Television: Doctor Who, "Hide"

Dougray Scott! In a haunted house! (Honestly, my first thought when I see Dougray Scott is still of that episode of Highlander he was in, him drunk and on about Bonnie Prince Charlie, but whatever.)

Oh, and more associations with Sherlock Holmes, if loose, as Scott's character Alec is a member of the Baker Street Irregulars. He's also a major. And owner of the haunted house on the moors. (Baskerville Hall?) The Doctor and Clara turn up and The Doctor uses vague references to "The Ministry" to gain access to the ghost-hunting festivities.

Also in attendance, an empathic psychic named Emma, guest of Alec. (You might recognize the actress from Call the Midwife.)

Alec, of course, is more a man of science, or at the very least likes to cover his bases, and has set up loads of equipment in the entry hall. Stuff to record any potential disturbances.

It seems the house is haunted by a woman, "The Witch of the Well." The Doctor and Clara head for the heart of the house, aka the music room, in search of her. Requisite haunted house moments follow: cold spots, feeling watched, creaky doors and floors, a chalk circle, unexplained knocking, and candles being blown out. Seems extreme when the bottom line message appears to be a simple, "Help me."

The Doctor hits up Alec for some backstory and Clara corners Emma into a heart-to-heart. Alec tells The Doctor how his interest in ghosts and getting away from society stems from having sent people to their deaths while surviving—survivor's guilt, then, one supposes. And Emma and Alec clearly have a spark but Emma doesn't trust her own feelings, or really doesn't trust what she thinks she senses in Alec, afraid she might be projecting. Clara insists it's obvious there's something between them and tells Emma to believe in it. Emma returns the favor by telling Clara not to trust The Doctor. "There's a sliver of ice in his heart."

Okay, so this is a fine idea, but telling isn't showing, and unless Matt Smith can show us this cold spot in The Doctor, unless the writers and directors can find a way to show instead of tell, having a one-off character say it won't make it true.

Clara says the TARDIS doesn't like her. Later it locks her out in The Doctor's absence. But after an "interface" conversation, the TARDIS allows Clara to pilot it (her) to save The Doctor.

The Doctor deduces the ghost is actually a time traveler named Hila caught in a pocket universe. (I wasn't paying complete attention.) He tells Emma that she must save Hila because Emma is "the lantern." They open a portal of sorts and The Doctor goes into the "well" to find and save Hila. He sends Hila back, but Emma is unable to hold the portal open long enough for The Doctor to get through.

Aidan Cook clearly has it going on with Doctor Who this season, having played The Mummy and now The Crooked Man (oooh, more Holmes). Is this just an actor getting a couple good roles in a show, or are these two entities related? The Crooked Man succeeds in making The Doctor afraid, and for a moment there it was nice to see him be something other than his usual self. Smith almost showed some range. But it didn't last very long, and soon The Doctor was taunting The Crooked Man in typical fashion. And here is where the TARDIS and Clara arrive to save him.

Turns out Hila is Emma's some-odd great-granddaughter, hence the strong psychic link. The Doctor also asks Emma if there is anything strange about Clara, but Emma insists Clara is just a normal girl. The Doctor remains unconvinced. For him, Clara is the only mystery worth solving (or something like that).

I do really feel the Sherlock Holmes references have been laid on rather thick. It's as if Moffat & Co are so pleased with themselves with that other show, they must link it to this one. Even the relationship between The Doctor and Clara smacks of what they were trying to do with Sherlock and Irene—a would-be obsession, a mental puzzle designed to test the hero. It wasn't impressive there and it isn't here either. And I'd like to see something new instead of the same story over and over.

No comments: