[Review] - Doctor Who, Series 7 Episode 12, "The Crimson Horror"

I don't know how I feel about The Crimson Horror. I've watched it, and come out the other end completely feelingless. It wasn't a strong episode, but it wasn't the weakest this season has give us. There was a lot going on, and it felt very rushed at times, but it also had some strong character moments. I suspect this will be the sort of episode that grows on me, and that repeated viewings will endear it to me more, but as of right now I'm ambivalent. Hooray, I guess?

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that once also ended up in Yorkshire when trying to get to London.

First, to the references, and maybe I was just tired, but not as many as I expected. The obvious one was the Doctor's summing up of his relationship with Fourth and Fifth Doctor companion Tegan, the "gobby Australian." Beyond that, I either missed them, or writer Mark Gatiss wasn't overly concerned with the larger picture here. I can't even think of an episode this one was "fixing," thus making it the combo breaker for this portion of the series.

Can I say, Mr. Sweet is perhaps the most disgusting thing the series has ever created? That leech gave me more of a wiggins then anything else they've created, which just goes to show you, if you try to make something frightening, chances are it won't be. But put a gnarly looking puppet on a distinguished actress's chest, and I won't be able to sleep.

So, I've said before that Vastra and co. are deserving of their own spin off, as have everybody else. They are as transparent as Moffat has ever been in creating characters meant to be hugely popular. However, past their initial appearance, they've run into the problem of never having much to do when they appear. When last they showed up, I suggested they might do better in a web series, five minutes a piece, and played for laughs, as that has been where they've been used the best. I was hoping this episode, the first they've appeared in not written by the creator Moffat and establishing them as recurring characters and not just a writer's fancy (like River Song, for instance), would dissuade me from this opinion. Sadly, it did not.

Vastra and Strax took a back seat to Jenny, and the episode was at its strongest when it was Jenny investigating the mysterious Sweetville, the unknown threat looming around every corner. The atmosphere was well built up in those first fifteen Doctorless minutes, from the crazed rambling of Mrs. Gillyflower, to the empty room with phonographs blasting machinery noises, to the Frankenstein-style monster being kept chained upstairs. It was when the Doctor did arrive, and we got an exposition blast, filling in an episodes worth of his own poking about, that things took on their usual, more manic form.

There was some good strong characterisation here, especially when it came to Ada, who starts the episode a lost victim, and ends it brave and independent. Her and the Doctor's short yet deep relationship only really calls to attention the lack of such depth the Doctor has with Clara. At least Amy and Rose and Donna had an emotional connection to the Doctor, and he to them. Because the show seems intent on keeping all the big reveals tucked away for the final episode, Clara comes off as little more then the Doctor's pet. Considering last week's regrettable turning back of the clock, this week was another lost opportunity, as it featured characters who not only knew the Victorian Clara, but saw her die. Despite this, once the Doctor says "shh," they never bring it up. Not even Strax, who has no censor between his potato shaped head and his mouth. A perfect opportunity to actually investigate Clara's nature, and they didn't.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, if the Silurians are going to keep being used, and the writers are going to keep referring to the prehistoric past, there needs to be some kind of actual timeline established for when the Silurians roamed the Earth. The time that makes the most sense, and was the third Doctor's opinion, was the Eocean period, 56 million years ago. This episode had the Red leech coming from anywhere from the pre-dinosaur era, to the Jurassic. It doesn't take much more the a cursory Google search to figure out that these times are millions of years apart, and it would be nice to maintain at least an illusion that a show about time travel might understand how long time is. As much as one might expect a show about space travel to understand that people standing around a launching rocket will be evaporated by the blast, even if they are on the stairs with their backs turned.

Next week though, we get Gaiman, and a bunch of Cybermen that look to have been designed by Tony Stark.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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