Thankfully the first episode i'm reviewing is a rather good one, episode 9 of this series, 'Hide.' Bar 'Cold War', and perhaps 'Dinosaurs on a Spaceship', i've found series 7 to have been rather lacklustre thus far. Stephen Moffat and his team have failed to reach the brilliant heights of the superb series 5, when Matt exploded onto our screens with the boisterousness of an 8 year old and the wisdom of a wacky professor. My love for Doctor Who means I still watch week in week out, and while I obviously find most episodes to be enjoyable and fine, I'm still hoping for better. So, without further adieu...
Hide follows on from the brilliant Mark Gatiss written 'Cold War' the week earlier, beginning with the Doctor and Clara (Jenna Louise Coleman) happening upon a haunted house in the 1970s. We are introduced to the occupiers of this grand mansion, Professor Alec Palmer (Dougray Scott) and physic Emma Grayling (Jessica Raine) as they hunt for the ghost who haunts the grounds. But obviously with the Doctor involved, we know this is no ordinary ghost story.
The episode begins in a genuinely scary fashion, the setting and the lighting are perfect in creating an atmosphere that is not just frightening for children but adults too. Both Alec Palmer and Emma Grayling are well developed and very intriguing characters throughout the episode, particularly Palmer, who draws many similarities to the Doctor. He is also portrayed brilliantly by Dougray Scott with humility and a certain weariness. While I did not totally care for the romance between the pair, it did not annoy me so much as to distract me from the main storyline.
The storyline being that the ghost is not actually a ghost (surprise surprise!), but a time traveler in a 'pocket universe', explaining the white ghostlike figure in all the pictures. Yet when inspected more closely, she is being chased by a monster. Using Emma's physic powers and of course some timey-wimey equipment, the Doctor manages to enter the pocket universe, saving the futuristic time traveler, yet getting trapped there himself, with only the monster to keep him company. What follows is at points most unusual yet unnerving, most poignantly because the Doctor himself appears so frightened, uttering in hushed breath "I am the Doctor, and I am scared." Where is Clara all this time you might ask? Well she is busy persuading the TARDIS to fly into the pocket universe and save the Doctor, a request which it accepts, flying into the centre of the storm, saving the Doctor from the hands of the monster.
There are some lovely scenes between the Doctor and Clara, indicating there continually superb and hilarious chemistry, Matt and Jenna bounce off each other so lovingly, they are a joy to watch on screen. While there is also character development, when the Doctor goes through all of Earth's ages in order to prove his theory about the time traveller, Clara becomes upset at the sight of everything eventually ending, while the Doctor can only reply nonchalantly about it. It's a nice bit of acting from Coleman, but it also indicates the sensitive and caring soul of Clara, bringing back memories of her dead mother. The continuing relationship between Clara and the TARDIS not only creates some cleverly comic scenes, it is also more indication that there is something infinitely different about her, justifying the Doctor's persisting journey into solving everything she is about.
One of my few issues with the episode though was that we never found out what exactly the space monster thingymabob was. The most we found out is that it wanted to get out of the pocket universe and return to its true love at Caliban mansion. Although I did particularly like this spin on the story, that it was primarily about love, linking in with the romance between Grayling and Palmer. I also felt the idea that Grayling and the time traveller being related was a little rushed and didn't particularly add much, if anything to the plot.
However i'm happy to overlook any criticisms, as I thoroughly enjoyed Hide, and it was a definite improvement on Neil Cross' last episode 'The Rings of Akhaten.' It was frightening, funny, well acted, and the change in direction of the story was refreshing. With Cold War and now Hide, i'm hoping that series 7 is on somewhat of a good run, and that next week's 'Journey to the centre of the TARIS' will continue this. It looks promising, and i'm hoping we get to explore much more of the TARDIS, building further on what we saw Amy and Rory go through in 'The Doctor's Wife' of series 6.