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Who Review: Night Terrors

September 6, 2011

Episode 9 of this season of Doctor Who, “Night Terrors,” has the unfortunate duty of being a traditional Doctor Who adventure placed in the middle of a run of mind-blowing episodes. How does it measure up? Spoilers and what not after the jump.

It’s hard not to feel a little disappointed with “Night Terrors,” which is unfortunate in that it isn’t a terrible episode. It’s got a solid story and is shot beautifully with some really stunning lighting, but seeing it after “A Good Man Goes to War” and “Let’s Kill Hitler” makes it feel like eating your greens after your dessert. And I like my greens.

The main problem for me was guest star Daniel Mays in the role of George’s dad Alex. Elsewhere I’ve seen glowing praise for his performance, but for me it was uneven, and his rushed character arc at the end was unconvincing.  His wild flailing attempts to make it look like he was getting sucked into the dollhouse were so ridiculous that it pulled me out of the story.

Speaking of the story, earlier I referred to it as solid. It’s traditional Who by Mark Gatiss of Sherlock and Victory of the Daleks, and it’s something we haven’t seen much of this season. The concept is terrific, the idea of a little alien Changling who just wants to be loved. There are a few problems in the execution, though. I do love the fact that the Doctor makes a “house call,” and all the side characters in the apartment complex were colorful and engaging. Matt Smith’s performance, as usual, nails it out of the park. However, the scene with the dick of a landlord ran a bit long, and those minutes wasted could with him have been put to better use at the rushed end. Additionally, a few of Rory’s lines seemed very out of character for him, but I did get a big laugh out of, “We’re dead! Again!”

Speaking of Rory, both he and Amy were wasted for much of the episode. The fact that Amy was turned into a doll completely removed all sense of danger. We knew then everything would be okay at the end and people would change back. Also, I can’t remember what, if anything, happened to the little old lady.

I also have to bring up a concern I voiced in last week’s comments; the idea that everything with baby Melody is fine now. This does a tremendous disservice to the character of Amy, and I sure hope they address it next week in “The Girl Who Waited.” The fact that Amy had a baby and is now okay with giving up on motherhood because she was BFFs growing up with her baby is kind of ridiculous. Post-pregnancy hormones aside, she should feel a lot more upset and cheated with the way it shook out. However, both she and Rory just kind of shrugged their shoulders and the whole emotional upheaval of it was swept under the rug. Let’s not forget how the teaser trailer for the second half was presented:

“I know she’s going to be okay, I know she’ll grow up to be River. But… That’s not the point. I don’t want to miss all those years.You know? I-… I can’t stand it. I can’t. Please, Doctor, please.”

Now it seems like it’s been resolved story-wise (lamely), but not emotionally. Really hope they’re still going to address this still and not leave it dangling.

Overall, “Night Terrors” was a decent episode with a fun, traditional Who story, some genuine chills, beautiful cinematography, and great lines. It’s placement at this point in the series makes it difficult to fully enjoy, and it sadly serves the role of a sorbet. But this is still the best show currently on TV.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris permalink
    September 6, 2011 3:17 pm

    Actually, Night Terrors was an episode from the first half of the season that they tweaked very slightly and then lumped into the second half. Which explains why the whole child in danger thing didn’t flare up any exposition. I was disappointed at first, but after I heard that it made sense.

    I have high hopes that next episode’ll address this a bit better. Two Amy Ponds, one from the future and one from the past? They’ll have to angst a little over all the missed years thing there too, right?

    • September 6, 2011 3:23 pm

      Aaah. That makes sense, then.

  2. September 6, 2011 5:06 pm

    I completely agree with everything you just said! “NIght Terrors”, while a decent episode, just wasn’t of the same caliber as many of the recent ones have been, and parts of it felt very uneven. Also, the turning-into-a-doll thing smacked too much of “The Empty Child” for me.

    And don’t even get me started on how quickly and neatly they seem to have wrapped up the issue of baby Melody! My poor brother got one of a hell of rant on that issue. It is absolutely ridiculous that Amy and Rory would suddenly be okay and well-adjusted to the fact that they “grew up” with their daughter and that they will not be able to actually BE parents. I am absolutely horrendously disappointed by the way they wrapped that up. “Let’s Kill Hitler” sure as hell better not be the end of that story arc. That’s for damn sure.

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