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"Doctor Who" — "Hide": Who You Gonna Call?

By C. Robert Dimitri | TV Reviews | April 24, 2013 | Comments ()


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The Doctor and Clara arrive at Caliburn House in 1974, where they meet Alec Palmer (Dougray Scott - the guy who almost played Wolverine if not for that Mission: Impossible II commitment) and Emma Grayling (Jessica Raine, who I had not seen before but reminded me a little of Selma Blair and is featured in the current British series Call The Midwife). Alec and Emma are attempting to make contact with the infamous ghost that haunts the premises that always appears the same in captured images and cries out "Help me!". Alec himself purchased the house, as the deaths he witnessed over the course of his military background left him obsessed with making some form of amends with those in the afterlife. Emma is a highly tuned empath with the ability to tap into the wayward's spirit's mind.

With time and space at the ready for his new companion, it might seem an odd destination in scope for Clara's third outing; The Doctor and Clara only interact with three human characters, two non-human creatures, and the TARDIS in an uncommonly assertive role, but - as we eventually find out - The Doctor does have an ulterior motive. Until that's revealed, however, The Doctor and Clara go along for the haunted house ride. He convinces Alec and Emma that they belong there, and they conduct their own investigation of the premises, complete with creaking boards, unsettling noises, and an unknown something that grabs Clara's hand.

The Doctor expands his search for answers by taking the TARDIS through the entire history of the Earth in that very spot. Clara witnesses billions of years past and present - from days of primordial ooze to the eve of Earth's destruction by a red supergiant Sun. It's this venture that yields my favorite moment in the episode. Clara is brought to tears by this humbling sight; her existence is but a blip in the vast expanse to which this Time Lord has access. How can she or any human being be meaningful to him? Without the meter of time, she herself is nothing more than a "ghost" to him, is she not?

We of course know that The Doctor loves his human beings and loves his Earth, but it is difficult to imagine that there is not some inevitable emotional distancing that his travels have endowed in him, a point stressed by Emma's warning to Clara that The Doctor's heart contains a "sliver of ice." The Doctor's reassurance to Clara is not entirely reassuring, as his hesitant response to her question is to let her know that she is "the only mystery worth solving." Does she interpret that as his saying that humanity as a whole contains unexpected greatness in spite of its limited temporal nature? Does she perhaps intuit that there's more to his statement, giving her an inkling of his obsession with finding out why she reminds him of two someones that died and essentially making her a "ghost" yet again? Right now she's his task at hand, and we're beginning to see that while The Doctor cares about the concept of Clara (and her two previous selves that we have met) as his companion, he is prioritizing his quest for an answer to her origins to the detriment of any trusting personal relationship that he could be forming with her.

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The Doctor's TARDIS time-skipping reveals that the "ghost" in the house is no ghost at all; there's a scientific explanation to what's going on. This is a person that is trapped in an overlapping pocket universe, and this universe moves at a much slower rate of time. Her expression remains the same in all the sightings because we are seeing a few seconds there stretched across thousands of years here. She's a time traveling Earthling from the future that slipped out of her normal time-space and is now being chased by something in that other universe.

The Doctor rigs some equipment that amplifies Emma's psychic powers and links to the trapped traveler, thus opening a doorway to the pocket universe. They might not be dealing with ghosts on the other side, but the whole set-up of dangling The Doctor on a rope through the portal in the house does still have shades of Poltergeist. Once through the gateway, The Doctor finds a wooded clearing, the traveler, and the creature that is chasing them with apparent harmful intent. (He is described as the "Crooked Man" in the credits, and his grotesque appearance looks a little like Jeff Goldblum's Brundlefly might have if he never had the fly but still was merged with the telepod a couple times over in teleportation malfunction. Try not to judge him by his appearance, though.) The Doctor leads Hila Tacorien (the stranded time traveler) to the rope, and she makes it back to the house safely, but Emma cannot hold the portal any longer, thus stranding The Doctor.

Sensing The Doctor's great danger, the TARDIS's cloister bell starts ringing. (That sound sent chills up my adolescent spine in the days of classic Who.) Clara makes her case to the TARDIS, and the TARDIS - after giving her attitude by rendering an interactive hologram of Clara herself to represent a person that Clara "esteems" - allows her inside, so that they can make a quick trip to the other universe to rescue The Doctor. There's a concern about a power drain, and I'm not sure how much Clara has to do with how the TARDIS completes this rescue mission, but they manage to snag The Doctor and bring him back safely.

