By Will Barber – Taylor
When ghosts of past and future crowd into their lives, the Doctor and Clara are thrown into an adventure that takes them to the very end of the universe. What happens when the Doctor is alone? And what scares the grand old man of Time and Space? Listen!
Listen is like a bad joke. A very bad joke. Steven Moffat, the author of Coupling the sitcom does like his jokes and his “hidden out of sight” enemies. In fact, you can almost see Steven at his desk thinking up a new idea for an episode and getting stuck. He sits and ponders what he could write for his new episode. Suddenly he stumbles upon an old episode of Coupling and his script for Blink. Moffat sits and looks at them and suddenly has a brilliant idea, why not merge the two scripts!
This is essentially what Listen is, it is an attempt to get back the originality of Blink and merge it with some bizarre Coupling style scenes. The problem is this makes the episode jarring because no central theme runs through the episode. The scenes are disjointed and not connected.
Comparing the scenes featuring Danny and Clara to the scenes featuring The Doctor and Clara, they don’t even seem to be part of the same series, never mind the same episode. Not only the tone but the dialogue seem in no way connected, they feel like two strands of cloth chucked together in a basin. The cloths get tangled together and appear to be one piece but on closer inspection they have nothing to do with one another. After re-treading time and time again the whole “something you can’t remember, but it is there at the back of your mind etc…” plotline Moffat has surely come to the absolute rock bottom. The fact that he had to mash it up further with a Coupling style story makes it even sadder. Steven Moffat is a good, nay great writer but it seems that he is running out of ideas. This continuous repetition is getting boring and Moffat needs to up his game to make the episodes he pens as good as possible. Of course, being head show runner of two of the BBC’s biggest exports isn’t an easy task and it is easy to understand that it is simpler to redo an old idea when you don’t have as much time on your hands. The problem is, however, if you are going with this mentality then you are going to end up losing viewers.
Both Peter Capaldi and Samuel Anderson give great performances considering the lack of content they are given. Capaldi once again owns the part of The Doctor; he strides around the TARDIS with such ease that you would never know that this is his first year in control, more like his second or third. He fits the part of The Doctor exactly and makes it his own more than any of the other recent Doctors have managed in their first few episodes.
Samuel Anderson manages to juggle his two parts in the story brilliantly, and it is great to see more of his acting ability. He makes both Orson and Danny Pink quite unique characters even though in both cases he is given very little to do. Hopefully, we’ll see more of him in future episodes.
Listen was a pretty bad piece of television. After the great fun that was Robot of Sherwood, we end up with a pretty boring story that has been done so many times before it seems to have become a new form of torture. Listen’s main problem was a rather done to death idea mixed with a bland bit of Coupling type padding to produce an abomination that even Victor Von Frankenstein would not consider reanimating. And that’s what Listen is, a reanimated corpse of a tired idea.