Listen (Doctor Who)
|245 – "Listen"|
|Doctor Who episode|
Promotional image for the episode
|Directed by||Douglas Mackinnon|
|Written by||Steven Moffat|
|Script editor||David P Davis|
|Produced by||Peter Bennett|
|Executive producer(s)||Steven Moffat|
|Incidental music composer||Murray Gold|
|First broadcast||13 September 2014|
"Listen" is the fourth episode of the eighth series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who, first broadcast on BBC One on 13 September 2014. It was written by Steven Moffat and directed by Douglas Mackinnon.
In the episode, alien time traveller the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) attempts to track down a creature with the perfected ability to hide, while his companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) struggles with her relationship with her boyfriend Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson).
"Listen" was watched by 7.01 million viewers in the UK and received critical acclaim for its script, direction and performances.
Clara Oswald and Danny Pink, while on their first date, get into an argument on Danny's army career, and she leaves him not wishing to aggravate the situation. At her flat, she finds the Doctor, who wants her help to explore the idea of an entity with the perfect ability to hide, and how it may be tied to a childhood fear everyone has, including himself, of a hand grabbing them from under one's bed.
The Doctor instructs Clara on using the TARDIS' telepathic link to take her to her childhood, but her thoughts wander back to her date, and they end up at the children's home where Danny, then known as Rupert, grew up. Rupert is frightened by pranks pulled by the other children, but the Doctor suggests he use his fear to empower him, and Clara offers the idea of thinking himself as "Dan the Soldier Man" and to protect himself with his toy army soldiers. Rupert is comforted and falls back asleep, and the Doctor wipes his mind of their presence though their advice remains, leading to Rupert changing his name and joining the army.
In the present, Clara returns to apologise to Danny, but her familiarity with his past troubles him, and he leaves. She is beckoned back to the TARDIS by a space-suited figure, who the Doctor introduces as Orson Pink, one of Danny's distant descendants, who proves his identity through one of Danny's toy soldiers. The Doctor had found Orson, one of humanity's first time travel pilots, stranded in his ship at the far end of the universe while searching for the invisible entity. At the ship, the Doctor instructs Clara and Orson to wait in the TARDIS, believing the entity has survived to the end of time and wants to observe it. An air seal ruptures and the Doctor falls unconscious. Orson rescues him, and Clara uses the telepathic circuits to try to return home.
The TARDIS ends up in a barn, with a boy fitfully sleeping in the loft. Clara goes to investigate, but hides under the boy's bed when two adults enter, speaking of the child being unfit to be a Time Lord. She realises the boy is the Doctor. When the adults leave, the boy tries to leave the bed, but Clara grabs his ankle, recognising she created this fear in the Doctor. She repeats the same advice to the boy that the Doctor did for Rupert and sees the boy asleep. Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor has recovered, but Clara makes him promise not to learn where they are.
After dropping Orson off to his proper time, the Doctor returns Clara to her flat. She goes to Danny, and they mutually apologise for their behaviour before sharing a kiss. Meanwhile the Doctor, seemingly overcome by a revelation, is shown to be satisfied with his musings.
The reason for the War Doctor choosing an abandoned barn for his activation of 'The Moment' in 2013's "The Day of the Doctor" is revealed, as the barn is shown to be the Doctor's childhood home on Gallifrey.
The Twelfth Doctor, upon awaking in the TARDIS, mentions "Sontarans perverting the course of human history" to Orson Pink, repeating his first words as the Fourth Doctor in Robot (1974–75). The line itself is a nod to the Third Doctor serial The Time Warrior (1973–74). There are similar nods to previous stories within the dialogue. The Twelfth Doctor states there is nothing to hear, "not a click or a tick" – a Third Doctor line from Death to the Daleks (1974). The episode's final line, whispered by Clara to the young Doctor, is "Fear makes companions of us all" – a line originally spoken by the First Doctor in the third episode of the very first Doctor Who serial, An Unearthly Child (1963).
