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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Interesting preview - looking forward to it. Perhaps this episode will keep the Chibnall naysayers quiet for a while.

You mean when the reviewer is is patently trying to big up the episode whilst feeling unable to stop themselves peppering it with caveats?

Expect it to be like DoaS which can be enjoyed as a fast paced romp with a neat central idea (so long as you don't think too hard) that fails to live up to its potential as there are gaps in the storyline big enough for a T-Rex to waddle through.

I'm intrigued as to how this compares to other invasion episodes DW has done. Inevitably a worldwide invasion that is resolved (presumably) over 45 mins has to limit itself to some degree and just tell a particular throughline of what is occurring but still, it already feels too similar to other DW episodes of its kind.

I know it's easy to hate on the Chibs and I do it a fair bit, but he does typify a lot of the problems fans who like a more challenging Doctor have with the show (not that I'm pretending I speak for everyone!) and you can be pretty certain what you'll get with him.

So far, the Ponds swansong seems to be more style over substance as a lot of the episodes have felt like fluff. Yes, even last Saturday's 'Dark' episode. I'm starting to think that perhaps the Moff has been somewhat distracted this series.

Nope. It's an episode with problems, but that doesn't mean I didn't really enjoy it. Much better than DoaS IMO.

No - I mean it was an interesting preview.

Now that you mention it there are many episodes where a sinister MacGuffin disguises itself as something which the humans readily accept as an everyday item so it can cause mayhem from the shadows. Bad Wolf (Game shows), School Reunion (School dinners), The Idiot's Lantern (TV), Army Of Ghosts (Ghosts), Blink (Statues), The Sound Of The Drums (Politician), Partners In Crime (Diet pills), The Fires Of Pompeii (Volcano), The Poison Sky (Sat-Navs), Vampires Of Venice (Prep School), The Lodger (Next door neighbour) and even, to some extent, Victory Of The Daleks all used this trope.

I really don't think that a volcano has a place on that list - mayhem is to be expected from one of those!

The people of Pompeii accepted the rumblings from the ground as the anger of the gods - to them it was a part of their every day life - the volcano had never erupted in living history so as far as they were concerned it was not as dangerous as we now view volcanoes. They never even knew the mountain was a volcano - in fact the word 'volcano' had not been invented yet - to them it was just the mountain and the displeasure of the gods.

A moment for long term fans...and we know UNIT is back...a relative of the Brigadier perhaps?

Just curious - if the displeasure of the Roman pantheon of gods (who have some serious tendencies towards mass murder) get's thrown in the 'not dangerous' pile, what WOULD you count as bothersome? Because if I was a pantheistic Roman, I suspect I'd choose 'active volcano' over 'pantheon of murderous psychopathic deities getting so angry that you can hear them about to burst out of the f****** mountain'.

Re-read my post - I never said 'not dangerous'. We can have dangerous things which we accept as part of every day life. Thousands of people live by active volcanoes today - and the volcano is every day thing to them.

And then re-read my other post - The Romans did not have a word for volcano because they had never seen one erupt before so for them there was no choice as you suggest - they were a very superstitious people, it was embedded in their culture, and the judgement of the gods was a part of that lifestyle - and a rumbling mountain was an example of that.

the character name is Kate STEWART after all...

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