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Sunday, 4 September 2011

Night Terrors

Doctor Who fans seem to have issues with Mark Gatiss' scripts. I don't know why. I know the episodes written by him are not always the best in the series, but often that's not due to the script itself - more due to direction, design or performances...

Luckily, I don't think that Night Terrors suffered in any such way. In fact, this is a beautiful little story that isn't massive or epic or important, but rather a bit creepy, a little bit sad and a lot good looking. Of course, others will inevitably disagree and that's up to them. For me, the dolls are the most nightmarish of Doctor Who monsters we've had since 2005 and the whole idea behind this story was lovely.

So, [spoiler] George is afraid of everything, but because he's an alien his fears are manifested into terrifying realities once banished to the cupboard. It's up to the Doctor and his friends to talk George around and convince him not only that the monsters that are so real don't have to be, but also that his family love him very much. This is a very human story with a genuinely creepy monster. Yes, monster. A perfect Doctor Who idea - creepy dolls in a giant dolls' house. Wonderful!

So it seems that this episode may have silenced at least some of those criticising Gatiss' episodes. Maybe. For me this is just what the series needed. A break from the arc. This felt like the perfect episode for Matt Smith.

Once again, this episode highlights the reason why Matt should be cast beside children more often. He works so well with the kids. And the actor playing George was odd enough to pull of being an alien alongside Matt, who is exactly the same.

The ways in which the characters in this story ended up "in George's dolls' house" were also scarily everyday. An old woman sucked into a heap of black rubbish bags, a nasty old man sinking terrified into his grubby carpet while his beloved dog watches on nonplussed, a falling lift... 'Horrors' that can be seen in most kids' everyday lives - I mean, whose nan DOESN'T have a carpet like that?! Complain if you want about how this one "clearly depicts a drop in budget" but I think it's the normality of the setting combined with the simplicity of the "monsters" that makes this one so enjoyable! What little SFX there were in this one were excellent, though! Those transformation scenes were what we were promised with the Ood/human switch in Planet of the Ood - truly horrific and completely unsettling. 

What, then, of the possible similarities with previous Who episodes? The creepy kid/alien (Fear Her), the miniaturisation of companions (last week's LKH), the Love Conquers All ending (The Doctor Dances) and, if you're being picky, bins eating people (Rose)... If you look hard enough there are similarities to be found. But then, that's what Doctor Who does sometimes. It's not as though they were direct lifts from other stories, just similar themes! I have no problem with that :)

However, I do have a problem with this: I bet some of you switched over after the episode finished and watched The X Factor instead of Doctor Who Confidential, didn't you? And in doing so you missed the best thing I've seen in ages - namely Arthur Darvill having a chat with Jamie Oram (George) in the back of a lighting van, didn't you?! You MUST catch up on that because it might have been the cutest thing I have ever seen. 

Sorry to go all gushy there. Bottom line; I loved Night Terrors. Wonderful, creepy stuff! Bravo!