Hiring Neil Gaiman to write a Dr Who episode was always going to be a risk. Despite the acclaim that's been heaped on him over the years, the truth is Gaiman's never totally mastered many of the basic skills of story-telling, such as plot, character and endings. He also has a tendency to go for style over substance to a degree that can leave his work teetering on the cliff edge of total pointlessness. In a comic book these weaknesses can be overlooked and even become a strength. Comics are a visual medium - and an abstract one to boot - in which a writer can get away with plenty as long as his scripts give an artist the ability to weave a certain kind of magic. No one ever accused Stan Lee, for instance, of being the world's greatest writer but that didn't stop his comics being classics.
Television, on the other hand is a more demanding mistress. There's no artist to fill the chinks in a writer's armour, and the use of real people and sets, rather than stylised drawings, gives it a literalism that demands a whole other mindset.
Of course he can - it'd be the end of the show if he didn't - but not before he gets to spend time with the woman the TARDIS has now become.
It's hard to know what to make of it. On first viewing, the thing's so inept in its story-telling that it feels like we've been TARDISed back to the grim days of Sylvester McCoy, while the actors playing Auntie and Uncle produce some of the worst acting you'll ever see on a TV screen. In fairness, as they're acting just like you expect Neil Gaiman characters to act, I suppose you have to absolve them of blame and assume they're simply doing what they've been told to.
If in the episode's first half, Gaiman at least pays lip service to trying to tell something that resembles a story, in its second he gives up altogether as we're given the Doctor trying to build a TARDIS from scratch while Rory and Amy run around corridors for what feels like an eternity. For fans of fake deaths, we also get the sight of Rory seeming to die and then being alive again. There's a novelty.
It doesn't help that, as House, Michael Sheen delivers all his lines with the vigour of an "I Speak Your Weight" machine, guaranteeing that Gaiman's inevitably weak - and hard to follow - ending is even less involving than it needs to be.
Probably not. His weaknesses are simply fatal in such an on-the-nail medium and his strengths have no way to express themselves amid such literalism.
But that's for Gaiman to worry about. For the viewer, the main concern has to be that, after a hugely promising debut, each episode of this current series has been weaker than the one before, and the trailer for next week's really doesn't look promising at all. Steven Moffat's proven he can write Dr Who but the worry is that, as show runner, he's threatening to be the man who steered the ship straight at the iceberg. The Doctor found his way back to our universe but can the show find its way back to where it needs to be? Or was my feeling that I'd been transported back to the late 1980s disturbingly apt? Will subsequent episodes bring a stirring turnaround or merely the beginning of the end?