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Review of Doctor Who ‘Hide’ – Series 7, episode 9

Neela Debnath

Doctor Who  Hide   preview pictures 300x180 Review of Doctor Who Hide   Series 7, episode 9

(BBC)

SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen ‘Doctor Who’ episode 9 of series 7/33

If fans were still not happy with last week, then do not despair because Hide supercedes even Cold War in its brilliance, proving to be terrifying for both the adults and children watching.

This was the second story from Neil Cross whose first offering The Rings of Akhaten was nowhere near as strong as this week. What started off as a bog standard haunted house story evolved into an unexpectedly and decidedly science fiction-led tale, using a timey wimey explanation that gave flexibility to the plot and allowed for the crossover between the two genres. Hide is great is because it takes the story in such a surprising direction that no one saw coming, it defies logic, comprehension but most importantly predictability. The envelope of time in a parallel universe reminded me of E-Space and I wonder if that was a little something for the fans of the classic series. This envelope was also a unique explanation of what was thought to be the ghost, it was a great how science fiction was used to explain the supernatural elements.

Hide was a wonderful meld of horror and sci-fi, seguing from one genre to the other without any sense of jarring. From the unexplained noises to the ominous message on the wall, this adventure employed classic horror film techniques to unsettle the viewer. I was left particularly disturbed by the pin board of photographs of the supposed ghost through the ages which looked a lot like the elongated, shadowy figure in the title credits for The X-Files. It was spine-tingling stuff.

This week’s guest stars Dougray Scott and Jessica Raine were wonderful as two people hopelessly in love but afraid to share their feelings for one another. The scenes featuring only Scott and Raine felt very serious and restrained, giving the episode a more adult tone. Of course there was also the underlying sexual tension that added to this grave and mature atmosphere. However, the instant the Doctor bounded onto the scene, the taught lines of tension snapped and the heavy mood lifted, the episode became comedic and lighter. It was a necessary change in tone because otherwise the whole story would have been unbearably intense if it has remained in the same vein for the entire time.

In amongst all the twists and turns of the plot, the best twist was right at the end of the episode when the Doctor realised that the ‘evil’ creature he had been running away from was actually just a lonely-hearted alien. It was such an abrupt turnaround and I loved it because it veered away from the predictability of Doctor Who villains that we have seen so much of recently. It was also a reminder to the viewer not to judge a hideous-looking, gnarled creature by its appearance alone, even if the sight of it makes you vomit onto the nearest child or shield your eyes in disgust. At the end of the day, ugly aliens have feelings too and not all of them are power-hungry tyrants or ‘alarm clocks’ for evil-suns god-creatures that feed off emotions. If you ever forget this important moral, then take Hide as your case in point. The last act of this story is like the Aesop’s Fables of Doctor Who and don’t you forget it.

Hide has been the best episode of this half of the series so far but there is all to play for with several more episodes to come and the 50th anniversary special in November. Overall the standalones that make up series 7/33 have felt far superior to the convoluted overarching storyline that left me and many others bemused – I think I’m still trying to figure it all out in my head.

On a small note, one thing worth pondering for next time, what did Emma Grayling (Raine) mean about ’sliver of ice’ in the Doctor’s heart? It was quite a dark turn of phrase and left me with an ominous sense of foreboding. Something is coming.

Next week on Doctor Who… We are taken into the heart of the Tardis on a mission to find Clara after the old girl gets pulled in a by an outer space salvage crew.

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  • bobbellinhell

    Interesting to see from these comments that even former collaborators are starting to realise that the New Who emperor has no clothes.

  • Steve L

    I have to agree, this is a very bad series so far. Poor script. Sack the writer. I cannot stand the acting of the new Doctor Who assistant. She is very poor and hardly has any part in it so far. Very unimpressed with her she cannot act. Her character is just so poor and really meaningless to the whole 3 stories so far. They don’t really need her. I find her part very weak which does her no favours.

  • clare62

    I hate the new stories. Its only been saved by the actors who have generally been great. The stories themselves lack any meta-narrative.. which I loved in the last series… and have become children’s adventure yarns. The Doctor has turned into a buffoon and is dreadfully over acted.

  • http://twitter.com/paulmitchell89 Paul Mitchell

    Some people complain just for the sake of complaining

  • Simon_99

    Doctor Who is a “family” show aimed at an early teen audience (or younger), written by people with no apparent familiarity with the genre of science fiction. There’s very little in there which is new or original. Trapped in a bubble of time that’s moving much more slowly than the rest of the world? It’s been done many times. Look at “The Man Who Walked Home” by James Tiptree Jr (aka Alice Sheldon, 1915-87).

    There’s also very little in the way of plot consistency from one episode to the next, or within episodes. Mere minutes after saying that the TARDIS would “die” within 10 seconds if it entered the pocket universe, there it is humming merrily along with no ill effects. Are the writers like Guy Pearce in Memento? No ability to remember anything that happened more than a few seconds previously?

    The mistake people in forums like this make is to imagine that Doctor is actually science fiction. It’s not. It’s basically another BBC children’s show – “Merlin” – with a slightly different plot. The Doctor is a wizard and his sonic screwdriver is the magic wand. When you’re dealing with magic there’s no need for consistency. And don’t give me that Arthur C Clark quote about advanced science blah blah.


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