Forest of the Dead
|195b – "Forest of the Dead"|
|Doctor Who episode|
Donna discovers that Miss Evangelista was corrupted when she was uploaded to the data core.
|Script editor||Helen Raynor|
|Executive producer(s)||Russell T Davies
|Incidental music composer||Murray Gold|
|Length||2nd of 2-part story, 45 minutes|
|Originally broadcast||7 June 2008|
"Forest of the Dead" is the ninth episode of the fourth series of British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was first broadcast by BBC One on 7 June 2008. It is the second of a two-part story, following "Silence in the Library".
The episode opens with young girl who seems to control the library watching Donna on her TV screen. Donna meets with Dr. Moon, who tells her she is making good progress. He reveals to her that she is married and has children, but she is shaken when Dr. Moon suddenly disappears and the Doctor appears in his place. Dr. Moon reappears and convinces Donna to forget the Doctor. Back in the library, The Doctor, River Song, Strackman Lux, and the remainder of their team flee the Vashta Nerada. The team takes refuge in a room with a small amount of light, and the Doctor and River begin to argue over who she really is. The Doctor demands that she explain how she knows him and how she's come to have one of his sonic screwdrivers. River, realising that she must earn the Doctor's trust, whispers into his ear. A visibly shaken Doctor tells her that they are good, and the Doctor begins investigating a strange signal he has detected in the room. The Doctor tracks the signal to the moon overhead, which Lux explains is also a giant computer that acts as a virus checker for the planet. While adjusting his sonic screwdriver, the Doctor momentarily causes an image of Donna to appear but it quickly disappears. Before they can learn more, Anita tells them that she has two shadows, and the Vashta Nerada enter the room in Proper Dave's spacesuit.
Back in Donna's life, she spends time with her husband and kids before receiving a message to meet a mysterious woman at the playground. The woman reveals herself to be Miss Evangelista. In the library, the Doctor convinces the Vashta Nerada in the spacesuit to talk with him. They tell him that the library was once their forest, and that they arrived in the books that were printed with its paper. The Vashta Nerada attempt to kill the Doctor but he escapes and regroups with River. Donna and Miss Evangelista talk, and she reveals her deformed face. Her brain pattern was saved by the library computer, but her body became distorted. She shows Donna that she's living in a simulation and that her world is not real. The Doctor, River, and Lux reach the data core of the library and Lux reveals his secret. The Library's main computer is actually the mind of a little girl in his family who died. She was hard wired in so that she could live forever with all the books in the universe to help her pass the time. The Doctor deduces that the girl saved all the library patrons by using the teleport pads to store their data patterns on her hard drive. The strain of so many living minds overwhelms the girl, and the Doctor and River concoct a plan to plug him into the mainframe to repair it. The Doctor also finds that the Vashta Nerada have killed Anita, and he makes them a deal to give him one day to save everyone and the library will be theirs forever. They agree, and he and River prepare to repair the data core when River knocks him unconscious.
The Doctor awakens handcuffed to a pole. River is finishing the wiring to connect herself to the data core. The Doctor protests, but River demands that he let her do it since he must live to meet her in the future. The process begins, and the humans who have been stored in the computer begin materialising in the library. After they are saved, a heartbroken Doctor reunites with Donna. They leave River's diary and sonic screwdriver in the library for safekeeping, and prepare to leave when the Doctor suddenly runs back. He realises that the future Doctor had time to try and save River, and finds her pattern stored in her screwdriver. He rushes to the data core and plugs River in, allowing her to live on in the library's memory banks.
The episode ends with the snapping his fingers to open the TARDIS doors, something he told River earlier wasn't possible. He snaps them again and the doors close. River is shown reading excerpts from her diary to the children in the library's computer.
According to Steven Moffat, the squareness gun used by Professor River Song to help the party escape from the impending Vashta Nerada at the beginning of the episode is intended to be the same sonic blaster that was used by Jack Harkness in the episode "The Doctor Dances". Moffat suggests that it was left in the TARDIS after "The Parting of the Ways", and taken by River Song in the Doctor's future. The name "squareness gun" was coined by Rose Tyler in the earlier episode.
