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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You can rest assured that the things 'fans' don't like about the episode will be prominent on social media site comments. Most only seem to watch to say how it's so bad they're 'never watching again!'......well, at least until next week's episode.

That's funny... I've noticed that too!

Well, given how fannish these Doctor Who reviews have proved to be, my expectations for this episode -- which weren't high to begin with -- have been lowered.

It sounds fairly routine, in a season which should be high-key for the anniversary.

But for the Clara stuff, which might be very interesting indeed, though it's hard to tell with the hide-the-lede routine and all ... :)

Looks good. I think it would be interesting to get some kids to review the episodes too, as it's only big kids like me that comment on these threads.

"... And while the last scene or two may well not be to everyone's liking..."

Oh God, nothing new here then... Nothing makes me worry for an episode more than the last few scenes being controversial.

It's funny how you found Bells of St John to be "breakneck" in pace. I personally found it to lull quite remarkably. Despite some potentially fun setpieces, the only one that worked for me was the falling aeroplane. Otherwise, I felt everything went too slow, despite it clearly wanting to be a face-paced action-y episode. The only solid pacing I've personally come across this year is in last week's episode. But the previews of this episode suggest a slower pace will serve it much better. Pacing, people, PACING!

My issue with Doctor Who is the promise it shows and the let down of often lazy writing. Last week's episode's script needed some severe editing as the central premise was a strong one - however, there was no reason for a crew member to release the ice warrior, Clara behaved in an inconsistent manner to prior episodes leading me to believe that this was written with 'generic assistant' in mind rather than a character brief. How these submarines ever get anything done when there is always a power struggle between the Captain and First Mate I have no idea. David Warner as misused as Stephen Berkoff - two actors I love. Finally, so many people go on and on about Gatiss knowing his horror etc but any true lover of the horror genre knows that what you don't see is much scarier than what you do. There was no justification for getting the ice warrior out of his suit and the episode suffered greatly for it. Poorly realised, unoriginal and much less intimidating than when within the suit

Hmm the 70s But why, wouldn't the 90s be better. I wish Cold War (ice warrior) was set in the 60s rather than 80s why are they choosing seaming lay random dates.

I love the show, always will. But I'm getting bored of Matt Smith. I'm also getting bored of the passionate Matt Smith speech in like every episode that seems to sound the same every time. But sadly I still love his version of The Doctor, I just feel like they created a boring Doctor and they're running out of things to do with him. Since he took over the focus is always who is around him, The Ponds, The mysterious River, and now Clara. I feel like they need to regenerate after this season. I also wouldn't mind a spinoff show with Christopher Eccelston that takes place during the Time Wars. That would be "Fantastic"

Because the Cold War actually took place in the 80's?

Urrrm well that's only true to an extent. Cuban Missile Crisis was in '62.

I thought Bells of St. John was paced very well. It was slow with a story that worked with its pace. I prefer those than episodes that seem like two episodes crammed into one.

I don't think I could ever get bored of Matt Smith. The passionate speech though has been a little overused, I agree with that. I think a lot of people forget how good Season 5 and 6 were. Aside from the bumps in the long term storytelling(which had nothing to do with Matt's acting), on an episode to episode basis, it was very exciting. It's just, Season 7 has seemed to be a bit of a lower quality for whatever reason. Maybe it's that it's the purely single episode format. I would have preferred if they did Season 7 with nothing but two parters. 14 episodes, 7 stories. They could have really fleshed out everything better.

Still though, I watch it for Matt and I quite like Clara. Even if the stories themselves have been less than what I hoped for. I had more problems watching David Tennant honestly. Tennant's a good actor and I've seen him in very good roles, but the Tenth seems to be one of his weakest ones.

Anyway, I'm excited for this one. Reminds me of Ghost Light, one of my favorite classic episodes.

Still, no Ultravox in '62 :-)

That was some dodgy reasoning, especially as we only saw parts of the Ice Warrior when out of it's suit - if anything it made the viewer realise there was something more terrifying they couldn't see. Previously the Ice Warriors had just been assumed to be generic humanoids.
What we did see - hands and face, is pretty much EXACTLY what we saw of the Alien in Alien, don't tell me that was a failed horror movie.

Well, in the RTD era, the internet was hating all of the eps. And now... everybody hates too. But DW continues to deliver good rating, its more popular than ever and still on the air... why you guys keep watching it, if everything is so bad? Go and use your time more wisely.

I'd have to do a bit more checking to confirm this but I rather suspect that during the 60's Russian Nuclear Wessels, uh, Subs (sorry) weren't drilling under the arctic ice to try and find oil. Especially if it's a Boomer, they'd have been busy impersonating a hole in the water when the cold war was in danger of becoming hot. That's not to say they were actually doing this in the 80's but at least it's slightly more believable. Doesn't really help the plot if they can't actually find the Ice Warrior...

Putting aside the see/not see debate, what was the justification for the Ice Warrior leaving the suit given that he could have just walked free at any time?

It meant we didn't realise he was gone for some time, also allowed him to move faster and avoid cameras.

I believe the Captain's conflict was with his ship's political officer. That's a staple of fiction about Cold War-era Russian subs, like THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER.

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