California Literary Review

Morning Recap — Doctor Who: Night Terrors


September 4th, 2011 at 9:52 am

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Still: Doctor Who: Night Terrors

[Photograph: Adrian Rogers/BBC/BBC Worldwide]

Who Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

[Spoilers ahead] I have to say, I was expecting something more from the latest episode of Doctor Who. After all the dramatic revelations of the past few episodes and the continuity provided by the Silence over the rest of the series, it felt strange to go back to having a self-contained half hour adventure, neatly packaged up with no mention of missing babies, alien religious orders or obscure questions. Bringing the Doctor’s death date up right at the end of the episode seemed like an afterthought and struck a rather awkward note.

Taking the episode on its own, it was entertaining enough; it was more like the disconnected episodes that were the norm in some of the earlier series, when every week the Doctor and his assistant met Daleks/werewolves/underground lizard-people, then ran around a lot and eventually saved the day. Indeed, I had initially thought it was going to be an echo of ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’, with the nightmare monsters/creepy doll theme, but Mark Gatiss managed to do something a bit different. The discovery that George was a cuckoo in the nest took me pleasantly by surprise and added an extra dimension to the plot.

Making George face his fears and getting his dad to save him by comforting him was a clever way of getting round the inevitable cries of irresponsible programming for children, by giving it a happy families, moral overtone. I felt, though, that it detracted slightly from the usual madcap feel of Doctor Who episodes. The giant, pink, children’s safety scissors were a nice touch, but I do like to see a bit more of the Doctor running around, pointing his sonic screwdriver at stuff.

Overall, I felt it was rather a weak episode and, having separated the Doctor from Amy and Rory, lacked the bantering element that lifts the dialogue. Hopefully next week’s episode will fulfill the promise of the lively second half of ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’, because ‘Night Terrors’ seemed to have lost its joie de vivre. Perhaps everyone was too busy worrying about what they’d put in their wardrobes. I can certainly imagine that there are a number of children out there who now have a fear of cupboards and/or dollhouses that they didn’t have yesterday. They can, however, comfort themselves with the fact that they aren’t aliens and are therefore unlikely to call any creepy wooden dolls into being… or that the Doctor would come to save them if they did. Hmmm, I wonder if I put a dollhouse in my wardrobe whether he’d come to save me…

Doctor Who: Night Terrors Trailer

  • theoncominghope

    The episode was beautifully directed, but the story itself fell quite flat (and gets worse the more I think about it).

    I’ve written a bit about what I see as the central problem with the Ponds this season, and would love your thoughts on the matter.

  • IGPNicki

    I actually thoroughly enjoyed this episode. I did think it was an odd place to put this episode which, let’s face it, could’ve gone anywhere in the season. But taking the episode by itself, it was a fun, creepy bottle episode, that serves up some nice chills.

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