Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

Doctor Who Hide PosterHide

As I said on the podcast, I adored this story.  But I don’t think I was quite as effervescent and squeeful as I should have been when we talked about it.  So here are the rest of my thoughts, presented in the yippie-skippy manner this story deserves.

The Good

TENSION!!  This was the theme of “Hide” for me.  I was completely and utterly gripped from moment one, and it did not let go.  That’s what was missing from “Cold War” last week.  I felt no sense of fear or dread during that story.  “Hide” had me literally on the edge of the couch, every muscle in my body tense.  I needed a deep-tissue massage when it was all over.  I realize that kind of thing is a matter of taste (plenty of people felt that way for “Cold War”), but for me, this one was a direct hit.

I love a good ghost story, and while we all knew this wouldn’t be an actual ghost, it was proper creepy.  The setting, the performances by the small cast, the excellent direction, it all worked together to make me a very happy (if tense) camper indeed.  (Watching it alone in the dark probably helped too.)  Weirdly, the part that scared me the absolute most was when the camera panned across all the photos of the ghost.  Something about that touched a frightened place deep inside.  It was deliciously terrifying.

Add to that the sheer horror of catching glimpses of the Crooked Man in the hallways and the (possibly deliberate?) similarity to Poltergeist (sliding down a rope through a portal into another, very scary, dimension), and you’ve got one heck of a ride.  Even the forest was chilling in its own eerily beautiful way.  This episode really pushed all my horror buttons.

I also quite enjoyed the writing.  Not only was the plot interesting and not entirely predictable, but the individual scenes and lines of dialogue were wonderful.  Admittedly, I didn’t love every bit of it—as we said, the Ghostbusters line was unnecessary, but it was more than balanced out by lines like “Doctor what?” “If you like.”  “We’re going always.” “Like a microphone…or a pooper-scooper,” or the Doctor waxing poetic about toggles or explaining how Emma won’t/might/will maybe feel pain while opening the portal.  Even the more somber moments were just lovely: “He’s a liar.” “Experience makes liars of us all.” “Don’t trust him. There’s a shard of ice in his heart.” And the scene in the TARDIS when Clara recognizes what the Doctor’s life is really like—heartbreaking.

The line “You are the only mystery worth solving” makes me wonder if the Doctor is really “back.”  The mystery surrounding Victorian-era Clara is what truly popped him out of his blue funk.  When or if (who am I kidding, it’s “when”) he solves that mystery, will he return to his galactic vagabond ways?  Or will he find another cloud to park on and mope some more?  I occasionally catch a whiff of grief peeking through under his adorable 11th Doctoreyness—like someone putting on a brave face while they’re still coping with a loss.  Though I suppose that’s a hallmark of every Doctor since the Time War.

Speaking of the Doctor, he was so fun to watch in this episode.  I love seeing the Doctor (any Doctor, but Matt Smith’s most of all) go all fanboy over a historical figure he admires.  (Though do not get me started on the freaking “Shakespeare Code.”)  The way he bounces around the room, exclaims over the professor, and fiddles with the equipment had me grinning from ear to ear.  Also, his assumed identity of someone from The Ministry elicited the kind of glee only a fan of the classic series can truly understand.  His delivery of “Geronimo” in this story is my favorite: matter-of-fact, resigned, understated.  When Matt Smith plays something that way (as opposed to his usual boisterous flailing), it has a lot more punch.  Well done.

I should also point out that I am still loving Clara!  As we said, there were a few moments when her performance seemed a shade off what it was in the past few episodes, but I chalked that up to fallout from her brush with dismembered bodies and an Ice Warrior.  It wasn’t until after I watched “Hide” that I found out it was the first ep she shot as Clara Oswald.  I still think there was a purposeful element of hesitation on her part as a result of her last adventure.  She’s afraid to search the house—not surprising, given she’s now seen what consequences adventures can have.  So she tells the Doctor to dare her.  How very Clara.  She’s got a good head on her shoulders, but she loves a challenge.  Later she even takes initiative and tries to bully the TARDIS into rescuing the Doctor.  (Not that I believe for one second the TARDIS can actually be bullied into anything by anyone other than the Doctor.)

The Bad

Okay so I wasn’t in love with every little bit of this story.  Kat is right that they needed to maintain a certain level of lightness for the kiddies, but every time they did that, it suffered for grown-up me.  The moment in the forest when the Doctor and Hila accidentally back into each other did not work for me.  It was supposed to lighten the tension, but it dragged me out of it too far.  And I will say again how much I HATED the very end the first time I watched it.  I enjoyed the adventure and the scares and the terror SO MUCH that when they effectively nerfed the boogeyman, I was outraged and felt completely cheated and betrayed.  I’m slowly getting over this by telling myself that they’re still terrifying creatures, they just happen to like being terrifying together.  Still though.  Nerfed.  Lame.

I also think “Hide” is a bit  silly and useless as a title.  Something as grand and spooky as this story deserved something equally grand and spooky.  Maybe something mentioning “Caliburn House”?  Oh well, far too late now.

The Random

The ghost is called the witch of the well.  Why?  Ok, so the well was the time well Hila was trapped in, but who figured that out?  Was some empathic psychic hundreds of years ago savvy enough to figure that out?  Or pick it up from Hila somehow?  Seems unlikely and a bit thin.

The Doctor states that the witch only appears in photographs in the presence of an empath.  That’s all well and good, but why does she appear when the Doctor travels to “always” and takes her picture all those times?  Is he supposed to be an empath?  Is the TARDIS?  That’s never made clear.

Metebelis!  Oh the controversy!  (Controversy: another word with multiple accepted pronunciations.)  To be honest, for many years I’d only seen the word written.  (I saw Planet of the Spiders as a youngling, but I forgot it entirely.)  I assumed for many years that it was pronounced as Matt Smith said it.  I only found out I was wrong within the last year.  I now feel a not-insignificant sense of vindication. *smug*

Since we recorded, I’ve been thinking more about Deb’s assertion that the are-you-and-he-an-item conversation was unrealistic, and I’ve realized it’s happened even more than I thought when we recorded.  I’ve asked the question fewer times than I’ve been asked, but that makes sense given my level of introversion most of my life.  I honestly can’t count the number of times some random person asked me if I was dating the guy I was with.  (I lived with eight guys in college, so I was almost always hanging out with one fellow or another.)  And these were not all in situations where hitting on someone was a goal or even an option.  That conversation has happened with people both male and female, single and married (or in committed relationships).  Generally it just comes across as general curiosity—no more personal than “so where do you live?” or “where did you go to school?”  All those questions are personal.  Why is it taboo ‘cause it’s asking about a relationship?  It never came across that way in Madison society over the past decade or so.  Then again, it is Madison.  We’re not described as “77 square miles surrounded by reality” for nothing.

The Wrap-Up

It seems my theory about my mood hugely affecting what I watch needs to be tossed out the window.  I was in a terrible mood when I reluctantly sat down to watch “Hide.”  Apparently that didn’t matter.  I wasn’t kidding when I said this story is up there with my absolute favorites of all New Who.  Whatever happens in the rest of 7b (and I’m quite excited for whatever does), it’s already won my heart and probably earned top status of all the New Who series.  Seriously.

Comments on: "Erika’s Last Word – Episode 11" (13)

  1. Elvis Omar said:

    Metebelis, indeed. Here’s the story I am telling myself. Moffat gets together with Matt Smith and asks him to pronounce it differently from how Pertwee pronounced it. I agree that Moffat sometimes trolls the fans, almost as often (and as well) as he services them. Metebelis III seems intended to divide fandom into three categories: 1) Don’t get the reference at all—Moffat says to that fan “Welcome to the party new kid!”; 2) Got the reference and understands that some words, especially place names, are pronounced in more than one way—Moffat says “Good catch! Third Doctor story, cool hunh?” 3) Got the reference, annoyed by perceived inconsistency—Moffat thinks “Get over yourself, you prat, Matt and I get to decide these things. That’s our job.”

    Erika, your observation about the photos is a new one on me, and you are so right. Cross’ story Hide has a number of stray threads hanging loose around the edges, and it seems any one of them could be pulled to unravel the whole thing. However, before we start pulling on any of those, just look at it! Isn’t it pretty!? I’m content to use some cello tape to keep them from unraveling and enjoy the rest (or hand wave it alright, as you women put it on the podcast).

    • I quite like your story. It certainly has the ring of something that could’ve happened!

      As for the pictures, I’m perfectly willing to believe the TARDIS is empathic enough to make the photographs capture Hila, I just wish they’d either added a line explaining that or removed the line making it clear she only shows up with an empath around. That bit wasn’t really needed for any other part of the story. There were an awful lot of pictures on that bulletin board–so there was an empath there every time? Seems unlikely. I think the audience would assume only an empath/telepath could *contact* the ghost, so why bother making the pictures special?

      Thanks for reading my ramblings!

