I get that it’s hard to follow an amazing episode like “Listen,” but “Time Heist” ultimately felt hollow and uninteresting. In opposition to other episodes of Doctor Who which seem to get better on subsequent viewings, I actually enjoyed “Time Heist” less the second time around. It’s the sort of writing that doesn’t look good under any actual scrutiny, as the plot holes are vast and the supporting character archetypes are so generic that there’s essentially zero emotional investment.
The story revolves around the Doctor and Clara being forced to rob a bank, in a sort of crappy Whovian Oceans 11. There is an interesting alien, pictured above, which has the ability to feed on thoughts and help law enforcement figure out who is planning to commit crimes. It never feels particularly scary, though, as you never for a second think anyone important is in any kind of danger. This is where the crappy supporting characterization hurts the episode in a big way, as people who aren’t particularly well written getting picked off is never going to matter to me as a viewer.
Peter Capaldi is strong in this episode, and finally seems to be settling into the role. I wasn’t sold on him for the first three episodes, but he has at least climbed his way up to being a middle-of-the-pack Doctor for me. By this time in Matt Smith’s run, I was convinced that he was one of the greats, while Capaldi is actually occupying territory along the lines of David Tennant. Some good points, yes, but not particularly inspiring. He has moments of greatness but others where he could be more dynamic.
“Time Heist” basically fails in the same way that “Robot of Sherwood” did, but not nearly as spectacularly. It’s nice that the writers are trying to do something new to Doctor Who here, but “Time Heist” is pretty much forgettable and bland. The plot is uninteresting, the characters are crap, and the visual style is really the only area of the story where it stands out in any way. Unfortunately, this is probably the least important Clara has been in any of the episodes of the series so far, so she doesn’t even get a chance to save things as usual. A bit of a letdown.
Final Grade: C-