Writer: Toby Whithouse
Director: Daniel O’Hara
The Doctor: Peter Capaldi
Clara Oswald: Jenna-Louise Coleman
Another two-parter so this episode finished on a cliff hanger.
Written by the creator of Being Human, Toby Whithouse, who previously brought us School Reunion, The Vampires in Venice, The God Complex and A Town Called Mercy. He referenced at least two of his previous episodes in this one.
The Doctor and Clara appear on a military research base on the floor of a lake. The base is inhabited by a group of scientists besieged by homicidal ghosts.
The set up of this episode is a frequently used one. A base cut off from he outside with a deadly foe on board. This is the premise of Hartnell’s Tenth Planet and has been reused in various ways throughout the years.
The simple setting allows the plot to explore again The Doctor’s lack of understanding of how circumstances affect others. A novel way of this being shown was the cue cards that Clara used. One referred to something The Doctor said to Sarah Jane in School Re-union, which in itself referenced Sarah Jane’s last episode with Tom Baker.
The other reference to one of Toby Whithouse’s stories was the first ghost to be seen, he is an inhabitant of the planet Tivoli. We first met a member of that race in The God Complex, portrayed by David Walliams.
Another aspect of this story that has been seen before is the use of writing that the TARDIS doesn’t translate for The Doctor. This was an important part of The Impossible Planet (another ‘base cut off’ style story), there appears to be no similarity between the writing itself.
This story is the first to include a deaf character in the central plot. I imagine this thrilled many deaf viewers, I certainly heard from a friend today whose daughter was excited to see someone signing in the program, his daughter is deaf. The same character’s ability to lip read became important.
Along with a pop reference to Peter Andre the plot tips a nod at Alien 3.
The plot is a simple one but the set of characters used and the choice of who delivered each line makes the simple plot deliver a little more. The set of characters of course include the standard examples, resolute soldier types and unsure egg-heads. Stereotypes in this way often help the audience accept a group of individuals quickly. Of course the bonus-chasing Exec will have resonated with many – another reference to the Alien films.
Importantly for me Clara’s share of screen time seems reduced on last season, where I think she was over used.
The cliffhanger certainly poses a lot of questions.