The Doctor’s psychic paper receives a distress call from a library so huge it takes up an entire planet. But when he and Donna arrive, the entire library is deserted – they’re the only two humanoids there. The Doctor expands the sensors to detect other life forms, and this time millions of millions are picked up – but none that the time travelers can see. Another expedition arrives to solve the mystery of the empty library, and this provides another puzzle for the Doctor when he discovers that Professor River Song, the expedition’s archaeologist, has apparently met him and knows him quite well – but she knows him in his own future, and can’t say any more than that. An automated node in the library warns the Doctor and Donna to count the shadows – and then warns them to run. When two members of the expedition die, consumed by the shadows, the Doctor realizes what they’re up against…but that realization comes too late to save Donna. Meanwhile, somewhere across the galaxy, someone else seems to know exactly what’s happening in the library…
written by Steven Moffat
directed by Euros Lyn
music by Murray Gold
Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Catherine Tate (Donna Noble), Alex Kingston (Professor River Song), Colin Salmon (Dr. Moon), Eve Newton (The Girl), Mark Dexter (Dad), Sarah Niles (Node 1), Joshua Dallas (Node 2), Jessika Williams (Anita), Steve Pemberton (Strackman Lux), Talulah Riley (Miss Evangelista), O-T Fagbenle (Other Dave), Harry Peacock (Proper Dave)
Notes: Alex Kingston is best known to American audiences for a stint on the long-running hospital drama ER, while Colin Salmon took over the role of Avon in a recent audio drama revival of the classic BBC science fiction series Blake’s 7.
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: Airing just a matter of days after it was learned that Hugo-winning writer Steven Moffat would be taking over from Russell T. Davies as the creative dynamo of Doctor Who, Silence In The Library may be a harbinger of things to come. Moffat, who also wrote the incredibly unnerving The Empty Child and Girl In The Fireplace, both of them Hugo winning episodes, and this year’s Hugo nominee Blink, is still on fine form with the first half of this two-part story, whose main adversary appears to be – quite simply – the dark.
Of course, that’s not all that’s going on in this episode. We’ve got the mystery of who exactly River Song is in relation to the Doctor, to say nothing of the seemingly incongruous B-story of a little girl in therapy on what seems to be modern-day Earth. What connection she has to the main storyline is left unresolved, but more than almost any other writer on new Who, I trust Moffat to make the connection logical, and probably more than a little bit disturbing.
Alex Kingston steals the show from just about everyone else here, mainly because the (slowly dwindling) guest cast winds up with a lot of screen time; the Doctor and Donna aren’t quite to the point where they’re incidental to the plot, but they don’t wind up with the lion’s share of screen time unless they’re interacting with River Song. The rest of the cast does a serviceable job, but I have to especially give kudos to the actress playing Miss Evangelista – to be quite frank, the character’s a stereotype, and not the most flattering one in the world, but she still manages to come across as sympathetic-going-on-tragic. The whole element of characters avoiding “spoilers” – and literally saying so out loud – is one of the biggest dents in the Doctor Who universe’s fourth wall since Torchwood started dosing people with retcon, but it’s a knowing wink that doesn’t break the show.
Now there’s just that pesky wait until part two…