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Review of Doctor Who ‘Night Terrors’

Neela Debnath

Untitled 17 Review of Doctor Who ‘Night Terrors’

SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 9, series 6/32 of Doctor Who

The Doctor made a stop off from the over-arching storyline to answer a distress call from a seven-year-old boy in this creepy little tale from Mark Gatiss.

It was nice to see the Doctor return to Earth in a setting not dissimilar to that of the viewer, given all the alien planets and time-hopping shenanigans that have taken place so far this series.

It was science fiction meets kitchen sink drama, the latter of which Rory sums up succinctly when he says that the Doctor is in “EastEnders land”. Steven Moffat took ‘Doctor Who’ out of urban London and re-located it to the sleepy, rural village of Leadworth. Therefore, it was interesting to see the show return to a city backdrop and it made the episode even more frightening because it turned the normal into something threatening.

The Doctor remarks that the scariest place in the universe is a child’s bedroom: somewhere that is supposed to safe is in fact where the danger lies. Somehow bags of rubbish seemed to take on a sinister appearance, with an old lady being swallowed up by them. This scene may well have instilled a childhood fear of bin liners among kids across the country.

Jamie Oram gave a mesmerizing performance as George, the boy who is terrified of everything. The way in which he shrinks away from the cupboard and is in a constant state of paralyzing fear is remarkable acting from such a young child. Given that his character is fairly representative of the young audience, it may well have proved to be more frightening because they can relate to his character.

Saying this, it is not just children who would have found ‘Night Terrors’ scary, there were moments that would have made even the most fearless grown-up jump. The creaking doors and inanimate dolls coming to life were spine-tingling.

This episode may receive complaints from concerned parents for being too scary. However, ‘Doctor Who’ has always been known for its scare factor but at the same time, the show gives out the positive message that whatever happens, there are adults like the Doctor who will look after you. The universe can be a scary place but there are always going to be people who will protect you from the monsters.

Matt Smith radiated a paternal tenderness in a lovely scene with George where he used the sonic screwdriver to make the toys in his bedroom move as if by magic. It was heartwarming and a reminder that despite looking so young, the Doctor is ancient and has been a father.

Beautifully written and very touching, the simple premise of ‘Night Terrors’ made it effective, the classic tale of the little boy who is afraid of monsters.

One final thought: the eerie song by the dolls mentions the Doctor’s death, does this mean that knowledge of his death is scattered across time and space?

Image credit: BBC

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  • http://tenderhooligan.wordpress.com tenderhooligan

    I liked it precisely because it didn’t bother with the tedious and ridiculous story-arc of River/ Mels/ Melody/ Amy/ Rory/ an unnecessary Hitler (no less!) of last week. If this series were only the generic DW stories of last night, it would still be better than the mess Moffat is sure to [continue to] make. 

  • bobbellinhell

    Same tired old horror tropes with a flimsy story hastily constructed around them by Moffat. Small wonder that even New Who fans are turning against him – though given that they want RTD back at the helm, their judgement might perhaps be questioned.

  • whoviansince1993

    Well Moffat didn’t write the episode, how can it be his fault? Mark Gatiss wrote the episode (next time read what is says during the title sequence) and maybe you blame his writing not Steven Moffat.

  • http://twitter.com/IGPNicki Shiromi Arserio

    I’m with Tenderhooligan here, I think it was refreshing to not have an arc story. It’s placement is a little odd given the last few episodes, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. There were some really nice little headnods to movies like Poltergeist and The Shining. Plus, it had Daniel Mays from Ashes to Ashes!!
    http://igp-scifi.com/2011/09/dr-who-review-night-terrors/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Timothy-Wilkes/100000482381560 Timothy Wilkes

    Mark Gattis did a Fab job of this who episode, it was small story with easily understandable characters, story and an arch.  In comparison to the others, where you have to ponder 6 episodes back and forth a few to make any sense of whats going on.  If it did feel out of place, that’s because Gattis had to try and make a story that connected some sort of sequence, its hard when most of it has been resolved with River.  The only one now is the doctor having his supposed demise and the girl in the space suit and other things in the mix to finally resolves everything

  • GillyC

    I wish they’d left A Pond as a wooden doll.  Speed the day when the Doctor has a decent side-kick again.  But yes – this was a great episode: how many children now will be fantasising that they’re really aliens looking for a loving family?  Brilliant!


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