Doctor Who: In the Forest of the Night (EPISODE REVIEW)

How strange. It feels as if series 8 has just begun, and yet in a few days we’ll see the penultimate episode air, and hopefully it’ll shatter our puny unworthy minds. But for now we’re left with a quiet episode, the calm before the storm if you will. And while it is a magical, fun, and beautiful experience, it doesn’t give itself enough credit, and commits the cardinal sin of revolving it’s story entirely around a child’s whimsy.

Let’s start things by mentioning that I rather enjoyed this episode. For the most part I felt I could leave my brain by the door and enjoy the pretty colors and animals that flitted across the screen. As a fan of Doctor Who and also a reviewer I prefer to watch the episode once, just to enjoy, and then watch it again to write down notes so as to review later. On second watch I found that most of the magical properties inherent in my first viewing were almost nonexistent, as the rewatch value was particularly low… But I did notice a different type of magic that struck me dumb. The direction.

Sheree Folkson is Doctor Who’s eighth ever female director. 810 episodes, and only eight female directors? The seventh female director actually filmed the series 8 two parter that starts next week, but she filmed her episodes before Sheree, so technically that puts her at eight. Regardless, the direction was spectacular. This is one of the few times I can remember in Doctor Who where the majority of the episode was filmed with handheld cameras. The shot in the TARDIS where Peter walks almost the full length of the railing was excellent. What a fantastic set!

In regards to the episode as a whole, I’ve unfortunately not much to say. There’s not much to it. Neither the Doctor nor the companion did anything to effect the outcome of the story. Just kinda lived it. The flaws are apparent. It ends up coming back around to centering the story around the young child Maebh. How did the absence of her sister cause her to begin hearing/sensing these previously unknown alien entities? Why would the world believe a child that said it was going to be alright? Speaking of the world, the average animal to human ratio was startling – why were there only about 20 people in London? But then that atrocious ending scene where Maebh’s sister comes sparkling out of a bush… Why must we be subjected to that? And I always assumed Coal Hill was a secondary school, not a primary? Those kids were like 10.

What this episode did drive home for me is that Danny is still one of my favorite characters. He’s a gentleman, he’s good with kids, and he puts up with Clara’s lying… AND he can outsmart a tiger. I wonder when, or even if, he’ll ever join the TARDIS crew. And why is he so very lax about Clara traveling around and doing these extremely dangerous activities? Is he connected to Missy? Is Maebh connected to Missy? She does say “Miss” told her about the solar flare. So many questions. And I’m sure in the next episode we’ll get some answers.

What are your thoughts on In the Forest of the Night? Did you kinda wish Maebh would slap herself when she was running nonsensically through the forest? Should science fiction writers be required to pass basic earth science classes in school prior to writing Doctor Who scripts? Could you do a better job? Let me know.

17 thoughts on “Doctor Who: In the Forest of the Night (EPISODE REVIEW)

  1. The most disappointing episode of the season – like “Kill the Moon” in terms of nonsense-science but without any of the cool character development for out leads. For me the kicker was that the trees didn’t burn because they removed the oxygen. Does that mean they weren’t destroyed at the end because they removed the oxygen on a global scale? That would seem to bring a whole other set of problems, don’t you think?

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  2. A totally “blah” episode for me, made worse for the fact that I watched it 2 days after it aired and had heard nothing but sparkling praise for it (the first 30 minutes of it, at least). It struck me as a relic from the Matt Smith era, a “Rings of Akhaten”-type saccharine-sweet fairy story aimed at the less-discriminating 9-year-old.

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  3. To me, this was the worst modern DW episode ever. Yes, worse than “Love and Monsters” – at least that one had a brilliant first half that was dragged down and beaten to death by an appalling second half. Nothing in this episode was enjoyable at all – the science was awful, the plot was schizophrenic, the characters were terrible, and the bits that were supposed to be emotional draws – the discussions about the kids’ problems, Clara telling the Doctor to go, Maebh giving her speech – just felt forced. About 1/3 of the way through, I turned to my husband and said, “This is terrible,” and he said, “I was so afraid that I thought it was bad because I had a bad attitude coming into it. I’m so glad to hear you say that.”

