for change for breakfast? That just struck me as tawdry.
On the bright side, Matt Smith was glorious in this story. I think his chemistry with Jenna Louise Coleman sparkles. The moment that made me blurt out the most laughter was when he mimed dancing at the coffee shop. I’m nigh cracking up just thinking of it. That kind of thing is so ridiculous I kinda want to hate it, but I *can’t* because he’s just. So. GOOD.
Before I sign off, I want to make a quick mention of fan service. As Lynne said, there’s oodles of it in this episode, and I have no complaints about that. Give me more! What I want to point out is that it didn’t present a problem for a total newb. My roommate Wendy is about as new to Who as you can get, and she loved “The Bells of Saint John.” She found it incredibly accessible, and I think that’s a great indicator of how deftly Steven Moffat sprinkled the fan service into the story. You never needed to understand any of the callbacks; they were simply a bonus for those in the know. (Though Deb did say they threw her out of the story a bit, so perhaps there’s a minor down-side, depending on how you watch the show.) I’m still firmly in the more-fanwank-please camp! I suspect this 50th anniversary year will be rife with the stuff, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
…Nearly as happy as I am about having new Doctor Who back on my screen every week! Hurrah!