This is an attempt at being a spoiler-free review. I can’t promise this will be maintained!
With any new Doctor, there is a turn around the already well-documented ‘regeneration cycle’;
The outgoing Doctor announces his retirement, and a million teenagers cry out in anguish (Sci-fi was REALLY different in my day). The new Doctor then gets announced and that then gets replied with scores of comments about them being too old, too young, etc.
Then the episodes air. We watch them and aren’t sure. Until one particular episode where the new Doctor finally comes into his own and shakes off his predecessor. This, ladies and gentlemen, is that episode.
Doctor Who has always been great at picking up at the little things that set off our imaginations – Statues that move when we don’t look (Blink) and shadows that move on their own (Forests of the Dead). Both written by current showrunner, Steven Moffatt. The most recent episode, Listen, also written by Moffatt, has a similar premise. – Why do we talk to ourselves when we know we’re alone?
After last week’s episode (Robots of Sherwood), where The Doctor threatened to punch Robin Hood in the face, I’ve been steadily warming up to Peter Capaldi’s Doctor and his child-friendly Malcolm Tuckerisms that work so well to bring this curmudgeonly, grumpy Doctor out from the shadows of Matt Smith and bring him firmly into his own. His delightfully clueless and oblivious comments that he makes to Clara about taking her makeup off (she hadn’t) just serve to make him more interesting.
Back onto this week’s episode. The central idea is one of the things that always set us off as kids – The thing under the bed. The image that moves just out of the corner of your eye. What if this was something that was real?
For me, this episode was more of a character showcase, separating the Doctor and Clara so that we can see them in action as they operate on their own, and it works. Clara is in my opinion, a well-rounded and believable character, which has been helped by the current arrangement between her and the Doctor of her life going on as he drops in and out on her world and whisking her off, like that crazy friend that always gets you in trouble. Their dynamic has now shifted more from the borderline romantic to a more paternal one, as well as another glimpse of one of the many times that Clara has saved The Doctor, this time when he was a boy! Her words to him showing that The Doctor is not only afraid of the dark, but it is this fear that motivates him through his life and makes him the man he is.
Finally, the third member of this episode, Danny Pink. Still not a lot is told about him other than what we already know and I find him to still be a bit of a caricature rather than a three-dimensional character, but hopefully that will be remedied as this season develops.
One thing is for sure though as the credits to Listen roll. The Doctor is definitely in.