FINALLY this run gets good. Last week’s “Cold War” showed promise, but this really was in a league of its own.
A ghost story, set in the 1970s were a scientist and a psychic try to solve the mystery of an age-old spirit, but is it as simple as that? Well of course not, though the inevitable scientific explanation (or more accurately pseudo-scientific) didn’t feel like a terrible stretch like they often do. We even got away without a deus ex machina ending, who’d have thought it?
I felt it was all filmed very well, the setting and casting of Dougray Scott and Jessica Raine was great, and the traditional spooky shots were pulled off brilliantly. We had a few split-second scares when there was a lightning strike, but done without the tiresome BAM of a jumpscare that so often gets used in movies.
The effects were sparingly used and well-imagined. The ghost was scary and vague, and that other creature was a triumph for the effects department. Good use of the surrounding forest contributed to a solid package. We even got an exciting final act with the TARDIS’s Cloister Bell chiming, always a sparingly-used omen of disaster.
We even got some development in the Doctor-Clara dynamic, with the honeymoon period seemingly over as the Doctor’s suspicion about Clara’s origins looking set to come to a head next week’s episode. Clara herself is frustrated at the Doctor’s flippancy about the human race’s eventual extinction, unwittingly exposing her to things she doesn’t seem quite prepared for.
It’s not only her that is getting frustrated at his flippancy. If I had to pick a weak link of the episode (or indeed the series), it has been the Doctor trampling over tender or dramatically tense moments with nonsensical babbling, a new-found tactlessness and constant twirling. That pre-credits sequenece would have been a great opener if it had finished at the knocking door. Having a comedy duo behind the door served only to prick the well-prepared tension.
If they can find a happy medium with the Doctor, somewhere between ADHD and ‘serious mode’ gurning, we might be onto a winner. Still, that shouldn’t detract TOO much from what was a great episode. About time too!