  2. Turtle said:

    The point about the photos was a good one, and THAT one is going to bother me the next few times I see this. However, loved this episode overall. I really liked the ‘nerfing’ of the monster here, I think it hit just the right note to end this with a smile. I will agree that this same sort of thing has been done too much in recent Who, and it often is not done well, but I would say to go back and change those other annoying ones, and leave this one just as it is because they finally got it right.

    Also, I seem to have been less bothered by the TARDIS traveling to the bubble universe that most of the internet. It seemed obvious to me that all the spinning and shaking of the TARDIS was supposed to convey speed, and that they were aiming to show that the rescue had taken LESS than 4 seconds. I didn’t think it was done particularly well, and was a bit lame to throw that number out there just so that you could get around it, but I am surprised that I haven’t seen that explanation out there anywhere.

    Oh, and I agree completely with you about the title.

    • I’ve heard on a few other podcasts that the TARDIS not landing meant that the “4-second” clock never really started. I guess that makes sense, but they could have explained it a wee bit better.

      I’m also glad you appreciated the nerfing of the monsters. As with everything in Doctor Who, if it doesn’t appeal to one person, there are probably lots and lots who just love it!

      • I assumed he needed Clara to go with to take the pictures because she is an empath. That’s where I felt the story was going.

      • Really? I didn’t get that at all. When the Doctor explained to Clara what an empath was it didn’t strike me as describing Clara. And now that I think about it, Clara would have had to come out of the TARDIS for that to work, because the TARDIS interior isn’t the same dimension as the exterior so even if she was empathic, it wouldn’t matter unless she had her own matching orange space suit to don and go join the Doctor.

        I love how these tangential discussions make me think about the episodes so much more. 🙂

  3. I liked the title for the same reason you didn’t like it! I really like the understated titles, especially for something creepy, possibly because it calls to my mind examples such as “Blink” and “Hush”. (I still can’t watch either of those by myself at bedtime.) So hearing that the title was “Hide” put me in the right frame of mind from the get-go. 🙂

    • I think I’d’ve been on board with “Hide” as a title if it would have been evocative of the episode more directly like the titles you mentioned. “Blink” – don’t blink. “Hush” – there’s no speaking. Hiding was not a major plot point. At all. Yes, the monster hid to some extent, ‘cause that’s what boogeymonsters do I guess. The monster hiding didn’t advance the plot or make much of a difference at all.

      I, too, like brief titles when they work, I just thought this one didn’t. A better one-word title for this one would be something like “Well.” Or even “Emma,” as she was the hinge on which the plot swung. But I still think something grander to match the scale of the setting would have floated my particular boat.

      Either way, I’m happy it made you happy! And getting you in the right frame of mind is a point I cannot argue with. That’s excellent!

  4. Mark Pursglove said:

    Excellent post and episode once again !

    I quite enjoyed this episode, I’m with you 100% about the damping down of the tone to prevent the horror elements being too much for the intended audience. I think that undermined my enjoyment a bit, if only because they did it so well ! In the forest, it was a perfect horror film set up, but the ‘monster’ just wanted his girlfriend ?!? As far as genre mash ups go it was a bit too fish fingers and custard to stomach 🙂

    Clara and the Doctor were excellent and Clara is definately winding out to be a fantastic companion.

    As far as horror episodes go I think Impossible planet / satan pit edges this one out, even though the polish on Hide makes the older episodes look very old now !

    Thanks once again for your collective hard work !

    PS if you hadn’t already got a fantastic ‘album cover’ for the podcast, I would have requested the picture of the tiny Dalek with the tin foil hat, it’s been keeping me smiling since I saw it !

    • Thanks for the feedback! I like your “fish fingers and custard” description. You’ve put it very well!

      As for the tin-hat Dalek, keep your eyes peeled for that. It may make an appearance on the blog one of these days…you never know where those Daleks will turn up… 😉

  5. […] “Hide” Podcast My Last Word […]

  6. I’ll have to watch it again but it was a definite meh for me. Not because of Spidergate (which, by the way, had me laughing out loud on the street when I heard that on the podcast), I LOVE all the little nerd bits and nods to past shows. (3rd Doctor RULES!) It just didn’t frighten me. In Blink people died, who died here? And the one ep (forget the name) that had the Weeping Angel escaping a video loop touched the primal TV fear in my lizard brain (who hasn’t been afraid the television could do things you don’t want it to–well, at least when stoned?). It was fun but I wasn’t scared. And for an episode that lead with “I am the Doctor and I am afraid” all I could think was “I’m NOT the Doctor and I’m perhaps mildly anxious that this is all there is.”

  7. And I now what ‘nerfed’ means. Thank you!

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