- The Little Girl at the start (or should I preemptively call her CAL?) seems to have been spawned from the same fictional factory where they bred the Torchwood Spooky Girl and the Test Card Girl from Life on Mars.
- A whole continent of Jeffrey Archer? Now THAT is true horror.
- "Always a death at the end." Foreshadowing, your clue to quality drama!
- Spoiler jokes already? Gosh, we're in danger of disappearing up our own meta-trousers here. And trying to keep Donna away from major plot developments is a BAD thing, Doctor. She's good in a crisis, at least.
- I got the feeling that the statues with pasted-on faces were supposed to come off as a more disturbing than they actually looked on screen. When Donna was freaking out about them, I really wanted the Doctor to say "It's the 51st century! Be glad you haven't seen what they do to poodles!"
- Behold Donna's elite door skills! I feel a little sorry for her former boyfriends if that's her idea of the element of surprise. (Mind you, I'd still like to see what she can do with Captain Jack and a red UNIT beret.)
- Meanwhile, the Doctor is unwittingly practising child torture on a floaty round ball. Ooops. It complains using one of those cheapo LED message boards, reminding me of the Top Gear caravan holiday. This was ironic because...
- ...the library is about to become a Stig-fans cosplay convention! In fact, they are merely a crowd from the Canon Fodder department of Central Casting, who are about to be picked off one by one (in order of celebrity), before most of them can develop personality traits. At least Steve Pemberton from the League of Gentlemen can console himself with the fact that he's the second most famous, after Alex Kingston, so he won't be biting the big one just yet.
- Speaking of whom, Ms Kingston is fortunate that she has my goodwill from her days in ER, because I found it rather difficult to warm to River, but another actress would have made it even harder. At first she seemed too smirky and slightly self-righteous (I admit, maybe I'd smirk if I were shagging that, but people would be right to find it annoying!) and despite her general air of competence in a crisis, I didn't see anything much there that Ten would be particularly drawn to.
Then again, neither did he, which was a bit more interesting. And on my second viewing, it was River's subtle sense of distress and unease that she didn't know how to act around Ten and couldn't properly explain it all that made me less antsy about the whole thing. Still, I'll leave any further comments until I see how the cookie crumbles next week.
- Miss Evangelista's protracted death throes dragged on a bit for my liking. It's the same two-parter syndrome that The Sontaran Stratagem suffered from: Invasion of the Overlong Filler Scenes.
- More ominous foreshadowing, as Donna asks about her future and is met with a big blank of embarrassment from River. If future!Donna is oh-noes-dead-or-something, should she be flattered that the Doctor actually bothered to mention her while he was picnicking in Asgard? But if the Doctor now is MUCH younger than River remembers him being, then it doesn't have to be much of a mystery, does it? And if River is as good a liar as she claimed to be, she could have just blurted out a made-up explanation. But then we'd have missed the Ominous Foreshadowing again.
- I pulled an ARGH face at Donna being distracted by the shop. Because all women's brains fall out when they see a shop, don't they, even if they are in deadly peril! Come on, Donna isn't stupid, we've already established this. Don't bloody write her as if she is.
- Ooh, a squareness gun! Slightly more use than a banana would have been in the circumstances.
- Donna Noble has left the library. Donna Noble's face is now pasted on a statue, yay. However, I'm assuming that Donna being "saved" means that she's been saved into the Library's fleshbanks, and will somehow be retrieved.
- Anyway, I found the frame story to be the most intriguing element of the episode, and probably the most unsettling. (Creeping around in the dark with monsters is one thing, delving into the minds of small children is quite another.) Is the little girl actually the Library's index computer with a really well-developed fantasy life? That's my current theory, in any case.
- I'm glad it's the dark that's evil, not the books. Books, like bananas, are good. Still, perhaps they'll spring to life in episode 2 and fight off the Vashtanarada?
- Overall: a tricky one to call. There were so many "what IS going on here?" mysteries lurking that I'll have to see how they pan out and how well the ends all come together next week. Much of the story seemed to be built from pieces of other episodes stapled together: the spacesuited crew from The Impossible Planet, the time-twisted romance angle from The Girl in the Fireplace, the talking-to-the-TV from Blink, the child's drawings from Fear Her, the diary from Human Nature, the being-saved-into-a-computer like Astrid in Voyage of the Damned, and more. Just add postmodernist sprinkles and be careful not to overheat. I'm aware that we're always deep in the realm of the TV trope when we enter the Whoniverse, but I also think there's a difference between making clever references to past ideas and stories, and just repeating yourself.
So ask me again next week, but for the moment, I can only say that it held my interest but didn't really capture my imagination.
Heigh-ho, and spoiler me not for next week, for I have seen no upcoming trailers...