Sunday, 4 September 2011

Doctor Who: Night Terrors

Hello, Dolly!

Doctor Who: Night Terrors
Airdate: September 3rd 2011. UK. BBC1

Warning: Some spoilers here but really nothing you won’t figure out in the course of watching the first 20 minutes or so of the episode.

A cleanly framed but ugly, urban block of flats with strong yellow colour saturation in all the shots... for a minute there I thought I was watching Kielowski revisiting the Decalog. But no, it was just another episode of Doctor Who and, though this episode seems to have been generally very positively received by the public at large, I have to say that Night Terrors really didn’t quite make it for me... and I’m hard pushed to figure out why.

The distress signal sent to the Doctor’s psychic paper by a little boy who is hiding from the monsters in a cupboard kick started an episode which was, frankly, well made, well acted, well written and was really nicely shot with some interesting and dynamic scene transitions. Why did this one feel so dull to me then?

I’m trying to pin it down and I think that the pacing may have been a bit better, for starters. I think on something like this you need to either really take your time with it (turn it in to a two parter) and build a very slow sense of absolute dread (like they used to do in Sapphire and Steel, now that was a show that was really scary... and still is to this day) or, just pace it along and get a cracking speed to hurtle you through it. My feelings on this one are that it was doing something in between with the pacing and it didn’t really quite serve the story as much as it could have. Which is a shame because the monsters in this one were really quite iconic Doctor Who monsters deserving of a greater fear effect I thought. As soon as you figure out Amy and Rory are in a Doll’s House (which you will... a lot quicker than they do) then you are waiting to see the dolls... and when they come they are not a disappointment... just not that scary either. Unless you’re a kid maybe?

There was a great moment when The Doctor mentioned “Snow White And The Seven Keys To Doomsday” which sent me racing back to my childhood. I’d seen Trevor Martin playing The Doctor in the original stage production of Seven Keys To Doomsday back as a kid in 1974 and I thought everybody else had forgotten about it. Wish I’d have kept the programme! So anyway, that was a nice little rush back to my infancy right there... well... when I was slightly more of an infant than I am now.

Haven’t really got too much to say about this one I’m afraid. I didn’t dislike it and I appreciate that this series is shaping up to be a much better one than last year’s... it just didn’t press any of my excitement or fear buttons really. Must be a hard line to walk though... creating a family show when you know the adult audience who have grown with the show, some since its inception in 1963, are also going to be watching it “up close and personal” too. Trying to do something not too complicated for a child’s mind and not too simplistic for an adult sensibility must be a pretty hard challenge and I don’t envy these writers much.

Still, a decent enough episode and next week's one looks like it could be a real corker so... on with the show!

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