Stars: Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Daniel Mays, Jamie Oram, Emma Cunniffe, Andrew Tiernan, Leila Hoffman, Sophie Cosson
Writer: Mark Gatiss
Director: Richard Clark
Network: BBC America, airs Saturday nights
Original Telecast: September 3, 2011
Well, after last week’s episode where DOCTOR WHO returned from hiatus with a great big whopping River Song story, this week was a bit different and a bit more intimate. In “Night Terrors” the Doctor (Matt Smith) and his companions are summoned to a child’s bedroom via a message on the psychic paper asking them to stop the monsters from getting him. What ensues is an episode heavy on the creepier factors of DOCTOR WHO and less on the overall arc, or relationships of the characters.
George (Jamie Oram) is a little boy seemingly scared of everything around him, from the old lady down the hall, to the sound of the lift, to a fear of abandonment by his parents who are finding it difficult to deal with all of his behavior problems. The Doctor, Amy (Karen Gillan), and Rory (Arthur Darvill) turn up on the scene and of course the two companions get zapped and placed inside of a dollhouse that has Rod Serling as a landlord and Stephen King helping out with the running of the place and the staff. Other tenants of the building find themselves sucked into the dollhouse as well, and they are caught and turned into creepy wooden dolls by the dolls already playing house inside.
While the idea of trapping people in a dollhouse is not that new, this version has some interesting twists and turns as to the ‘why’ and how people are being stuck into the dollhouse from hell. There is a great moment when the Doctor is attempting to use his sonic screwdriver against the dolls and laments aloud that he needs to add a setting for wood. I do like little consistencies like this in the writing. Some Science Fiction forgets its own rules and suddenly you end up with things happening that were never able to happen before. DOCTOR WHO on the other hand reminds us from time to time of the limitations of machinery or people, in this case harkening back to werewolves and Vashta Narada in previous seasons.
Speaking of well-written dialogue, Rory has a gem when he and Amy first wake up in the dollhouse. He is certain that they are dead…again. At least again in his case as he died multiple times in the fifth series. I love that when something really terrible happens he jumps to a conclusion that most people would have no basis of comparison for!
The supporting cast in this episode are well and good. Jamie Oram is cute as George and has a wonderful terrified innocence throughout most of the episode. Honestly, if kids are better actors than Jake Lloyd (Mannequin Skywalker) I give them the pass go and collect two hundred dollars. Daniel Mays is good as the dad and his tearful acceptance of his son towards the end is really emotional and a great jerker on the old heart-strings.
The dolls in the episode are effective and creepy without being out and out terrifying for little kids. After all, when it comes right down to it, DOCTOR WHO is and always will be a kids’ show. I smell action figures in the wind for the main female doll, and the Amy wooden doll at least.
All in all an enjoyable and almost completely stand alone episode. At the end there is a bit with the Doctor and his impending ‘death’, but that’s about the only continuity moment for the overreaching arc. Although this was the first time I noticed that the lake is “Lake Silence”. Hmmmm. On to next week and dueling Amy Ponds!
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Article: TV Review: DOCTOR WHO – Series 6 – “Night Terrors”