Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

I know why I'm still bothering to watch these, but I'm not quite sure why they are still bothering to make them.

As has become a disturbing trend this season, The Crimson Horror bats a stale average, without offering anything original to recommend itself.

Victorian England again, Strax again, Silurian woman again, Jenny again, no advance on the Clara mystery again, zombies again, big machine at the end again, Doctor being lowered towards a vat of acid ag… oh, right, that's new. Well, new for Doctor Who anyway, but hardly for the genre.

Cowering away in the fresh corner is a millions of years old leech that has evolved into an intelligent squirrel-sized parasite bent on taking over the world. Although that might sound original, it's not explored here at all (eg. where are all its brothers and sisters). At the climax, everything boils down to the Doctor and Clara having to overpower a lady of retirement age. A villain who is so together that she uses her gun to take a hostage sooner than just shoot her challengers. A fair comparison might be asking why a viewer with a television set might use it to watch this episode, rather than an old one that does hold together.

Other glossed over moments in the script include Jenny's leap of deduction that the Doctor's friend 'Clara' will be the same Clara who Jenny has already witnessed dying then. Huh? Wouldn't she naturally assume 'Clara' to be someone else with the same Christian name, precisely because 'her' Clara is dead? After all, the Doctor has met plenty of other people called Jenny.

Then at the end Clara goes back home (still no idea why) to find a bunch of photos of herself on her time-travels on her computer, apparently found on the net by the kids who she looks after. Again - huh? How? Why? These kids really shouldn't have been searching for those pictures today of all days without any motivation to. Those pictures really shouldn't have been findable by these kids. Those pictures, being old, are unlikely to even be on the internet. In fact, the photos really shouldn't exist in the first place since they were never taken, or we should have seen them being taken during the course of those episodes. Impossible girl? Well yes, but apparently not for the reason she's supposed to be.
Further photographic faux pas are included in a flashback sequence in the middle, which for unknown reasons has been edited to try to look like an old movie, specifically the sort that didn't exist until many years after this episode is set. (ie. widescreen, in colour, with sound) I have never understood why TV and movie people - who you would expect to relish shooting in another film style - are absolutely never able to get these things right, and sure enough the usual ignorance is trotted out here. There's a constant amount of dirt on the print all the way through instead of increasing at the start and end of the reel. The frame is deliberately misaligned, but impossibly with the top of a different image at the bottom of the frame. (see image above) Well, maybe that's because we have it in the wrong aspect ratio...

And, sorry to say, but the whole episode marks a return to a noisy soundtrack, with barely a moment free of music, so I can never watch this one again.

I did like the idea of the Doctor being unable to speak. Matt Smith remains an actor who usually chooses to merely get away with playing the Doctor, rather than making the effort to really embody him, and it's a real shame that he didn't get the chance to solve this whole mystery mute. Now that would have been cool. Clara still has nothing to do, which I still prefer to yet another companion who we're constantly being told to think is clever.

But like I said at the start, The Crimson Horror merely bats a straight average. It just offers nothing above average. Which after the gutter of the Ecclestone / Tennant years, still remains such a relief.

Good thing too, or I might hate this horror.

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