Saturday, 20 April 2013

Who you gonna call?

There’s something strange in the neighbourhood this week as the Doctor and Clara travel to a haunted house in 1974 looking for a ghost. It seems that writer Neil Cross has ditched the sci-fi theme in favour of a chilling ghost story, and aside from some blatant stealing from other films and a ridiculous number of cringe-inducing clichés, this episode is actually pretty enjoyable, and sometimes downright scary.

So The Doctor and Clara arrive in 1974, at a seemingly haunted house in order to catch a ghost and find out why it’s there. However, in true Whovian fashion, there is nothing supernatural about it, it can all be explained by a scientific explanation involving other universes, and an entirely new (and rather freaky) alien creature – something that has become something of a rarity recently (Weeping Angels, Cybermen, Daleks, Ice Warriors, etc etc). In amongst all of these recurring villains, an original enemy is somewhat refreshing.

This episode has everything that makes a Who episode good. Freaky monsters, thrills, and plenty of witty banter by the two-hearted hero. It also provides genuine fear in some places, and I actually got chills at one point, which is also very rare in a Doctor Who episode (Midnight, Blink and The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances spring to mind), and despite borrowing heavily from the likes of The Sixth Sense or The Woman in Black, it has borrowed all the right things, and pulls them off beautifully.

Alongside all of this, the mystery of Clara deepens. Who is she? Why is she across multiple ages? Why did she connect to the TARDIS when she wanted to fix her internet? All questions that are yet to be answered, and all things that I honestly don’t like. However this is a criticism for not just this episode, not just this series, but every episode since Stephen Moffat began to write. I miss the days when you could drop into a Doctor Who episode with no knowledge of what has happened before and enjoy it.

Now there is a running theme throughout each series. Amy is the centre of everything. Amy is pregnant. Who is Amy’s daughter? Who is the woman with the eyepatch? And now we have “Who is Clara Oswald?”. I feel that Moffat is trying too hard to create something cryptic, when Who fans just want to see The Doctor battle alien threats and save the world.

This episode alone fits that quota better than any so far. It has the least emphasis on the mystery of Clara, it provides a great horror experience, all rolled in to a fun ride spanning many time zones. This is my favourite episode so far in the series, and I highly recommend it.

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