Original Air Date: Apr 20, 2013
Maria – Associate Staff Writer
It’s November 25th 1974 in Caliburn House. It’s raining and foggy, and the house looks rather creepy, out of time, and even though it’s set in the past it is much older, but the “modern technology” makes it even more off-kilter.
A man and his assistant (No, not the Doctor and Clara) are exploring the house, trying to communicate with a “ghost”. Emma Grayling is the heart to Alec Palmer’s mind, and she’s clearly in love with him. Okay, so that could be most Doctor-Companion relationships since the reboot but Grayling and Palmer are both human, and haven’t seen the things the Doctor has seen, so hopefully the arrival of the TARDIS can help clean up a mystery or two.
The legend of the ghost goes back centuries, with documented sightings of the apparition. In the dimly lit mansion, lightning casting unusual shadows, something on the move, it is very eery indeed. The Doctor’s initial child-like glee soon turns to fear.
Even a bad CGI wormhole thing is made to be rather scary, and a lot of that is due to the amazing acting. Seeing the “ghost” actually freaked me out a little, so I’m glad the moments after are treated with levity. It is so cliché that a whiskey is given for shock, but the girls are one of the few on TV to actually voice how foul they find the drink and admit that they’d have preferred a cup of tea. This is Doctor Who. Tea fixes all.
The parallels between The Doctor and Alec Palmer are highlighted even more during a discussion between the two. Palmer is a war hero, but he’s somewhat damaged by that, and now chases ghosts. Palmer has lived after witnessing so much of… the other thing, just like the Doctor. Unlike the Doctor though, it seems Palmer is aware of Grayling’s feelings, and Clara insists he returns them. I actually want Grayling and Palmer to get together, because their feelings are complex yet evident and I want them to be happy.
Enough of the painful, human, emotion stuff for now. The Doctor takes Clara on a trip through time, not space. He takes a snapshot every century or so, and then plays them together back in 1974. The picture is very interesting indeed. It shows a woman, a pioneer in time travel called Hilla. She’s no ghost, she’s alive in a pocket universe and what has been mere seconds to her have been millenia to our world. And one more thing: she’s being chased!
The Doctor refuses to use the TARDIS to teleport into the collapsing pocket universe, but he does hook her up to psychic Grayling to open up the wormhole which he goes through. The wormhole closes after Hilla is brought through, but the Doctor is still trapped in the collapsing pocket universe, along with the mysterious creature.
Clara pleads with the TARDIS to take her to the pocket universe, even having an argument with the TARDIS’s Voice Visual Interface (which TARDIS chose Clara as the visual). I can’t wait to see how the TARDIS-Clara conflict evolves, because there is certainly something between them. Only after Grayling painfully opens the wormhole again does the TARDIS do so, never landing, but getting close enough for the Doctor to cling on, leaving the creature behind.
Finally, the rain has ceased, the sun is shining and the birds are singing. There are still a few issues to resolve though. The Doctor didn’t come to the house because of the ghost. He wanted to speak to psychic Grayling for answers about Clara, but Grayling insists Clara is just a girl. Hilla is a distant relative of Grayling and Palmer, because of course they have kids and their kids have kids etc. Oh, and the creature wasn’t evil at all. It was just parted from its love, so the Doctor has to go on a trip to reunite them.
I liked this episode, although the ending did feel a little rushed. The story could easily have been given 15 minutes more, because it had so much heart and emotion that the pacing of the action felt a little rushed towards the end. Still, it was a very interesting concept; a ghost story which has a science fiction explanation and is actually a love story instead.
It was shot like a ghost story. The creature was made even more menacing by having frames intercut or taken out. By being shown with shadows and flashes. But just because something looks scary, it doesn’t mean it is. A little like love.
Did you guess that the monster wasn’t evil? What did you suspect the “ghost” was? Did you watch this episode from behind the sofa? What did you make of the Grayling/Palmer romance? Did you feel the ending was rushed? Why do you think Clara thinks the TARDIS doesn’t like her? Please, leave your comments, theories and TwoCents about this week’s story.