The episode that aired last night was incredibly unique, there were certain aspects about it that we know very well; running away from monsters the Doctor saving lots of people, that kind of thing. However, the Doctor has certainly never robbed a bank before. There are lots of episodes of Doctor Who that are variations on a theme…Time Heist was not one of them. There has never been a heist episode before, this instalment was an Oceans Eleven style heist movie blended with the usual time and space travel.
Each episode so far has had its own unique sense of style with a distinct atmosphere and tone created by a almost mechanical cooperation of elements such as lighting, directing and writing. There are certain TV shows and Films where you witness them for the first time and enjoy it for what it is without looking at it with a technical eye and can then go back and watch it again coming from more of an analytical perspective. You can see how the lighting effects the mood and how the soundtrack adds to the tone, with Doctor Who, more so this series than those previous you have both styles of viewing experience in your first viewing. Over these past few weeks when I have been viewing each episode as they are released I have been viewing it as I would usually view good sci-fi, getting lost in the story and the alien worlds, although there is something else; I can also see how they are achieving the effect. Every so often I notice the change in lighting creating a moody or light tone and I think there is a very good reason for this, Doctor Who has become so aware of what it is and so capable at refining the craft of creating this kind of episode that even to the most untrained eye it is an obvious technical masterpiece.
Once again time travel was used to mind bending effect, in my opinion there were too many times in series 3 and 4 where the Doctor would travel to an alien world and there would be no mention of time travel. He may have used time travel to get to a location such as a certain period of time on an alien world or a futuristic scenario in the universe’s future, however that would be its only mention. It would not feature in the storyline any further than it’s use as a device to get to a sci-fi setting. Series 8 is a different story, every episode so far has had a heavy use of time travel in the plot of the episode, not just as a way to get to a dangerous location. This episode was no exception, not only was time travel used to get to the futuristic mega-bank but as a key part of the plot. Without revealing anything, there is a brilliant revelation towards the end of the episode that is very wibbly wobbly timey-wimey.
The monster was a fantastic addition, though it looks rather low budget from the neck up initially, once The Teller has been on screen fully for more than a few minutes, you are fascinated and need to know more. The Teller is a very physically imposing presence, he is huge with the energy of something that could snap at any moment. However, though he is physically threatening the monster’s way of killing is purely mental. He uses telepathy to read and destroy people’s minds, the way The Teller’s eye stalks bend towards each other, transmitting a deadly signal towards someone’s brain is one of the oddest things I have seen on TV outside of Twin Peaks.