DOCTOR WHO: NIGHT TERRORS
Try to see it my way,
Do I have to keep on
Talking till I can't go on?
While you see it your way,
Run the risk of knowing
That our love may soon be gone?
Try to see it my way,
Only time will tell
If I am right or I am wrong!
While you see it your way
There's a chance that we
Might fall apart before too long!
We can work it out!
We can work it out!
(N/B: Due to this being the first arc-light episode since Amy's Freaking Choice last year, I've decided to risk lifting the review embargo. The usual gang of idiots will aid me in this monumental task.)
In an apartment block, a little kid called George is having the titular night terrors.
Nigel: What an irritating kid. I feel no sympathy for the shivering little git.
Dave: Yeah. There's nothing scary here. Nothing sinister at all.
Andrew: You know, call me cynical, but if the kid is so scared at night... why don't the parents let him share the bed? Or give him a nightlight, radio and TIDY UP ALL THE DAMN TOYS SO THEY DON'T LOOK SO CREEPY?! These parents are idiot.
Nigel: Oooh! Check out the mum! It's the Master's girlfriend from The Lakes! In a NURSE'S UNIFORM!
Dave: She's probably a kissogram.
Nigel: Who cares? She can take my temperature any time!
Andrew: Preferably with a rectal thermometer.
Dave: The dad is Jim Keats? No wonder the kid's scared.
George's mum tries to calm George down and fails miserably.
D: OK, I get how turning the light on could kill all the monsters... but turning it on and off repeatedly? How's that going to help? Give them epileptic fits?
N: That'll cause the bulbs to go and leave George in the dark. Idiot.
A: So... he puts everything that scares him in the wardrobe directly opposite his bed? Right where it can hurt him? Morons!
George repeatedly prays for help. This reaches the Doctor's psychic paper.
N: Wow. What a surprise. This little twerp has the powers of the Face of Boe. Or River Song.
A: What's this about the Doctor not doing house calls? What else does he do? In this season alone he's answered his own summons, the Siren's distress call, the Corsair, Amy's request...
D: Smith looks genuinely bewildered, like he can't grasp why that line should be worth starting the titles on. Who can blame him?
The TARDIS arrives.
D: Rory's a real prick, isn't he? Stop bitching about the decor! Someone needs help!
A: Why isn't Amy saying anything? It's like Gatiss can't cope with two companions. She's only there to feed him straight lines.
N: Obviously Gatiss is keeping his promise to not let her get any extraneous screentime.
The TARDIS crew split up and searching for George.
N: So the Doctor can trace the psychic signal to a single night, but not a room number?
D: How come everyone has lost their people skills? Rory's supposed to be the awkward one, but they all act like they've never deal with human beings before.
A: Oh, some little girl twins. Whoop-de-do. What imagination.
D: Why does Amy think they're creepy? All they do is ask who she is when a strange woman bangs on their door in the middle of the night and starts asking if there's been "bother"?
N: My, Bunting from the Indefatigable has let himself go, hasn't he?
A: That WAS in 1999.
N: No excuses!
D: Oh, look, an annoying old woman bitching. I bet Gatiss wanted to drag up to play her.
The Doctor finds George but doesn't tell Amy or Rory.
A: Why? Why is he doing that? If he didn't want them involved, he could have left them in the TARDIS!
D: Jeez, I can't believe Moff thought this could work in this point in the series. Amy and Rory are parents but they go on and on about how they hate kids and think they're creepy. Rory even suggests letting George get eaten by the monsters!
N: Fine with me. The little git bores me.
A: I'm more worried that Rory is skeptical monsters exist. Um, hello?!
D: I'm confused. Is the Doctor supposed to be a deductive genius working out the bleeding obvious. He works out where George is by seeing him through a window, and guesses his name by seeing "GEORGE'S ROOM" on a door. And acts like "HAH! I AM THE TIME LORD VICTORIOUS! BE IMPRESSED!" each time.
Rory and Amy get into a lift and go to hell.
N: That's supposed to be scary, isn't it?
A: Um. I guess.
N: It isn't, though, is it?
D: No. Wierd. I mean, there's nothing wrong on paper. It's just not at all scary.
Meanwhile, a little old lady gets eaten by a pile of garbage.
N: Whatever. Were we supposed to like that whinging old cow who only talks about rubbish?
D: Why does she assume George is hiding in garbage in the middle of the night? Is he the only kid on the estate?