Alec and Emma overcome their romantic awkwardness at The Doctor's urging and learn that Hila is a great-great-great...well, it was several "greats"...-granddaughter of theirs, and that's why Emma's connection to her was particularly strong in reaching across universes. In encouraging their love, The Doctor realizes that the two creatures - The Crooked Man in the pocket universe and its own romantic counterpart lurking in the house - had gotten separated via the inter-universe rift and were simply trying to make their own love connection. The episode ends with The Doctor setting back out with Emma's help to reunite them.

The big revelation that came shortly before, however, was The Doctor's revelation of why he actually visited this time and place. He discreetly asks Emma for an evaluation of Clara by way of her empath insight, and Emma tells him that she is simply a normal girl with nothing to hide beyond the fact that she is a little more frightened than she shows.

Thus, the mystery continues. Who is Clara? Rampant Internet speculation offers many theories. Is she a relative of The Doctor, perhaps hinted at by the reference to The Doctor's granddaughter (William Hartnell's original companion Susan) a couple episodes ago, a scenario that could serve as a natural segue into the potential disclosure of The Doctor's name (i.e., "The First Question")? Is she Romana? Is she The Rani? Is she a manipulative creation of an old enemy? How would any of these theories tie into the fact that she is just an ordinary Earthling with an ordinary life, and why would her multiple deaths not be of a regenerative variety if any of these theories were the case?

It looks like next week's "Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS" will amp up the speculation and - if not provide any answers - at least raise the tension level between The Doctor and Clara. As it stands, his withholding information from her makes for an odd early situation for a Doctor-companion relationship, and the easy early chemistry between them is now strained.

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Classic Doctor Who Bonus:

I was in a Peter Davison mood this week, so I revisited "Black Orchid." Like "Hide," much of "Black Orchid" is set in a big house. There is a "ghost" of a sort that lurks within, but it's of the Jane Eyre variety, as this straight-up murder mystery offers no science-fiction elements beyond The Doctor and the TARDIS. This 1925 adventure is a rare two-parter; that makes it standard length for most adventures in modern Who.

The Doctor takes advantage of a mistaken identity upon his arrival to rock the field with his cricket skills. Tegan shows off the Charleston at a costume party, while Adric is baffled by dancing. Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) plays a dual role, as in a coincidence that the locals obsess over, she looks identical to the young lady of the aforementioned estate. There's no big "Clara" mystery here, though. It's just a coincidence, and the two women take advantage at the costume party by wearing the same outfit. Nyssa tells everyone she is from Traken, and the people assume this must be a little-known county in England. The Doctor wears a creepy harlequin outfit for the second part of the adventure, which inadvertently makes him the chief murder suspect. Part of proving his innocence involves taking the local constable aboard the TARDIS; in the old days it seems like many more people found out about the TARDIS.

The mystery is not tough to unravel, but I enjoyed this one for its little character moments. Davison and company are a fun TARDIS crew, and this light adventure was their final one prior to the tragic events of "Earthshock." Particularly amusing to me was a moment in which The Doctor wondered aloud why the not-easily-controlled TARDIS kept taking them back to Earth. Why indeed, cruel BBC television budgets?

C. Robert Dimitri loves a sound scientific explanation for a seemingly supernatural occurrence.



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Comments Are Welcome, Douches Are Not


  • Kathleen Allen

    ok, i'm going to just come out and say it. i've enjoyed the 11th and while i find these episodes fun and interesting and exciting...i am just not emotionally invested as i have been in the past. my concern and care for the doctor and his companions is just not there. is it the writing? or the acting? they can't compare to the 9th regeneration. or the 10th. chris's silly or david's angry. or wilfred's goodbye. or the master's death. (i'll run away now)

  • Uriah_Creep

    the whole set-up of dangling The Doctor on a rope through the portal in the house does still have shades of Poltergeist

    Or the Simpsons in Treehouse of Horror VI.

  • clancys_daddy

    Sorry, but so far I have underwhelmed by the new companion. I did have high hopes.

  • Tinkerville

    Doctor Who + Haunted Mansion in the English countryside = My dream come true. Nothing else really mattered to me beyond that and the episode didn't disappoint.

  • Rooks

    Re:Preview for next episode: She finds the swimming pool. That is all. *skips away*

  • bleujayone

    Here we go...

