Saturday's return of Doctor Who in many ways felt like the Christmas special all over again. Not just because of the bitter winter weather outside making this the coldest Easter on record, but because we once again saw the Doctor encounter enigmatic new companion Clara Oswald.
Asylum of the Daleks and The Snowmen make us already well familiar with Jenna-Louise Coleman, but each time she has appeared as someone slightly different meaning that we still don't know who Clara really is. The Bells of Saint John was a fairly enjoyable romp in ultra-cool modern London with an innovative technological terror in an evil Wi-Fi that harvests people's souls.
"Something's in the Wi-Fi"
Similar to statues with The Weeping Angels and shadows with the Vashta Nerada, here we get something as mundane as the internet turned into a dangerous monster that will hopefully teach kids (and adults) not to steal the neighbour's Wi-Fi!
The opening where a man talks to camera about the dangers of this mysterious alien internet connection is the typical sleight of hand from writer Steven Moffat, making us think he's informing the viewer via webcam until it is revealed he is in fact dead, his soul uploaded into the data stream along with thousands of others across the planet.
Clara, now serving as a childminder in present-day London, finds herself the victim of this new technological threat. Through the mysterious "woman at the shop," she is given the number of the Tardis, mistakenly calling the Doctor and thinking that he's IT support. But it's too late for the Doctor, and soon the sinister Spoonheads have uploaded her consciousness into cyber-hell.
It's a great Black Mirror-style critique of the dangers of our reliance on modern technology, and is fitting to be shown in the wake of the recently reported biggest internet attack in history. Tackling such a subject shows how Doctor Who has always managed to adapt and embrace change in order to still feel fresh after all these years.
Half-Century of Who
The first episode in Doctor Who's 50th anniversary year, it was fitting that The Bells of Saint John explored this relationship between old and new. We've seen Clare twice before, as future cyber-hacker cum Dalek, and a Victorian nanny from yesteryear. The Doctor as well goes from living in a 13th century abbey at the start of the episode to driving a hover-bike up the Shard, with the imposing glass skyscraper making its debut appearance on the show as a new symbol of modern London.
In much the same way that the recent James Bond outing Skyfall showcased how 007 can be reverent and cutting-edge at the same time, the new episode of Doctor Who ("I never realised how much I enjoy hearing that said out loud") highlighted how through both embracing the past and driving into the future the show has managed to stay so entertaining after 50 years.
Unfortunately the initial scary premise peters out into a disappointingly confused finale in which the Doctor comes up with an inexplicably quick solution to stop the global threat.
Here its through using the camouflage against the office workers, uploading the venomous Miss Kislet into the system before proceeding to release all souls that have been trapped so far. Richard E Grant's return as the Great Intelligence was rushed, leaving us with no idea how, or why, they had set-up this evil Wi-Fi network in the first place.
Intro episodes, often too busy establishing the situation to fully develop the drama, are normally the weakest ones of Doctor Who. Having Clare reintroduced to us for the third time is whilst a novel idea, getting rather fatigued.
We still have no idea who she really is, other than she's always wanted to travel, and by the episode's end she hasn't even agreed to journey in the Tardis! The overrunning arc of these eight episodes will be the question, 'Who is Clara Oswald?" That question has been asked three times now - let's start to get some answers.