Flatline finds the Doctor and Clara having to step out of a TARDIS which has made the blue box about 50% of its original size. With Clara wanting to get back to her classroom, and them both stuck in Bristol for no apparent reason, thus 120 miles from where they need to be, the Doctor insists: “Could you not just let me enjoy this moment of *not* knowing something? It happens so rarely.”
While he looks into that, literally, Clara’s come across missing people… sort-of. People are disappearing and ending up inside murals. Meanwhile, the TARDIS has shrunk to a tiny size. This time the Doctor can’t get out, so he passes the sonic screwdriver to Clara for her to look for answers, along with local graffiti artist and community service time-server Rigsy (Joivan Wade). As the Doctor comments: “Something nearby is leeching all the external dimensions.”
It’s deduced that the baddies are in the walls, and there’s certainly something seeping out and capturing people but who, and why? Either way, after Clara and Rigsy get in on the act, the next one to be taken is a PC Forrest. Good job Greater Manchester Police aren’t involved, but if they were, they’d be away from it all, stuck back at the station, eating donuts and sitting on their fat arses.
(I’m here all week, tip your waitress)
Anyhoo, who’s next for a quick death? Out of the group of community service workers, Stan’s just been taken and George is next up. Then there’s Al (Matt Bardock, only bumped off in Casualty two weeks ago, and now suffering a similar fate here). They’re all being picked off one by one after they communicate in a strange language which the TARDIS translates into numbers… which translates into the jacket numbers of Fenton’s (Auf Wiedersehen Pet‘s Christopher Fairbank) crew.
Along the away, the Doctor creates a device called the “Twodis” to de-flatten everything (“We’re *not* calling it the de-flattenator!”) – although, alternatively, it could’ve been called a “re-bigulator” but I guess that was copyright of Professor Frink; there’s a hilarious, yet ridiculous moment as the Doctor manages to shuffle the TARDIS off a train track despite still being inside, hence channelling Thing from The Addams Family; there’s some inventive CGI as flattened bodies come back into 3D, rather like Dawn of the Dead meets shapeshifters meets Resident Evil; the Doctor observes in his most darkest hour that the TARDIS goes into “Siege mode”, meaning there’s no way in and no way out; and Clara saves the day by putting into practice: “Rule number one of being the Doctor – use your enemy’s power against them”.
Flatline was such a better episode than most recent ones. There was a lot of Clara (thankfully, after rather a lack of her in the dire Mummy On The Orient Express), Peter Capaldi had a hissy fit at the baddies he called “The Boneless” and there was a train driver who looked like Iain Duncan Smith, but with a crap moustache.
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on this episode.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.