I review episode eleven of the seventh series of Doctor Who, entitled The Crimson Horror, written by Mark Gatiss, with spoilers.
Doctor Who S7x11 – The Crimson Horror
It’s safe to say that Season 7 has been a fairly mixed outing for the Eleventh Doctor so far, but The Crimson Horror, whilst on the surface, looked like some sort of filler episode that wouldn’t be very good, particularly as it was written by Mark Gatiss, actually provided quite an entertaining watch. We’re visiting the Victorian Era, which of course, does pose some very interesting questions when we’ve got Clara involved, after all, we all know that’s where the Doctor first met Clara, during The Snowmen, not counting the series opener Asylum of the Daleks, and the wealth of questions that would pose to Strax, Jenny and Vastra.
The episode itself, whilst lacking in threat and suspense, still manages to provide an entertaining forty-five minutes. Whilst Doctor Who has dangled with Victorian-era strangeness before, including Gatiss’ own The Unquiet Dead, and The Next Doctor, The Crimson Horror is probably the best episode set in that time period yet, a real entertaining romp as whilst it may lack The Doctor and Clara for the opening section on the episode, being very Jenny-centric, the episode is still pretty entertaining, filled with amusing lines, such as “I’m the Doctor, you’re nuts and I’m going to stop you” needs to be on his business card, really, doesn’t it?”, and the following exchange between Strax and Vastra:
Strax: “And how will she locate the Doctor?”
Vastra: “To find him she need only ignore all keep-out signs, go through every locked door and run towards any form of danger that presents itself.”
Strax: “Business as usual, then.”
If there was any more proof of these three needing their own spin off, it would be this episode here. Think of the possibilities! Strax delivers a great aspect of fun towards the audience and the banter between the three is awesome. I probably would still watch an episode even if it was just these three sat in a room arguing with each other for 45 minutes, and it’s great news to see that Gatiss can handle them as well as Moffat can.
The plot of the episode is also pretty interesting, relying on a creepy mill known as Sweetville that’s said to protect people from the upcoming apocalypse in late 19th century Yorkshire, and The Crimson Horror is a title that actually plays a greater relevance to the episode this week than some misleading titles that we’ve had in the past. However, there were a few things that didn’t quite work here. As mentioned before, the episode didn’t have much of a threat, and the reveal of Mr. Sweet wasn’t as impactful as it could have been.
The ending is also important to note, as it becomes apparent that when Clara is dropped back at where we were first introduced to her in The Bells of Saint John, we learn that the children who she has looked after have discovered their secret, that she’s a friend of a time traveller. It opens up a realm of possibilities and judging from the trailer for next week’s hopefully-fantastic Gaiman-penned Midnight in Silver, they could be sticking around with the Doctor for that particular episode.
However, this episode didn’t quite make it onto the list of episodes that I’d re-watch in a hurry. As much as I enjoyed it, it fits into the category of pretty much every good Doctor Who episode that we’ve seen so far in Series 7, they’re fun and entertaining, but are not standout episodes, and for the 100th episode of New Who, I expected something with a bit more firepower, which apart from the trigger-happy, think-of-over-the-top-solutions-to-everything Sontaran Strax, wasn’t really present.
DOCTOR WHO SERIES 7 EPISODE GUIDE – Part 1: S7x01: Asylum of the Daleks, S7x02: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, S7x03: A Town Called Mercy, S7x04: The Power of Three, S7x05: The Angels Take Manhattan CHRISTMAS SPECIAL: The Snowmen PART 2: S7x06: The Bells of Saint John, S7x07: The Rings of Akhaten, S7x08: Cold War, S7x09: Hide, S7x10: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, S7x11: The Crimson Horror, S7x12: Nightmare In Silver, S7x13: The Name of The Doctor