Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Just for once a generic title that could apply to any Doctor Who story in the last 50 years, gets employed on a tale that thoroughly deserves it.

I mean everyone is hiding in this one. The Doctor is at his most evasive ever when facing Amy (sorry) Clara's barrage of questions in the TARDIS. The TARDIS herself is hiding from Clara. Professor Palmer is hiding from just about everyone, as is his assistant Emma Grayling, although for different reasons. Even the monster in this five-hander stays fairly well hidden, most of the time.

I found the opening in the haunted house somewhat reminiscent of The Sarah Jane Adventures, although mercifully without anywhere near as much music. Bits of the middle are reminiscent of Sapphire & Steel, as they should be. The end, with the two aliens in love, was reminiscent of K9, which no programme - including K9 itself - should ever remind its viewers of.

For the most part, this is a good story, ably directed and well played. The small cast, including the TARDIS, is used well as everyone gets something important to do. When the Doctor becomes trapped in the pocket universe, and two contradictory rescue plans are hatched without any other party's knowledge, there's a real sense of threat that someone's hopes are not going to come to survive the episode.

In fact, the episode easily soars over Doctor Who's usual mediocre fare simply by staying away from all the usual tropes of BBC news reports, zombies, a guest character helpfully committing suicide, and a machine that undoes everything for our heroes at the end. As a result, for much of this I genuinely didn't know what was going to happen next, as the characters had to use their wits to find ways of dealing with the situation. (well, when the Doctor wasn't reeling off information without much evidence of how he'd acquired it, anyway)

A few plot points were lost on me, such as how the Doctor could photograph the 'ghost' in the same place throughout Earth's history without her being permanently visible there forever. Also, that ending. Sorry, how did the Doctor reunite the alien lovers? Did he return to the pocket universe again, or was that a flashback, or did he go back and overwrite his own history? They looked like flashbacks…

Despite this, the other really big praise point here was the director - Jamie Payne. At long last the music is kept to a minimum, completely absent from talking scenes, and the actors' dialogue has been recorded beautifully in the first place. And all this in addition to how well the ghost story unfolds anyway! What a shame this aired in sunny April instead of, had this series continued airing last October, at Halloween. Mind you, after the second half of Cold War was ruined by digital TV's inability to cope with a few clouds last week, I guess this was the lesser of two evils.

Finally, Clara (see I got her name right at last) continues to be written as a generic Who companion with no characterisation of her own, and as such continues to be a relief. She has little to do here except ask the Doctor questions, which while obviously not an ideal way to be realised, is heaps more preferable to the usual maneater co-stars these days. Like last week, she portrays the companion as a fish-out-of-water very well indeed for a change. Even when she sets off to rescue the Doctor in the TARDIS, it's the TARDIS that's doing all the work with her just along for the ride. Hmm, yes I'll take that.

Mind you, she does have to have the usual conversation about boys again, like all the other modern ones have to. Once again, it makes her just another clone. It's the one thing that really lets down this otherwise excellent episode - the amount of love going on. In the 1960s Star Trek was always always rubbish whenever it tried to depict the characters falling in love, and it remains embarrassing to see Doctor Who continuing to try to emulate this fifty years on. No-one takes love in science-fiction TV series very seriously, no-one. Well all right, I'll concede that there is a minority. Anyway lose all that, and this episode would be a corker.

Definitely not an episode to Hide!

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