First of all I must acknowledge the fact that I did not write any comments on last week’s episode, Cold War, aka the one with the Ice Warrior on the submarine. I found the episode oddly uninvolving. I had looked forward to the return of a Pat Troughton monster and the Russian submarine stuff so it was a pity I was underwhelmed.
However bonus points do go to the casting of Liam Cunningham and David Warner. On a point of trivia Liam Cunningham was considered for the role of the Eighth Doctor back in the 1990s, and I am sure that David Warner’s name must have come up over the years as well.
But onto last night’s episode, Hide, Written by Neil Cross of Luther fame. Please be aware of spoilers below.
The Doctor and Clara arrive at a old country house in 1974 where a professor called Alec (played by Dougray Scott of Enigma) and his assistant Emma (played by Jessica Raine of Call the Midwife) are researching a ghost that has been seen at that location over hundreds of years. Right away I am receptive to this episode being set firmly in the time of Jon Pertwee’s tenure on the show and it is nice to see some good old fashioned tape decks and toggle switches. The house is suitable spooky and the atmosphere genuinely unsettling.
After an encounter with the ghost the Doctor decides to play a hunch and takes the Tardis back and then forwards in time on the precise spot so he can take photographs to assemble a slideshow. His nonchalance at visiting the formation of the Earth and zipping forward to its destruction unsettle Clara and she realises that “we’re all ghosts to you”. She asks the doctor if her body is buried somewhere out there. The Doctor uncomfortable allows that it probably is, avoiding the fact that she’s died twice already.
Back in 1974 the Doctor assembles his slideshow and we see images of a human woman running from something. The Doctor informs us that she is a time traveller who got caught in a pocket universe. Time is passing more slowly for her than in our universe. She’s been running for minutes but for us its thousands of years. Ultimately the doctor must go into the pocket universe and try to rescue her from that something.
I really enjoyed this episode. I put it down to the location, the period, the guest cast and a well written story. It has a good Petwee era vibe. A joke is made around the fact that in 1974 a companion is called an assistant. Neill cross makes some astute observations about the Doctor by comparing him to both war hero Alec and the something in the pocket universe. Meanwhile empath Emma warns Clara of the sliver of ice in the Doctor’s heart. We also discover the Doctor’s ulterior motive for meeting Emma.
If there is one thing that jars with me its Clara. I have to be brutally honest here and say that I found her a more interesting companion when she died at the end of every episode. A low point for me in this episode was her “Ghostbusters” joke at the start. Although she redeems herself slightly later on when witnessing the last days of Earth and getting a little upset.
But when all is said and done this is my favourite of the four episodes to date. On the strength of this one I hope Neill Cross returns to write many more.