By Neil Cross
“I am The Doctor and I am afraid.”
Haunted houses have been a pretty good plot device for scary and horror movies for a long time. You just have to go back to last year for the “The Woman in Black” with Daniel Radcliffe as proof to how well popular and if done properly can be pretty scary and very enjoyable to watch. Doctor Who has dabbled with using haunted houses with 1989’s “Ghost Light.” While not a true haunted house story it was pretty effective in conveying the horror of the house and the evil the resided in it. So know we have “Hide” and the return to a haunted house style of a story that is rare in Doctor Who. Did “Hide” do the ghost story genre proud or did it fizzle like candles often do in a haunted house. Read on to see what I thought of “Hide”.
First off I wasn’t too enamored with Neil Cross’s earlier story ‘The Rings of Akhaten. So I went into “Hide” with a bit of trepidation and hoped I would enjoy his new story. Well for the most part I did enjoy the Luthor scribes latest entry. For the most part it was pretty entertaining and I did enjoy what “Hide” was trying to accomplish. But I wasn’t overly a fan of it but I did not hate it as I did for the most part enjoy what I was watching.
What really got me on its side was the fact that they did something different. It wasn’t your normal monster of the week or base under siege formula that Doctor Who has been famous for. No, what they did was take the haunted house theme and added a science fiction twist to it. Now this was all the stuff I enjoyed. I loved how the story opened up with the ghost appearing and scaring Alec and Emma by literally running into Emma.
I also enjoyed watching The Doctor and Clara exploring the house and getting extremely scared. That was something different as you don’t usually see The Doctor getting scared. Not very often does he get scared. It was quite unusual for him to be acting like that and in fact he was pretty scared throughout the story at times. It was somewhat unnerving seeing The Doctor like that as he is supposed to be the calming presence and the one people look up to and depended on to save them.
Another thing I was pretty happy to see was that the sonic screwdriver not working all that much as Neil Cross used it way to much in his previous story “The Rings of Akhaten.” With that said I really liked how The Doctor came up with a solution. Going through the worm hole into the pocket universe using a wrench system to pull him back and using a focusing crystal from Metabellis 3 was a cool nod to the Pertwee era. In fact the whole mechanism he hooked Emma to had a 3rd Doctor feel to it and it was good to see The Doctor making and using a gadget to save the day again.
There were some things I did not like about the story. One I did not like Matt Smith’s performance. Well yes and no. I did like the way they conveyed how The Doctor was scared in the beginning and in the pocket universe especially when he was being chased by the Crooked Man. That was all very well done and I could see the fright in his face. What I didn’t care for was that I thought The Doctor was a tad over the top. This is a very rare criticism from me as I think Matt Smith is a great actor and wonderful in the part of The Doctor so for me to be critical of him is pretty rare indeed and did not detract from the overall story.
I also didn’t like how you thought it was over and then they went back to save the Crooked Man. All of a sudden there were two of them and The Doctor had to head back into the pocket universe. Well ok. It was kind of a weird way to end the story unless of course it was added because the story was too short. Whatever it just didn’t feel right.
In all “Hide’ was a decent story with some pretty cool moments in it and props for the production crew for trying something different. It was cool to see a haunted house themed story and it is good to see them make an effort to bring the scares back into the show. What bothered me was that there were quite a bit of inconsistencies as why did he draw a circle on the floor wasn’t explained to well and how did he know Hila’s name. Plus he said he couldn’t pilot the TARDIS into the pocket universe but the TARDIS goes in there twice to save him. Plus if there was a second creature in the house how come the others never saw it. Not the perfect story so far this series but it is by far not the worst and kudos for trying something different which was very welcome indeed.
Grade B -