Sometimes, when an episode of Doctor Who is quite intense (as last week’s Let’s Kill Hitler was), it’s nice to sit back and take in a standalone episode.
Night Terrors was a Mark Gatiss-penned adventure, so River Song got left behind (presumably in the 52nd Century) along with any hint of the series’ story arc. Phew. So, brains suitably dialled back from a state of High Alert, we can sit back and enjoy what’s actually a genuinely spooky episode of Who.
In a nutshell, The Doctor receives a distress call via his psychic paper, from a child who is so terrified that his fear can contact a TARDIS halfway across the universe. Maybe you’re so taken with the parallels between George and Young Amy Pond to see that it’s odd that a normal human boy can contact The Doctor this way? Still, how cool to be a kid and think you could call a Time Lord whenever you needed one. It’s almost like praying…
Upon arriving at the dingy block of flats, Amy and Rory promptly disappear into what looks like a haunted house. While The Doctor blags his way into George’s flat by pretending to be a child psychologist. As you do. He quickly establishes that the child’s fears aren’t irrational at all.
Er…and that’s essentially it. Night Terrors was a pretty straightforward haunted house type story. We’ve seen stuff like it before, notably Fear Her back in the Tennant days, or as The Guardian’s Dan Martin noted, The Empty Child from the Ecclestone days. Still, I have to say that it was a very atmospheric episode of Who, and I expect that children were back to literally cowering behind cushions. A solid episode of the show, and drawing inevitable comparisons with the awful The Curse Of The Black Spot.
The revelation that the child was indeed an alien was more or less expected, and I liked the fact that it was his father’s acceptance that saved the day. Not perhaps the most satisfying conclusion, but I prefer to think of this as a “for the kids” episode. Although the atmospherics were pretty effective, even on this adult.
Favourite moments from Night Terrors
- The old lady getting pulled into the bin bags – you saw it coming a mile off, but it was so sudden it was still a shock!
- Rory automatically assuming that they were fake dead again, and Amy brandishing a wooden pot.
- The Evil Landlord getting sucked through the carpet. Overtones of a Nightmare On Elm Street, anyone?
- Those creepy dolls, their overlarge heads and black eyes. Did they make you shudder too? I can just imagine the playground games on Monday with kids catching each other and ‘changing’ them into dolls as well!
- A stunned Rory and Amy walking out of the lift. “Did that just happen?”
- And…The Doctor’s still doing his weird kissy thing that he did at Amy and Rory’s wedding!
My Top 12 quotes from Night Terrors is on Unreality Primetime this week. Go check it out!
In the flesh?
Finally…an innocent but rather ominous bonus quote from right at the end of the episode:
The Doctor: “It’s good to be back together again. In the flesh.”
Is The Doctor giving a subtle hint that he’s actually a Ganger? I’m dying to hear what you think!