Doctor Who series 6 episode 11: The God Complex spoiler-free review

Review Simon Brew 13 Sep 2011 - 14:32
Doctor Who: The God Complex

Being Human's Toby Whithouse returns to pen the next Doctor Who adventure, The God Complex. Here's our spoiler-free review...

You might get bored of reading it, but I’m certainly not getting bored of writing it: this weekend’s Doctor Who is really good. Again.

Entitled The God Complex, it’s written by Being Human creator Toby Whithouse. It’s up there with the quality of his first and best Who story, School Reunion, too, although I suspect that the praise for this one might not as unanimous as that enjoyed by The Girl Who Waited last weekend. Personally, I thought that The God Complex was excellent, though.

Kicking off with a terrific pre-title scene, The God Complex sees the Doctor, Amy and Rory land in the middle of a 1980s hotel. At least, they think it’s a 1980s hotel, but there’s quite a lot more to it than that. Behind the doors of the bedrooms lie things that would make you not open the doors to the bedrooms, and the corridors evoke such a feeling of The Shining at times that you expect freaky children to appear at any minute. Director Nick Hurran (who helmed underrated body swap comedy It's A Boy Girl Thing) damn well knows it, too.

Corridors have, of course, long been a staple of Doctor Who, and here, they’re used to really quite spooky effect at times. In fact, the whole episode might just be the creepiest of the series to date, skilfully tapping into a series of primal fears, and building the tension very well as it goes.

Whithouse’s script has more on its mind, though, as he explores religion and just what the Doctor is doing flying around the universe. It does this while throwing in a line from The Apprentice, too, as well as tipping its hat to Star Trek once more.

The episode works on a couple of levels, and it’s easy to overlook the fact that The God Complex is paying homage, in its direction and production design in particular, to various elements of good horror movies. There’s a touch of Sylvester McCoy’s later Who in this one, too, and it also has a little nod towards web nerds. Not that I’d have any interest in that.

Guest star of the week is David Walliams, and he’s thoroughly restrained, putting in a believable and important performance. He’s outshone by Amara Karan, though, who puts in sterling work here in another of the supporting roles.

Furthermore, the episode has some interesting lines and themes that are best left discussed once the credits have rolled on Saturday night. We'll have to leave that until then.

It’s an interesting and absorbing episode, though, that doesn’t vary the themes that Doctor Who has been exploring in recent weeks too much, but still finds things to say. Matt Smith, in particular, arguably puts in his strongest work of the series run to date, too.

Will The God Complex be to everyone’s liking? I’m pretty sure it won’t. But it’s a stylish, wonderfully realised and pretty much self-contained story, that leaves things in an interesting place for the week after.

Check out the new and ever growing Doctor Who page at DoG, where we are marshalling all the Who content at the site, including interviews, DVD and episode reviews, lists, opinions and articles on our favourite time traveller...

 

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