Night Not-Very-Terrors

Working it out.

Night Terrors, season 6, second episode of the second half of the season.

To be honest with you, the idea of writing a review of this episode has slowed me down more than once.

I heard wonderful things about it: how scary it was, how clever it was, how apt the title was, what a brilliant script Mark Gatiss had written.

And I won’t say any of those things are absolutely 100% wrong — but I have watched Terrors two or three times now and every time I watch it I come away more strongly convinced of the fact that I paid for something I didn’t get.

The story is simple enough but ‘ware spoilers if you haven’t seen the episode yet.

Small child is having nightmares: weird noises outside his window, in the closet, under the bed, etc., etc. The parents are powerless to do more than soothe and are discussing getting some kind of nebulous “professional help.” The child overhears the conversation and, panicking, manages, without meaning to, to get a message to the Doctor. The Doctor arrives quite promptly and, with Amy and Rory, takes on the fun task of searching a multistory council flat for the child in question. Amy and Rory do not find him; the Doctor finds not only the child, but the child’s father, and sets about solving the problem. Amy and Rory, meantime, have tried to use the elevator — bad idea in council flats, apparently.

So far, so good.

My problem with the episode is not that you can figure it all out beforehand — that’s fine. The problem is that the end reveal is…exactly what you’ve figured out beforehand. And it isn’t that interesting. The kid himself does little except pant and stare through the whole episode which makes your chest ache after awhile. The father is a great character to start with who gradually slides into being a cliche by the end. It’s a nice difference that it’s the father rather than the mother who has to undertake the journey and trials to get back the child but — it’s not enough to make the whole episode feel like it lives up to its publicity.

There are some clever startles — “scare” would be too strong a word — but they don’t last. The dolls are only disturbing the first time you see them and after that…they lose punch very quickly. This is interesting because they’re very similar to the Weeping Angels who simply become more terrifying every time you see them!

It is nice that this is another episode like “The Doctor Dances” where “…everybody lives!” but it doesn’t put it up there with the best of this season as far as I can see. It’s a solid entry but somewhere in the realm of “The Black Spot” rather than “The God Complex.” This is only disappointing because I expected more from Mark Gatiss — a fact which I’m sure causes him daily heartburnings.

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2 thoughts on “Night Not-Very-Terrors

  1. It's a nice difference that it's the father rather than the mother who has to undertake the journey and trials to get back the child…

    Probably someone has already done this, but I think “maternal” father figures in the New Series (and perhaps Old Series) Who would be a fruitful topic for analysis. People can complain about the mothers being absent/sidelined (which IS a problem, but), yet that often clears the way for fathers to act in ways traditionally associated with motherhood. Like in this case where, at least in set-up, the father gets to play a role similar to that of the mother in Silent Hill (if only it turned out that twisted/cool!).

  2. I'm trying to think of other father figures — just at all — that you could draw on for this… Would Rhys from Torchwood count? And there's Maria's father from Sarah Jane Adventures.

    And obviously Rory, whathisname from Closing Time, and then from the old series…. Victoria's father from Way Back When…the Doctor himself, obviously,…

    Somewhere or other there is a direct-to-DVD Silent Hill sequel, I think, and I really hope that gives the Dad something more to do than he had in the first movie. Not that being slowly and involuntarily sucked into an evil alternate dimension that has already claimed the souls of your wife and daughter isn't cool, per se, but… 😉

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