    1. It's been said, but I really would like an occasional two-parter brought back. I always feel things are being rushed a bit. I would have liked if the Doctor was all smug and showed that the ghost they were hunting for was just a temporal reflection....AND then the Crooked (Wo)Men were the legitimate specters of the land for which he had no explanation for. I think it would have given them just a little more purpose.

    2, I don't know about "SHELOB", but I was thinking more like "NERAK" from "The Watcher in the Woods" I really thought for a little bit that the trapped time traveler and the Crooked Man in our universe were just accidentally switched via some celestial event (like an eclipse) and that as scary as the "monster" was that there had to be more to it than that.

    3. Did the Doctor bring the creature in our universe to the pocket one where the two of them could creep about unmolested or did he bring the other one here where we will now get an endless supply of creatures to haunt our old houses, closets undersides of beds and attics?

    4. Missed opportunity to bring back Idris. The only forms the holograms should be of the Doctor. I agree Idris was best as a one-off appearance, but I'll take that over it sassing a companion in their own form.

    5. The TARDIS does not pilot itself and though it has a semi-empathic tone, it is never meant to talk or "walk" on its own accord. I'd take Clara accidentally hitting a recall feature or some other random button. Can you imagine how many stories would have ended up differently if the bloody companions could just talk to the TARDIS like it was Siri?

    6. I would have like if the Doctor popped into his old lab/office at UNIT HQ to get the information he needed regarding his ghosthunting couple. This kind of info wouldn't have been at the front of his mind and given the date and year of the story, it would have made sense that he'd have an outlet for this info.

    7. I liked the little high five between the Doctor and Clara. It was a moment that made them more Doctor/Companion than Doctor/Guinea Pig to keep the Doctor interested....

    8. I oddly enough liked the Doctor's explanation for the need for companions better with Amy when he said that companions can see stars and gaze in wonder whereas he can only see balls of burning gas... Now it sounds far less romantic or innocent and now because we know what Clara does not sounds like she's his soulless science experiment and if not for her previous "deaths" he would not care about her.

    9. Either history can be changed or it can't, Moffat. Either the trapped time traveler can be rescued and go home or she has to remained trapped and presumed dead. If the Doctor can no longer change history, tread carefully because of time paradoxes and no longer interfere, you no longer have a show. The whole purpose of the show to begin with is that the Doctor refused to just sit and watch. He had to get involved, he had to change things and by doing so history would be altered. Now if he doesn't want to change things in history because they're better off as they are- fine. But I think Moffat has backed himself into a corner (especially when fans gave multiple ways the Ponds didn't need to be stuck where they were) and is either too damn stubborn or feels he's too clever to abide by 50 years of other stories.

    10. Going back to the ghost hunters, I would have liked if the Doctor had actually met Alec in a different incarnation. That might have helped explain his plethora of knowledge on him if one didn't want to show the Doctor boning up on his files. Alec could have said he reminded him of another man and then described someone who might have been the Doctor (or even a future Doctor). He could have even said the man he once was named "Smythe...or something" assuming their past adventure would have been fleeting. It would also explain why the Doctor sought them out to have Clara looked into.

    11. I liked the tone of the episode. I liked the minimalist set-up in the cast, the practical special effects (the mist, reflections and the film of the Crooked Man backwards) over the CGI. I like they showed Clara scared but not the screaming helpless girls of companion past. I would have even liked it if the Doctor was shown afraid a little bit longer- maybe even a confession that another reason he has companions is so he has to be brave for them to do the extraordinary things he must- I say that because it almost feels like they were going to say that but stopped short when Clara and the TARDIS arrive. Still, I liked his better than the previous two so that's always a promising sign that things might be getting better.

  • Tinkerville

    I agree completely about the two-parters. I'm glad that Moffat's realized he needs to dial his overblown complexity back a bit, but getting rid of all two parters seems excessive and those were never the real problem in the first place. The Angels Take Manhattan absolutely should've been a two parter and I think The Bells of Saint John should've too.. they felt incredibly rushed.

    Their high five was my favorite part by a landslide.

  • Drake

    Finally, an episode that I enjoyed. I was getting worried.

  • Great episode and recap. I'm so curious about Clara and all these portended reveals. Apropos of nothing, I'm also intrigued that recently, John Barrowman first said he was in talks to return for the anniversary, and a few days later said he wasn't returning and hadn't been asked. This smacks of a cover up and I'm wondering if he is indeed going to show up as a surprise, and if the Face of Boe won't play into the mysteries.

