At its finest, Doctor Who is about a vagabond traveler whose only real power is experience. Sure, he has his sonic this and his whatever that, but throughout the runs, both new and old, the strongest episodes have been the one were the Doctor is trying to figure stuff out, and brings the audience along for the ride. While there was niggles here and there, this episode was strong enough...
... that damnedable final scene.
Everyone knows that the Doctor is not dead. Everyone. My friend’s son knows... and he’s seven. Of course, he’s a born cynic... which is all kinds of awesome (no, not really). So, why bother put in a scene which suggests he’s dead. Why? It serves no purpose. It’s not a cliffhanger in any sense of the word.
Ignoring those final seconds (and best to ignore the time travel wibbly wobbly explanation suggested to fix things), there was an abundance of things about the episode to like. The “reason” for the ghosts was nice; an encoded signal which creates this very nice and adaptive system to transmit a Mayday. The use of the writing as a sort of meme was also a nice touch, especially when the TARDIS couldn’t translate it. Removing one of the new era Doctor Who’s super-powers is alright in my book, despite how it might have been a little iffy story wise (why couldn’t the TARDIS translate the words but not be effected by the signal?).
The base story was nice too. It was a haunted house story, but rather than doing a masterpiece theater haunted house story, it was reminscent of the Alien movies (which are, basically, SF haunted house movies). And that was great! Yes, doing it old school, but with an ear to the present day.
Speaking of superpowers, where did the hologramatic projection stuff come from? Was this in one of the RTD/Tennant episodes I might have purged from my memory or is this new sonic sunglasses powers?
Another moment I liked... if in a “it depends what they do with it” sort of way was the moment when Lunn was trapped with one of the ghosts and the ghost just retreated instead of caving in his skull. At a pretty easy guess, this should be the solution, right? But, it depends if it is referenced in the next episode. If this was simply a throw-away moment and they never refer to it again (‘cause they couldn’t figure a way to get him out of there), then that’s dodgy as fuck.
Now... as mentioned, there were these niggles. Just, something about some of the scenes and the way they played out. It felt as if there wasn’t real engagement in the scenes, from all concerned. Perhaps this is just me (I can already hear many small minded folks dismissing the comment as such), or perhaps it was the director not getting the cast to function. Or they could have had bad clams. Whatever the reason, the delivery was off.
I have to say, I hope this isn’t the best of the season. It was good enough, but that doesn’t make it good. It makes it average. Let’s see if the end brings the overall story up or continues in a straight line.