EPISODE PREVIEW: Time Heist [spoiler~free]

Time Heist
by Stephen Thompson 

Starring Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman

Airs Sept 20

Preview by Cameron K McEwan

Doctor Who has an interesting history with stories containing the word "time". If I were being lazy I would trot up Time-Flight, Timelash and Time and the Rani as examples of poor Who but let's not forget there are some top class "Time" tales, such as The Time Warrior, The Time of Angels and Closing Time. Thankfully, the latest ep, Time Heist, very much falls into the latter category.

Also, if I was being lazy (which, you guessed it, I'm about to be), I would say that the story is an Ocean's 11 romp in the style of BBC show Hustle. But that's being rather simplistic and reductive.

Before you've even had time to draw breath, the pre-credits sequence launches us all into a fascinating mystery (including The Doctor and Clara). With a welcome return of "nu" Who alien, the Gallifreyan finds himself in a room with his pal and two strangers - "augmented" gamer Psi and the shape-shifter, Saibra. Steven Moffat promised one of the best pre-titles, and he was not wrong.

This gang discover quickly that they've been brought together by the unseen character, The Architect. And each of them have special skills that will get them their loot - whatever that may be - from the Bank of Karabraxos. But this is no ordinary bank and there's a monster patrolling its corridors that makes sure no thief gets in or out, as detecting guilt is its speciality.

The monster in question, The Teller, is fantastically realised. In fact, I would say this is one of the best creations from Doctor Who in a very long time. Its look is suitably otherly but its actions really propel it into another realm of monstery. And that's before we get to... Ah, spoilers.

It may well be a monster creeping around corridors, but its damn effective!

And the cast aren't too shabby either. Jonathan Bailey, playing Psi, and Pippa Bennett-Warner (Saibra) are fantastic additions to Doctor Who. They're a hugely enjoyable couple (not in that sense) and are immediately engaging. You'll be sorry that the pair can't join Team TARDIS for more adventures.

Sadly, and this is one of the only down points of the story, Keeley Hawes, familiar to millions in Ashes to Ashes and the phenomenal Line of Duty, isn't quite up to the high standard of her fellow actors. Her performance as Ms Delphox, like Ben Miller a couple of weeks ago in Robot of Sherwood, is a tad one note and a bit too arch for me.

Likewise, the script does have the odd poorly worded moment (personally, I'm not a fan of The Doctor "hating" things or using the phrase "shut up") and the surprises may not be quite as surprising as they're meant to be. But these are small points in comparison with the rest of, what is, a terrific episode and the denouement is a cracker; the resolution is very worthy of The Doctor.

Director Douglas Mackinnon is back again after last week's poetry in Listen, and a more different feel and style you'd be hard pushed to find. He handles the action and the CG with fun but is also a supreme talent at portraying those dark and eerie moments with The Teller.

Finally, and without wanting to dredge up a negative and be unkind, given that Thompson's pedigree were the slightly duff episodes The Curse of the Black Spot and Journey to the Center of the TARDIS (and I'm being nice by calling them "slightly duff"), this is a surprising and most welcome turn from the writer. He's done a spot on job here.

Time Heist is a lovely bit of fun and a neat reminder that The Doctor is a good man, with a plan and wants to do the right thing. Even if he doesn't know it.

 Oh, and look out for a rather shocking reference to The Thick of It...

Time Heist airs Sept 20 at 7.30pm on BBC One

Thanks to the BBC

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