A: Maybe she's the "witch" George is scared of and he regularly hides when she's around.
Rory and Amy wake up in a giant dolls house.
N: Christ Rory! STOP WHINGING!
D: Is Rory a flesh avatar picking up Amy's PMT or something? He sounds utterly sick of everything. He's bored at the idea he and Amy have died! What is his problem?
A: I dunno. He's definitely stupid, though. Eastenders is not set in a council estate, is it?
They freak out finding a giant eye. A glass eye.
N: You think that would be the one thing that DIDN'T scare them, coz of the Atraxi.
A: Maybe that's why?
D: This really isn't scary. The music, the lighting, the fact Amy and Rory are bored shitless rather being scared.
They wander around, followed by dolls in the shadows.
A: I'm sorry, who thought this story would be a good one to come right after the OTHER story about a terrified child in a haunted house chased by shadowy monsters who calls on the Doctor to help?
The Doctor chats to George.
N: Matt really has no bond with this kid at all, does he?
D: He's normally so good with kids. Even that one on the holo-phone.
The Doctor lists his favorite bedtime stories - The Three Little Sontarans, The Emperor Dalek's New Clothes, Snow White and the Seven Keys to Doomsday.
N: MEIN GOTT! Is that supposed to be funny?
A: A whole bunch of six year olds hear a thirty-year-old stage play ref. What is the reaction they're going for?
D: It's not like it's going to impress George anyway!
A: This just annoys me. The scary Gallifreyan bedtime stories cut from Vincent and the Doctor were awesome. This pisses over them.
The Doctor decides to open the closet where all George's horrors are kept.
N: ...this is just Fear Her!
A: On the bright side, it's not The Idiot's Lantern.
Bunting turns up. He's the landlord with a vicious attack dog and he wants his rent.
N: In the middle of the night? What's his beef?
D: So George is terrified of absolutely everything except the huge thug who turns up every week and threatens to beat up his dad? What a prick!
N: And the Doctor just sits around, letting dad get bullied. What a prick!
A: In fairness, you'd think Jim "Satan Is My Master" Keats could look after himself.
D: Is the landlord supposed to be evil? He's a bit creepy but he turns up at an agreed time, listens to dad's sob story, accepts being paid later and doesn't lay a finger on the bloke who owes him cash. He's pretty damn reasonable all things considered.
N: Maybe Gatiss has issues with the rent tribunal after dealing with the gas board and TV detector vans in previous eps?
The Doctor scans the closet with the sonic and shits himself.
N: Well. That ramps up the tension.
D: Finally, a suggestion that this problem ISN'T just an excuse to pad out an episode but might actually be something serious.
N: Wow. Reffing "Empire of Glass". Did someone bet Gattis he couldn't make as many pointless injokes as he could this week or what?
A: "You're not from social services". That was clearly meant to be funny.
N: It failed.
A: Yes, but it makes sense as humor. More than underage assault, anyway.
Amy and Rory are still in a dollhouse. Which is creepy. Apparently.
D: You know, I always thought Rory was quicker on the uptake than this.
N: Darvill's playing him as freaking out, clearly trying to salvage some characterization.
A: Why are they scared again? Is it some fear ray? After your own daughter has MELTED in your hands, how could you be scared of anything ever again?!
N: Oh look. Little old whinging bitch is also in the dollhouse, having been sucked out of reality. This is Fear Her all over again!
A: Could be worse. It's not Quatermass.
N: Mmm. Gatiss is really stretching himself.
D: He needs to realize that having your monster walk in front of camera giggling and doing fuck all isn't enough to rival the Weeping Angels. Little girls on their own aren't automatically creepy. He needs to get round this concept. The Dalton twins were scary because THEY KILLED PEOPLE, not because they were identical little girls.
A: Yeah. These "scary noises" make me think of some little girls having more fun in the next room rather than anything evil.
N: Amy intends to beat up a little girl with a frying pan?! DUDE NOT COOL!
The giggling girls are giant china dolls.
N: OK, that was reasonably scary.
A: So... are they going to do anything else? Or have we just got some girlfriends for the Smilers to grin at?
D: They'd be scarier if they didn't giggle at everything.
N: Amy seems to have returned to the story, pointing out A) things aren't scary and B) Rory is completely out of character. Did Moffat script-edit this bit?
The Doctor and dad wonder whether or not they should open the cupboard.
