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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Doctor Who blogging: “Hide”

Doctor Who Hide Dougray Scott Matt Smith

(all spoilers! don’t read till you’ve seen the episode… or unless you don’t care if it’s spoiled for you. this is a love fest only — all complaints and bitching must come from a place of love / previous: “Cold War”)

(get my downloadable discussion guide to “Hide” for teachers, librarians, and everyone else who needs to keep kids amused, engaged, and educated at DoctorWhoTeachersGuides.co.uk)

There’s a ton of stuff here that kinda doesn’t make sense. Alec and Emma hadn’t previously noticed a monster in the house? The TARDIS can fly itself — twice! — into a dying pocket universe that will almost instantly kill it in order to rescue the Doctor? Isn’t Alec way too young to have done anything in “the war”? (Unless he lied about his age and had all those amazing escapades with sabotage and carrier pigeons when he was 15 in the final months of the war. Then he might just be able to be in his 40s in 1974 and be a highly decorated veteran of World War II. Or is this all happening in another pocket univere where time runs funny? Or a parallel universe where WWII didn’t end until 1967?)

But I kinda liked “Hide” anyway. It reminded me of the Gothic era of Tom Baker’s tenure as the Doctor, which might be the single most consistently fun stretch of the show ever. (Is that why it’s set on November 25, 1974? That’s just a month before the debut of Tom Baker’s first episode.) Certainly, it has atmosphere to spare:

Doctor Who Hide Jenna-Louise Coleman Matt Smith

And certainly it features one of my pet things: a scientific explanation for a seemingly paranormal phenomenon. (I remember Tom Baker’s Doctor saying at some point that “there is nothing inexplicable, only unexplained.” I always liked that.)

But the thing that struck me on my second viewing (and was not dismissed by my third) is the feeling that there are huge clues to the mystery of Clara here. No, not the mystery of why Clara would go with the Doctor to a haunted house if she didn’t want to hunt down the ghost. The whole twice-dead-girl thing. All that stuff about great-great-great-granddaughters and blood calling to blood… is Clara going to turn out to be a relative of the Doctor’s? Is that why he keeps running into various incarnations of her? Could she be a descendant of Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter?

There are some problems with that. The Doctor did leave Susan on Earth… but in the 22nd century. So souffle Clara could be a descendant of Susan, but not governess Clara or this Clara. Unless Susan was able to time travel after she left the Doctor. Unless there is only one Clara and she’s somehow splintered through spacetime.

Is that why the Doctor is always so squicked out when he realizes that Clara is flirting with him, because he has some unconscious realization that they are related in ways that make that inappropriate? (Granted, I would be happy for any reason for the Doctor’s behavior in this regard to be anything other than Steven Moffat wants 12-year-old boys and no one else to identify with the Doctor.)

Doctor Who Hide Jenna-Louise Coleman Matt Smith

There was also the offhand reference the Doctor made to his granddaughter in “The Rings of Akhaten” — which appears to have a lot of fans who aren’t familiar with the old show wondering just who his granddaughter is. You know, softening them up for the revelation that the Doctor has — or at least had — family.

Yet there’s the matter of empathic Emma declaring that Clara is “a perfectly ordinary girl.” Unless Emma’s not telling the truth. (She either can’t tell that the Doctor is not a perfectly ordinary man, or she’s keeping that to herself.)

Then again, it does seem now that the TARDIS does indeed know that something is off about Clara. Or maybe there’s something too right about her? Could Clara herself have flown the TARDIS into the pocket universe?


Random thoughts on “Hide”:

• Mmm, classic 20th-century technology!

Doctor Who Hide Dougray Scott

Also: Dougray Scott has never been cuter than he is in this episode.

• Remember this face:

Doctor Who Hide Jessica Raine

You will see Jessica Raine again… as original Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert in the upcoming making-of docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time.

• “Ignorance is Carlisle”? Is that slur on the (I’m sure) fine British city of Carlisle?

• All I can think of when I see this:

Doctor Who Hide Matt Smith

is: “Looks like we’re gonna have to put in a bit of overtime on this one!”

• One of the more poignant portraits of the Doctor of late:

Doctor Who Hide

• Wait. So, the Doctor came to 1974 only to get Emma’s opinion on Clara, and accidentally discovered a time traveler stranded in a pocket universe who needed rescuing in a way that only he could pull off? Coincidences like this annoy me because there’s no reason for them. A couple of quick lines of dialogue are all that’s needed for this not to be a coincidence… such as the Doctor noting that he’s always been meaning to pop in and check out the Caliburn Ghost, always been some strange readings from around there, now’s the perfect time. And when Clara asks why it’s the perfect time, he just shrugs her off with an odd look. Or you know, something.

