Monday 8 May 2017

Doctor Who - Knock Knock

Dryad A Bone

Doctor Who - Knock Knock
Airdate: 6th May 2017

One of the problems in reviewing one of your favourite TV shows on an episode by episode basis instead of a Series Overview kind of deal is that, sooner or late, you’re going to have the odd dud episode with nothing much to say about it. Not that this episode is a complete misfire, far from it. It’s totally appropriate for the series as a whole and fits right into things... ticking many Doctor Who check boxes along the way. That being said, this latest episode, Knock Knock, is not a particularly memorable one and, although it takes the old ‘trapped in a haunted house’ premise as a basic starting point, I feel it doesn’t tap into the rich vein of spookiness that usually ensues when you pitch a Doctor Who cast against things which, seemingly, go bump in the night.

In other words... this one really wasn’t scary.

However, I don’t really know why it was that the episode felt like a bit of a damp squib for me. The writing is pretty sound and there are lots of positive things going on in the episode, which is mostly a standalone thing. And, unusually for me with this particular show, I’m going to praise the special effects here and say that the whole thing, which involved a lot  of dryads (as The Doctor called the slightly oversized alien woodlice that are the stand in for an actual villain, in some ways, this week) and also a creature made out of wood, were extremely well put together. I say ‘unusually for me’ not because the visual effects in modern day Doctor Who are usually bad (they are but I’m really not too worried about that... they’re just an impression to serve the story) but more because they looked impressively realistic compared to a lot of what you see on television these days. Mind you, I also say this with a little unease because, really, the story should be sitting up and making me concentrate on it as a whole rather than giving me time to appreciate the effects work, surely?

As usual, the cast were all very good. In addition to Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie and Matt Lucas as The Doctor, Bill and Nardole, we had a great group of young people playing University Students and also the classic actor David Suchet in the role of the mysterious caretaker of a house which basically absorbs people into the walls. There’s some nice writing between the young people themselves and the way in which they interact with The Doctor although, it has to be said of the writing that, I really don’t need a stupidly eccentric scene put in every other week to remind us all that Bill is gay. We get it already.

Maybe it was just my expectations of an episode about a big old house which seals everybody in for the night before it has mystery shenanigans that spoiled my emotional investment in this one. I was waiting to be scared and, alas, in that respect at least, it was nowhere anywhere near the ball park of various frightening episodes of the show. All in all I was disappointed with the main body of the story but there were a few interesting things referring to the main story arc for the season that were much more compelling...

You remember my theory that Bill might be tied into the original first incarnation of The Doctor’s granddaughter from 1963, Susan Foreman? Possibly even being a previous incarnation of Susan herself. Well due to a mix up with Bill’s new flat mates and her relationship to The Doctor, she did call him grandfather a fair few times in this episode... so I still think show runner Steven Moffat is putting this stuff in to trigger something in our minds for the last episode (or possibly the Christmas special).

Also, it now seems pretty obvious that there’s a person of some sort in the vault. I’m not ruling out The Doctor or The Master still but I think there’s even a chance it could be Bill herself... or something of her in there, at least. Again, we’re only a third of the way through this series now so I’m going to carry on reserving judgement on this issue until we get a little closer to the season finale. If, indeed, it is a finale and they’re not saving it for the Christmas special like they did once before.

And... once again, I’m sorry this one is such a short review but I really have nothing too constructive to say about it, to be honest. I wasn’t bowled over by it or even moved by it, really... but there was nothing glaringly wrong with it either, apart from maybe certain bits of the story continuity which didn’t quite make sense and the lack of certain key elements to the set up not always behaving in the same way twice. This is, so far, the worst episode of this current series but, I would hope, things can only go back up from here.

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