By Will Barber – Taylor
There’s something very odd about Mrs Gillyflower’s Sweetville mill, with its perfectly clean streets and beautiful people. There’s something even stranger about the bodies washing up in the river, all bright red and waxy. When the Doctor and Clara go missing, it’s up to Vastra, Jenny and Strax to rescue them before they too fall victim to the Crimson Horror!
Contains mild spoilers
The Crimson Horror is what is known as a “Doctor light” episode. This means that the episode does not feature the titular Timelord as much as normal and instead focuses on another character or group of characters. Such examples are Blink and The Girl Who Waited. While these episode were excellent pieces of drama which showed off the diversity of the series, this one is a “mixed bag”.
The episode is good, but there are moments of hilarity which are not intended to be funny. Gattis has said “it is a pastiche of Hammer Horror films”. Now granted some of the old Hammer Horror’s have some deliberately silly moments but other parts are funny when we are meant to take them seriously. This story writhes and wanders about like Frankenstein’s creation.
The story begins with Jenny, Vastra and Strax receiving a visitor. It is soon revealed that in the north of England experiments are going on at the ideal community of Sweetville. After some slow scenes with Jenny exploring the building and Vastra waiting in London for updates, the story really gets going when we see The Doctor covered in the Crimson colour of the title. The fact that this is supposed to be serious is rather hilarious as Smith stomps about looking like a bright red turnip. The scene could have been quiet dramatic but instead ends up being silly and a tad rushed. After getting himself back to normal, the intrepid Timelord decides that it is time for him actually get on and save the world. After some more running about, Strax doing some jokes and more running about we come to the conclusion of the story. The infamous Mr Sweet turns out to be a big bug attached to Diana Rigg’s upper chest. Lovely. The Mr Sweet model is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Though it begs the question, where did they meet? How long has he been attached to her? Exactly how do you find a mysterious prehistoric creature that nobody has heard of before? All these questions are left unanswered, as are the questions Jenny and co ask The Doctor about why Clara is still alive. It seems that we will have to wait till next week to find out anything more about the Clara mystery (though knowing Moffat we will probably find out in the last seconds of the finale).
Dan Starkey gives a wonderful comic turn as Strax. Starkey knows how the play to the audience with his great delivery and brilliant comic timing. The whole idea of a Sontaran dressed as a Victorian butler is only the great visual gag we get. Strax’s wearing of a top hat is a treat to see and is some of the best visual humour this series.
All in all The Crimson Horror in an enjoyable enough episode with lots of actions and humour, even if the humour sometimes comes from more serious moments. It is definitely one to check out if you are just getting into Doctor Who.
NIGHTMARE IN SILVER
- Thoughts on The Crimson Horror (asuccessionofbusynothings.wordpress.com)
- Doctor Who – After The Crimson Horror (xiscomyst.wordpress.com)
- The Crimson Horror (review) (everything2.com)
- Doctor Who: The Crimson Horror (mikecanex.wordpress.com)
- The Crimson Horror: Tomorrow at 6.30pm. (musingsofamildmanneredman.com)
- The Crimson Horror (chrisjbradley.com)
- Police Box Paradox – The Crimson Horror LIVE Broadcast!! (haveageekasm.com)
- Grossly Gothic: Doctor Who “The Crimson Horror” (tor.com)
- Police Box Paradox : Episode 015 : Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS/The Crimson Horror (haveageekasm.com)