By Will Barber – Taylor
In previous years we at this humble website have reviewed each episode of the then new series of Doctor Who individually as they went out. However, in the spirit of the return of the two parters, it has been decided to review the two parters together as if they were one coherent story. However, as Sleep No More isn’t a two parter so we return to the previous format of reviewing stories as individual episodes.
Sleep No More is probably the oddest episode of the series so far. Credited as the first “shaky cam” episode, we can only hope that it is the last. What it brings to the table in terms of newness isn’t backed up with a story that can make the episode more individualistic. Sleep No More could be easily be retitled Time to Sleep.
The story is fairly generic with a space crew answering a distress call from another ship and going to bring back the sole survivor Professor Rassmussen (Reece Shearsmith) from his ship that holds the Professor’s creation, the Morpheus box which helps you to sleep for months at a time in minutes. After The Doctor and Clara become involved with the situation we get the usual run around the space ship which we previously saw in Under The Lake/Before The Flood. However, in that two parter, there was fantastic writing, characterisation and directing and the actors had a sense of chemistry that is lacking in Sleep No More. While the cast are good, they don’t gel and so the whole story doesn’t hold together – we can’t relate to them because they don’t relate to one another.
Though the acting in general isn’t particularly good or bad, Shearsmith does give a worthwhile performance. As Rassmussen he depicts his character as so eerie that at times it can be unsettling. Of particular note is his final confrontation with The Doctor which for younger viewers will be quite chilling.
Sleep No More is a dull episode. That’s it really. It isn’t bad like The Woman Who Lived or a mess like The Rings of Akhaten, it is just incredibly boring. There is nothing new in the episode other than the use of the shaky camera technique which in itself is a sign of its lack of originality; shaky cam films are as clichéd as saying they have been done to death; so much that it seems acceptable to use them in TV. Roll on the credits when you have to borrow from a format that is universally condemned as both uninspired and lazy.
Next Time – Face The Raven