Doctor Who

Doctor Who – 2013 Season: Hide by Neil Cross (TV episode review).

As with the SFCrowsnest Forum in recent years and this time there and here on the SFCrowsnest.org.uk, my comments on the latest season of ‘Doctor Who’. These will mostly be impressions – here’s my Doctor one, still ‘Geronimo!’ – rather than intentional plot spoilers. If you’re living in a country that hasn’t seen these episodes yet, read with caution but with my comments I’m going to say too much on some things related to what plot there is. If you can watch it first, that’s even better.

After the last few episodes, it’s finally great to have a story with some flesh on the bones. It’s even better than Neil Cross’ first story, ‘The Rings Of Akhata’ this season. I wonder which one was written first but is understandable why he got two bites at the cherry. Oh, the name used in earlier ‘Doctor Who’ season ‘Radio Times’ summary as ‘Hide Me’ is wrong. No ‘Me’! He’s also not a novice as his IMDB profile lists him having written for ‘[Spooks]’, ‘The Fixer’ and ‘Luther’ so has some pedigree even if not in SF. Potentially, he could even be Moffat’s replacement a couple years down the line.

Ep 9: Hide
Ep 9: Hide

What starts off as a ghost story becomes essentially a rescue mission for the Doctor and Clara of a time traveller trying to get attention. Strictly speaking, that isn’t a spoiler as this isn’t exactly a new idea. Having them trapped in a pocket universe and being sensed by empaths puts some sense into it though.

I did wonder from the start why the Doctor chose to appear in 1974. After all his third and four regenerations were pretty active in this time period on Earth so why didn’t they sense it? Maybe the third regeneration did. There are a lot of references to ‘Planet Of The Spiders’ here, including using a Metabelis 3 blue crystal to enhance Emma Grayling’s ability. It would explain the third regeneration Doctor’s sudden interest in ESP only he wasn’t in the right place or time yet. There was also a little matter of him also being damaged, lost for three months and regenerating for the fourth time. Having his tenth regeneration on Earth in that time would explain why he couldn’t return on time. Makes me wonder if Neil Cross had thought of that even if he didn’t use that info in the story.

There are still many layers to this story and even the non-speaking ‘monster’ has a different agenda. The Doctor’s own purpose there wasn’t even to solve the mystery but get Emma Grayling’s empathic reaction from Clara to see what she was.

Spooky stories like this are a good argument for ‘Doctor Who’ to be shown in the late autumn as to the well lit spring when you’re less likely to be…er…spooked.

Neil Cross’ assessment of what empaths are being loners and reflect other people’s emotions shows some research on the subject. Mind you, I haven’t spotted any ghosts yet.

This doesn’t mean to say that there aren’t some pitfalls in this story. Small cast but little done to establish the characters to the viewer, not helped by not calling them by name in the dialogue because it just turns them into background fodder and wasting two known actors, Dougray Scott and Jessica Raine, that any lesser known actors could have fulfilled. The Doctor running and admitting he’s afraid or scared is also uncharacteristic. The Time Lord’s faced off Daleks and Cybermen for Illuminatii’s sake. Ghosts and monsters aren’t likely to scare him. He negotiates not jumps out of his skin. As to the time traveller? Obviously, there’s no requirement for her to go home but this Doctor doesn’t even ask if he can drop her off anywhere or why she was time travelling in the first place. She isn’t even a really significant player. Surely any time traveller has to have more to do with things if she was travelling in the first place.

Then there’s the cloister bell ringing from the TARDIS. That’s only happened a few times in the past. First heard with fourth regeneration (Tom Baker phase if you can’t count) and more recently in the Tennant regeneration and the vampires although this time the time is only to the TARDIS’ danger to itself which as demonstrated wasn’t really that much of a danger.

The TARDIS is also running on autopilot twice to a place where it admits that it can only do so for a few seconds. Yes, this is a reference to the Neil Gaiman story ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ but it’s giving it abilities akin to the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver which really ought to be kerbed before it becomes a get out of time free card.

As I said, a vast improvement on the other stories in this season but not perfect.

GF Willmetts

April 2013


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

3 thoughts on “Doctor Who – 2013 Season: Hide by Neil Cross (TV episode review).

  • The bit that had me scratching my head slightly was the question that, if they were in a pocket universe, and only the time travelling woman and the rock monsters existed in it, then who was cutting down all the trees?

    That forest was littered with tree stumps! 😛

    (okay, I AM being just a tad harsh. That was MUCH better then the illogical cliched dross in the submarine)

  • A much better episode this week. I imagine it would have been a lot spookier if watched closer to Halloween but that’s a minor complaint. I think the episode would have worked well during Martha Jones’ tenure as a companion, given her unrequited romantic leanings for the Doctor but it worked well enough here.

    Strange about the time traveler just in the background at the end, if I was the actor playing her character I would have suggested adding something a little more heroic about time travel.

    What do you think was the significance of “Whisky is the eleventh worst ever invented” line. Seemed out of place – bad writing or hint to something else?

  • Hello Aidan

    Re: Whisky. Makes you wonder what the other ten worse things are. We’ll probably see in one of the other rooms in the TARDIS that the Doctor has a secret moonshine still. 🙂

    Re: the time traveller. It does make you wonder where she’s going and why the Doctor didn’t offer her a lift.



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