Reviewed by Eddie McGuigan
Time Heist isn’t going to win any awards.
Time Heist isn’t going to be the season game changer. It’s not going to make people sit up and take notice. It’s not going to rock the nation. It’s the episode that will remind you that, after all the hype, we’re into the second act of series 8, and well into Capaldi’s tenure as the Doctor.
To put it in perspective. It’s Capaldi’s World War Three, perhaps more concerningly it’s his Rise of the Cybermen, or maybe worse, it’s his Flesh and Stone.
To be fair, it’s also his Revenge of the Cybermen, so, well… em. Nothing to be gained by comparisons.
In the parlance of music, this is very much a filler and absolutely not a killer. It’s an episode that is perfectly serviceable, with a very good cast and a very, very good director who uses filters and angles to disguise the lack of budget and plays with the Ocean’s 11 theme (or perhaps more fairly the BBC’s own Hustle theme) with some stylish slow mos and some funky Murray Gold music along with some “ah that’s how they did it!” flashbacks.
The story? Well it’s hard to explain with a load of embargoes on it, but roughly the Doctor, Clara and a couple of uber-humans seem to have agreed to rob the most secure bank in the universe, but don’t remember it, thanks to some memory worms (The Snowmen). So off they go, into the bowels of the beast, chased by a brain and guilt eating Teller under the instructions of Keeley Hawes Ms Foster-lite Miss Delphox, head of security, guided and aided by the mysterious Architect.
There are some decent twists (at least three I think) which makes it difficult to review without giving the whole thing away, and the cast all work admirably, with, I’m afraid the exception of Keeley Hawes who, whilst very good at the arch character she has to play, is wasted in some a pantomimic role, at least at the start.
The Doctor is a lot more relaxed here. We see him telling jokes, having a laugh and eating Chinese food. We also see him unmoved by the death of a friend, a la Tom Baker in Pyramids of Mars and also echoing Colin and Sylv, but he’s not particularly different or darker than any previous Doctor, it has to be said.
Stephen Thompson shares writing credits with Steven Moffat here, which is nice, and which absolutely stops this becoming the mess Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS became as the “heist” becomes more Timey wimey. Moff is a master at this.
Capaldi takes charge of this episode as a really good leading man. “Who puts you in charge!?” he’s asked. “The eyebrows, mostly”, he replies, and it’s fair to say the script bristles with witty lines for Capaldi and Coleman who are proving again a very, very competent team as their chemistry crackles.
This is a caper, no more or less, and a little samey to Into The Dalek in plot (get to here make this happen), but the stylish direction, fine perfomances, polished script and neat twists raise it above other mid season fairs. It’s no Caves of Androzani, that’s for sure, but it’s no Timelash either.