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Posts Tagged ‘Night Terrors’

Block Therapy

When Doctor Who came back, one of the numerous nice things frequently said about it was how fresh and contemporary the show seemed, and how many of the old cliches had been finally put out to grass. (I find this quite amusing now, partly because these critics were more often comparing the new run with their folk memory of Ancient Who than with the series as it actually was, but mainly because one of things Rusty deserves immense and unqualified praise for is not how much he changed about Doctor Who, but how much he left exactly the same.) Six and a bit years down the line I find myself observing how many new cliches and tropes the series has spawned for itself.

I am, of course, supposed to be writing about Mark Gatiss’ Night Terrors, the tale of a worried parent on an anonymous modern estate, and a child who seems to have fallen under an alien influence and wields remarkable powers as a result. Oh, hang on, that’s Fear Her from 2006, isn’t it? Wait a minute. Oh. It’s both of them.

More trouble with groupies for young-me-laddo.

Beyond saying ‘It’s just Fear Her in a tower block’ I find it very difficult to think of anything substantial to say about this episode beyond a few snippy points. Even the bits that didn’t resemble the older story seemed familiar from elsewhere – the climactic ‘parent finally acknowledges child’ moment recalled the end of The Doctor Dances, for instance. Possibly I am a high-functioning psychopath with minimal capacity for basic human empathy (don’t laugh, I saw a documentary about this the other day and it’s more common than you’d think) but the emotion seemed trite and overdone to me. The plot being explained/resolved by the Doctor helpfully remembering some piece of arcane alien lore also felt terribly contrived.

Ho hum. Not all bad, of course, Daniel Mays was fine as the dad (looking back he was one of the plus points to the unlamented Outcasts) although I was sorry not to see more of Emma Cunniffe, an actress who was briefly everywhere on TV in the late 1990s but seems to have dropped out of sight since.

Anyway, having had a go at Let’s Kill Hitler for being too wrapped up in the ongoing storyline I have now put the boot into a standalone episode for just being a retread of older stories. It’s not as if this is the first time it’s happened, and at least they waited five years to do it on this occasion. There’s no pleasing some people is there?

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