Well… when you put too much fantastic into a science fiction show you may lose some fans. Especially when you lose contact with the big picture and make the current episode into a story for children, or a fable. Even if it’s a eco story, as this Forest of the night, with very clear references to the tales from the past, as Red Hood and the Hansel and Gretel’s lost trail through the wood when they left the house of the witch. Or the TARDIS, in the story of this episode.
But let’s start with the beginning: how would you react if you go to sleep in the town you’ve known all your life and you wake up in the middle of a forest, without leaving any moment your bed, house or town? A forest made of fire-proof bushes and trees, that means they do not catch fire, however some people tries to light them up. Clara, Danny and a group of children from the highschool they were teaching at spend their night at a museum (without any links to the movies with that title) and when they wake up they have a “little” surprise noticing the forest that appeared sudden, invading entire London. And all the Earth, the oceans too. And a lot of children invaded the TARDIS: first it was Maebh, that get separated the group and get to the TARDIS searching for the Doctor, and the rest of the group accompanied by Clara and Danny. It’s not the first time children get into the time machine (you must have remembered Courtney, some episodes ago), but it’s the first time they are trying everything out. Also, if in other episodes Doctor had to save the Earth because the aliens were invading the planet and its human population, this time the planet is invading the humans. It’s also a first. And, apparently, with a clear reason (at least for the author of the story): to protect the life on the planet by the solar radiations of a very powerful storm, that appears once a century or once a millenium and it puts in danger the life of all living creatures. The Doctor is not very sure which part is right: he says that’s it’s a storm that appear once a millenium, but he offers examples from the modern period of other similar solar storms.
The story is eco, fashionable. There are immediate dangers, the wolves and the tiger that escaped from the London zoo after the security was affected by the trees, and Clara and the Doctor had to be saved, and Maebh get lost in the forest in order to become later the troubled visionary of the fable. I don’t want to insist on the action, I don’t have any reasons to: it’s not very attractive. And the world is saved, again. The only thing to notice is the Doctor’s attitude against the planet Earth, very different from the episode Kill the Moon: in that episode he considered that the Earth was the planet of the humans and let them take the decisions about its and their future, now he considers it’s also his planet. And the only consolation is that the next episode seems to be much better than this one.
Director Sheree Folkson, writer Frank Cottrell Boyce, producer Paul Frift, executive producers Brian Minchin and Steven Moffat. Cast: Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald), Samuel Anderson (Danny Pink), Abigail Eames (Maebh Arden), Jaydon Harris-Wallace (Samson), Ashley Foster (Bradley), Harley Bird (Ruby), Michelle Gomez (Missy), Siwan Morris (Maebh’s Mum), Harry Dickman (George), James Weber Brown (Minister), Michelle Asante (Neighbour), Curtis Flowers (Emergency Service Officer), Jenny Hill (Herself), Kate Tydman (Paris Reporter), Nana Amoo-Gottfried (Accra Reporter), William Wright-Neblett (Little Boy), Eloise Barnes (Annabel).
Next time on Doctor Who series 8 is Dark Water, the eleventh episode and the first part of the finale, written by Steven Moffat: in the mysterious world of the Nethersphere, where Missy is, plans have been drawn up. And Missy is about to come face to face with the Doctor, and an impossible choice is looming. “Death is not an end” promises the sinister organisation known only as 3W – but, as the Doctor and Clara discover, you might wish it was.