Sunday, April 21, 2013

Doctor Who is NEW: "Hide"

A mournful howl echoes thru the dark trees standing as sentinel shadows in the rolling fog which curls its misty tentacles into the stone work of a very old house.


Ha! Gotcha! Hello, kids! It's me, Count Dave-El welcoming you to Monster Chiller Horror Blog....OK, it's the oddly named blog I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You. 
(Hey, I'm trying' to create a mood here, know what I'm sayin'?)

This week's episode of Doctor Who was called "Hide". It's 1974 as the Doctor and Clara arrive to BUST some GHOSTS, if you know what I mean.

(Was that too subtle? It's hard to tell sometimes.)

WARNING: As always, this is NOT an episode recap, at least not in any detailed sense. Rather, just comments on what interested me, what I thought was cool and what made me go "Wha...?" 
Stil, something kinda-sorta specific-ish may slip out. So just in case....
SPOILERS, Sweetie!
So let's see where the spirit takes us!
(The ability to create puns is a gift, dammit! A GIFT, I tell you!)
We open up in one of those big old drafty house that litter the English countryside. The year is 1974; we know this* because Professor Alec Palmer helpfully tells us the date while making a recording of his research.
*We also know it's 1974 because his lovely assistant Emma Grayling is wearing a brown plaid sweater vest over a brown blouse with a brown skirt.
Alec and Emma are looking for ghosts, he with his Radio Shack-era equipment while she has an inate ability to communicate with ghosts. And lookee-look, one shows up and it's pretty darn creepy.
Then Alec and Emma get unexpected visitors. Well, unexpected to them. We at home know we are watching Doctor Who and figured the Doctor and Clara would show up eventually.
A flash of psychic paper tells Alec that the Doctor is from "health and safety" (but probably from "the ministry") as the Doctor begins poking and prodding Alec's spook finding equipment and asking all sorts of questions (as the Doctor is want to do). Soon the Doctor and Clara are chasing a ghost and they ain't afraid of it!
(Well, Clara's a bit frighened.)
It's probably not too much of a spoiler to say the ghost isn't what you think it is. Ditto for that people eating monster in the woods.
What? People eating monster?!?! (Oh, perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned that.)
"Hide" is the second Doctor Who script from Luther creator Neil Cross; his first story was "The Rings of Akhaten" which has generally not been well received.  As I noted in my review of that episode, there was a distinct lack of empathy for what was going on. The big bad was too big and too bad and those threatened by his bigness and badness were not developed, leaving us to not even care what happened. This is a bad thing to happen in any story but particularly for Doctor Who where the driving force of the best stories is how characters react to and are impacted by the fantastic events they face.
"Hide" was a big step up from "Akhaten".  First of all, we had two very well realized characters in Alec and Emma, wonderfully portrayed by Dougray Scott and Jessica Raine. We know who they are, why they are uniquely suited to their supernatural quest and what they mean to each other. We care what happens to them. 
Then we have the Doctor and Clara who were perfect counterpoints to Alec and Emma. While the professor and his assistant (okay, companion) awkwardly but genuinely try to connect with each other, the Doctor is still keeping his secrets from Clara as he still ponders the mystery of "The Impossible Girl". Clara, on the other hand, is still not sure why she's on this journey with this madman and his box. Can she trust him? Emma has a few choice words for Clara on that point.
A point of contention for me:
  • The time travel solution that the Doctor employs to determine the true origin of the ghost seems a bit discordant from the rest of the episode. Granted it gives us a chance for Clara to surmise how the Doctor must see us. But beyond that point, it is a jarring sci-fi break from the mood established by the mysterious goings on at the manor.
All in all, it looks like a greatly improved 2nd effort from Neil Cross. "Hide" is a thrilling episode with lots of scares, mysteries and twists supported by excellent performances all around.
Next week: "Journey to the Center of the TARDIS".

Watching Television: Super P.I.s, Zombie Realtors & More

Hey, I'm still working to keep my New Year's resolution to watch MORE television. How is that going? _________________________...