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.
|One of the highlights of the episode is the opening sequence, which digs a little deeper into Clara's past. Just don't expect too many revelations if you've not yet seen Rings.|
|Is it a planet or is it a sun? Lord only knows, but Akhaten and its inhabited meteoric rings are a sight to behold.|
The Rings of Akhaten is a good episode, but the slowly-paced, slightly dire second act and the forced conclusion don't exactly make it a well-balanced one. All in all, however, this is a very enjoyable story for the most part, even on repeat viewings. Neil Cross clearly put a fair bit of thought into the ideas that are implemented into Rings, but they're just not explored anywhere near enough to be truly fruitful. It's a case of too much of one thing and too little of the other, resulting in a wholly unbalanced experience that I struggled to form an opinion on after my first viewing; the most important, and for many, only viewing. My hopes for Cross' next episode, the alleged fright-fest Hide, have become cautiously balanced following my experiences with The Rings of Akhaten. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this review. As always, feel free to drop me a comment or share through whatever social network you're on, that sort of stuff is always appreciated! Until next time...