Review #12 – The Crimson Horror

The Crimson Horror

8What I love most about this story is its ability to shock. A lot of Series 7 part 2 felt a bit spoilt, but not this one. The Crimson Horror was the first new story in a long time that made my eyes uncontrollably widen in shock. What I also love about this story is how simple it is for a Matt Smith episode. A lot of 11’s era had story arcing running throughout but this one was pretty standalone which I liked. It was also quite horrific too…

In the introduction above, I mentioned the story made my eyes widen for the first time in a while. The bit where Mrs Gillyflower revealed who Mr Sweet was was so unexpected. It was nice not to have the monster pre-spoilt in trailers and promotional photos beforehand. The trouble with Series 7, both parts 1 and 2, was that because only a small number of episodes were being showed at one time, it was hard to make trailers without ruining some scary bits and spoilers. However, they did well with The Crimson Horror and should aim to promote episodes more like they did for this one in the future.

The venom was actually quite scary and gruesome. It’s not the scariest thing ever from Doctor Who but seeing the people being slowly lowered into thick red gloop was pretty horrific and terrifying; especially when we see the Doctor being dunked. The red bodies floating in the canal were also quite creepy and reminiscent of The Talons of Weng-Chiang (one of my favourite stories ever).

While a lot of people don’t like the fact the bad guy Sontarans and Silurians have been turned into good guys, I think it kind of works. I’m not too fond of the idea and perhaps wish they’d used new species’ for Vastra and Strax, but the humour is actually quite funny and they’re better creations than River Song! Some of the jokes in this episode were just to cheesy for me, like Thomas Thomas, but I always find Strax’s interactions with the other characters rather funny and just accept the fact it’s not within my powers to change what species he is.

Dame Diana Rigg plays a wonderful villain. When you consider how she used to run around in sexy jumpsuits in ‘The Avengers’ and once got married to James Bond, it’s quite funny seeing her as an evil old woman. “The wrong hands” was a brilliant line! Also, it’s nice knowing that Rachel Stirling, who plays Mrs Gillyflower’s daughter, Ada, is Dame Diana Rigg’s daughter in real life and that they chose Doctor Who to be the first show they star in together. I love the scene where Ada confronts her mother with “YOU HAG!” and starts beating her up with her white cane.

All in all, this Victorian horror hits the sweet spot. It has a very Phillip Hinchcliffe/Tom Baker gothic feel to it and it’s definitely one of Mark Gatiss’ best scripts yet (bar The Unquiet Dead in my opinion). The way the story starts off halfway through the Doctor’s investigation was something quite new and it was an enjoyable change that I’d welcome again. Strax was still quite funny without being cheesy and the way the sonic screwdriver keeps getting proven to have no use is great to see! I’m not sure if Mark Gatiss shares my view on getting rid of the sonic screwdriver, but if he does, then I hope he plans to write it out soon…

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