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

Story No. 210 Hello, sweetie!
Production Code Series Four Episode Eight
Dates May 31 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 Donna arrive in the 51st century at a planet-sized book repository simply called "The Library".


A Review by Graham Pilato 18/12/09

After saying that this was mostly terrific stuff... I will insist on some minor niggles.

This was mostly terrific stuff.

And now, Mr. Moffat, a list.

Ghosting devices, meaning they are smart radio transceivers, liable to keep the voice for a time, full of identity and fading, ties to sleepy afternoons in the local dream factory of a stack of books, but infinitely high, a planet wide, a place repeatedly returned to in Doctor Who fiction, actually, a series of ideas that ties the current Doctor and companion to future Doctor and companion, a series of ideas that ties a natural fear of the dark to an unnatural spectre of lethal shadows, a series of nonsense that ties horrifying images to sweet seemingly innocent children watching TV... watching Doctor Who.

That's what happens to one when one watches Silence in the Library and tries to recall what it was about and what happened in it. It's a marvel of a connected tissue of very strong and intriguing ideas, but it's also so very limited by its author's own egocentric need to keep up his pattern with last time, with every time he's written for the series thus far, now finally admitting that he's playing a game of not killing anybody. See more about that in my review of part II, Forest of the Dead, but this is still a place of consequences, a place of impressive ideas, but unimpressive conclusions for said ideas.

Satisfy us with a Doctor who loves books that aren't just Harry Potter and other 00s classics. What's new is old, Steven (and what's old is new...) Your place of genius created lovingly visually and in so many great notions here, this silent library, is at its absolute best with its nodes and "Donna Noble has been saved", with the faces of "donors" preserved upon them. That was inspired, horrifying, disquieting, and very, very memorable. Your accomplishment here is still great, but after a shock, almost, we can see it's still just a string of connected ideas. Give us something personal, something interesting that's close to home, that's quirkier and stranger than just the ideas, something to connect all of this better than just another idea (that idea here being River Song's identity) -- a bit like you did with the young female protagonist in each of your other Doctor Who TV stories thus far -- and then we'd have something much better. A 10, for words suited to the Rankers and Raters of fandom. T'would be another wonder.

As it is, I'm actually disappointed by this 9/10 episode, even as it's so much better than everything else this season of Doctor Who so far. I've come to expect very great things from you Mr. Moffat. I know you're not a wonder, though, just a very brilliant writer. A human must be limited, eh? Well, let's see what you've got at the end of the decade for us. We're all inspired by your efforts so far... still.

Go. Be awesome.