Saturday, 27 April 2013

Review: Doctor Who - Hide and Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

After contemporary London, an alien world and a Soviet submarine, the Doctor and Clara fancy a bit of ghost hunting this week as they drop in on Caliburn House, where paranormal investigator Alec Palmer and psychic Emma Grayling are trying to catch themselves a phantom. The Caliburn Ghast, the Wraith of the Lady, the Witch of the Well…
As you can guess from the above description, Hide takes the timeless haunted house setting and takes it for a Doctor Who spin – it’s an episode that revels in all the familiars of this type of story; the old Victorian mansion, the candelabras, the psychic etcetera. However, it injects some good old Doctor Who humour and a perhaps surprising amount of heart; ample time is given to developing the characters of Alec and Emma meaning the episode manages to stay grounded in a story that otherwise takes us to, quite literally, the end of the earth and back.
An issue I had with the episode, however, was the identity of the ghost itself as I felt it detracted from the excellent monster – the warped, grinning Crooked Man. In concept and design he was a great creation whom I felt deserved to be more integral to the plot though the final twist in the tale was pure brilliance.
On the whole, Hide is an episode that promises us spine-tinglings and shudders aplenty but, while they are still an important element, writer Neil Cross actually delivers a touching, occasionally gently funny character drama making it much more than a straight ghost story. A love story, in fact. 

It’s been an ambition of Steven Moffat’s to show more of the TARDIS since he took over from the show. 2010’s Amy’s Choice and 2011’s The Doctor’s Wife both explored the heart and body, if you like, of the Doctor’s ship. And now there’s ‘Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS’ which finally gives us a run-around through everyone’s favourite dimensionally-transcendental police box – and makes a proper, exciting adventure of it. Having been attacked by a spacecraft salvage crew, the TARDIS is a wreck and the Doctor must trust the Van Baalen Brothers, who want the ship themselves, to help save Clara from the dangers at the heart of the TARDIS. Cue cloister bell.
The TARDIS herself obviously receives top billing this episode. Transformed from the Doctor’s magical home into a dangerous, alien labyrinth, although she is not given a voice of her own this time, her free will is felt throughout. It seems she’s a tough old girl. However, despite the TARDIS’ all-consuming star quality, the human cast are excellent too. Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman (whose 27th birthday it is today!) get to probe some of this series’ main themes which test their relationship somewhat while the Van Baalens get some good backstory. The Time Zombies are also an enjoyable and effective addition to the episode with a nice disconcerting technique used by director Mat King to signify their presence. I wouldn't like to run into them in a dark TARDIS corridor.
Forty-five minutes of wonderful, fast-paced story, ‘Journey’ twists and turns in the great Doctor Who way but never feels run-of-the-mill. It might seem somewhat less layered after ‘Hide’ but this suits the style of the episode. And, amongst the action, it does find time to remind us of our two leads characters’ own secrets. A hundred times more mysterious than the infinite insides of the TARDIS…

Nest Saturday, the TARDIS arrives in good ol’ Victorian England again as something sinister is going on in Sweetville, a factory in the faraway world known as, in Strax’s words, ‘The North.’ Will the combined forces of the Doctor, Clara and the Paternoster Gang be able to stop ‘The Crimson Horror’?


  1. I really liked Hide, and the identity of the ghost actually. I really liked the direction that the story took, and thought that it was all managed very well. Really appreciated the time spent on Alec and Emma as well, that and the performances given raised those characters above and beyond the average side characters, and made me care about them. A great episode!

  2. I really agree about the time taken on fleshing out those two which is why I wasn't too keen on the identity of the ghost. Next to these well-developed characters, the real ghost had nothing to contribute to the episode and, I felt, took the place of this fab monster. But, apart from that personal niggling thing, I did enjoy how, like Rings, it had something about that made it feel - perhaps, tonally - different to other episodes of Doctor Who. As you say it was greatly entertaining!


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