I broadly liked Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror and found it a big step-up from Orphan 55 in terms of being coherent and polished if nothing else. Most of the faults (apart from generic aliens) I have with it are systemic of the current TARDIS crew rather than particular to this story. I’ll explain…
Nikola Tesla’s Night of Horror
Nina Metivier (the writer) took viewers to an interesting time with Tesla (a wonderful performance from Goran Visnjic) failing to find success, unlike the more commercially minded Thomas Edison (an equally sound Robert Glenister).
The plot made some kind of sense (aliens want help, threaten a lot and get beating by trickery) and we even had some TARDIS action and console conjuration [note to self – stop the awful alliterations].
It all looks good as well from the CGI to the sets and costumes. Tesla’s main lab impressed and it felt like a continuation of the flavour of Spyfall Part 2 with regards Ada Lovelace.
In terms of this episode, the only real weakness was the Skithra – lots of posturing, decent CGI but a bit bland. I wanted something made of the aliens who go round stealing tech vs the Doctor stealing the TARDIS.
Overall though decent, fun and I’d happily see another story by Nina.
One niggle about consistency – why did the Doctor not use her mind-wipe power on Tesla and Edison? Poor script editing or might we see more of them? Why were Lovelace et al. deprived of their memories? Trust?
Tesla and Edison
The two inventors were both white and male. This counters those who have made too much protest out of the perceived rebalancing of stories just to be (in their view) politically correct. The world isn’t perfect, history is very uneven and there’s plenty of scope for more stories with important women in history who also tick the science box. Marie Curie can’t be far off? (And she was in Timeless a wonderful show also starring Goran Visnjic). Timeless showed how to do this and did it very well.
There’s controversy on some forums (if you look for it) about a failure to berate Tesla for his views on eugenics. I don’t know the details, I don’t like the tendency to witch-hunt and I’m not supporting any position regards the topic. The story did very much idolise Tesla and could have been more tempered. By comparison Edison started off as greedy capitalist but actually made some good points and did care about things other than money.
Two characters long overdue a moment in the show’s spotlight. Well done one and all!
I mentioned systemic problems. Every review I’m saying similar things about the Doctor and the companions. I also really wish we had longer stories allowing form character and not just chase / talk / chase / talk / battle / ending. Let the characters breathe!
For me the companion group isn’t working. No interest, no story. Graham was allowed two jokes this week and has been really downplayed compared to last series when he was the strongest character in the TARDIS.
Ryan needs something to do, some challenge.
Yaz I thought was getting dissatisfied, had a bit more to do but none of it was essential.
It would be really simple to airbrush all three out of the story with little if any difference to events.
I think we need an Adric moment or at least someone to take a break or go off with the Master. Anything.
Just who is the Thirteenth Doctor? I though Jodie was being allowed to develop a more measured and darker character. She lacks eccentricity and comes over too gushy and excited but never alien.
We need a bit flip-flip episode where we see some inner dialogue exposed.
What is her motive at the moment?
Maybe it’s inconsistent direction but I still feel we’ve not seen Jodie at her best. If pushed I’d also make similar points about Smith and Capaldi, though to lesser extents over their whole runs.
There we have it. A solid story, not 5* but decent.