Doctor Who Under the Lake & Before the Flood

Doctor Who 8Doctor Who?
At the heart of Doctor Who is mystery…
An underwater base haunted by murderous ghosts.

Doctor Eek!
Doctor Who; scaring kid’s since 1963…
This pair of episodes had a nice bit of tension going on. The base was suitably moody and claustrophobic, and although some of this was lost in the Scottish Russia it was at least bleak and isolated. But the fear came from the ghosts themselves. Hollow-eyed creatures are right up my alley, having my own in ‘The Darkwood Mysteries: The Conspiracy of Shadow & Fire’, and the silent whispering was a nice touch. The scene where Cass is walking through the corridor deaf to the sound of a ghost following her and dragging an axe was particularly creepy.

Doctor Hmm…
When Doctor Who has a stumble…
‘Under the Lake’ was a strong episode which used a claustrophobic setting to great effect, and then ‘Before the flood’ lost some of that by taking us out of that base and into Scottish Russia. The base under siege type of episodes are generally simple but effective stories, but this seemed a little over complicated to me, with the change in setting and the temporal paradox. Considering ‘Doctor Who’ is a show involving time travel there have been few forays into the complications of time—and that’s because it can be so f***ing complicated. I had way too many drunken conversations about the Terminators arm in ‘Terminator 2’ in my youth. ‘Day of the Daleks’ did it without the brain f*** for me, and this was just a little too much for me, even with a Doctor fourth wall introductory lecture and Google search suggestion.

Doctor Meh…
When Doctor Who doesn’t quite hit the spot…
The mixed joy of a cliff hanger. The Doctor’s a ghost. Except we know he’s not dead. So… That fell a bit flat, and there was a bit of time debating this and figuring it out which when the mystery is solved feels like a bit of a waste of time. Also, I do hope holograms aren’t going to be the new sonic screwdriver get out. The reveal of the Fisher King behind the ghosts was initially impressive. It broke away from the silhouette and proportions of a regular person in a rubber suit to make this monster more than that—and then it went into full on overcast daylight and moved, and was less ‘Predator’ style alien and more ‘Power Ranger’ villain as it wobbled along. That being said, it’s still up there with one of the better monsters we’ve had.

Doctor Ooh!
Those moments when Doctor Who gives geekbumps…
Corridors and running. It’s like fish finger sandwiches (without custard) or PB&J sandwiches. They complement each other so well. These two episodes had some very nice corridors to sandwich our crew in. Classic Who is full of standard scenery flats of varying shades of grey, corrugated plastic or mesh, or random real corridors filmed as locations which tend to jar against the rest of the sets—this was an impressive set of corridors.

However, the geekbumps this week came from the Doctor himself, and even Clara too (decidedly not hating her for the first time—I’m shocked). The scene where Clara pulls the Doctor up for his inhuman indifference and insensitivity was genuinely lol levels of funny. I’ve always liked the Doctor at his cold detached self as he contemplates the bigger picture over some dead ‘apes’ and this did it, but with humour, and I felt the geek love for this old man in a police box that I haven’t felt much at all in new Who.

Doctor Well?
A show that can be different story to story will divide its fan base…
Another strong offering for season 9. Impressive set, effects and production values. The first episode felt slick and polished to a shine. I wouldn’t feel any Who shame showing this to a newbie. The two episode format is working well for Doctor Who, getting more time to spend with the characters and more time for the stories to build and breathe. This was fun and creepy and I would give it a solid 3 corridors out of 5. If Season 9 keeps this up I will be a very happy geek.


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