Four stories into the post-Pond seventh season of “Doctor Who,” and it’s been quite a ride so far. We’ve had a companion who may not be what she appears to be, the return of two old school villains, a dozen new aliens, an anti-grav motorcycle, and a possible Bad Wolf reference. Can it get better than that?
There’ve also been movie homages to Hellraiser, Star Wars, and The Hunt for Red October. What’s next? Would you believe… The Haunting? That’s what the preview implies… Check me after the jump for my review of episode ten – “Hide.”
Hmmm… There might even be a bit of Blair Witch in there as well. As we open, the episode turns out it may definitely be more in the line of The Haunting or Curse of the Demon than Blair Witch. We’re in the 1970s. I was surprised to see another trip into the past, that’s two in a row. I thought the beats of the series were past, present day Earth, and space, alternately.
Anyway, we open on parapsychologist Professor Palmer and psychic Emma looking for a ghost. It’s intriguing how similar their dynamic is to an old school Doctor/companion relationship. That’s when The Doctor and Clara show up. After they find the ghost, whereupon The Doctor comments on their relationship, what we all were thinking. Nice, and more to come.
Did I say The Doctor and Clara show up? No, rather The Doctor barges in, taking over like a bull in a china shop, rattling off a mad string of dialogue symptomatic of far too much Gallifreyan coffee. Matt Smith is in his element, and I love it, toggles and all.
We aren’t actually really told what The Doctor is doing here however, and he’s sketchy as hell himself. He obviously has motive, which we must wait ’til the end for. I do however love that Smith does with words and attitude what David Tennant always needed psychic paper for.
We discover who the ghost is and what Palmer is after. The Caliburn Gast/Ghost also known as the Witch of the Well, an entity haunting the house and the grounds for over 400 years, possibly longer. She is decidedly a type of poltergeist, making herself known through loud knocking.
She’s quite frightening, and so is what’s chasing her. Keep the lights on, and watch from behind the sofa if you like. This isn’t like a regular Doctor Who monster though, in line with the theme of The Haunting, it’s what you don’t that scares you.
What is the ghost really, what’s chasing it, and all that it might be… well, that’s a very complicated story. It gives a whole new meaning to “Go into the light.” Matt Smith scared is unnerving, disturbing, and very not cool. I hope you have a sturdy sofa…
This is also our second Neil Cross script this season, the first he wrote, but the second aired. He is a most welcome presence in the series. I want more. Cross has a very good handle on both The Eleventh Doctor, and Clara.
While Clara really doesn’t have all that much to do this episode beyond standard companion duties (running up and down corridors, asking “What’s that, Doctor,” making The Doctor think, and saving him again), but Cross imbues her with the same compassion and warmth we saw in his “The Rings of Akhaten.” She’s a keeper, and Jenna-Louise Coleman’s smile is contagious.
Doctors and Companions
Remember that Doctor/companion parallel I mentioned before? Neil Cross brings it home by having The Doctor and the Professor, and Clara and Emma bond in a couple of scenes. They are very much the same, in many ways.
And then there’s the continuing erratic relationship between Clara and the TARDIS. Clara insists she doesn’t like her. As we’ve seen, the TARDIS is a very very temperamental lady. If she really doesn’t like Clara, Clara better watch out. Especially next week – in “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS.”
Now, you’ve watched the episode, you’ve read the review, now go watch the original (not the remake) The Haunting. It is a great companion piece to “Hide,” as well as a terrific film on its own. Enjoy.