Television: Doctor Who, "In the Forest of the Night"

Well, you don't give an episode a title like that and then not have a tiger show up, now do you?

Alas, the "burning bright" came from a solar flare.

We also had a bit of Red Riding Hood and the wolf (or wolves).

But really, if you look at the plot from start to finish, the Doctor made zero impact. You could argue at the outside that he facilitated getting the message out not to cut down or burn the trees, but . . . That's not much. And that makes the very large assumption that (a) defoliating the trees would have made them burn [which I guess is derived from the idea that without the leaves the trees' ability to control the oxygen would be corrupted], and (b) that the humans would be able to work fast enough on the trees that it would have caused the solar flare to actually harm the planet—and that seems pretty unlikely given the size of the job and the inefficiency of government workforces.

Sum total, then, is that the Doctor was pretty bloody useless this go-round. Oh, he helped figure out what was wrong with Maeve. But even if he hadn't? Same result.

Thing is, it was a nice idea. London covered over by trees is a fun place to play. Too bad the rest of the plot was so dull. In fact, at one point I was reminded of The Happening. You know, the M Night Shyamalan movie in which nothing does actually happen?

If you're wondering about the actual plot, well, that's about it: One morning everyone in the world wakes up to find everything overgrown with trees. And so while the world's cities and governments are trying to figure out what to do about that, there's also a coming solar flare that may destroy the world. And there's a little girl who just happens to go to Coal Hill who is somehow tuned into the trees, or rather, she's tuned into the beings that made the trees grow. Isn't that a handy coincidence? Not some little French girl, or even some girl up in Yorkshire. Nope. A girl right there on a school trip to London.

Then, as the government works to burn paths through the trees, they discover the trees don't burn. The Doctor deduces an amount of intelligence in the trees, and that they are using their carbon dioxide to snuff the fires. But it turns out the trees aren't the threat. It's the coming solar flare that everyone needs to worry about.

At this point any reasonably thoughtful viewer should be putting two and two together. Solar flare? Oh, but the trees don't burn.

Still, doesn't make for very exciting television. There's nothing to do but wait out the flare. Ho hum.

So, yeah, one good idea [the overgrown London thing] with not much to prop it up or sustain it or make it more interesting. This episode could have been so much better and so much more fun. It felt like a wasted opportunity.

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