Doctor Who: Series 6, Episode 9 – Night Terrors

The scariest place in the world is a child’s bedroom. I must say, I don’t recall finding my bedroom that scary. The occasional moment where you see a shadow and can’t figure out what it is, but not much of the “monsters in the cupboard” stuff.

However, plenty of children do find bedtime and the subsequent switching off of the lights a rather terrifying time, and this story captures that fear amazingly well. A little boy is exceptionally frightened and that leads the Doctor to make a house call. I did like how reluctant Rory was to approach the boring council estate – after flying about planets and punching Hitler, a bunch of flats did not seem much of a challenge.

They split up to find where the scared little boy was, and I was surprised that the Doctor didn’t bring out the psychic paper earlier. Door after door was slammed in their face, but surely it would have been quicker to flash the paper to more people. Also, you would think they’ve learnt by now not to split up. Quite apart from the Doctor wanting to go and investigate the boy by himself, does he not realise that leaving Amy and Rory by themselves will inevitably lead to some disaster befalling them?

And it was so, with the pair falling into what eventually turned out to be the dolls house. Second episode in a row that they have been miniaturised. I didn’t find the dolls that scary, there have definitely been more unsettling monsters, although the giggling child’s voice was uncomfortable to hear.

Meanwhile, on the outside, the Doctor was busy trying to persuade the father what was really going on. That monsters were real and that a perception filter was at work. Am I going crazy or is the perception filter thing being used more and more? I don’t really remember it much in the previous two Doctors episodes, but it’s used an awful lot for the Eleventh.

On the flip side, it feels like a long time since the Doctor has had to explain the concept of monsters and aliens to a completely normal uninvolved human being. It’s great to see him interacting in the normal family environment again, making cups of tea, and studying photo albums. We wouldn’t want that all the time either, but it’s nice to see a return to home and a bit of variety.

I liked the story, I didn’t find it that scary, but it was intriguing. There was some great dialogue between Amy and Rory, and between the Doctor and Alex. It was another good standalone episode, taking the pressure off that giant over-arcing story. I quite enjoyed it, although I still think we’re nowhere near the quality of series five.

Oh, and where can I get a copy of The Emperor Dalek’s New Clothes?

6 thoughts on “Doctor Who: Series 6, Episode 9 – Night Terrors

  1. I enjoyed this episode. Back to the good old days and its nice to forget about Amy, Rory, Melody, River for a while! Mark Gatiss is a very clever writer (League of Gentleman proves that) and I suppose he avioded the really scary stuff cause of the children watching! With his classic horror/comedy writing, maybe he toned down on the horror just a little! Well done, good episode but looks like we are back to normal next week (yay!).

  2. What makes me smile about the writing sometimes is the little things like the Doctor’s stories as a child being told to him. Just genius!

    Doctor Who either does a great job with these one off episodes or they don’t really add to anything. Luckily I found this fell in the ‘really good out of the arc’ episodes quite well 🙂

  3. With his classic horror/comedy writing, maybe he toned down on the horror just a little!

    I loved the Confidential interview with Moffat, where he pointed out that the genius in Gatiss’ writing is that it is clearly dark and based in horror but because you can tell he loves it so much and it’s coming from a good place, that shines through and takes the edge off.

  4. I really liked the way that this episode had the Doctor travelling half way across the universe just to answer a cry for help from a child – it’s just another way of showing what a real hero he is.

    I wonder if there were any children crying out for a visit from the Doctor in real life. That must be a little bit disappointing when he doesn’t show up!

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