“Hide” – Review: Redux

Doctor “Listen, all I need to do is dive into another dimension, find the time-traveller, help her escape the monster, get home before the entire dimension collapses and Bob’s your uncle”

Doctor Who - Series 7B

When you think about ghost stories in Doctor Who, which ones do you think about? For me it’s always the creepiness of “The Horror of Fang Rock” and “Ghostlight” that spring to mind but there is an intrinsic problem with supernatural tales. The show has it’s basis in science. Not in any real world, educational way: it’s not generally the kind of science that you can learn anything from. Unless, of course, you found yourself watching Professor Brian Cox’s lecture “The Science of Doctor Who” last week, in which the aforementioned professor and star of “The Power of Three”, proved that the Eye of Harmony was sort of real. No, the science in this programme is the kind of science that assumes a rational, scientific-sounding explanation for any odd goings on. So when you get a ‘ghost’ you already know that it is not the disembodied spirit of some deceased person, so it’s not as scary as it should be.

In “Hide”, we do have some supernatural elements though. Not the ghost but instead the empathic, psychic Emma Grayling. Throughout the story there was not one single moment of doubt or questioning from any of the characters about whether or not Ms Grayling’s ‘powers’ were anything other that real. Indeed, at the risk of beginning this review at the end of the story, we find out that it is these very powers that the Doctor has come to find, in order to see whether she can pick up on any clues that would help him explain his impossible companion. As it turns out the answer was “No”, there was nothing unusual about her at all. Although, in conversation between Emma and Clara, Clara was warned not to trust the Doctor (I’m not quite sure why, unless it was a simple reference to the fact that he was actually investigating Clara and not the ghost).

Speaking of Emma Grayling, it is worth noting what a good performance Jessica Raine put in here. Before the week is out, we will see her in a Doctor Who-related role again playing Verity Lambert in “An Adventure in Space and Time” but here she delivers a graceful, elegant portrayal of troubled soul who suffers with the gift that she has and an unrequited love for Dougray Scott’s Professor Alec Palmer. It is a fun play on the normal routine when it comes to Prof Palmer, because it is clear that the Doctor knows him (and respects him) by reputation but this time it’s a fictional character. Typically, in new Doctor Who the only people that the Doctor goes back in time to meet who he already knows are real characters that the viewer knows too (Dickens, Queen Victoria, Shakespeare, etc). The only fake-famous person I can recall is Adelaide Brooke from “The Waters of Mars” although she was from our future rather than our past.

While the mystery was still ongoing there were lots of scares to be enjoyed here; these were usually just in terms of blink-and-you-miss-it shadows, movements or images  that were caught in flashes of the ever-present lightening and, while they were all pretty clichéd in their own, they all worked pretty well. However, once the Doctor and Clara had used the TARDIS to travel through Earth’s history to create a slideshow of images of the ghost, then it was all a matter of performing the rescue of the lost time-traveller and working out exactly what the monster was.

So, the good points: it was genuinely scary, performances were very believable, and the set up and resolution of the mystery were well paced. The bad points: we are accepting psychic abilities without challenging them, the time-traveller Hila barely had two lines of dialogue to say and was left as a very superfluous character, and the fact that Metebelis 3 now has a new pronunciation.

Highlight: Still daring to try something different is what makes this a good show

Lowlight: We always know that ghost will not be a ghost

Talking Point: What am I going to do after this marathon is over

Demon’s Run Rating: 15 out of 20

Original BBC1 Broadcast: 20th April 2013

Marathon Status: 98 down, 4 to go

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