From the beginning of the first new season I have always loved the episodes written by Steven Moffat, from ‘The Empty Child’/’The Doctor Dances’ over ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’ and the brilliant ‘Blink’ to this double episode. I am looking forward to see what he will bring to the series as show runner.
Like the other stories (when they were written) this story stands a bit by itself in the Doctor Who time line.
We find The Doctor and Donna arriving (in the 51th century) at a planet full of books. In essence it is a library of all known books, known just as The Library. Something is very wrong, since the library seems completely empty. Well, there are the books, but no people at all, just a cryptic computerized warning message ‘Count the Shadows !’ .
Another party arrives, with among others, a certain professor River Song who appears to have a past with The Doctor, in his future. It turns out she even knows the name of The Doctor, something unheard of in the series until now, of course not counting The Doctor posing as John Smith, clearly an alias.
The “monster” of this story is the invisible, but very deadly Vashta Nerada, residing in the shadows and being a kind of “piranhas of darkness”.
In the story we learn enough to know why the Vashta Nerada act like they do, and of course The Doctor, aided by professor Song saves the vast majority of the people trapped on the planet.
The Little girl, living an imaginary life, does raise the questions of “what is reality” when Doctor Moon tells her that the life she thinks of as her own is not real .
For me the story has the best of the elements creating a good Who adventure, a good “monster”, a mystery or two, some good characters accompanying the Doctor, etc.
This was my first choice in the category for the Hugo Awards 2009. ‘Dr Horrible’ won that one, and that is fine.
‘Spoilers !!’ (River Song)
9/10 on the Lurker’s scale