Last season, I was so excited to review Doctor Who over at TV Fanatic, but the episodes leading up to Clara’s death were so disappointing I had to turn over the last few to another writer. I don’t ever want to be one of those guys that reviews simply to bash a show.
Well, I’m happy to say that we’re now four episodes into Capaldi’s final season and I’m having a blast. I could not love Bill more, and honestly I wish Capaldi was stickin’ around for another go. If you had asked me how I felt about “Twelve” last season around episode four, I’d have had a very different answer. Season 10 has been a reboot of sorts and this is the Doctor Peter Capaldi was born to play, not the grumpy old curmudgeon Moffat wrote early on. That guy was a bummer, wasn’t he?
Anyway, “Knock Knock” matched Bill up with some new friends who were looking for a flatmate. The search for the right six bedroom place was amusing, especially that odd tiny white house nestled between the two larger ones. Tall guy, Paul, almost didn’t fit through the front door. By the way, I kept trying to place the actor and finally realized it was none other than Ben Presley, the ridiculously talented Scottish actor who brought Galavant’s jester to life. Yeah, that is one really tall dude. Why those youngsters would follow that creepy old dude to a replica of Disney’s Haunted Mansion and sign a lease was questionable at best. Seriously, that place had “murder house” written all over it, right?
The creepy floorboards and first missing student, Pavel (Bart Suavek), who lasted roughly three minutes into the episode, were our clue something wicked lived in that house. Naturally, a violent storm hit the very first night helping set the tone. Still, this wasn’t your typical haunted house tale, as those wood lice were alien.
Can you believe Bill used the TARDIS to move her belongings over to the new place? Her comment that “Time Lord” sounded posh was hilarious. I continue to enjoy the Doctor and Bill’s banter 100%. It was also amusing when she introduced him as her Grandad. Why did Harry (Colin Ryan) refer to the Doctor as… Legend? Did I miss the fact some of the students were taking his class? Either way, the six actors brought a sense youthful energy and fun to the hour.
The banging noises and score helped set a spooky tone as well. I jumped a couple of times, as my audio was super loud. I noticed there’s a special 3D binaural audio mix at the BBC site. If only U.S. fans had access to their BBC iPlayer. I’d love to hear that “virtual reality” version of the episode. Who knows, maybe someday on Netflix?
I thought it was great that tall guy Paul was into Bill, but she quickly let him know she’s into girls. Poor Paul was the second victim, then the doors and shutters trapped them all inside. Well, except that one girl, Felicity (Alice Hewkin) who jumped out the window only to get devoured outside. The hour was ticking away really fast, and we soon saw Pavel trapped in the wooden wall. It was a fairly disturbing image, especially when he blinked. Interestingly enough, when the old landlord stopped the record the wall finished swallowing him up. The creatures reacted to sound. “You signed a contract. Now time to pay” he said ominously.
“Knock Knock” was a unique twist on the haunted house story, as most of the elements felt familiar but the gang was dealing with alien wood nymphs. Those scarabs reminded me of The Mummy, though the visual effects have come quite a long way since those 90s flicks. It was a total infestation, and those sequences made my skin crawl. I don’t dig bugs.
When the sinister landlord mentioned the tower was out of bounds, it clearly meant something (or someone) important was up there. Bill made her way upstairs, and discovered Eliza, a wooden lady. The twist that the landlord was in fact her son, not father, was an interesting one. It was pretty sick he was feeding innocent youngsters to the wood lice every 20 years. That was the deal he made with the space creatures in exchange for her life. Unfortunately for him, the Doctor came along and threw a wrench in his master plan. The flashbacks allowed us to see the events leading to Eliza’s transformation, which was terrific. The Doctor reminded Eliza she was the parent and had the power to end it all. So, bye bye old guy.
It was shocking to see that all the housemates survived the ordeal. Had Moffat written this episode last season, they’d all be dead as a doorknob. That was a nice turn of events. Though, you’ve got to wonder why the house’s other “residents” weren’t released as well. Had they been dead way too long to be brought back?
This installment was a clever spin on the old haunted house trope, with plenty of scares to spare. Though Bill demanded the Doctor give her some space, it’s a good thing he stuck around. Hopefully after this experience, Bill will begin to trust Grandad a little more. I wonder if we’ll see Shireen, Harry, Paul, Felicity, and Pavel again? Hey, perhaps another Doctor Who spin-off is brewing. Which reminds me, are you watching “Class”? If so, what do you think so far? The Doctor visited the mysterious vault in the final moments and we learned he’d left a piano inside. Who the heck is in there, you think? Is it someone we’ve met before? Why is the Doctor keeping them locked up? Any theories? Go ahead and share them in the comments below…
Doctor Who airs Saturdays at 9/8c followed by Class on BBC America.