Silence in the Library
Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead
Forest of the Dead

Story No. 211 Corrupted
Production Code Series Four Episode Nine
Dates June 7 2008

With David Tennant, Catherine Tate
Written by Steven Moffat Directed by Euros Lyn
Executive Producers: Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner.

Synopsis: The Doctor and Professor River Song are hunted by the Vashta Nerada in the library. Meanwhile, Donna finds a husband and children.


A Review by Graham Pilato 24/1/10

There is a lot of interesting stuff happening here, with a possible future companion for the Doctor and a whole lot of neat stuff involving our understanding of existence based on connecting discrete moments of memory and calling them our "lives". Despite an overly saccharine and strange ending, this is still quite an episode.

A bit of a letdown from last week, as its central notion seems to be a mighty bit insane, that a superadvanced planetary library would have real paper pulp for all the books and that the monsters are explained by only that much information. But Donna's subplot here is moving and very well done. The strangely happy ending - strange considering these people are still alive; sort of, just preserved in a virtual prison for eternity - basically gives what should be a curse - what was a curse in The Five Doctors - as a gift to River Song and company. Strange, strange ending. I'd have been happier, much happier actually, had the Doctor failed to save her... 'Twould have made me care more. Any hero who always wins is not as much fun to watch as one who only wins part of the time. And Steven Moffat gave us the exact same ending, structurally, in The Doctor Dances.

Still, a very impressive and memorable story, this, muuuuch better over multiple parts than this season managed on the whole, generally.

The Doctor's name. The Doctor's name... What does it do to me to address the central (titular) mystery of the show? Always gets my full attention. The more interesting he gets, the better. Simply explain away his past, his nature, or even the Master's past and nature, or anyone who's a Time Lord, and I'm pissed. Perhaps the first rule in keeping my inner Whovian happy is to not give away all the answers. And this was perfect.

Here is where the point of the show kicks in a bit, being a prologue to the Moffat era that's coming. River Song and the philosophy of coming mysterious epic are clear harbingers. There's something unmissable here. You will be interested to know what comes of her story, what must be coming to do with this in future episodes, so let's just hold on for an entire year off. That's the thinking and I'm all right with it. This is a future coming with distinct hero development, personally. Perhaps that really is something we require a younger Doctor for, I don't know. A future companion has only happened once before on the TV series, back with Mel in the mid 80s. A complex choice for character origins, and one that was dropped from the main management of her storyline as soon as Andrew Cartmel came along and script edited her into a whole new universe void of continuity references, almost. We shall see what happens this time around. For now, I'm still quite excited.

Though, the last five minutes of this episode really bothered me too much rate this one so much, this is clearly the cream of the fourth season, along with Midnight. If you've been collecting the DVDs, my sakes, this set of three episodes is the one that's gonna get all the replays, this is the one to loan out to your friends, this is the one you can prepare to replace from getting worn out.

8/10 (9/10 for Silence in the Library and, I suppose, an 8.5/10 overall)