It feels like it's been yonks since we've had New Doctor Who on our screens, but in reality it's only just over 3 months. But The Doctor is well and truly back now, and he's brought an awesome new companion in tow. Spoilers, of course, beyond the cut!
I'm actually surprised that Steven Moffat wrote such a tight story for once. Like, a thing happened, there was then another thing, an obstacle, confrontation, resolution, back in time for tea! Sure, it was relatively simple, but it worked as a reintroduction to Clara and, it feels like, a reintroduction to Doctor Who.
The simplicity allowed the three best things about The Bells of Saint John come to the fore - Matt, Jenna, and Colm McCarthy's brilliant direction.
There were so many sumptuous shots in this episode. The bay of Cumbria in the establishing moments of the episode, the tension created in the opening moments before the spoonhead attacked Clara, the gorgeous pans of London as The Doctor whizzed around on the bike (I bet the Beeb were pleased at how much they flaunted off the capital!), that clever pan to take The Doctor and Clara from outside the TARDIS, into it, and then back out into the plane. I hope there's more from Mr McCarthy in the future.
But the stars of the show were Matt and Jenna. The chemistry is just there already, the moment they're in dialogue with each other (and the actual 'bells of saint john' being the TARDIS' phone? lovely!) - the scene between them as Clara hangs out her bedroom window was so sweet, and so charming, it's hard not to just fall in love with The Doctor and Clara as a duo.
My only real gripe with the episode was the rather tragic underuse of the wonderful Celia Imrie. She did brilliantly with the little Ms. Kizlet was given, but I really wish there'd been a little more. As much as it was nice to have the chemistry of Matt and Jenna play out, the threat of the spoonheads was sort of just put on hold until it was promptly wrapped up. But! This is Steven Moffat, things can never be so simple! The Client is a familiar face, manipulating from beyond the shadows for a very long time...
Richard E Grant is back, and so is the Great Intelligence! I'm quite pleased that he's making a return as a mini-arc for this series, as it felt like he was underused as Simeon in The Snowmen. Is the Intelligence behind the mystery of Clara? We'll find out in 7 weeks, I guess...