Doctor Who – Night Terrors – Episode review

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

  1. 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!
  2. Rory automatically assuming that they were fake dead again, and Amy brandishing a wooden pot.
  3. The Evil Landlord getting sucked through the carpet. Overtones of a Nightmare On Elm Street, anyone?
  4. 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!
  5. A stunned Rory and Amy walking out of the lift. “Did that just happen?”
  6. 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!

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7 Comments

  1. Emperor Gregor

    It’s an interesting idea, but on the other hand Moffat has said about Lake Silencio that it is the doctor, and he is dead. And last week the people in the Tesselect said that this was a fixed point in time. The Doctor died then, always had and always would.

    Mind you – they also said “it’s in the records”. It isn’t an eyewitness (only the Doctor’s nearest and dearest were there). It’s the recorded history of the event. And history can be rewritten.

    1. Carl Rood

      They went out of their way to point out that the Gangers who became independent were just as real as the originals.  They also made a point that it could be possible for the Ganger Doctor to reform.

  2. Emperor Gregor

    I do have to say that they messed up the scheduling for this one. I suppose they wanted a strong stand alone episode leading up to grand climax, but did they have to have people miniaturised in both episodes in successive weeks – first the Tesselect then the doll’s house.

  3. sgreco1970

    not a very good episode in my opinion. Plot was thin and a bit all over the place. Im growing more and more disappointed as the season progresses. I dunno, maybe they do need to take time off next year. Or maybe Moffat needs to hire a serious writer. He is squandering so much potential here.

    1. Emperor Gregor

      It started reasonably well. It’s an interesting idea that you can be so scared you psychic paper gets a message. But the universe must be full of people that scared, so why isn’t the doctor on full time duty, popping in and out of timezones, maybe with a system to prioritise the messages.

      And I found the core of the plot – Rory and Amy as miniturised couple running up and down corridors trying to dodge something that’ll kill them – a bit samey after last week.

      And for all those who don’t like Amy and Rory much – Karen G has revealed they will be appearing next year.

  4. Emperor Gregor

    I read someone yesterday asking why the Doctor, dying and with minutes to live, changed his suit. At such a moment! And a morning suit at that.

    The proposed answer was that he went off to marry River to prove he cared enough, so he could then tell River that before he dies.

    That makes more sense than a Doctor who just changes suits – even River thought that was mad. But how did he do it? The Tardis doesn’t seem to have gone anywhere. 

    I do also wonder if what the Doctor whispered as he died was his name. Ten said that there was only one time he could tell anyone his name at all. I still wonder if that answer is the moment you are dying. Really dying as in “the end” and no more regeneration. We saw in the Shakespeare Code that this gives someone power over you. If you were really dying I suppose one of the powers over you someone had would be to stop you dying. If that’s the case, Ten’s hair must have stood on end when he heard her whisper his name. I suppose a wedding service might do it, if each has to give total power over themselves to the other.

    In that case, in “The Wedding of River Song” he really does have to marry her in order to tell her his name.  

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