Posts Tagged ‘Hide’

Maybe there comes a time in a man’s life when he must admit that, regarding the current crop of Doctor Who, he is more often than not left unimpressed and disappointed. If so, then I am certainly reaching this point – and no-one is more honestly surprised by this than I am, given the obvious credentials and abilities of the key people involved in the making of the current series. Does it just boil down to the fact that – and this is such a shocking comparison I have to take a deep breath before making it – like Eric Saward, Steven Moffat is a better scriptwriter than story editor? I don’t know. Certainly the cheerful braininess of Moffat’s first season in charge feels like it’s evaporated, leaving in its wake a penchant for long-running, fiddly arc plots, and sentimentality which is at least as cheesy as that of the last days of Rusty Davies.

Which is a funny way of opening a review of a story which, in the end, I really liked, but there you go. I say all of the above, but only because enjoying Hide so much made me realise just how indifferent my response to other recent episodes has been. Not enjoying new Doctor Who makes me grumpy, and it shouldn’t happen.

Which is not to say that Hide was by any means perfect – if anything, it reminded me, in general terms, of a couple of older stories, namely The Android Invasion and The Stones of Blood: Android Invasion, because it showed how a really, really strong opening can do a lot to make up for a dubious climax, and Stones of Blood in the way it shifted somewhat jerkily from something approaching proper horror to a more scientifictional approach.

I enjoyed the full-on ghost story elements of the first part of Hide tremendously: this is surely the most full-on attempt at a scary episode in ages, and it’s just a shame that it ended up being broadcast on the first decent Spring day all year rather than on a rain-lashed winter’s night. Quite apart from the fact that the episode got the methodology of a ghost story so right, it convincingly evoked the atmosphere and some of the plot of The Stone Tape, Nigel Kneale’s legendary piece of SF-horror (the early-1970s setting seemed an obvious tip of the hat to Kneale’s play).

‘Please stop going on about how Hugh Jackman nicked your career.’

Of course, the problem with raising the spirit of The Stone Tape in Doctor Who is that in the original play, science takes on the supernatural and is found severely wanting – and you can’t have that happening in a show at least partly predicated on the primacy of rationalism and the general infallibility of the Doctor’s approach to problems. Which may be why the episode, with almost disappointing speed, turned into something rather more SF-inflected.

Here I thought I detected an echo of James Tiptree’s The Man Who Walked Home, though the correspondence may well have been coincidental. To be honest, I thought proceedings started to unravel somewhat at this point, with people visiting pocket universes on the end of ropes and so on, and a general lurch back in the direction of soft-centred wooliness that has afflicted so many recent episodes.

The stuff with Clara and the TARDIS not getting on is interesting, even if the bit with the TARDIS actually having a conversation with someone surely contradicts Neil Gaiman’s last script? We know that the TARDIS didn’t like Jack Harkness after his resurrection, as he was an unnatural space-time event, so it seems logical to assume the same applies to the new girl. Will this stuff be explained at the end of the season or in the 50th show? Of the two, I’m betting on the former, although…

Well, look, here’s some wild speculation – Oswald isn’t the most common surname, and we know that Moffat names his major characters with a degree of care (plus some repetition). The 50th anniversary show, in which Ms Oswald will be a major participant, will be going out around the time of the anniversary of another famous event in which the Oswald family were involved, an event with which TV Doctor Who has never properly involved itself. Could this be the time that they do?

Let’s face it: probably not. Anyway, to reiterate, I enjoyed the beginning of this episode so much that it lifted me over all the business with everyone turning out to be in love with and/or rel ated to each other – even the drokking monsters are now falling in love with each other, for crying out loud. Okay, so maybe I am a high-functioning psychopath with zero empathy and no ability to establish normal human relationships, but this just strikes me as absurd and unnecessary. Nevertheless, Neil Cross can consider Rings of Akhaten atoned for. Onward and inward…

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