- When I saw the preview for this week’s episode at the end of last week’s, my first thought was whether the promotion of diversity this series was going a bit overboard. My second thought was, “Can we honestly say the world doesn’t need a reminder like this right now?”
- I can’t recall seeing a shot like that before where the camera moves through the scene to the spot where the TARDIS materialises – certainly not in the Russell T Davies era, at least. We also don’t tend to get people around the Doctor reacting with eagerness when s/he namedrops famous people, as with Graham here when he clearly wants to give Elvis a ring.
- The depiction of 1950s American segregation here is really disturbing. There’s a constant sense of danger, but it’s not coming from any aliens this time round, just from ordinary human beings. It’s certainly a painful culture shock for 21st-century boy Ryan.
- The whole concept of this episode is a good one: taking a critical point in history and bringing the butterfly effect into play, threatening to derail it with small changes – no aliens trying to take over the world or anything like that. It’s almost like the historical adventures of the William Hartnell era; indeed, one adventure from those days, ‘The Time Meddler’, utilised a similar idea, with the antagonist trying to help Harold Godwinson win the Battle of Hastings. We get to learn a lot about Rosa Parks (played excellently by Vinette Robinson) and I like all the investigating and planning that the TARDIS team have to do, as well as the initiative they have to take in countering the villain’s responses. It’s not flawless, though: some of the education feels forced, and the episode drags a little in the middle.
- It’s good how Graham, Ryan and Yasmin all get involved in the hard work this episode, with an even division of labour – definitely an improvement from last week.
- I would have liked the villain Krasko to have some motivation beyond “evil racist white man who wants blacks to be put in their place”. And he doesn’t even get any proper comeuppance, unless he returns later in the series, which seems likely given how open-ended his fate is. He also manages to work awfully quickly once the Doctor and co start spoiling his plans, like getting those notices about the bus cancellations printed and distributing them appropriately.
- So with all this emphasis on how tiny changes can alter the course of history, is there no risk that Elias Griffin Jr making an unplanned trip to Las Vegas and meeting Frank Sinatra will change anything? Or maybe the Doctor’s playing the Time Lord card and just knows that it’s okay.
Although the execution wasn’t flawless, this was still a strong episode which recreates and utilises real-life history in an effective and relevant way. As TV Tropes says, Some Anvils Need To Be Dropped. Rating: 4/5.