REVIEW: Doctor Who goes ghosthunting and finds a love story

News from the Boston Standard, Lincolnshire: bostonstandard.co.uk, on Twitter @standardboston
News from the Boston Standard, Lincolnshire: bostonstandard.co.uk, on Twitter @standardboston

Boston Standard Whovian Darren Sykes runs the rule over the latest episode of Doctor Who, Hide... ...

Doctor Who reached the halfway point of it’s latest run on Saturday, with the episode ‘Hide’. But did this week’s offering have your reviewer hiding behind the sofa?

If viewers were still not happy with last week’s story, then despair not, as Hide superseded even Cold War in its brilliance. Proving to be creepy for both the adults and children alike.

This was the second story from Neil Cross, whose first offering The Rings of Akhaten, I gave a rather mixed review to.

But, happily this time, what started off as a classy haunted house story, evolved into an unexpected timey-wimey science fiction tale, with a spot of romance thrown in at the end.

What particularly impressed was the way the writer suddenly took the story in different directions, without missing a beat.

The concept of a separate over-lapping balloon universe, where time runs at a slower pace than our own, maybe considered by some, to be hardcore science fiction. But in this instance it provided a unique explanation, of what we thought to be a ghost, actually being a trapped time-traveller from another universe. This sat nicely with the Doctor’s view of the cosmos: that the highest science is indiscernible from magic and vice versa.

From the unexplained bangs, to the ominous message on the wall, this adventure employed classic horror techniques to unsettle the viewer. Particularly effective were the scenes with the ‘monster’ in the shadows illuminated by the lightening for just a fraction of a second. It was spine-tingling stuff.

Both guest stars Dougray Scott (Professor Palmer) and Jessica Raine (Emma) gave nice, subtle performances as two people in love, but afraid to share their feelings.

The story’s 1974 setting harked back to Jon Pertwee’s era of the show and was very well done. We even had reference to the famous blue crystal from Metebelis Three. Though I was somewhat surprised to see the Doctor still carried one around in the TARDIS, as last time he had done so, he had to return it to the planet of its origin, and after a spot of bother with some giant spiders, was forced to regenerate. Thus Tom Baker entered Doctor Who history!

There were many great scenes in this story. But one, which stood out, concerned the Doctor’s cavalier attitude about seeing the Earth being born, ageing and dying. When Clara challenges him on this and how he sees humanity and her, the Time Lord merely replies: “You are the only mystery worth solving”, this certainly gives her something to consider.

Also, following on from previous hints that the TARDIS ‘doesn’t like’ Clara. There’s an amusing scene when the space-time ship, projects a visual interface in the form of Clara, for the real-life Clara to interact with. The reason the TARDIS gives, is it considers this is the image Clara holds in the most esteem. Her response: “You are a cow. I knew it!”.

Among all the twists and turns, the one right at the end, when the Doctor realised the ‘evil’ creature he had been running away from was actually just a lonely love-lost alien, perhaps was a twist too far. Though I criticised Neil Cross’ last episode for not wrapping up enough of the storylines, this was one that could perhaps have been left open. Maybe, the monster chased the Doctor, because that’s just what it did. It was evil.

However, I’m not going to let that detract from what I considered to be a particularly strong episode. In my opinion the best so far of the current series and possibly of the whole Matt Smith era to date.

Rating: 9/10

Next week: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS