TV REVIEW: Doctor Who Series 6 Episode 11: The God Complex

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What’s It About?
A hotel where the rooms contain individual fears. A motley group of occupants. And the TARDIS crew. Can The Doctor keep them from falling to their fears? …

Review It

Being Human creator Toby Whithouse penned this week’s episode, returning after writing School Reunion in 2006 and last year’s Vampires of Venice. The pre-titles sequence sets the tone perfectly this week, with police-woman Lucy’s note providing the first insights into the plot’s intricacies and setting the tone for the episode as a whole.

The idea of rooms specifically tailored to an individual’s personal fears is creepy enough and the setting of an out-dated hotel is particularly apt. The concept allows for the inclusion of many, many creepy things – clowns, dummies, Weeping Angels and … Gorrillas. Each of these pales to the anticipation of the story’s central monster though which is kept mainly off-camera for the majority of the episode. The hotel’s current batch of occupants are well presented and fit into archetypes that make them recognisable but without seeming too stereotypical.

What I particularly liked was the twist in the tale … the reason behind the rooms is not quite what it first appeared to be and the way in which Whithouse deals with each of the characters (recurring and guests) relationship with the hotel and it’s resident raised the bar completely for me. Again, Smith has echoes of McCoy’s Fenric performance towards the end of this episode. The final few minutes of the episode were excellent as the Doctor makes a remarkably adult decision.

The keen of ear will notice the parallel between the monster and the Time Lord – a scene where the creature is captured by the cast and The Doctor translates the creature’s thoughts is definitely more than it first appears, a fact emphasized during the resolution.

Hats off to the production crew this week – particularly the Director, Nick Huran, who really captures the atmosphere of the episode. The camera work always seems slightly off-kilter and the quick flashes of images throughout are particularly effective in adding to the creepiness of the story. The soundtrack also adds to the atmosphere nicely. The guest cast, including comedian and Who fan David Walliams was particularly strong this week. Even the “comic relief coward ” presented by Walliams’ character – from “the most conquered planet in the galaxy” is more than first appears. Why would a race of cowards evolve? Answers here folks!

And the niggles?

Quite why an alien civilisation from across the stars would style their prison complex (holographic though it may be) after an Earth Hotel, I have no idea! I’d like to have seen more of the conflict between Rory and the Doctor which seemed to get swept under the carpet somewhat as the TARDIS crew all seem to be best-buds again. Though there was a nice “past tense” moment from Rory.

In summary:

Creepy enough and quite psychological for Saturday tea time, this is probably my favourite episode since the break and is the equal of The Doctor’s Wife this series as a whole. The last ten minutes in particular raised the score of this episode for me, as it really surprised me and the twist was particularly well executed. What did The Doctor see in “his” room? And why were the cloister bells ringing? Was this a clue as to who his greatest fear was? ” Who else?”

Rate It: 4.5 / 5.
Dry Slaps: 0
Reviewer: WedgeDoc

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One comment

  1. Great review!

    I don’t think I was as positive about the episode as you though. I think the biggest problem in the episode was that it was too easy for the Doctor to take Amy’s faith away from her.

    But so many of the problems in the narrative of this episode stem directly from the writers having no idea of Amy as a character, as I discuss in more detail here:

    http://theoncominghope.blogspot.com/2011/09/doctor-who-god-complex-aka-characters.html

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