    I'm definitely on the Clara is a relative train...

  • Bignick

    Classic Doctor Who reference in the episode: The Blue Crystals of Metebelis 3.

  • bleujayone

    Too bad he mispronounced it.

  • BWeaves

    1. Is it possible that the 3 Claras are different people in different generations with the same name? I've seen women who look exactly like their grandmothers' old photos, to the point of being twins, if they weren't 60 years apart in age. And it's not strange to name a child or grandchild after a parent or grandparent. If Emma (Empath, I get it) says Clara is a normal girl, then maybe that's it.

    2. I liked that the the "monster" wasn't one, but it's odd that the Doctor would automatically assume the ugly alien was a monster when it showed no evil over the course of thousands of years.

    3. Jessica Raine plays the exact same character she does in Call The Midwife. I think she is gorgeous, and I want everything she wears in Call The Midwife. However, she's very bland. She's supposed to be the star of Call The Midwife, but she's the least interesting character on the show.

    4. This episode never explained the "cold spots" in the house or why the chalk circle smoked.

    5. I'm not sure I like the TARDIS talking via hologram. I don't think I like the TARDIS becoming a person. The Neil Gaiman episode with Idris was fine, but I don't think they should make a habit of a talking, self driving TARDIS. This was just there to explain why the TARDIS couldn't land in the pocket universe and it was awkward.

    6. How was Clara driving the TARDIS? Or was the TARDIS driving itself and Clara was hanging on for the ride?

    7. Am I the only person who yelled "SHELOB" in the forest scene?

  • foolsage

    1. I don't think your explanation is plausible. Consider the following anomalies that don't fit the "coincidence" theory:

    * Two of the Claras, when dying, said, "Run, you clever boy, and remember."

    * Two of the Claras love to cook soufflés.

    * Two of the Claras were governesses.

    * Two of the Claras were computer geniuses. That is, they were not merely gifted, but world-class experts.

    * The TARDIS doesn't like at least two of the Claras; but then the TARDIS hates time anomalies.

    2. This bothered me a bit as well. Clearly the episode was intended to be scary, in fitting with the ghost hunting theme. I'd have preferred it if the unnamed creature emitted some sort of fear field, which would explain why the Doctor was so frightened.

    4. You're right. These were red herrings pointing to the "ghost" theory, but they needed to be explained, somehow. A throw-away line suffices.

    6. That's a very good question. I think Clara's relationship with the TARDIS is a clue to her nature.

  • nachosanchez

    For the creature, I figured the doctor assumed that it was trying to kill Hila, his only information about it being that she is a terrified human, running from it, and screaming "Help Me!"

  • foolsage

    Agreed. It's a bit of a step though from "it's chasing her" to "I'll be afraid of it, too". The Doctor is usually the one who shows us how things we fear are really just misunderstood. He's not prone to fearing things just because someone else fears them; when he fears things he generally has a very, very good reason to do so.

  • I do think the TARDIS was self-piloting.

    I also wonder if that hologram projection has some unseen role in the multiple Clara arc.

  • Ted Zancha

    Didn't the TARDIS use the hologram system when the Doctor was dying in "Let's Kill Hitler"? I assumed the hologram was for emergency purposes to do remote commands if the Doctor is not able to operate the controls. We've see it try on a few ocassions to maintain it's own safety or go away from time/space problems (The episode with the pirate ship). Also, didn't the Doctor just recently program it to retreat from danger.

    We've seen that the TARDIS tends to have a mind of it's own and I think that's what makes it fun. Yeah, it's the Doctor's vehicle, but the TARDIS said that it "stole" the Doctor.

  • toblerone

    +1. But I wonder why the Romeo monster was even included and why they didn't go with a straight ghost story.

  • BWeaves

    Red Herring. I guess there had to be a reason she was screaming, other than "I'm stuck in a weird universe by myself" which would have me screaming by itself.

  • toblerone

    Exactly.

  • NateMan

    1. A great episode, creepy and funny by turns.
    2. Absolutely agree with the Selma Blair comparison.
    3. I thought Clara was much more herself - or as she was written in the beginning - in this episode.

  • bleujayone

    Oddly enough this was in fact the first episode filmed with Clara as a regular even if it wasn't the first seen.

  • toblerone

    I loved this episode. That is all.

  • Ted Zancha

    Yep, best episode of this season so far.

  • Is the good Doctor auditioning for a Tom Cruise role in that header pic there?

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