Doctor Who series 7: Hide spoiler-free review

Review Simon Brew 17 Apr 2013 - 07:30

Hide takes Doctor Who series 7 to 1970s Britain, and a creepy old house. Here's our spoiler-free review...

We're back on Earth in the latest Doctor Who, this time heading to the 70s, without any British comics or particularly catchy singles to establish the era this time around. But then tonally, Hide is a much quieter story than we've had this series, and it's a marked contrast with writer Neil Cross' other adventure, The Rings Of Akhaten

If we've got our chronology right, Cross delivered the draft of Hide first, and it's a good episode, this. At heart, it's a haunted house story, something Doctor Who has good form on. The Doctor and Clara arrive at said house, to find its inhabitants - played by Dougray Scott and Jessica Raine - staging their own, pre-Living TV interpretation of Most Haunted

It all takes a little while to get warmed up (the Doctor has to have a little moment with the technology first), and there's a cheeky sense of Scooby Doo about it at times, as the Doctor and Clara investigate the mysterious haunting in the mysterious house. But in the middle part of the episode in particular, the small cast and the tight surroundings serve Hide really, really well. And while the last scene or two may well not be to everyone's liking, Cross has shaped a complete, interesting story here, that forms the basis of a very good episode of Doctor Who. He weaves in a funny and knowing speech about the evolution of the companion role too. 

Logistically, the story works very much in the episode's favour, as the location shoot of a creaky old house allows director Jamie Payne to explore corridors, place sound effects, throw in some smoke, and crank up the atmosphere. He seems to be having particular fun with his game of 'It's behind you', and to his credit, there's quite a creepy atmosphere to Hide at times. It's aided too by the slightly slower pace to the episode this time around. The breakneck style of The Bells Of Saint John wouldn't sit well here, and Payne and Cross' restraint is beneficial.

The other element to this particular story though is Clara, and things are - without giving anything away - getting a lot more interesting with regard to her character. We're way past introductions now, and the mystery surrounding her really deepens this time. You don't need us to tell you how well Jenna-Louise Coleman has settled into the role, and it's with Hide that interesting things begin to develop further. That's all we can really say without breaking into spoiler territory. 

Hide is, perhaps, a lower key, more muted episode of Doctor Who than we've seen of late. It's also one that we really enjoyed. There are one or two elements to it that we weren't fully won over by, which we'll come to in the spoiler-filled review after the episode has aired. But Hide is, by turns, funny, spooky, atmospheric and intriguing. And it even opens by namechecking an 80s classic. Can't be bad.

Read Simon's spoiler-filled review of the previous episode, Cold War, here.

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