Sunday, 24 August 2014

I think I feel at home....

Well, that was all very unsettling....

My carefully nurtured defence mechanisms; the delicate, carefully-calibrated balance between hope and expectation and realisation that I've had to build for myself after the trauma of Phantom Menace-Gate, all out of sync. It was actually.... not... too bad at all?

Let's start with the monsters. I always start with the monsters (see my little corner of the Inprint Universe):

All of the boxes were ticked:
  • Nice note of shambling body horror (though it might have been nice to have made more of the flappy, mismatching hands.... maybe that's how you spot them: the slow, horrific realisation that your bulky acquaintance has one oddly delicate set of fingers)
  • Non-gratuitous nod back to an old episode for the fan boys (The sinister ticking has gone, but then I can see why it wouldn't work here)
  • Pleasingly gruesome eye-gouging rational for the retractable knives on the arms (though I'd have mixed them up a bit or had little rotating wheels or something more obviously surgical on the end)
  • Coherent, sinister, non-Doctor-fixated motive (he was just another fly that fell into the web)
  • Childlike, Angel-like under the bed scary coping strategies ("If I don't move the monsters won't get me")
  • A nice hint of pathos, so that we can have the usual "Maybe the Doctor is the one who is really the monster' debate when he pushes one of them out of a hot air balloon made of skin.
Most importantly, like the Autons, or the water zombies or the gasmask kids or the rest of relatively few genuinely scary Nu- Who monsters, they had a touch of the unheimlich about them: Like of us, but not like us; skirting the creepy, uncanny boundary between the two. I am with Freud that this is the go-to zone for genuine horror. For that reason I'd have thrown in a kid or two, perhaps the odd robot match girl or chimney sweep, because as Terry Eagleton points out: kids are genuinely scary. They stroll about in our world, like us, but not like us, with our own intense desires and hidden agendas. Amongst us, but not us....coveting our eyes (probably).

And the Victorians ... they're pretty unheimlich too aren't they? You can get scared by our medieval ancestors, wearing codpieces, burning witches and piling corpses into plague pits, but it's all pretty remote isn't it ? The Victorians walked our streets. My Nan had their mangle in her garden (and maybe their ghost on her landing... an old sea captain... I dunno... maybe he ...wanted...his.... mangle.... back...). The Victorians were like us. They wore our clothes , yet they had the self-confidence to conquer half the planet and grow enormous moustaches and stuff small boys up chimneys and let 10% of the population die in workhouses...

And of course old people are unheimlich aren't they ? To younger people and...I dunno.... maybe to themselves as well....... The horror of age and flesh was well on display here... and 2ndSon and DoctorDaughter seemed to find an old Doctor the most frightening thing of all.


  1. I feared when I saw the tophat that we were getting Richard E. Grant back already....

  2. It was great. As good as most if the stuff from the 70s era I've spent the last ten weeks watching with my nippers from when adults were nippers nitpicking over Dr Who today.