By Will Barber – Taylor
Separated from the Doctor, Clara discovers a new menace from another dimension. But how do you hide when even the walls offer no protection? With people to save and the Doctor trapped, Clara comes up against an enemy that exists beyond human perception.
Flatline is rather like The Horns of Nimon. Both feature the companion in the role of The Doctor, they both feature rather bizarre villains and are ultimately a bit unsatisfying. Flatline, rather like the previous episode Listen, plays on the idea of something unknown coming out of the woodwork and attacking any unsuspecting victims.
This technique, though not used in Listen is something that began in Moffat’s 2007 story Blink and has been repeated throughout his era. While effective in Blink and in other stories, the real problem with the menace in Flatline is down to the effects. Now effects in Doctor Who are (at least relatively recently) pretty good.
The problem with Flatline is that, because of the concept of creatures coming out of walls and the floor to devour characters, is so CGI based it means that the effects let down the great idea. The scenes featuring The Doctor’s hand escaping from the TARDIS are fairly well produced but the sequences in which characters get either sucked in to the walls or floor aren’t. This distracts from the main thrust of the story because the story is so reliant on the effects used. If Flatline had been less effect based it might have been a better episode or indeed is the effects had been better then maybe the episode would have been.
Jenna Coleman gives a stand out performance as Clara. The character is finally coming in to her own under Capaldi’s Doctor it seems. She is loveable, quirky and manages to pull off a Doctor type role in a way that Capaldi’s Doctor could never be: the typical hero. Coleman manages to show anyone who would suggest that there can’t be a female Doctor that there can be. The role simply needs the right actor to make it come along.
Overall, Flatline is an interesting idea slightly hampered in execution by the effects used in the story though this doesn’t detract from the great performance by Jenna Coleman. It is unique, like the Horns of Nimon in the fact that it presents the faint possibility of what Doctor Who would be like if played by a female actress. Hopefully, if anything, Flatline can persuade those nay sayers that a women can be in control of the TARDIS.