There is every chance that in years to come, Can You Hear Me? will be barely remembered. That isn’t meant to be a criticism of what was a wonderfully effective episode. It’s just that behind the fine exploration of the companions’ fears, lies a bare bones story that is all too quickly resolved. The plot about the imprisoned god is perfunctory and the gorgeous animated sequence couldn’t add colour to a backstory that, perhaps befitting the unimaginative gods involved, is fairly rudimentary.
But for Doctor Who to be a success across an entire series, it needs such changes in pace. With an explosive two-part finale just around the corner, and the dramatic events of Fugitive of the Judoon still being talked about, this was a welcome shift of gear.
Can You Hear Me? might not be ground-breaking, but it does have one or two claims to fame. It is the first Doctor Who story to have a question mark in the title, a frivolous observation that might only be of interest to trivia fans. The other is anything but. The BBC deemed it appropriate to advertise a helpline number for anyone affected by the issues in the programme. Often seen as the credits of major soaps roll, this is the first time we have seen such an announcement used in relation to Doctor Who.
The message might have been uncomplicated and the story left behind in the shadows, but as ever, the episode did throw up plenty of discussion points.