Review: Doctor Who – 3×2 – The Shakespeare Code

The Shakespeare Code

So I finally made my way through The Shakespeare Code after missing it on Saturday and then finding my PVR hadn’t bothered to record it (that’s Bastard the PVR for you).

Not bad, was it? Definitely in the upper echelons of new Who. But I’m struggling to find things to say about it other than the usual. You see it all felt a bit mechanical. I don’t why. I liked it. It wasn’t full of cringe-inducing awfulness. There were some very nice touches to it, and some good characterisation and dialogue for everyone involved. Some of the make-up was a bit rubbish and Freema had a few duff moments, I suppose, but that’s the upper limit of my severe criticisms of the piece. Not very severe, were they?

But there was nothing to lift it to the level of Girl in the Fireplace or The Impossible Planet. It was just good, not excellent. But for the life of me, I can’t work out what was wrong with it. Was it the hint of “Will be used in schools in future as course material” quality to it? Was it the way the baddies were stopped with just a not very good, Charmed-esque rhyme? Was it the ever so slightly wrong-looking Elizabethan backdrops? I don’t know.

How very very strange. Anyone got more of a clue than me?

Hmm, did I just open myself up to something there?




  • I don’t think there was anything wrong with it per se, but it didn’t have the emotional kick we’ve come to associate with Nu Who (and neither did Smith & Jones, if it comes to that). Both episodes come into the ‘fun, inconsequential romp’ camp, much like Tooth & Claw from the last series. I’m waiting for something a bit punchier ?��Ǩ���?Ǭ�we should get it with the next episode, I think.

  • It got better as it went on but I’d put it at the bottom of New Who I’m afraid… just didn’t have any spark.

  • espedair

    I think it was fun but brainless fun. The word weapon thing has been done before and better (see the Angel series for example)
    I thought it was a fine ep over all. I thought it was better than New Earth but not as good as Rose.
    I really think that Martha is a great new assistant though, and perhaps its just taking us time to get used to Rose not being there. Their relationship is still being formed.
    Hopefully we’ll see some bigger eps on the way which will settle this once and for all.

  • Maybe I just have a lower tolerance threshold but I found it absolutely delightful – I wouldn’t put it in the same category as Girl in the Fireplace, but it will take some doing to top that (Mr Moffat, are you there…?) so against a less demanding standard I thought it was lovely fun. And why shouldn’t fun be enough?
    Mind, am sure Anna would say I’m just blinded from six weeks of torches 😉
    BTW do you think the delay in watching Shakespeare (PVR) contributed to the feeling of being contented yet disappointed?

  • Mark H Wilkinson

    I enjoyed it, but less so than the first episode. Two things bugged me:

    1. This is the second time a writerly hero has been portrayed as a ‘genius’, a master of deductive thought, having the greatest brain of their generation, etc, yawn. It’d be nice for once if they did that for one of the genuinely big brains.
    2. I’m not comfortable with magic in Who, never have been. And this was borderline.
  • “BTW do you think the delay in watching Shakespeare (PVR)?��Ǩ��”
    Possibly. I was more impatient than hotly anticipating by that point.
    “Two things bugged me:”
    I agree on both counts.

  • Mark, agreed that writers tend to glorify writers – hello, Aaron Sorkin – but I think that we can probably count Shakespeare as a big brain relatively uncontroversially – that doesn’t mean that scientists (I’m assuming that’s who you mean) aren’t clever too.
    I liked it, thought it was a bit flat but then I have jetlag. At the moment I’m blaming any lack of spark on the Doctor being in a bad mood, post-Rose. The bed scene boded well for when he cheers up a bit.

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