Say hello to the most divisive episode of series 7 yet.
Bombast. If I could write all of these reviews in single-word and still receive the same amount of accomplishment and lovely reception afterwards, that would be the word I would use to describe the second episodic instalment in series 7's concluding eight, a Neil Cross penned 42 minutes titled The Rings of Akhaten. Why bombast? Aliens, and lots of 'em; but surprisingly more prominently, epic dramatic monologues are quite the stand-out in this episode, taking place towards the end of a script struggling to carry the weight of such heavy heaps of dialogue. The Rings of Akhaten, admittedly, is a flawed episode. There's not a whole lot wrong with it, but Cross' debut tale is somewhat thin when it comes to plot, and if anything was proven by my review of last year's A Town called Mercy, it's that an episode lacking in a quality plot can't quite be saved by fantastic production values, superb direction and inspiring acting. Funnily enough, Akhaten packs all three of these, it just doesn't have a solid, complex enough tale to back-up the inclusion of such heady assets.
Comparisons to A Town called Mercy most definitely won't inspire confidence in this episode, but fear not; Akhaten happens to be of a fairly superior quality to that particular flop, at least in most of the aspects that Mercy dropped the ball. Now, Akhaten doesn't necessarily drop the ball, but it incautiously clings onto a ball so abnormally thin that, no matter how much it offers the viewer in the form of high-quality production, writing and set design amongst other things, it leaves a lot to be desired by the time those ending credits roll, at least in terms of story.