‘Doctor Who’: ‘Night Terrors’ spoiler-free review

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Thankfully, unlike the re-opener, this week’s Doctor Who can be safely and fully discussed without fear of inadvertently revealing a spoiler or twelve. ‘Night Terrors’, from the pen of Mark Gatiss, is less about surprises and revelations and questions and answers and spoilers and more surprises, and more concerned with plot and characters.

And it’s just as funny as ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ too. In fact, this is one of the show’s most gigglesome-filled stories ever with some hilarious performances from Matt Smith as everyone’s favourite Gallifreyan, Arthur Darvill (everyone’s favourite Doctor Who character called Rory) and Karen Gillan.

Gatiss, known for his comedic stylings from The League of Gentlemen, has packed numerous laughs into this episode, along with even more numerous references and mentions of Doctor Who lore (some of which will leave you positively hooting).

It’s strange, indeed, that there should be so many gags as ‘Night Terrors’ appeared to be the ‘scary’ one as the trails since Christmas had featured those insanely creepy looking dolls. But, you’ll be glad to hear, it is going to freak you out.

Director Richard Clark (who so beautifully helmed ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ earlier this year) transforms the contemporary high-rise flats, where Team TARDIS find themselves after receiving a distress call of sorts, with his incredibly cinematic eye; rendering the everyday rather horrifying and making the banal fearful and unnerving.

Those old enough to remember the Ugly-Wuglies from the 1979 BBC children’s series The Enchanted Castle will find similarities in the spine-shivering nature of the dollies and their motionless faces as they veer towards our heroes. They’re a great, yet simple, invention, although you may have been hoping for more action from these gentle but deadly monsters.

Joining the Deadly Dollies (as no one is referring to them as) is Ashes To Ashes actor Daniel Mays, turning in the most sympathetic of performances as the father who has a problem that only The Doctor can assist with. It’s wonderful to see Mays taking on a different kind of role from that we’re used to of him. He and Matt Smith make for a most entertaining twosome, going through a number of tonally different scenes together.

Top marks and a gold star also go to newcomer Jamie Oram who plays the young boy of the story, George. Given that his role is large it’s a credit to the youngster that he pulls it off so well and with such style. Though you will feel greatly for him, there’s also something immensely unsettling about George; like he’s an old man in a child’s body.

‘Night Terrors’ marvels in its less than marvellous setting and will have you giggling knowingly (pointing out the references to your less geeky friends), LOLing and shrieking in equal measures. Gatiss has already proven the skills for laughs and scares but here he also demonstrates his heart with a wonderful relationship between father and son. The ending, we’re sure, will have a number of you weeping.

Best of all, it’s very much a stand-alone piece, so you can forget all about Melody Pond, The Silence, River Song, the Doctor’s death-day. Tuck in and enjoy a classic forty-five minutes of Who action.

Airs at 7pm on Saturday 3rd September 2011 on BBC One.

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