Each week the Blogtor Who team give their first thoughts on the latest episode of Doctor Who. Here’s what we thought of the NIkola Telsa’s Night of Terror.
So we don’t shock you with spoilers we’ve added a picture to protect those who need to see the episode first.
This week’s episode focuses on Nikola Tesla – a genius inventor and developer of AC current, power generators and much more. His story has faded into history to most outside the scientific & engineering communities but Doctor Who has brought back his story for a new generation.
This year the casting team have definitely excelled on the selection of guest stars as both Goran Višnjić and Robert Glenister were perfectly cast as Nikola Teslas and his former boss and mentor Thomas Edison. The two actors together with Whittaker provided the best scenes of the episode. The Doctor’s fangirl adoration of one of history’s greatest engineers hit just the right pitch as she and Tesla worked to defeat the alien attack. Definitely, shades of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors in Whittaker’s performance.
Due to large cast, the fam once again too a backseat. Ryan (Tosin Cole) and Graham (Bradley Walsh) provide a bit comic relief while Yaz was left as a spare part. Pun intended. And Anjli Mohindra (Sarah-Jane Adventures) seemed to delight in her role as the scorpion-like Queen of the Skithra.
While not a standout episode, it was a solid story for mid-season.
Almost all of the pieces are present in the magnificently titled Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror to be a true great. The notion of an alien race of magpies – building their reign of terror on technology stolen and scavenged from more advanced species – is overdue in Doctor Who. And it’s also a smartly framed parallel with the conflict between Tesla and Edison. The giant scorpion Skirath are an ambition monster well executed, and Anjli Mohindra’s sneering, self-satisfied queen is great fun. She’s matched by Goran Višnjić’s offbeat and sympathetic Tesla, and Robert Glenister’s pugnacious Edison (whom Metivier’s script smartly avoids making a total monster).
But after a few great weeks, Segun Akinola’s music seems quite sparse and empty. Combined with the sun drenched colour palette it saps the energy from scenes that should be tense and scary don’t quite get there.
The result is a solid episode that frustrates slightly with just how good it almost was.
We’re back this week with a significantly stronger episode than last week’s! Although I did enjoy ‘Orphan 55’, I’ve always been a particular fan of Doctor Who’s historical episodes, so I was far more intrigued to learn more about Nikola Tesla (and Thomas Edison) going into this episode. Speaking of whom, Goran Višnjić was the shining star of this episode, giving a fantastic performance as Tesla which I’m sure fans won’t forget in a hurry.
It was wonderful to watch him work alongside the Doctor as they bonded over their shared passion for inventing and making new discoveries. Whilst part of me is still a little sad she wasn’t returning to the Doctor Who universe as Rani Chandra, Anjli Mohindra was nevertheless fantastically maniacal as the Queen of the Skithra, accompanied by a chilling musical motif courtesy of Segun Akinola.
The only downside to these stellar performances was that the companions faded into the background somewhat, with the Doctor stepping in to sort things out before they had their chance to shine. Nevertheless, this was a brilliant historical with just the right balance of factual storytelling and compelling alien threat which kept me on the edge of my seat right until the end!
I do keep wishing the production team would have the guts to do a pure historical without an alien menace. Having said that that this probably wouldn’t have been the episode to do that with. After all Nikola Tesla’s electrical experiments lend themselves so well to a sci-fi story, not to mention his belief that he he had received signals from Mars.
Goran Visnjic does an amazing job portraying Tesla, his nuanced performance is the highlight of this episode. The moment he wonders what every one is doing going into the Tardis is hilariously understated and works perfectly. Like all good historical episodes I came away knowing more about the subject matter than I went in with. Tesla himself and his rivalry with Edison (Robert Glenister giving another good performance).
For most of the episode, the TARDIS team were in the background. Yaz got a bit of stuff to do with Tesla but beyond that I felt that the whole team, including the Doctor were very underused. The Doctor even felt out for the character in her confrontation with the alien queen. She handled the confrontation in a cruel manner and taunted the queen about her impending death. The Doctor kills ….. but should never be cruel about it. Overall the guest stars very well and it was an exciting episode.