Steven Moffat discussed the episode in an interview, saying: "my impulse starting in that was just the idea, 'What does he do when he’s got nothing [to] do?' Because he’d throw himself off a building if he thought it’d be interesting on the way down ... he’s fascinated by anything. And here he’s with nothing to do, so he just goes out poking things with a stick until something bites it. And I think that’s quite interesting, isn't it? Sort of, there’s a thrill seeker aspect." In a Doctor Who Magazine interview, Moffat revealed that the episode originated with the decision, "I'm going to do a chamber piece, with no money, in the middle [of the eighth series], because I haven't done one in ages and I'd like to prove that I can actually write."
The read-through for the episode took place on 11 February 2014, with filming beginning on the 17th, and taking place at The Rest in Porthcawl. Filming continued at the Mimosa restaurant in Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay, on 24–25 February 2014. Filming also took place in Bute Park and Whitchurch, Cardiff. The actor portraying the child Doctor is left uncredited in the episode, but was later identified in Doctor Who Magazine as Michael Jones.
As part of the series 8 leaks, "Listen" was one of five scripts to leak online from a BBC Worldwide server in Miami. This was followed on 23 August 2014 by the leak of the episode itself – missing automated dialogue replacement and visual effects. The leak followed similar leaks of the preceding episodes "Deep Breath", "Into the Dalek", and "Robot of Sherwood", and the following episode "Time Heist".
Broadcast and reception
Overnight, the episode garnered 4.81 million viewers in the UK – a live audience share of 23.5%. Adjusted for non-live viewings, the episode was watched by a total of 7.01 million viewers, which led Doctor Who Magazine to tweet, nine days after broadcast, that in the UK, "Doctor Who: Listen was the seventh most watched TV show of the week, behind only Bake Off, Χ Factor (×2) & Corrie (×3).". In the United States, the original broadcast earned a total of 1.13 million viewers.
|The A.V. Club||A|
|New York Magazine|||
|The Daily Telegraph|||
"Listen" received critical acclaim from critics, with many praising Moffat's script, Mackinnon's direction, and the performances of Capaldi, Coleman and Anderson. The episode achieved an Appreciation Index of 82 out of a possible 100.
Labeling the episode as "possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date", Neela Debnath of The Independent praised Coleman's performance, stating that "Clara was back on the top of her game". They called it "the most powerful episode of Doctor Who from Moffat to date ... a moving piece of drama as well as a terrifying piece of Saturday night television". Digital Spy praised the episode, awarding it a perfect 5 out of 5 and summing it up as "smart, scary [and] superb". They praised Moffat's script and the development of Clara's character, and closed their review by stating, "Intelligent, romantic and just scary enough, 'Listen' is either a moody tale of the supernatural or it's a clever reflection on the mind's own ability to fool and govern itself, but either way it's brilliant". Radio Times labelled the episode as "the most conceptual episode in the entire history of Doctor Who", and stated, "You're blowing our minds, Moffat". Writing for The Guardian, Dan Martin called the episode "phenomenally good", and suggested its script was one of Moffat's best ever.
The A.V. Club awarded the episode an "A" grade, calling it "the best episode in years" and saying that "[they] might run out of superlatives for this one". They stated that "it is the best story Steven Moffat has written for the show since "The Eleventh Hour", and [that they] might be willing to go still further back than that in search of an episode of his that outdoes tonight's entry". They praised the analysis and development of the Doctor's character, and closed their review, saying, "'Listen' is just about the most honest exploration of the Doctor we've seen in 51 years. That it does all this without judgment, but rather with love and understanding, is what makes it special. It's what makes it Doctor Who." Daily Mirror awarded the episode a 4 out of 5, stating, "Doctor Who should be about tapping into your fears, making you hide behind the cushion on the sofa. And 'Listen' delivers this in spades."
Mac Rogers of Slate praised "Listen" as "the best Doctor Who episode in years", arguing that it "proves that, deployed cleverly enough, Doctor Who can do anything." Similarly, writer Paul Cornell praised the episode's interrogation of the Doctor's character and inversion of series clichés, suggesting that it "might be the best Doctor Who story ever."
In 2015 the episode was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award, becoming the first Doctor Who episode to be nominated for the award. "Listen" was also nominated for the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form).
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- Pyke, Chris (13 September 2014). "Doctor Who Listen review: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and now Samuel Anderson on top form". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
- "Doctor Who, Listen, review: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode". The Independent.
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- "2015 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. 4 April 2015. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
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