Doctor Who Review – “The Crimson Horror”

This week marks episode 11 of 13 in the latest series.

Cast and Crew Information

Matt Smith as The Doctor
Jenna-Louise Coleman as Clara
Neve McIntosh as Madame Vastra
Catrin Stewart as Jenny Flint
Dan Starkey as Strax
Diana Rigg as Winifred Gillyflower
Rachael Stirling as Ada Gillyflower
Jack Oliver Hudson as Thomas Thomas

Written by Mark Gatiss
Directed by Saul Metzstein

Availability Information

This is currently available via iTunes (US, CAN) and will be available on DVD (US, CAN) and Blu-Ray (US, CAN) on May 28.

Premise

The Doctor and Clara visit Victorian England and encounter old friends and new enemies.

High Point

“Hold on, hold on, I have a sonic screwdriver.”
“Yeah? I have a chair.”

Low Point

The chimney scene. Spoilerly particulars: There’s no way a rocket made with Victorian technology could launch in a chimney that narrow and not fry every single character in the scene. End spoilers.

The Review

This feels original for the first third, in which the Doctor is nowhere to be seen. The latter part has a new villain, but still seems somehow derivative of other episodes. Still, this episode’s goal seems to have little to do with the monster and much more to do with Clara, just as we had last week, which means we have a few minutes at the end that are decidedly different from any episode I’ve seen to date. I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects were well done, including a combination of CGI, puppetry and makeup. Sadly, the puppet was unquestionably a puppet. Douglas Adams and Terry Nation would have killed for this much financial support in their stories. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story is well constructed, with only the low point reducing my enjoyment in any significant way. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting is great, demonstrating range for the supporting cast, particularly Jenny. The villain and her daughter also fill their roles nicely. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production is solid, as it is week after week. The Russell T. Davies era was good enough to make Doctor Who appointment television for me, but Stephen Moffat is doing a better job. Since he took over as showrunner, we’ve not only had some great arcs, but the production quality has visibly improved as well. I can’t say whether that’s because Moffat is more particular in this area, or whether his storytelling and cast have brought in more viewers leading to correspondingly larger budgets, but either way the audience wins. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response is good, but not great. The monster of the week didn’t grab me at all, but the pieces about the Clara mystery and the unusual first act still pulled me in. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable episode, but it feels like another piece of a bigger puzzle than like a standalone episode. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, The Crimson Horror receives 34 out of 42.

10 replies on “Doctor Who Review – “The Crimson Horror””

  1. Jethro says:

    High point: Diana Rigg. DIANA. FRIGGIN. RIGG.

    • She was good at a shallow character. Clara’s attitude and her ability to act as the Doctor’s equal from the start won me over. Getting detailed directions from Tom Tom was a close second.

    • zocalo says:

      Don’t know if you are watching Game of Thrones, and if not, what’s wrong with you? :), but Diana Rigg has been giving a brilliant performance as Lady Olenna Tyrell in the last few episodes. Definitely worth checking out.

      • Jethro says:

        Do NOT get me started on Game of Thrones. Oh wait too late. OFF-TOPIC RANT MODE ENGAGED.

        I’d been meaning to read the books fir a while, so when I heard they were making a TV show I bought all four and… wait, there’s more than four? But I’ve been hearing there are four books in the series for ages. And wait, the fifth one isn’t the last one? I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

        See, if there’s one thing that REALLY bugs me it’s people writing sequel after sequel after sequel because they want to milk their franchise. And the one thing that bugs me even MORE than that is when they do it because they just never came up with a storyline or a conclusion so they just keep going and changing directions and adding more and more crap. Fairly sure Song of Ice and Fire falls into Category 2.

        But anyway, I read the first book. It was good, but hard to read. I have some problems with George R. R. Martin’s writing style which is a whole other RANT so I’ll spare you (for now). Anyway, read the book, watched Season 1. Which I’ll admit was fantastic. Really well done, great drama, great acting, fantastic sets, naked ladies, you name it.

        Then I read book 2. It was a lot harder to read and kinda took away one of the things I appreciated about the first book – namely, there was no “magic” till the very very end.

        I also realised there is not one single sympathetic character in the entire story. I don’t like ANY of these people, and as far as I can tell there’s absolutely no reason to like any of them. I really think that rather than being called “Song of Ice and Fire” it should be called “Bad Things Happening To Horrible People Mostly Because They’re Too Stupid To Friggin Talk To Each Other”. I mean the first book set up Eddard as the sympathetic character and he did SO MANY STUPID THINGS.

        I didn’t bother watching Season 2. I didn’t want to relive how mad I was at all these idiots.

        Not likely to read the rest of the books, either.

        /END RANT

  2. Vulch says:

    Doctor Who without The Doctor takes a bit of work, but can be truly excellent. David Tennant had about 5 minutes screen time in “Blink”, half of which was the DVD Easter Egg conversation, and it’s still Best Episode Evar.

    • Kiersten says:

      Blink is the best non-main-character show ever in the history of TV. :)

      This episode, was not a non-main-character episode. It started to seem that way, but it changed fairly quickly and the Doctor was in the rest of the episode.

    • Jethro says:

      It goes both ways, though. “Blink” was fantastic and is on many peoples’ Top 10 lists.

      “Love and Monsters” was fairly horrible and should be stricken from the record.

  3. JD DeLuzio says:

    I enjoyed the gothic craziness of it, and the strong performances. As for the Low Point, well….. Uh…. They did have some more advanced technology courtesy of Mr. Sweet’s influence, so…. Yeah. Not sure how you get around that one.

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