Doctor Who, “Night Terrors” (6.09)

Don’t make George scared. You won’t like George when he’s scared. Read past the jump for my late – sorry about that, by the way – review of “Night Terrors” …

“What are you doing?” -Amy

“Making a house call.” -The Doctor

How’s The Doctor?

As both he and Rory note, The Doctor goes off on an unusual adventure in an unusual locale. He helps a little boy living in an apparently mundane apartment building. No surprise, though, that the place is anything but mundane. One oddity about the episode is that we get to see the Doctor when he’s overwhelmed and, dare I even say, scared. We also get a great scene when the Doctor tells off Alex, George’s dad. Where there’s a monologue, Matt Smith will be there to hit it out of the ballpark.

How’s The Story?

It’s touching father-son tale about acceptance. It reminds me a fair bit of this series’ “The Curse of the Black Spot” minus the pirates with added low-income apartments. Despite the similarity in subject matter, it still works well. That said, they might want to lay off the male family drama for a while to add a little variety. Maybe a mother-daughter story… other than Amy-River.

How’s The Production?

Unlike most episodes where different worlds, freaky monsters and flashy effects can save you from having to mess with your audience’s psyche for emotional engagement, this episode was much less sci-fi and much more horror and thus needed to be as moody and freaky as possible. Mission accomplished! The music (and sing-a-longs) were appropriately scary and fairly well placed throughout the episode. [On a side note, this is probably the first time I’m praising the music in this series. Murray Gold has really been lacking this time around.] The camera shots added to the emotions, as well. Also, the setting was very well pulled off. The low-rent apartments really looked and felt like low-rent apartments and even the doll house and dolls looked good.

How am I?

I’ve finally decided to lay off on two of the more annoying aspects of Moffat-era Doctor Who due to this episode. First of all, I will no longer whine about perception filters. They’re still a pretty cheap way out of a problem and are brutally overused, but if they get used appropriately in an episode like here, with the sudden reveal that George isn’t really Alex’s kid, I don’t mind as much. Second, I’m over being bitter at the overly obvious teases at series-long story arcs in stand-alone episodes that have nothing to do with the arc (think Amy maybe being pregnant in 6.01). It’s better to just take each episode as is. Although, I will say this, this week’s subtle tease to the Doctor’s unavoidable demise was pulled off very well. Very freaky!

In Conclusion

If you need an episode of Doctor Who to watch when you’re alone and in the dark and are looking for a good scare, this is it. Maybe this and “Midnight.” The atmosphere is spot on and the story works well even if it isn’t the most fresh of materials. You’ll also note that I didn’t even bother to talk about Amy and Rory. They played the parts of the “teenagers entering the abandoned house” in this episode in terms of relevancy, meaning they were just there to run, scream and be hunted by dolls. Nothing more.


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