Monday, September 5, 2011

Night Terrors

Well, it finally happened. Doctor Who wasted my time. “Night Terrors” started out rather interesting. It conveyed that fear from childhood—the one where you lay in bed afraid of what lies just out of sight—perfectly. In fact, it may have done it too perfectly; because in the same way as a child I was afraid of stuff that wasn’t really there…
there was nothing there this time either. They prolong the anticipation of this child’s monsters just long enough for everyone to realize that there is no danger. The “mystery” this time around was not hard to decipher. At least the part where you were supposed to wonder where everyone was being transported—that was apparent right away. As to the “explanation,” Doctor Who often cops out with the typical sci-fi trope: “it was some sort of alien phenomenon all along,” only this time it felt indifferent. This episode is a complete placeholder.

The one interesting concept the episode briefly flirted with was the way the Doctor was summoned. On second thought it might further enrage a lot of hard core, long time fans of the show. Basically, the Doctor answered the prayers of the boy that spanned space and time to appear on the Doctors pad of psychic paper. Aside from the fact that that makes no sense whatsoever and is an extreme example of the lazy storytelling that pervades this episode, it is a step further in the way this show has been exploring the divine nature of the Doctor. Not that the Doctor is God or a god exactly. But the show has increasingly been in the habit of exploring issues of belief. It used to be that the show was used as a vehicle to tell stories that informed people about history and science. Over the years it moved further into philosophy; but since its return in 2005 it has been one of many stories being told in our culture today that address religious and faith issues in an interesting way.

Unfortunately, this episode was just a tease.

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