This is probably the last episode about which I remembered absolutely nothing from the original broadcast. The title meant very little to me prior to tonight, and even watching yesterday’s “Next Time” trailer failed to jog the memory. There is one major aide-memoire this time round though – the main woman in it was subsequently cast as Verity Lambert in An Adventure In Space And Time, and therefore I couldn’t help imagining that all of this was happening to Doctor Who‘s first producer.
It seems like an apt night to be watching what is unashamedly an old-fashioned ghost story, although such a thing is not really my cup of tea. I’m not really one for superficial scares like loud creaking noises or glimpses of things in lightning flashes – it’s too easy to take them off them off the shelf and use them in lieu of advancing the plot, and that’s what this felt like at times.
On the plus side, at least there weren’t actual ghosts; as you know, I can only really get on board with supernatural stuff in Who when there’s something vaguely sciencey behind it, and I enjoyed watching the Doctor figure it all out. That said, the psychic girl was seemingly just a bit magic, but they get away with it because she’s a well-performed, likeable character. The same went for the Professor – not much meat on either character, and I can take or leave their romantic subplot, but they seem like nice people who you don’t mind spending time with.
Then there’s Clara. Still nothing at this stage to endear us to her – even old psychic Verity seemed to conclude that there’s precious little depth to her – but now she’s slagging off the TARDIS and wondering why it doesn’t like her. It seems at this stage that the TARDIS is a good judge of character. It’s an obvious point, but the mystery surrounding who Clara is takes up all the time that’s usually reserved for actual character development. It’s not grating on me as much now as it did at the time, as I grew to like her in Series 8 & 9, but it’s definitely a distraction.
I can’t decide whether the extra bit at the end with the monster having its own parallel romantic subplot was lovely or stupid. If you think about it for a while, and ponder where the second monster came from and how it had stayed hidden for so long, it probably veers towards the latter, but in the moment it made me smile and it took me by surprise.
Overall, it’s all pretty much fine, but I can see why I didn’t remember it. It’s partly the non-descript title, partly that there’s no imagery that’s particularly memorable or unique, and I guess also the lack of a real villain, or any guest characters that are out of the ordinary. Everything is perfectly adequate, but nothing is remarkable.