D: They might let out the Gay Agenda. Again.
N: It's sort of like a Troughton story compressed into a single scene.
A: Dad has lost any and all personality and become someone feeding the Doctor straight lines. I'm sorry if there are monsters in the cupboard, opening said cupboard puts his child at risk. Doesn't he have any paternal instinct?
D: He did a couple of scenes ago.
A: Obviously that got too complicated for the writer to keep.
N: Please God never let him become Executive Producer.
The landlord is swallowed by his own carpet.
A: Hmmm. It seems people George has reason to dislike are being sucked to hell.
N: Wow. Not a bit like Fear Her.
D: That CGI is shithouse. No wonder the guy doesn't look scared.
A: Or why it isn't scary.
D: I like the dog arching his eyebrow as his master is swallowed up.
N: Except the dog is supposed to be incredibly overprotective. Can't Gatiss characterize a DOG properly any more?
A: He's clearly very out of touch with pop culture. He thinks Eastenders is set on an estate and Steed and Peel were in Bergerac...
The Doctor opens the cupboard. At length. Eventually.
N: Twenty five minutes and the cupboard isn't open. GET ON WITH IT!!!
D: Oh look. There's nothing in the cupboard apart from a dollhouse. Colour me amazed.
A: Maybe this was scarier on paper.
The Doctor twigs that George doesn't actually exist.
N: This bit's actually quite good.
D: The Doctor only just noticed a photo of his clearly-not-pregnant mother knocking back booze at a Christmas party the day before he was "born". Again, it seems the author has a very low estimation of the Doctor's intelligence.
A: Good point. He was fooled by the Gelth and the Daleks and unable to talk someone out of punching his lights out...
N: Mmm. Stupid Doctors and fuckwit companions. This is what we have to look forward to if this guy takes over. And Quatermass refs. Just saying.
Having twigged George isn't real, something tries to suck Dad and the Doctor to hell while George whines about how unhappy he is.
N: Christ, that's pathetic. I mean, he's not even TRYING to help! And he's not paralyzed with fear, he's just curled up in self-pity. I cannot find any sympathy for him.
D: Wouldn't it have been a better twist if George was real and everything else wasn't?
A: Didn't they do that in Silence of Library?
N: Meh. What good is originality here?
Meanwhile the dolls turn the landlord into another doll. With a dress.
D: Mmm. Could be worse. Bet he gets turned back.
N: And neither Amy nor Rory even TRY to help. Assholes.
D: Did anyone give Gatiss the Last Centurian memo? This is Rory, not Much the Miller's son! Stop babbling in terror and protect your wife, dammit! YOU BEAT UP HITLER LAST WEEK!
A: In fairness, these are all problems someone else should have noticed.
The Doctor tells dad, "Obvious, isn't it? We're inside the doll's house?"
N: Yeah. Pity no one else twigged so far.
A: Again, it seems like the only way to make the Doctor look clever is to make everyone non-functionally retarded. And pointlessly scared. It's amazing Rory and Amy have been able to survive this long with so little intelligence.
Amy comes up with the cunning plan of letting the evil dolls attack them. She gets turned into a doll herself.
N: ...for fuck's sake. I'm retconning this that some evil alien is telepathically making them all morons this week. Nothing else can make sense.
A: Sadly, I can only agree. The author couldn't think of anything else than Amy and Rory being suicidally insane? This is dreadful!
D: It would be better if Amy Doll had the same clothes. She just gets turned into a doll that in no way resembles Amy at all. Couldn't they afford another flanelette shirt?
N: Said shirt being main clue Amy was a Ganger, remember? Tch. Tch. Tch.
A: That's three tchs.
The dolls attack the Doctor, who tries and fails to beat the shit out of them.
N: Again with the violence! He picks up a giant pair of scissors and tries to STAB something to death that hasn't even tried to hurt him! He doesn't even talk to him? Why does Gatiss think the Eleventh Doctor is a hairtrigger psycho who needs uselessly big props to beat up monsters?!
A: ...I don't know. Shouldn't we be worried about impressionable children stabbing their dolls with scissors now? No way would that have got in under RTD.
D: I miss him.
The Doctor works out that George is an alien cuckoo type thing.
A: Wow. A random alien race the Doctor knows absolutely everything about. That really ramps up the tension.
D: And it's just like Fear Her! Except we actually got more info about the Isolus than "HE'S AN ALIEN! THAT'S EVERYTHING EXPLAINED!"
