Listen comes hot on the heels of the dreadful Robot of Sherwood, and a return to Steven Moffat writing the episode, meaning there’s high expectations for Peter Capaldi‘s Doctor to deliver the “darkness” he promised earlier in the series.
As the episode opens, he talks out loud to himself, whilst questioning many things, including – why do we talk out loud when we’re alone… or might there be someone or something there? At which point the blackboard he’s been writing on suddenly is clear of everything by his hand, and is left with “LISTEN”.
Meanwhile, Clara’s on a date with her soldier-turned-teacher-with-preened-beard Danny Pink. They were in a restaurant. I wonder if he leaves a tip?
Anyhoo, when the episode gets going and the main two are back together, he uses the TARDIS to extract the moment in Clara’s timeline when she had the nightmare dream everyone does, when you think there’s something under your bed, reaching out and grabbing the back of your foot. Misplace your drink? Your TV goes off by itself? Yes, it’s all that “things that go bump in the night” shit that’s going on, giving you the creeps. Except when you get older and you realise there’s nothing there at all, but that’s why Doctor Who has always been about scaring the bejesus out of children.
That said, when I was a kid, I wondered if I put my arms under the pillow – as you might do with one when you’re arranging yourself – what if something grabbed at you and dragged you to hell?
Creepyness kicks in when someone weird happens in the form of… a form rising up through the bedclothes of the room inhabited by the young Danny Pink, who was called Rupert at the time, as they’ve gone back to the mid-90s in Gloucester.
There’s a few humourous moments, such as the creepy bed character leaving the room with Rupert’s bedspread, to which he complains, and The Doctor replies, “The human race. You’re never happy, are you(?)”; and a bit later when Rupert asks for a bedtime story to help him get to sleep. The Doctor begins, “Once upon a time”, taps the boy’s forehead, non-violently knocking him out for the count, and adds, “The End”, adding “Dad skills”, when Clara looks confused.
Capaldi is on top form as usual, while Jenna Coleman, in a sleeveless dress, is at her most hot, while the episode also throws in the end of time, and an apparent future descendant of hers and Danny’s – Colonel Orson Pink (also played by Samuel Anderson).
It’s a shame we don’t get to see anything of the end of time other than a glimpse of the last dead planet in existence, and in terms of that, I got more out of the Futurama epsiode, The Late Philip J. Fry, where Fry, Professor Farnsworth and Bender all travelled in a forward time machine.
And when it comes to the big scares about “What’s out there”, for all we know, as that pressurised door unlocked and Capaldi’s eyes bulged out of their sockets, it was just the airlock effect then came through, rather than any creature banging on the door. After all, it’s not as if Moffat decided to write any plausible reason for that happening. Hence, I didn’t feel any scares or shocks at all while watching this (although, there might’ve been a rising in my pants with Jenna Coleman in that outfit – as you can see below, but that had nothing to do with Moffat)
That said, there’s a neat moment with Clara being under a boy’s bed towards the end of the episode.
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the 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.