TV: Doctor Who – “The Crimson Horror”

I’m comfortable, Doctor Who seems to be back to normal, i.e. GOOD. “The Crimson Horror” wasn’t amazing, but I’ve seen worse. Faint praise time!

doctor who crimson horror 1We don’t see a lot of The Doctor and Clara until quite late into the episode, an interesting twist that leaves the episode to be carried by the unlikely two of Silurian Madame Vastra, leather-clad lesbian accomplice Jenny and Sontaran Strax. I know Strax is a bit “Sarah Jane Adventures”, but I think he’s one of my favourite recurring characters at the moment.

The episode explores mysterious goings-on in a Wonka-like factory facility, “Sweetville”. People are going missing once they enter, and bright red corpses are turning up in canals. It’s grim up North, indeed.

Diana Rigg was decent as scatty old monster Mrs Gillyflower, with her real-life daughter cast as her blind daughter Ada. Both turned in good performances, but Mrs G didn’t feel like much of a threat, did she?

doctor who crimson horror 2Writer Mark Gatiss wasn’t going for a scary episode evidently, though some of the humour fell a bit flat. That “TomTom” scene was a real shark-jumping moment, awful! I enjoyed the unplanned fits of violence leaving The Doctor a bit flustered, Gatiss seemed intent on not solving problems the usual way.

The sense of whimsy occasionally felt a bit flippant, particularly in the conclusion to the story, it didn’t seem like people cared that much, did it? But it was an almost “League of Gentlemen” storyline really, it was just a bit unexpected. I was disappointed by the final scenes though, which didn’t really make any progress with Clara’s storyline (aside from involving some no-doubt-insufferable brats and some impossibly unlikely detective work). The trio of course recognised Clara from her previous incarnation as… Clara in the Christmas special, but the subject was avoided by The Doctor and that was that.

Unless it’s NOT a previous incarnation? Sounds unlikely though. We’ll see. Cybermen next week, I’ll try to contain myself.


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