The Doctor tries to impress upon Clara the mind-opening possibilities of travels in space and time by taking her to the festival held on an inhabited planetoid within the rings of the planet Akhaten. The ceremony, held once every thousand years, involves the selection of a “Queen of Years” to sing a song to appease the mythological Old God. But when the young Queen, befriended by Clara, is whisked away before the eyes of the assembled crowd to become a living sacrifice, the Doctor and Clara intervene, and discover that the Old God may not be as much of a myth as they thought. The planet Akhaten is alive, and demands a sacrifice of stories – and even the tales from the lives of a Time Lord aren’t enough to sate its appetite.
written by Neil Cross
directed by Farren Blackburn
music by Murray Gold
Crouch End Festival Chorus conducted by David Temple
Cast: Matt Smith (The Doctor), Jenna-Louise Coleman (Clara), Michael Dixon (Dave), Nicola Sian (Ellie), Emilia Jones (Merry), Chris Anderson (The Chorister), Aidan Cook (The Mummy), Karl Greenwood (Dor’een)
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: Sharing some similarities with The End Of The World and The Beast Below, The Rings Of Akhaten is an adventure designed to see how the new companion copes with being dropped into the deep end of adventures on other worlds with other species. As it turns out, Clara fares better than most, taking it all in her stride. As with Amy in The Beast Below, Clara’s empathy with a young girl gets her in trouble with the locals, and she’s in over her head before she knows it as a result.
It’s refreshing to see Doctor Who go all-out in depicting strange alien world populated by a variety of aliens; eight years into its run, the new series simply does not get us away from Earth often enough. The role of the setting and background characters here, however, is substantially the same as in The Beast Below. In both cases, the new companion is the key to solving the situation at hand, though there’s something especially touching about Clara’s resolution to the problem, surrendering a prized possession and two lifetimes of memories – the memories that were and the memories that could have been – to save everyone involved.
The early scenes of the Doctor all but stalking Clara’s future parents, and then young Clara herself, are a little bit creepy, but also indicative of how the Doctor is being driven to distraction trying to unravel Clara’s mystery. There’s also something interesting about the basis on which Clara thinks she’s signing on to the TARDIS team: she expects to be brought home in time to resume her daily life, completely oblivious at first to the idea that she could have many travels and – in theory – return the moment she left. Clara’s only up for time travel on nights and weekends. There’s something charmingly naive about that idea.