Monday, August 25, 2014

Doctor Who--"The Crimson Horror"

I am a jade soul after a misspent youth collecting comic books.  Cliffhangers and previews have a tough time capturing my imagination.  But last week’s trailer for “The Crimson Horror” grabbed my attention.  I am big on period pieces that have elements of science fiction and horror.  “The Crimson Horror” does not disappoint.

It is a compellingly weird and disturbing episode that mixes horrific imagery with some nifty steam punk gadgetry and enough humor to loosen the painfully tight screws when necessary.  Seriously, folks,  parasites feeding on a woman’s neck.  A hand reaching out from behind a locked door.  How about the splattering of the parasite as it is beaten to death?  You need a few laughs here and there after seeing that sort of thing.

The characters steal the show this time around.  Unlike last week, the guest cast iss meaningful, and actually has something to contribute.  Strax, Vashta, and Jenny return to investigate the goins on at the filthy Victorian workhouse Sweethouse and discover the Doctor held prisoner.  There is a nice change of pace.  The trio deserve their own spin off or at least an adventure in the annual Doctor-lite episode.  The other great characters were the dysfunctional mother/daughter pair played by real mother/daughter pair Diana Rigg and Rachael Stirling.  Stirling is the right age to bring back memories of Emma Peel. 

Clara’s return to the Victorian era stirs up memories for Strax, Vashta, and Jenny of that era’s Clara who died in the Christmas special.  How can there be another Clara alive in another time period? Clara’s charges have found old photos of her from adventures with the doctor in 1983, 1974, and 1892.  They apparently use this discover to blackmail her for a trip in the TARDIS the next episode.  Too bad they will fun into Cybermen, no?

“The Crimson Horror” is an entertaining ride, but the squeamish should beware.  Ye olde envelope is pushed to ye olde limit.  Of course, that only serves to make “The Crimson Horror” one of my favorite episodes of the series.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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