Sunday, 21 April 2013

Doctor Who: Hide

“I’m the Doctor”

“Doctor What?”

“If you like….”

This is the first episode we’ve watched on our sexy new telly. This has nothing to do with anything, but it’s all sexy and that. Anyway…

It’s surprising that, after fifty years, Doctor Who has never really done one of those ghost stories with scientist investigating an alleged ghost in a haunted house. That gap is filled at last in a relievingly excellent script from Neil Cross, whose last episode was not entirely successful. This one is. It’s a nice use of the genre in the context of Doctor Who: the “ghost” is in fact a time traveller in a pocket universe, experiencing time at a different rate. This is a superb way of ensuring that we get a scientific explanation while still respecting the traditions and structure of this kind of ghost story.

Ghostbusters gets a verbal mention at the beginning, and the white worm hole recalls the portal from Poltergeist, a film which is an obvious influence. But the biggest influence here is The Stone Tape, which is obviously being homaged here, right down to the 1970’s setting. For that reason it feels pleasingly nostalgic, while at the same time being extremely modern in its pacey, economic storytelling. The way the plot develops is extremely neat and pleasing, with the exception of the very end about the monster being lost and in love, trying to find its way back to its lover on the other side. I didn’t initially realise there were two monsters. Still, I have to praise the production team for the design of the monster. It was an original and extremely scary design.

There is a small cast of only four characters for the main part. This gives a lot of room for interaction between the Doctor and Clara who, as per last episode, looks disturbingly young. Once again, the TARDIS seems to not trust Clara. Emma warns Clara about the Doctor, saying that “there’s a sliver of ice in his heart”. I’m sure this will be followed up. The Doctor is still looking for an explanation of the reappearances of Clara, stating that “you are the only mystery worth solving”. Still, I begin to worry that, as Philip Sandifer has said, the ongoing mystery of Clara is getting in the way of her development of the character.

There are a couple of nice nods to the past here, from the Metebelis Crystal to the Eye of Harmony. Still, even in an anniversary year it’s nice to get quality standalone stories. And you don’t get much more quality than this.

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