Doctor Who Review: The Crimson Horror
In Victorian Yorkshire, people are going missing after moving to a strange new place called Sweetville, while weird red bodies keep turning up in the canal.
Best Moment: I liked the headnod to Mrs. Peel when Jenny peels off her outfit to reveal a leather catsuit. I also really liked the kids’ reaction to discovering their nanny has a time traveller boyfriend.
Verdict: I think I rated this episode higher than I normally would have, for one major reason: Doctor Who is a family show oriented towards children. Quite honestly, if I was a ten year old, I would have loved the Doctor as the monster,with the creaky noise and stiff limbs, a la Carry On Screaming. The adult me cringes at it. The child me would love a series revolving around Vastra, Jenny and Strax. The adult me finds that while they are a fun idea, they don’t really add anything to the story.
The episode was fine, but it didn’t really have much of a plot. I’m not really sure what the plan was with the new world order. Just a grand villainous ideal. It was neither much of a surprise that the monster was actually the Doctor, nor was it much of a surprise that the real person who experimented on Ada was actually her mother Mrs. Gillyflower and not her father. It also left the question open as to why she doesn’t remember that her mother experimented on her.
Much of my fellow reviewers are heaping praise on Diana Rigg’s star turn in this episode. I admit, Rigg’s return to television has been wonderful to behold. She plays one of my favourite character’s in Game of Thrones. But this episode belonged to her daughter Rachael Sterling who really managed to convey the anger, betrayal and loneliness Ada had been feeling.
My big hope with this episode was that since Vastra and co. would be in it, and they had known one of the previous incarnations of Clara, we might get a little more hints as to what Clara is. Such is not the case. The Doctor, and Steven Moffat, is very tight-lipped and I find this hugely frustrating. Don’t get me wrong. I like television with a mystery. I like to watch a whole season of something, and discover in the final episode, that I’m wrong because I misinterpreted the clues. The thing is, we haven’t been given anything to mentally chew on regarding Clara. Yes, Clara is a mystery but why? Shouldn’t we have some more clues by now?
Speaking of Clara, I must admit to not much caring for the character. It’s not that I don’t like Jenna-Louise Coleman’s performance. I do. And I generally like the character. But she lacks substance. She’s had very few moments where she’s felt like a real person, versus just a “mystery.” Remember how in Buffy the Vampire Slayer we found out that Dawn is actually a key to be protected by the Slayer? Well that key had personality whether you liked her or not. But aside from being quick-witted, there’s not much else to say about Clara, which is a shame.
As for the ending, well, it certainly gives us something to think about. I have a feeling that these photographs are some sort of Bad Wolf-type message. After all, when did someone have time to snap a photo on the submarine? Also, surely Clara the governess wouldn’t have been in a position to get photographed in Victorian England. And then of course there’s the fact that all these photographs were found by the kids she’s taking care of. Not sure what to make of it, but I guess I’ll stay tuned, even if I do think Steven Moffat is drawing this mystery out just a little too much for my tastes.