Unless this coincidence is but another clue…

• Great quotes:

“I’m the Doctor.” –the Doctor
“Doctor what?” –Alec
“If you like.” –the Doctor

“I do love a toggle switch.” –the Doctor

“The TARDIS is like a cat. A bit slow to trust, but you’ll get there in the end.” –the Doctor

“Time travel’s not possible. The paradoxes–” –Alec
“Resolve themselves, by and large.” –the Doctor

“Have we just watched the entire lifecycle of Earth, birth to death?” –Clara
“Yes.” –the Doctor
“And you’re okay with that?” –Clara
“Yes.” –the Doctor
“How can you be?” –Clara

“To you I haven’t be born yet, and to you I’ve been dead a hundred billion years.” –Clara, to the Doctor

(next: “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS”)

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  • GeeksAreMyPeeps

    I’m still wondering if Jack was the American airman who was stationed there.

  • Paul

    One obvious explanation of why the Doctor gets all squicked out when attractive younger women flirt with him is the same explanation that applies to me in such circumstances: he’s a married man. However unconventional his relationship, maybe he is actually faithful to River?

    Incidentally, I had Alec pegged as being in his 50s myself. That would put him as the same age as my Dad, who spent most of the war as a warrant officer in Burma and India. Scott himself is 47, but could pass for older (my Dad at age 54 didn’t look significantly older than Scott does here).

    Then we find ourselves facing a fairly large age gap with Emma (Raine is 31; I guess we can allow that she could pass for up to 40), which is a whole other issue.

  • jem

    Second in a row I liked! Also first in the run where hubby was attentive the entire way through.
    The good:
    – The atmospheric photography was wonderful – I particularly liked the scenes in the pocket universe forest and some of the shots looking back into the house.
    – the second episode in a row where the Matt Smith juvenile whacky has been dialled down enough to not take me out of the story. He is such a gifted actor in quieter scenes (I really liked those in the forest and his discussions with Clara about how he views humanity). I think this run of the last three episodes (excluding the hollow BoSJ) are the first where I have really warmed to his doctor since early season 5. I suspect that this may have been assisted by abandoning the whole Ponds/River Song baggage which has dragged down the last two seasons for me.
    – quality guest stars not wasted and given some role in the proceedings
    – some wonderful moments such as the discussion in the TARDIS about the fleeting nature of life and time and the interaction between the Doctor and Dougray Scott’s character
    – not too much tosh about the mystery of Clara overloading the plot
    – I liked the way the story just jumped straight into proceedings (like last week)
    The not so good:
    – I thought the scene between Clara and Emma discussing their “blokes” was a bit toe-curling. I reminded me (not in a good way) of some similar exchanges Rose had about the nature of her relationship with the 10th Doctor.
    – I was disappointed that we didn’t get more spooky investigation of the house to build on the good scenes with the ghost.
    – too much damn sonic-ing again. I wonder why it’s not getting a third credit in the titles after Matt Smith and JLC – must need a better agent (and another thought – is it just me, or is the redesigned sonic more obviously phallic??)
    The bad:
    – the bobbins about the TARDIS’s feelings about Clara and her ability to fly the thing to save the Doctor (although I did love the line about the TARDIS being like a cat!)
    – the only thing I really didn’t like was the back story for Dougray Scott. I mean I *liked* the story but his age simply made no sense for the story itself. I thought of three possible reasons, all of which kind of annoyed me:
    #1 – simple sloppiness creeping past the script editor and producers
    #2 – it was assumed that the audience would know so little about the dates of WWII that it wouldn’t matter as long as the ex-military dude wore glasses and had greying hair. Is so, why not set the story a decade earlier in 1960s?
    #3 – most worryingly of all, that the precise date setting of the story in 1974 will be crucial to some later point in this series in some timey-wimey way AND it was so vital that the Dougray Scott character have a spy background from WWII that they just shoved the two together and closed their eyes (timey-wimey )
    Anyway, consider me happy. Now we have seen the back of River Song and the Ponds for good, I am looking forward to the remaining part of this run.

  • Paul

    So characters must always be understood to be the same age as the actors playing them?

