‘Doctor Who’ Series 8, Episode 5: “Time Heist” Reaction

Picture shows: Peter Capaldi as The Doctor

While there are no genres I completely dislike, there are two genres in particular that I enjoy less than others. One is romantic comedy, the other is the heist genre. As I mentioned, there are exceptions (the Ocean’s films, Kubrick’s The Killing, Inception), but I’m usually bored out of my mind with heist scenarios. 

I wasn’t bored out of my mind with this episode, but I was bored by the heist itself. Even when the heist turned out not to be a “heist,” I still had to sit there all that time through all the boring heist stuff leading up to that reveal.

One of my problems with the heist genre is that the material produced is often too clever or too cool for its own good. “Time Heist” was no exception to that. Camp and sleek don’t usually go together. The attempt to do so in this episode created a rather disjointed aesthetic, sometimes reminding me of a sort of second-rate Fifth Element. The slick style they employed took away a lot of the charm this series usually exudes.

Stylistically there was some cool stuff here though. I like the way they lit this episode and “The Teller” creature was interesting, as was the main villain to some extent. The memory-wipe concept was intriguing as well but not quite enough to keep the narrative afloat. I also like the answering of the phone in the phone box propelling us directly into the main narrative as a device.

People I know who like television more than I do don’t seem to mind stand-alone episodes the way I do. I think that’s part of what separates true television people from film snobs like me who watch some television shows, however passionately I feel about those handful of shows. I don’t so much mind stand-alone episodes on shows I love because when I’m invested in something its always because I’m there for the characters. Problems arise for me, however, when there’s no character development in the episode. I don’t feel like “Time Heist” advanced the season or the series at all, but its never a total loss with Who because you get to spend time with The Doctor, one of the best characters in television history.

To be clear, I don’t expect every episode to be the same or up to my exact specifications, and I certainly appreciate the show runners attempting to do stuff outside of the usual formula, but that doesn’t mean I think it works every time.

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