N: An alien child being raised by humans. Did NO ONE think this was a bit similar to the main freaking story arc?!
A: Am I the only one thinking the "giant termites" theory was better than the actual explanation?
The Doctor shouts to George to stop being a crybaby.
N: Took him freaking long enough.
D: So George isn't evil or wierd... he's just incredibly pathetic?
N: I won't say the obvious Gatiss-related gag insult.
A: Thank you.
Eventually George does so.
A: The script must have been REALLY underrunning this week.
N: Why didn't we see the little old lady turn into a doll?
D: There are three main female characters in this story and they're all sidelined. Amy gets no lines, Mum Claire gets no screentime and whinging old cow is self-explanatory. Even the cameo twins get slagged off. I don't like this.
Turns out Dad once considered getting rid of George, hence George's emotional breakdown and spooky freakout.
N: Rory, of course, has no reaction to the idea of a child being taken from its father.
D: Does Moffat think we're all taking retcon?
A: I'm sorry, after years of desperate IVF treatment that couple decide to get rid of their kid? What for? And if his anxiety only started AFTER this conversation, what did they originally have a problem with?
N: ...LOOK AT HIM! THE KID'S AN UGLY IRRITATING GIT!
D: Gatiss has parental issues, doesn't he? Mr. Connelly, Gwyneth's evil ghost mum and dead, Bracewell's pointless dead parents...
For some reason the dolls try to kill George.
Dad saves him.
A: Meh. What a shock.
N: Just because Dad wants him alive doesn't mean he wants him in his house. Just saying.
D: The dolls can be defeated by being knocked over? And Amy couldn't manage that?!
Everything is sorted out with some unfunny one-liners.
A: Um, so mum's opinion of George isn't worth a damn then?
D: If I came home and found my son had had a complete change of personality thanks to a complete stranger's mysterious actions, I'd want an explanation. But no, Claire is fobbed off with excuses. Doesn't she deserve the truth her son's an alien?
N: Was that line about "the flesh" supposed to be foreshadowing?
Jump-cut to the Doctor's death notice and a garbled nursery rhyme about time running out.
D: Did someone sneeze on the editing machine? What crap.
A: They've clearly digitally swapped Amy's pregnancy test for the death notice.
D: Jeez. Seriously, did ANY thought go into that bit?
Any last thoughts?
D: Well... even given Gatiss' pathological rejection of interconnectedness, Night Terrors keeps up Season 6's focus on the themes of self-awareness, acceptance and family.
N: Pity it's a rip off of Fear Her with a child actor who makes Womulus and Wemus look like Fry and bloody Laurie.
A: All in all, not that bad. I hearby claim this story is a flashback to between Day of the Moon and Curse of the Black Spot as the Doctor sees his death notice and remembers telling George to man up and stop snivelling.
N: Yeah, there wasn't actually a POINT to this story, was there? LKH was about how vigilante justice is wrong. COTBS is about putting greed before family. Hell, even Impossible Astronaut has a vague narrative about the inevitability of death. What has this got?
A: "Face your fears"?
D: That doesn't work. Amy faces her fears and gets turned into a wooden doll - not that her place in the script suffers, of course. And George doesn't face his fear about abandonment, he just gets mollycoddled. By Gatiss' logic, arachnophobics should simply be told "no spider will ever ever hurt you!"
N: So? Gatiss is a moron - we all know that!
D: Yeah. This is way below his effort for Sherlock, which was damn near indistinguishable from Moffat. Fair's fair though, this is the least offensive thing he's done for Who.
N: Yeah. Big props.
D: In a way, it is. But please god never let this guy be put in charge.
A: He wouldn't want the job. Anyone who rips off someone else's script and then needs PADDING could not be a head writer.
N: Especially when he doesn't want to write for Daleks, historical characters, ongoing story arcs or for an audience of normal people.
A: Let's just hope Neil Gaiman takes over.
D: Or Gareth Roberts.
A: Hell, I'd give it a go.
N: Just not Gatiss. It'd be dead in a week.
D: ...hang on, why were the dolls turning people into other dolls again?
A: Oh, that's simple. Since the entire dollhouse realm was controlled by George's subconscious as the place he put the things he feared, everyone he put there would simultaneously be nullified while retaining their terrifying elements. So they'd be harmless dolls, but CREEPY harmless dolls.
N: What a dumb idea.