Thursday, 25 May 2017

TV Review No. 51 Doctor Who: Knock Knock (S10, Ep4)

Strong Points:
Some scares and atmosphere of unease
Monster was unsettling
Good acting all round - especially Capaldi, Pearl Mackie and David Suchet
Pretty good costumes and makeup
A homage to horror and ghost story tropes...

Weak Points:
Odd pacing
...although some of them became annoying
Bill's housemates weren't really developed
Dodgy CGI

In-depth Review:
At the Doctor Who boardroom (3 doors down from Marvels)
Executive 1: so we need a new villain to scare the audience with, any ideas?
Executive 2: diamond Weeping Angels?
Executive 3: Daleks which make stairs AND can climb them?
Executive 4: how about just employing all the horror tropes inside a giant living house?
E1: could do...
E4: and have a person made out of wood as a result of alien termites?
E1: um... sure?
Audience: um... sure?

This episode kept us in the present and on Earth, focusing on Bill and a common weakness most companions seem to have: a life outside The Doctor. Yep, we met up with Bill as she was doing the most horrifying of things: buying a house with other people. *Shudder*. What followed was a pretty good montage of trying to find a house for six university students, ending with The Landlord offering them a Victorian style house, massive in size, while still within their price range.

Too good an offer to decline, right? Of course, but that doesn't mean things are going to go wrong, I mean the house literally looks haunted (and is also the same house from Blink), and it wouldn't be a Doctor Who episode if things didn't go wrong. Sure enough, one of the roommates puts on some classical music and disappears, apparently into thin air and The Landlord seems to enter from thin air to talk to the remaining roommates. Something's definitely afoot.

All this mystery, with the other people slowly disappearing (with some slightly off CGI), and everyone getting generally more tense worked, especially coupling it with the knocking of the wood and the reciprocation from the house, with the scene when Paul get's locked in his room and Bill and Shireen are trying to coax him out before realising he wasn't the one knocking being a particular highlight. However, the mystery just stopped, quite suddenly, when The Landlord basically told them his plan. I get that in retrospect, this makes sense - he is still very childlike and probably couldn't wait, but at the time all it served was to take me out of the moment.

Let's talk about The Landlord for a moment shall we, as besides the aforementioned point, was probably the best and most chilling part of the episode, especially if, again, we look at it retroactively. David Suchet does a brilliant job at portraying a character which isn't all he seems, especially as my first thought was 'oh, he's going to be a ghost'. He wasn't, and the episode was all the better for it, and the twist that he was the child of Eliza and their sudden death (even if it seemed a bit too sudden) was heart-wrenching.

Overall, the ending could've benefited from both more and less set-up. By mid-way through some of the tropes had started to wear off and I was hoping for a twist but at the same time, a bit more time upping the tension could have done the episode wonders. I think the problem was that they focused too much on the roommates, I'm guessing because they'll be back in future episodes, instead of really amping up the atmosphere of unease in the house, and then realising they suddenly had to reveal things, leading to slightly uneven pacing. But anyway, I was creeped out by Eliza while simultaneously feeling pity for her, so they did something right! Also, props to the costume department for Eliza and The Landlord - they fit it well and didn't look out of place, compared to some of the CGI.

Conclusion: overall, this was a bit of a step backwards from the almost laser focused Thin Ice, but still had just enough eeriness to make a worthwhile episode.

Rating: 75%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

P.S. I think we can all guess who's behind that vault door, can't we? Shame they released the cast listings really, as it would've been a great surprise

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