Doctor Who Episode 6.9: Night Terrors
Maybe one of these years, I’ll actually write something around the time when it actually occurred. I mean, yes it’s not my fault that my wife was too scared to watch Night Terrors (the trailer wigged her out, what can ya do). So I had to watch the episode on Sunday night, and then the Labor Day holiday, and trips to museums and mini golf and back to school…. *sigh*
Anyway, Night Terrors. After two straight episodes of thick rich continuity deep mythos, we get an episode that could have been told with any Doctor, any companions, and anywhere.
- Alex and Claire live in modern-day England and have a son named George who is terrified of everything. All of the things that scare him are sent into the cupboard in his room. When George goes to sleep he ‘prays’ that someone can help save him from the Monsters. Across the fields of time-and-space, The Doctor gets the message and re-routes The Tardis to the location.
- Upon arriving at the complex, The Doctor splits up from Amy and Rory. The Doctor sees George peeking out the window, and knocks on the door, pretending to be from Social Services, there to help George.
- All of the things around the housing unit that scare George are taken to a mysterious place: the garbage dump, the elevator lift, and even the landlord. Amy and Rory are in the lift when they ‘wake up’ in the mysterious place, a house that is made of wood. In this house they are being chased by dolls.
- The Doctor talks to George and his father, as his mother has gone off to work for the evening. He realizes that there is a tremendous amount of energy coming from the cupboard. After confronting Alex and looking at photo albums, he realizes that there are no pictures of Claire being pregnant. Turns out that Claire can’t have children, but Alex and Claire both forgot that fact. The Doctor starts to confront George about what he is, when he and Alex are pulled into the cupboard.
- The dolls turn Amy and the landlord into dolls like themselves, and start to chase The Doctor, Alex, and Rory. The Doctor realizes that George is a Tenza child, an empathic alien who has the power to give energy/life to anything, in this case the things that scare him.
- George hears The Doctor and gets the courage to open the cupboard door, where he is pulled inside. The dolls then advance on George.
- The Doctor tells Alex that he has to make George believe that they are not going to send George away. When Alex embraces his son and makes him believe, then everyone is free from the dollhouse.
- After a recap with Claire and Alex that everything is alright, The Doctor, Amy, and Rory leave to go on to the next adventure.
Doctor: That’s what it’s called. Pantophobia. Not fear of pants, though, if that’s what you’re thinking. It’s a fear of everything, including pants, I suppose. In that case… sorry. Go on.
Doctor: When I was your age, about, ooh, a thousand years ago, I loved a good bedtime story. “The Three Little Sontarans,” “The Emperor Dalek’s New Clothes.” “Snow White and the Seven Keys to Doomsday,” ay? All the classics.
Doctor: You see these eyes? They’re old eyes, and one thing I can tell you, Alex: monsters are real.
Alex: You’re not from Social Services, are you?
Doctor: I might pop back around puberty, mind you. Always a funny time.
Doctor: I’ve got to invent a setting for wood, it’s embarrassing
Not many this week, as non-mythos stories have fewer questions.
Q1. The Doctor mentions bedtimes stories that include Daleks and Sontarens. Is the new canon that the Time Lords always new these creatures? Or is The Doctor being funny?
Q2. Why would a 5 year old boy have a dollhouse? Is this a British thing?
- (Potentially) The search for Melody Pond appears to be over, and Rory and Amy are back to adventuring with The Doctor.
Thoughts and Asides
- Episode seemed very repetitive of old episodes. Perception Filter reminded me of The Lodger. Child that needs to overcome their fears: Family of Blood. Parent that needs to assure their child that everything is alright: The Doctor Dances.
- I didn’t find the ‘dollhouse’ nearly as creepy as the housing unit. They really did their best to make that very very spooky looking.
- I get the need of the Tenza to take on the aspects of the family, and the perception filter, but no sense of arrival, no sense of self.
- Needed much better explanation as to what a Tenza is. I know that some things get cut in a 48 minute episode, but even so.
- Nice that it was Amy who was killed/turned into a mindless creature for once. Leaving Rory alone for an episode. Regardless, it still felt like a repetition.
- Okay, why the giant eyeball in the drawer????
- Not enough explanation of the Dollhouse. One brief look and we accept that it’s there.
- Loved The Doctor as the savior of the scariest places in the world, a child’s bedroom. That was very magical, modern magical, like Gaiman-esque. Need not have The Doctor be a Peter Pan figure, and still have that be true.
- The emotional payoff at the end did work. Maybe it wouldn’t have 6 years ago before I became a father, but it definitely did the other night.
It was a good episode. It was well executed. I can’t really kill the episode simply because it reminded me of too many other Doctor Who stories that had a similar setup, similar monster type, similar conclusion. There are only so many new plots and resolutions. I get that. And I enjoyed the time I spent. The episode was not nearly as creepy as advertised though. A good exercise in what scares us.