The Doctor is able to open the TARDIS by snapping his fingers from the end of this episode, after his future use of this technique is mentioned by River Song. He is next seen to do so in "The Eleventh Hour" and "Day of the Moon", and makes a thwarted attempt to do so in " The Doctor's Wife."
River mentions that the last time she saw the Doctor, he took her to see the singing towers of Darillium. This is implied to be happening during the events of "Last Night".
"Forest of the Dead" was initially announced under the title "River's Run", before its name was changed relatively late in production. Josh and Ella, Donna's two children in the computer-generated world, were named after Steven Moffat's son and his son's friend.
For the role of River Song, whom producer Russell T Davies describes as "sort of the Doctor's wife", the production sought to cast Kate Winslet. One of Winslet's first acting roles was in the BBC teen drama Dark Season, written by Davies. The role of River Song eventually went to Alex Kingston, about whom Davies said, "I bloody love her!"
The role of Strackman Lux went to Steve Pemberton, who is best known for his work as a member of The League of Gentlemen. Pemberton's fellow League member Mark Gatiss wrote the Doctor Who episodes "The Unquiet Dead", "The Idiot's Lantern" and "Victory of the Daleks", and appeared in the episodes "The Lazarus Experiment" and "The Wedding of River Song". He also appeared in Blackpool with David Tennant.
Several scenes from this episode and "Silence in the Library" were filmed at Swansea's Brangwyn Hall. These include the library reception area where the TARDIS arrives, and the staircase where the Doctor and Donna look out over the empty library. The climactic scenes of the episode (in the library core) were filmed in an electrical substation of a disused Alcoa factory in Waunarlwydd, Swansea. Other scenes were filmed at the Old Swansea Central Library
Scenes set with CAL's Databanks were filmed at Dyffryn Gardens, St Nicholas.
Forest of the Dead was watched by 7.84 million viewers, giving it a 40% audience share; the highest in Series Four and the highest in its timeslot. The episode received an Appreciation Index score of 89 (considered "Excellent"), one of the highest figures the new series had received to date, alongside "The Parting of the Ways", "Doomsday" and the preceding episode "Silence in the Library".
See also 
- "Steven Moffat Takes Charge". BBC. Retrieved 2008-04-04.
- River Runs Deep. Doctor Who Confidential. 2008-06-07–2008-06-07. BBC. BBC3.
- "The Stars are Coming Out". Radio Times (BBC) (5–11 April 2008): pp 14–24. April 2008.
- "Dr Who takes on Forest Of The Dead". CBBC Newsround. 2008-04-04. Retrieved 2008-04-04.
- "River Runs Deep". Doctor Who Confidential. Series 4. Episode 9. 2008-06-07. BBC. BBC Three.
- Davies, Russell T; Benjamin Cook (2008-09-17). "The Next Doctor". The Times (London). Retrieved 2008-09-17.
- "Podcast commentary for Forest of the Dead". BBC. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
- "Walesarts, Old Swansea Central Library". BBC. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
- "Walesarts, Dyffryn Gardens, St Nicholas". BBC. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
- "Weekly Viewing Summary w/e 08/06/2008". BARB. 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2008-06-18.
- "Forest of the Dead - Overnight Ratings". Outpost Gallifrey. 2008-06-08.
- "Forest of the Dead - AI and Digital Ratings". Outpost Gallifrey. 2008-06-09. Archived from the original on 6 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
- Kelly, Mark. "2009 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form". The Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards. Locus. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Tenth Doctor|
- Forest of the Dead on TARDIS Data Core, an external wiki
- "Forest of the Dead" at the BBC Doctor Who homepage
- "Silence in the Library" / "Forest of the Dead" at Doctor Who: A Brief History Of Time (Travel)