Time Heist reviewed

Twelfth Doctor Time HeistAfter the impact of last week’s Listen we now have a more straightforward story of bank robbery and time travel with Time Heist. Written by two Stevens (Moffat and Thompson) this is the Ms Delphox episode and we get to find out (possibly) just who Keeley Hawes is playing. Will this episode steal our imagination the way last week’s did? We’ll find out!

The story

Time Heist was, in the end, the everyday story of an ageing megalomaniac, multi-gazillionaire who, when their ultimate bank was destroyed in a solar flare, saved her own skin, grabbed some riches and abandoned everyone to their deaths. This included her staff, any customers unlucky enough to be on her fortified planet, her various clones and the Teller. The Teller was a particular striking alien whose servitude she later came to regret, so, as you do, she arranged for the Doctor to set up a crack team to go back in time and save the Teller under the guise of robbing the bank.

The meant using memory worms to wipe their memory (the Teller is an über-teleptath) and the various skills of Psi (hacker) and Saibra (shape changer via DNA). They infiltrate the bank under the instruction of the mysterious Architect and make their way to the secret vault at the bank’s heart though in doing so two of their number will take their own lives to protect themselves from the Teller and its mind consuming powers. This when they have already (Philip K Dick style) had their own memories edited for protection (think Paycheck)!

As this is Doctor Who meets the BBC show Hustle (an everyday story of loveable do-good con men for any non-UK readers) all ends well and all was not as meets the eye.

The storytelling

Over on Starburst JR Southall covers more of the Hustle element of Time Heist in his review. While I agree with him that not every episode is designed to change our perspective on life, humanity or our own nature, I don’t agree that this episode is well executed.

The mysteries of the Architect and who arranged for the heist in the first place were all but obvious and the bank itself was painted with minimalist strokes – most of the time it was a generic building with coloured lights and no security that could be discerned. A few grills with ‘Do Not Enter’ were but a token effort at dressing the set. All of the set-up was done in the first few scenes and imagination left to make the rest happen. OK in audio, less convincing on screen.

I also didn’t like the lack of the TARDIS. The dodgy science of the solar storm affecting the TARDIS in its ability to land was ok for a few frames but then the hand-held point to point teleport devices rather spoiled it for me. If the Architect (Doctor) can sort out teleporters, why not the TARDIS?

Ms Delphox was also more straightforward than I had hoped and that teaches me not to look for too much complexity. There is no harm in having an episode for entertainment and it does give a welcome beat between more vital episodes.

I wanted to draw more analogy with Harry Potter robbing Gringotts, both of which start with shape changing but I couldn’t quite make it fit. No dragon!

The series arc

No arc but the whole telephone number / woman in shop was discussed explicitly. Now I may not be a Time Lord (as far as I remember) but I think that, by now, I might have popped down the shop to check on who this is. Maybe the Doctor’s mind is being manipulated but I am getting vexed at the lack of curiosity shown in this regard.

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