Second Opinion – Season 9, Episode 11 “Heaven Sent”


Jerry: Welcome back to Second Opinion, our weekly look at the ninth season of Doctor Who. We are looking at episode 11, “Heaven Sent.” Now, the thought did cross my mind this week is that just one of us should do the write-up for this column alone. There’s not really a need for both of us to be here.

Brent: Ha, that’s great! That’s very true. OK, Jerry, I’ll talk to you later…

J: Um, that would be the wrong one of us left to discuss the show.

Doctor_Who_heaven_sent_2So, as we alluded to just now, this episode was just the Doctor in limbo talking to himself, with the occasional vision of Clara.

B: I have a question for you. Did it look to you like Clara was CGI’d? There were certain shots that appeared computer-generated, but then other shots where it looked like it was really a person.

J: I’m going to go with no. has given her credit for this episode. I’m going to assume that she was actually filmed for the episode.

B: Excellent!

What did you think of the one-hander? [Editor’s Note:One-Hander” is an entertainment industry term for a play or movie with just one performer. The Worst. Comic. Podcast. EVER! always promotes safe and responsible Google searches with a term like “one-hander”!]

J: It was interesting, but it didn’t hold my attention. In particular, when it got to the part where he was repeating the same actions over and over until he got the message or learned the lesson.

B: I thought it was a very noble experiment. I will say that I found it a lot easier to watch the first time because of the element of surprise. For example, when we started to realize that maybe all of those skulls at the bottom of the lake were actually the Doctor’s. Anyway, the second watch for me was a bit of a chore.

J: Definitely not the type of episode you would recommend for someone to watch for their very first Doctor Who experience.

B: Very true, very true. It’s a deep album cut.

J: I give them credit for giving this a try. It’s very hard for any any performance to be a true one-person performance. Watching this got me thinking of the movie Cast Away with Tom Hanks. He is alone on the island for two-thirds of the movie. But there was still a third of the movie involving other people.

So that gives us a challenge for this week’s discussion. We don’t have any other real performances to compare, contrast, or comment on. We just have the Doctor’s performance for this discussion.

B: I have to really give Capaldi credit for this show. The first viewing really held my attention, and I think that’s all due to his performance. He really really did a good job of carrying it, regardless of how it holds up on repeat viewings. I think he deserves to be considered for the British equivalent of an Emmy. Capaldi has really shown his chops throughout the season – his Doctor has come into focus, plus the big speech about war in “The Zygon Inversion”, plus this solo performance.

This particular episode was longer than some of the other ones have been. I watched the British feed, and there was a good 55 minutes of just Capaldi so I think he did a great job.

J: That brings up an interesting point that I’m sure a lot of people are not aware of. Many of the BBC programs that air on BBC America or on PBS get trimmed down significantly compared to what is shown in the United Kingdom. I know with Sherlock, PBS would get those down to under 90 minutes, but those episodes were closer to two hours. So there’s a good portion of those episodes we never got to see in America. That’s the case here with the Doctor Who episodes, that they they actually run longer than what we actually get to see via BBC America or SyFy.

B: Right, and I’ve also noticed that in addition to making a few trims here and there, BBC America will also slightly speed up the frame rate, which definitely alters the flow of the episode. When I watched this one off of the British feed on the Internet, with no commercial breaks and the playback rate, it really seemed to hold my attention more because it draws you in. You don’t get that release every so often with a commercial break, where you have to either fast forward or sit through a 2-3 minute break. It really held my attention a lot more with no interruptions because it really did feel like a one-man performance. But with the commercials inserted, it just didn’t flow as nicely. It breaks the narrative.

J: Which feed is used for the DVD collections or the Netflix viewing?

B: From what I’ve noticed, and I’m not 100% sure, but I think that they use the original BBC feed for the DVDs and for Netflix. Definitely a good thing to do is to pick up the DVDs and do a run through the season one more time. See everything you missed in America.

J: Hey, this is ‘Merica. We want it all!

B: I did think that the creature was particularly creepy, especially when it started killing the Doctor over and over again.

J: There are parts of the show where it almost felt like a Scooby Doo cartoon, being chased through the castle by the ghost. The creature did remind me of the Phantasm character from the animated Batman series of the 1990s.

B: Oh good call! Yeah that’s right.

J: It all goes back to comic books with me.

B: My main question in the whole episode, and I know it wouldn’t have been as dramatic…but he had a shovel that he found in the castle that he used to dig in the graveyard, right? That sure would have helped to break through that wall made of diamond. Take the shovel with him and maybe shave a billion years off of the time that he spent inside the confession dial, punching the diamond wall with his bare fists.

J: Or even just use the shovel against the ghost.

B: So were you expecting the big reveal on the other side of the diamond wall at the end of the episode?

J: No, I had no clue where they were going to go. Help me out with this one.

B: They have been threatening the return of Gallifrey for a long time, since the 50th anniversary episode when they hid it away in a pocket dimension. I thought it was really clever that he walks out and BOOM!, he’s on Gallifrey.

J: All right, any predictions for the season finale that airs tonight? Things you’re looking to see or things you hope you don’t see?

B: Well, the very last line of episode 11 was, “The Hybrid destined to conquer Gallifrey and stand in its ruins is me.” I wonder if that’s a double entendre. Perhaps he’s not really saying “me” in reference to himself, but means that it is Me, the hybrid that he created. She started out with the name of Ashildr in episode 5, then eventually chose the name Me after living hundreds of years, as seen in episode 6. I wonder if they’re going to bring Maisie Williams’ Me character into the finale. So maybe his line was just a play on words, and that it’s not really him.

On the other side, it could be him. The Eighth Doctor revealed at one point that he was half-human on his mother’s side. So the Doctor himself has been mentioned in the past to have been a hybrid, even though they kind of swept it under the rug later on. So they could drag that back out.

I’m just happy to see Gallifrey! They have used it very sparingly over the years. Having been thought to be destroyed in the Time War, then revealed to not have been destroyed but hidden in the pocket universe. So it’ll be good for some some good old fashioned Gallifrey fun.

J: OK, then we get a two week break before the Christmas episode. Brent, do you have any Doctor Who items on your Christmas wish list this year?

B: I actually have left it wide open. Anything that happens to materialize in my stocking, I’ll be happy with.

As always, my Christmas gift to you, each and every week, is a new episode of  That Time on Doctor Who!

J: All righty then, I will look for that under my Christmas tree.

Please come back next week for the season finale of Doctor Who and of Second Opinion. Enjoy the show tonight!

#ThatTimeOnDrWho is created mostly weekly by Brent Kincade for Word of the Nerd Online!

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  1. I’ve Got Issues – He Had Business Cards Printed | WORST. COMIC. PODCAST. EVER!

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