- ‘Cold War’ by Mark Gatiss
- ‘Hide’ by Neil Cross
I had forgotten that ‘Hide’ was so much fun.
We start with a classic haunted house ghost story, full of thrills and chills, tempestuous weather, and terrifying smeary old photographs. Jessica Raine (best known for Call the Midwife and ‘An Adventure in Space and Time,’ in which she plays the otherwise inimitable Verity Lambert) and Dougray Scott make a gorgeous Doctor-companion parallel. Clara gets some excellent character stuff; Matt Smith’s face is a work of art; and the rescue of Hila Tukurian and the unnamed monster make a pair of grand adventures. Down sides include cattiness between the TARDIS and Clara – completely out of character for the Doctor’s oldest friend, in my opinion – and service to the ‘impossible girl’ arc. I’d be perfectly happy with the Doctor and Clara deciding to play ghost hunter for a bit – there’s a lovely ‘Tooth and Claw’ feel to some of their scenes together – without any need for the Doctor to go tracking down an empathic psychic to spy on Clara for him. But both are minor in the end; the love-story wrapup, complete with semi-subtle 10th Doctor/Rose nod, is very sweet, if a bit wanky.
Still. A ton of fun, which I did not recall at all.
‘Cold War,’ on the other hand, I found a bit of a snoozefest. A heap of discombobulated ideas mashed into something resembling a story. The pair of nods to the Second Doctor era – the Ice Warriors and HADS, or Hostile Action Displacement System – are fun, and I appreciate the attempt to recreate a little ‘Hunt for Red October’ 80’s cold war feel – not to mention ‘Alien’ – but altogether I don’t think it was very successful. No character gets a reasonable throughline. Nothing at any point makes any sense. It all just feels like a mess. A fine idea, but ultimately a failure.
Sorry, Mr. Gatiss. Better luck next time.
With this pair of episodes, I observe that I prefer to watch the Doctor deal with something he doesn’t know than something he supposedly does. In ‘Hide,’ he has no prior experience of either Tukurian or the mysterious creature trapped with her in the pocket universe; he figures them out as he goes. In ‘Cold War,’ however, he knows the Ice Warriors from prior televised adventures – fine – but also professes to know something of Skaldak personally, knowledge of which fans have no experience. There’s nothing wrong with the Doctor knowing things we don’t know he knows, of course; but pulling things like Skaldak out of thin air, when there’s so much actual relevant show history to work with, annoys me. It would be much more interesting, for example, to learn about Skaldak by talking to him; then we and the Doctor could learn together, and the adventure would feel more like sharing something than being pulled around by the nose.
In theory anyway.
Coming up next: ‘Journey to the Center of the TARDIS’ and ‘The Crimson Horror.’