RogerBW's Blog

Doctor Who 2/11.09: It Takes You Away 05 December 2018

Doctor Who presents: Nightmare in Norway.

This starts off looking like a basic horror story, the sort of thing the show has done plenty of times before, but soon shifts into an effective SF puzzle: what's going on, why are things this way, should anything be done about it, and if so can it be?

I think that invoking an Ultimate Cosmic Power is a bit of a mis-step, though; this show has lots of those already, and the story being told is really quite a small and personal one. This Doctor would already rather talk her way out of a situation than fight or tech her way out, so why not just give her that chance?

Splitting Ryan off from the rest of the party to give him some character moments is a decent idea. But leaving him to be casually knocked out by a small girl is not so great. Letting him make the Big Discovery about the monster in the woods: good. Having the others hear it from Erik rather than from him, so that he gets no validation from them: less good.

I wonder rather about Ribbons. It's a very 1980s/1990s Star Trek-looking alien – and sounds like one too. But it's even stupider than they usually were, and in the end it has basically no effect on the plot except to show the audience how the monster works; it could have been dropped completely, especially considering how easily everyone else seems to find their way through the place later. I do hope that this wasn't one of those episodes where good stuff was cut for time in order to keep blatant padding like this on the screen.

Shouldn't northern Norway in winter have a bit of snow? Why do you need to secure the house when it was already secure except for where you broke into it? How do you cut a string someone's paying out without their noticing, especially since it stays taut? Why would Erik not simply have taken his daughter into the other world with him, to live as a family?

It's all very well to say "she's not your wife, she's just a copy", but if she's a perfect mind emulation of your wife with all her memories there's something more to be said there. Even without a Magical Blind Person to tell the real from the fake.

And if everyone else is being tempted to stay by images of lost loved ones, the frog on a chair is a bit bathetic.

This ends up feeling like about half a good story, and half lazy short-cuts. Yes, the above/below parallels about loss and bowing to the inevitable are a decent idea, if not at all original, but I was hoping for a bit more.

Given two episodes which fall apart thoroughly in the third act, it seems like an odd production decision to broadcast them in successive weeks. I can only assume that the producers didn't share this perception.

Still, I did expect the "grandad" moment to be kept back for the finale.

Coming up next: back to Chibnall's writing, oh well, and the last regular episode of the series (though there's a New Year special to come, apparently).

  1. Posted by Michael Cule at 10:58pm on 13 December 2018

    This at least got tone right. Most of the time.

    With Ribbons of the Seven Stomachs (and there's a name I wish I'd thought to conjure with) I thought we were going off into the realm of Norwegian trolls. Which would have been fine.

    The episodes are improving. Not enough but they are.

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