‘Doctor Who’ Review: S07E9 – ‘Hide’
The story opens in the 1970s with Professor Alec Palmer (Dougray Scott) and his psychic assistant Emma Grayling partaking in some very sincere ghost hunting in an old mansion on the moor. To date they have produced substantial evidence to support their claim of a haunting. That’s when the Doctor and Clara show up. Initially the pair are excited to be joining in the ghost hunt but it isn’t long before they discover that this may not be the adventure that they signed on for. The woman who is haunting the grounds is in no way ‘fun’, but a distorted and lonely creature. More phenomena begins to occur, including such classics as candelabras being blown out and cold spots. They even pay homage to The House of Haunted Hill with the ‘holding hands’ sequence.
As they discover the ghostly woman is not actually a spirit but a pioneering human time traveller who has gotten trapped in a pocket universe that is rapidly collapsing. The Doctor, in conjunction with Emma’s psychic abilities, opens a wormhole to the pocket universe in order to rescue her. This goes well, up until the Doctor gets stranded and needs rescuing himself.
During the opening scenes Matt Smith’s antics do feel as though they are derailing the tone but eventually even the Doctor becomes spooked by the unsettling events in the manor and he gets on board with the atmosphere. Everything gets a little more spooky from here, with plenty of classic haunted house moments and glimpses at the particularly horrible ‘crooked man’. Although they don’t milk the horror aspect like some past episodes when the overall atmosphere of the episode is certainly tense. When they go all out for the scares it’s more than effective. The crooked man is a powerful image that is successfully kept in shadows, making it especially creepy.
in addition to the ghost story Clara gets a taste of what the TARDIS is capable of. Within a few moments they travel from the beginning of the Earth to the end of it, causing her to question her reality and existence. Thematically it’s quite interesting even though it’s not fully explored, but feels as though they’re building towards something else. Her ‘relationship’ to the TARDIS also gets a mention with the iconic blue box showing some resistance to her presence.
On paper it sounds like a crowded episode. There’s haunted houses, pocket dimensions, time travellers, monsters and more but it all ties together nicely. Nothing happens without a reason so it always feels as though it’s moving towards a set goal. There’s a nice additional twist at the end that puts a fun spin of things. Ultimately one of the better offerings from this season.