Sunday, April 21, 2013

Doctor Who Season 7, Episode 9: Hide

This week the Doctor and Clara get all Evil Dead up in here in an old fashioned haunted house story that takes an unexpected twist.

This was another episode that had an nice old-school feel. Doctor Who has dabbled in horror quite a few times in the past, with stories about monsters in spooky castles on fog-shrouded moors. It was nice to see a simple (well, simple for Doctor Who) straightforward story that didn't involve the end of the world.

I quite liked the fact that the story took an unexpected turn halfway through from horror into science fiction territory.

Hide was written by Neil Cross, who wrote the somewhat jumbled The Rings Of Akhaten that aired a few weeks ago. This episode is a vast improvement, in my opinion. However, Hide was written before Rings, which kind of worries me-- I hope Mr. Cross didn't use up all his good ideas in this episode.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Plot:
In 1974 Professor Alec Palmer and his assistant Emma are investigating the legend of a ghost in ancient Caliburn Manor. They're interrupted by the Doctor and Clara, who crash the party and determine that the ghost is very real and isn't quite what it appears to be.

Thoughts:
• Professor Palmer is played by Scots actor Dougray Scott. Believe it or not, Scott came this close to playing Wolverine in the first X-Men movie, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts with Mission: Impossible II. I wonder if they'd still be making Wolverine movies if Scott had played the character instead of Huge Ackman?

• I don't want to rag too much on this episode as I thought it was well done, but... how old is Professor Palmer supposed to be? The Doctor mentions that Palmer worked for British Intelligence in WWII. That would have been about thirty years before this episode took place. I doubt there were any twenty year old secret agents, so he was probably around thirty during the war. That means he'd be around sixty in 1974. He certainly doesn't look that old; in fact he doesn't look a day over forty. Something about his timeline isn't adding up.

• The Doctor hasn't said "Geronimo!" for quite a while.

• It's also been a while since we've seen the Doctor use his psychic paper. I think. Unless my memory's faulty, which is a real possibility, it hasn't popped up yet in this second half of the season.

• (Heavy sigh) They did a variation on the "Doctor Who?" joke this week, changing it up to "Doctor What?" I said I was going to start charging showrunner Steven Moffat $100 every time he made this joke from now on. You didn't quite do it this week, but you got close, so I'll only charge you $50. You can send my payment via PayPal.


• A few weeks ago in The Rings Of Akhaten, the internet was abuzz with the fact that the TARDIS didn't like Clara. I didn't get that impression at all from the episode and dismissed it as typical internet hogwash. This episode would seem to suggest I was wrong and the internet was right: the TARDIS clearly does not care for Clara for some reason. Whether this is just a cutesy little character bit or a clue as to Clara's identity, I have no idea.

• Throughout the series it's often easy to forget that the Doctor is really an alien. This week Matt Smith does a great job of reminding us that the Doctor is anything but human. When he hears an tremendous thumping sound in the mansion, he asks Clara if it's her making it. Then later when he wants to speak privately with Clara, he tries to silently motion her over to him and when she fails to respond he says, "I'm making a face!"

• Interesting that Professor Palmer and Emma sort of parallel the Doctor and Clara. Both the Professor and the Doctor are older figures who are haunted by the death they've seen and caused, while Emma and Clara are the perky young assistants who would risk life and limb for their respective mentors.

• I loved the way the Doctor used the TARDIS to film the same spot at different intervals over a period of billions of years, resulting in a crude animation of the "ghost" running from... something. It was a complicated idea, but the way it was presented was simple and brilliant.

When Clara realizes that they've just traveled from the Earth's beginning to its end, she's understandably moved by such a profound experience, and can't understand why the Doctor is so cavalier about it. A nicely written and acted little scene that perfectly illustrates, once again, that the Doctor is an alien.

• Once again the Doctor dons his orange spacesuit that he first wore in The Impossible Planet.

• The cloister bell! It's been a long time since we've heard that. You know things are dire when you hear the cloister bell.

• When the Doctor's attempting to rescue Hila Turkurian, the time traveling lady, he cobbles together some sort of amplification device to boost Emma's empathic abilities (which looks a lot like Cerebro from the X-Men movies). This makeshift device is powered by the TARDIS, as we see hundreds of feet of glowing cable snaking from it across the grounds and into the mansion. 

Later Clara talks the TARDIS into entering the pocket universe to rescue the Doctor. So... if the TARDIS leaves our universe to do so, what happened to the glowing cables? What's powering the amplification device? Whoops!

I suppose that the big blue crystal at the center of his makeshift contraption could be powering everything, but if so, then what's with all the glowing cable coming out of the TARDIS? What's it doing?

By the way, the Doctor says that the aforementioned blue crystal is "a subset of the Eye Of Harmony," first mentioned in the episode The Deadly Assassin (is there a non-deadly assassin?) way back in 1976. Supposedly it's a piece of a black hole brought back by Rassilon that powers the Time Lord's planet Gallifrey. Yes, I am a geek.

• The forest in the pocket universe looks a lot like the one in the Evil Dead remake that's currently playing in theaters. I mean a lot like it. Nearly identical. Surely that's just a coincidence, right? They couldn't possibly have planned for this episode to air at the same time the movie came out, could they?

• Emma seems very cold towards the Doctor all through the episode. Is it because she senses there's a "sliver of ice in his heart" or something more? Maybe she's just pissed that he practically killed her three times during the episode by hooking her up to the Cerebro headset.

• The Doctor says he can't change history because there are fixed points in time, but a few seconds later he says that "paradoxes resolve themselves." Umm... those are two completely opposite statements. Which is it, Doctor?

• So I guess Hila decides to stay in 1974? I wonder which is worse for the health of the Time Stream, taking a person who supposedly died back to her own time or leaving her in the past with knowledge of the future? 

• At the end of the episode the Doctor reveals he came to 1974 not to investigate a time traveling ghost but to use Emma's empathic abilities to solve the mystery of Clara. Emma says she's just a girl, which the Doctor clearly doesn't believe.

2 comments:

  1. The Doctor doesn't necessarily say he can't change history, just that there are some things he can't change because they are fixed points. Fixed points would force paradoxes to resolve themselves in that case.

    Also, my husband made a comment about there being several "pocket universes," i.e. House in The Doctor's Wife. When the Doctor is talking in the the woods to supposedly the creature, there is a deep laughter that was very reminiscent of House. My husband said it was the creature, but I'm not so sure. Just an observation. :)

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  2. Yeah, I know he's changed history before, and he's talked about not being able to because of fixed points before as well, but it's all kind of vague. Sort of like he can change time unless he can't, due to the whims of the script (see Amy and Rory's exit).

    Interesting point about House being the creature. I just assumed it was the weird twisty monster, but your husband may be on to something.

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