Series 6 Episode 9.
Written by Mark Gatiss
Reviewed by Tom J Toaduff
Possibly one of the creepiest episodes of Who, next to Blink and the more recent episode Listen. So, let’s delve into the story of this episode.
The Doctor travels to a small apartment block to make a house call after his psychic paper receives a message from a young boy named George, an 8 year old who is terrified of...well, everything. So, after the Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive at the council estate, they go separate ways to try and find George quicker. After finally finding the right flat, the Doctor, taking the guise of a social worker, meets Alex, George’s father, while Claire, his mother, is on Night Shift at work. The Doctor soon learns that little George has been scared all his life, but handles it by “metaphorically” putting the fears into his wardrobe.
Meanwhile, Amy and Rory, fall unconscious in a lift, but soon wake up in a strange house, which looks like it was from the 18th Century. They soon discover that the props are wooden, the pans, cutlery, everything, as if they were in a doll house. They see some of the council estate residents in the house, but they are shortly turned into human size creepy Peg Dolls. Amy and Rory witness another transformation and try to hide behind a door, but Amy is taken and transformed into a Peg Doll, joining the hunt for Rory.
Back in the flat, the Doctor opens the wardrobe, to find its contents are just toys and clothes. The Doctor tells Alex that in the pictures leading up to George’s birth, Claire wasn’t pregnant, which in turn caused Alex to remember the fact that Claire was unable to have children, and thus, how could she have a child? Plot Twist? Well, luckily, the Doctor is here to explain it all.
The Doctor asserts that George is a Tenza child, an empathic alien who took on the form of Alex and Claire's desired child through a perception filter and has the ability to literally lock away his fears within the wardrobe. George panics from this revelation and sends the Doctor and into the dollhouse. As the dolls descend on the three, the Doctor calls out to George and tells him to face his fears; George is finally able to open the wardrobe and appears in the dollhouse, but right in the middle of all the dolls. After the dolls turn and ascend on George, The Doctor realises that George is frightened that Alex and Claire plan to send him away, though he had misinterpreted a conversation they had earlier that night between Alex and Claire. Alex rushes through the dolls to embrace George as his son, and tells him he will never let him go. This seems to free George, and everyone appears back where they belonged, Amy and Rory in the lift, and The Doctor, Alex and George in the flat, all happy and safe. Claire returns to find George happy and not scared. The Doctor meets back up with Amy and Rory, and they all set off for their next adventure.
The writing in this episode is great, and the tension of the fact that Amy and Rory could become dolls at any point, and they have no idea what that means. If they were turned, could they turn back? Or were they dead forever? Another great thing about this, is that it’s more of a companion episode, where Amy and Rory can take the spotlight. The Doctor isn’t in danger until the last 10 minutes of the episode where he is sent into the dollhouse. The Doctor’s adventure in this episode was finding out what scared little George, and why. I also have to praise the actor who played George, and did it wonderfully, and he makes me wish that he could return for a future episode. The last bit of conversation between the Doctor and Alex hinted at the fact he could return, maybe during George’s teenage years, maybe to see how he’s doing.
There are a few problems with this episode; the fact it adds nothing to the plot of the series, and it was just a standalone episode (though this is a great example of showing how great a standalone episode should be), and the fact that this episode was meant to be Episode 4 instead of Episode 9 of the series, but was delayed as it felt “too dark” this early in the series. That is fine, but the hinting towards the death of the Doctor at the end of the episode felt tacked on and just didn’t feel right. The episode had no foreshadowing to the death of the Doctor and it just felt...out of place, and finally, though I praised the actor who played George, I wish he was in the episode a bit more. The episode had three focuses: The Doctor and Alex, trying to find out what is up with George, Amy and Rory in the Doll House and George being scared, and having a few lines. Those few lines in the episode were great, and whenever he interacted with any other character, you could feel the terror going through him. But if there was a bit less Alex and Doctor, and a bit more George, that would have made the episode even better.
A great episode written by the ever great Mark Gatiss, who has written for Doctor Who before, and co-wrote the brilliant BBC One series Sherlock.