  • Jem

    I don’t think I implied that. Even if the Dougray Scott character was meant to be – say 54 – that still makes it a little bit of a stretch fornhim to have achieved the things he did during WWIi, although not impossible. I didn’t mean to indicate that Mr Scott wasn’t successful in acting as a man of that age if that is what the author intended, rather why be so specific about the year being 1974 when it could easily have been set in 1964 (and thus avoided the issue?). Anyway not important, just something which jarred for me. Probably won’t be noticed by most.

  • Trigguy

    Ponds probably, but River Song no. She’ll be appearing in the final episode of the series, that’s clear from the poster. I’m glad about that, since at least there’s some chance there’ll be some resolution to a few of the remaining questions concerning her. Almost certainly the bit about her knowing the doctor’s real name, as introduced right back at the ‘start’ of her story. Whether that’s her final story or not, only Moffat knows.

  • Froborr

    I really enjoyed this episode and the last one; I feel like we’ve more than made up for the rather lackluster first two episodes of the season. Clara is still pretty bland, but at least taking the Ponds out of the picture has caused Eleven’s sexist streak to stop being quite so obvious.
    It’s interesting that you say this reminded you so much of the Fourth Doctor-Gothic run, because to me it recalled the Pertwee era: 1970s Earth, the Doctor all buddy-buddy with a war hero, Metebelis 3. Just like last week had callbacks to the Troughton era and the week before to Hartnell… I fully expect Saturday’s episode to be full of Tom Baker nods.

  • Not the same age, but the gap here is simply ridiculous. Scott is way too young to be playing a veteran of WWII, even if we take the character to be significantly older than the actor.

  • Faithfulness does not require that he react like a little boy who is afraid of catching girl-cooties. :->

  • It’s interesting that you say this reminded you so much of the Fourth Doctor-Gothic run, because to me it recalled the Pertwee era: 1970s Earth, the Doctor all buddy-buddy with a war hero

  • Ohiopokey

    I found the Tardis particularly anthropomorphized this week: in its ringing of the Cloister Bell, almost frantically, when the doctor was stuck in the pocket universe, taking initiative to save the doctor, and showing disdain for Clara by using her own image as the interface, and forcing her to cling to the Tardis similar to when the Tardis tried to shake off Jack. Seemed like she (Tardis) was making judgements and decisions and acting on her own. Anyone else get this feeling? I’ve only watched it once so far, so my memory could easily be foggy, but still…

  • We know that she objects to the way that the Doctor keeps bringing home “strays”; this behaviour seems entirely consistent.

  • Paul

    Thanks. I’ll dash off an email to my Dad, telling him that he didn’t, in fact, go through the trauma of fighting against the Imperial Japanese Army, because you say he’s far too young. Since it always appeared to me to have had an extremely profound impact on him, I’m sure he’ll be pleased to learn that it was all a ghastly mistake.

  • Trigguy

    While it’s probably not ‘canon’, the post Flesh and Stone extra footage has a similar feel. The Tardis shows Amy pictures of all the pretty young things that have passed through over the years, completely failing to show pictures of (for example) Jamie, Harry, Adric, Turlough. Check it out if you haven’t seen it – it’s got some nice reflections on why the Doctor needs companions, or at least why he thinks he needs companions.

  • Jurgan

    Woohoo! After two years, I’m finally caught up! No more dodging spoilers!

  • JimandCathleen

    I think it is a combination of his age gap to her and the fact that she initiates it. Remember how he reacted the first time (in his time line) River kissed him outside her cell? He tripped all over himself to leave.

  • Tonio Kruger

    It sure was nice of Moffat to plug the show Grimm in this episode. ;-)

  • Radek

    Didn’t like the overt heteronormativity. It seems like this might be Moffat’s specialty. For example: if the time-traveller is a descendant of Emma and if the only thing that doesn’t finish is love (“not love, no always”) and if their example of everlasting ‘love’ was precisely Emma and the Alec’s blood offspring, then is it not just another instance of the old and weary offspring=immortality? The Doctor is setting up even monsters now? When did he become a pimp? Bleh.

  • Tonio Kruger

    The Doctor is setting up even monsters now? When did he become a pimp? Bleh.

    A more charitable term would be “matchmaker.” Though I do believe there was a song about the negative side of that profession.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Since Clara introduces herself and the Doctor as Ghostbusters at the beginning of this episode, does that officially make her the first female Ghostbuster? Or are English girls not allowed to be Ghostbusters?

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