    This almost put us off watching the rest of the season (well, that and the trailer implying that everything’s going to revolve around Clara *yet again*), but, well, it’s really only a sacrifice of two hours to finish it up. It’s sad that that’s the reason why we’re going to finish this season.

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    1. I’ve rather enjoyed the season as a whole and I’ve heard only good things thus far about the finale. Although I dont think this is as bad as Akhaten or Feat Her, its definitely been a weak spot despite its excellent direction. Again. Capaldi. For me he’s selling the show.

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  4. This episode was a nice romp in the woods but, comparatively speaking this was a rather ho-hum whatever episode until…..Missy appears at the end bringing new questions to the table.

    Oh, and the teaser for next week which is actually tomorrow night brought a new awakening to the picture….Will Clara lock down the TARDIS preventing the Doctor from re-entering the TARDIS? However if, there isn’t, and never was a Clara who might actually be orchestrating a {Missy?) lock down?

    Is it possible Clara is actually an alter-ego of Missy?????

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  5. Hi, the children were in Year 8 which makes them 12-13 but I think they looked about my age (9). I would give this episode 5.9 out of 10 as there wasn’t enough adventure in it for me 🙂

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  6. For me this was the first time while watching that I said out loud to the missus “what a load of a old crap” Like you I don’t have much else to say about it, in fact the less said about it the better. Just as once in a while we have a gem of a story (Into the Dalek and Flatline being in that category for me) we also have the odd real stinker which in this case makes the duff robin hood story seem to be not as bad as all that.

    I agree with your “calm before the storm” idea. Lets put the fans off guard before we hit them with the hopefully an exciting and engaging finale.

    This I expect will be the first one that is completely forgotten after a few years a bit like “Edge of Destruction” from the classic era although that wasn’t a bad story.

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  7. I didn’t like the episode that much, but I’m looking forward to the finale. I think it may surprise me in some aspects and that’s what I’ve been missing a bit from Doctor Who lately.

    On a sidenote, I don’t think Maebh has anything to do with Missy. All the children of Coal Hill call Clara “Miss”. And she said that she went to find the Doctor, because she heard it from Clara’s thoughts.

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  8. I agree with you for the most part on this one
    I too am willing to accept that trees pop up out of nowhere, but they just disappear? Wouldn’t it have been better if they burned up in the flare? Left some ash? Cracked the pavement where their roots were?

    I’m getting tired of the Doctor not remembering names and faces, though. I don’t think it’s him being distant or alien, I think it’s just a poor attempt at him being distant and alien, with a poor attempt at humour.

    The resolution to the problem was fairly obvious to spot once we learn of a solar flare set to burn the planet, which has been instantly overrun by trees that don’t burn.

    I hadn’t even given any thought to the fact that the world believed a child that everything would be okay, but thinking back, yeah, that’s a bit of a stretch. The Doctor couldn’t call UNIT or the PM or the Queen or something, and then let the child speak? At least having him introduce the solution would have given it a bit of credibility. Of course, he went from saying a few weeks ago he “couldn’t make decisions about the Earth” to “the Earth is my planet too”.

    I guess the only thing I didn’t really agree with you on was Danny. He was okay this episode when he was being a teacher, but the scenes he had with Clara just didn’t feel right. And it was nice of her to send the Doctor off so the children could die in a solar flare because they’d miss their parents if they lived…

    I’ve found this season to be very frustrating and uneven. Wasn’t this supposed to be the “darkest” season? I haven’t really seen a lot of that. Fingers crossed that the finale does something.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Like you said, I kept wondering about the lack of people. It ended up being to much for me, how do they let these glaring plot holes go? I’ve gotten more lax about mistakes like this in the show, I watch it to be entertained after all but… ugh. I felt like my intelligence was being insulted. Really??

    And then her sister appears in that bush. Geez

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that I think about it… with this being a British show… and the sister appearing in the bush at the end…

      There’s a joke in there somewhere about a bird in the bush being worth two on hand… or something… all the pieces are there.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I didn’t hate it… but I didn’t love it either.

    Trees growing overnight is one thing… but disappearing in minutes? That was harder to swallow… and that people would just go back to acting like nothing happened… and as you noted, where was everyone else in London?

    This felt like the definition of a filler story. I think it was shot well, so I think that means we had a good director… just a shame there wasn’t more of a story in there to shoot.

    Liked by 1 person

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