Doctor Who: The Power Of Three spoiler-free review

Review Simon Brew 17 Sep 2012 - 08:09

Doctor Who series 7 episode 4: here’s our spoiler-free look at the penultimate Doctor Who before it takes a bit of a break…

7.4 The Power Of Three

Well, this is a very, very pleasant surprise. When the first five episodes of Doctor Who series 7 were finally confirmed, The Power Of Three was the one that, perhaps, flew under people’s radar the most. After all, there were Daleks, dinosaurs, Angels of the weeping variety and a western hogging the limelight. But overlook The Power Of Three at your peril: it’s a really, really good episode of Doctor Who.

In tone and feel, it’s got the sprightly buzz of a Russell T Davies-era episode, one set towards the back end of one of his series. It feels like it’s building to something throughout, but there’s a real zip to make the adventure itself work.

It’s perhaps less of the standalone movie-style story that we’ve had this series so far, and once upon a time you can’t help but wonder if this may have been a two parter in days of old. But as a single 45 minute blast of fun, it’s one of the highlights of the series, albeit one that has to gallop to its ending a little too quickly as a result of its running time. One element of The Power Of Three’s narrative is built up, and there feels like there’s not sufficient time to finish it off.

Still, The Power Of Three deserves to be cut slack for that, given just how well the rest of it all comes together.

More accessible, arguably, than some Who episodes of late, The Power Of Three does a couple of things really well. Firstly, and perhaps best of all, it allows us to spend some quality time with the Doctor, Amy and Rory together, at one stage all under one roof. On the surface, it’s funny to see, and it’s a reminder that we rarely get the three of them having a spare moment for a chat. But there’s also a deepening going on here. Amy and Rory have lives away from the Doctor, and The Power Of Three does dig into that a little.

Then there’s the science fiction bit, involving a lot of cubes. You’ve probably seen the cubes in the trailer and in pictures thus far, but we’re still going to stay on the safe side of spoiler-free and let you discover them for yourself. Just to say that they’re a good idea, very well used.

We get a return for Mark Williams as Rory’s dad here as well, and he cements his place as our new hero. Seemingly effortlessly funny, he’s excellent again in The Power Of Three, in an episode where his role is far more than comic relief.

To heighten the stakes, the toolkit of old is effectively employed. BBC newsreaders doing talking heads, a genuine sense of a global problem, lots of concerned faces, that sort of thing. There are a few surprises too, and writer Chris Chibnall (who also penned Dinosaurs On A Spaceship in this series run) weaves in some moments for long-time fans of the show. It’s a really satisfying all-round episode, in spite of its few problems.

The Power Of Three feels, for the most part, like a much lighter episode of Who, and on the whole, that’s what it is. It’s extremely good fun, funny, and has at its core a central idea that’s used really very well. Vintage Who? Maybe not, but even if The Power Of Three isn’t the best run of the series to date, it might just be the most enjoyable. A real treat. The teaser for the week after isn't bad, either...

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