The Rings of Akhaten is the eighth episode of the seventh series of Doctor Who. It stars Matt Smith as The Eleventh Doctor and Jenna-Louise Coleman as Clara Oswald. It was written by Neil Cross, best known as the creator of the television show Luther.
After last week's adventure, The Doctor and Clara want to go somewhere. Not having any set place in all of Space and Time, Clara asks for something awesome, and the Doctor takes her to the titular Rings of Akhaten, a complex of planets and moons and asteroids orbiting a star. The exact astronomy of the matter wasn't clear to me, and probably isn't important. Akhaten is a big bazaar full of myriads of alien creatures, which immediately brings to mind the Mos Eisley spaceport of Star Wars. All of these outrageous aliens are entertaining enough, but soon we are swept up into the plot of the week, as we find out that a young girl has been selected to sing lullabies to a sleeping god, a myth that turns out to have (of course) truth behind it. It is up to The Doctor and Clara to save the situation, something they do with some quick sonicing and dramatic speeches and space motorcycle riding. Situation saved, we have been shown a bit more about the attitudes of The Doctor and Clara, but the underlying mystery of Clara's life is still left up in the air.
The episode was a mixed bag for me. I wonder if Doctor Who is changing, or if I am just getting used to the formula. This episode had some great things: this is probably the most different types of aliens we have seen at once in a Doctor Who episode, with dozens of different types shown, if only in passing. Matt Smith and Jenna Louise-Coleman are both still acting wonderfully. But for whatever reason, this episodes dramatic moments seemed melodramatic to me, with the epic speeches coming across as a little...schmaltzy. It is a hard thing to tell drama from melodrama, and in later perspective this episode might come across differently, but for now I get the feeling that Doctor Who is drifting towards the formulaic and sentimental.