‘Doctor Who: Night Terrors’ – Episode Recap

Posted Sunday, September 4th, 2011 03:04 pm GMT -4 by 0

A child’s bedroom may be one of the scariest places in the universe. Strange, inexplicable noises combined with the wild imagination of a child can transform into almost any kind of nightmarish creature. And one kid, George, is so terrified of the unseen monsters in his room that his cries for help travel through space and time to reach the Doctor on his psychic paper.

Answering the call, the Doctor, Amy and Rory go to George’s home and begin investigating. It soon becomes apparent that there is something truly strange happening in George’s room, and that it’s not just his imagination. People also seem to be disappearing around them, and Amy and Rory soon join the ranks of the vanished. While the Doctor and George’s father try to figure out what is going on in his room – more specifically, the cupboard in his room – Amy and Rory are transported into a dollhouse where they are stalked by creepy wooden dolls who “just want to play” and will turn you into one of them if they touch you.

This episode certainly brings the creepy in the way we’ve come to expect from ‘Doctor Who.’ Nothing ever really goes from creepy to downright terrifying, but it does create an air of unseen spookiness lurking right around the corner. It does tend to get a bit frustrating when Amy and Rory can’t seem to figure out where they are after it’s been telegraphed so loudly to the audience. It’s only said outright that they’re in a dollhouse when the Doctor finally gets transported into it.

The final explanation for what is happening seems like a hastily constructed one. George is actually an alien. His race, when born, travel throughout the galaxy and install themselves with married couples that can’t have children, altering their memories to make them think that they did have a child and then transforming themselves into the perfect child that this couple wants. George also suffers from some severe phobias, and his ability to transform things into their most ideal form is what is creating the disappearances. Things escalated when George overheard his parents’ frustration at his phobias, and now a fear of being taken away is added to the list. So it’s up to George’s father to convince him that he is loved and will never be taken away before the creepy dolls transform everybody.

Despite having a silly explanation and climax, I still enjoyed this episode. It was a stand-alone written by Mark Gatiss, who has episodes like ‘The Idiot’s Lantern’, ‘The Unquiet Dead’, and ‘Victory of the Daleks’ already under his belt. This is certainly one of his better episodes. It may not stand up tall in the pantheon of great ‘Doctor Who’ episodes, but they can’t all be winners, and I always find myself getting a bit wary when there is a stand-alone. This season, I feel that a bit more intensely because the main story arc has been so complex and intriguing. Still, this was a creepy and entertaining episode that did exactly what it was intended to do. That’s not the worst thing that you can get from ‘Doctor Who’.

Miss last week’s episode? Read our ‘Doctor Who: Let’s Kill Hitler‘ recap and catch up.

  • Marsia

    I thought it was cute,
    aimed more at the children the show is supposed to be for.  I can
    see children hiding behind the sofa for this one.  However…. I’ve since read that this episode was supposed to be aired prior to “The Almost People” (shades of FOX/Firefly) and therefor a bit of tweaking to the Amy/Melody storyline.  In this episode I caught a comment about the flesh and if we had heard it before TAP, would it have changed how we reacted to both that episode and The Company that makes the flesh/captured the flesh for their own uncaring purpose?

    Marsia

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