Reviewed By: traves8853
Review Date: 8/9/16 3:30 am
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
This one seems to slip under the radar for most people, nobody really rates and nobody really slates, so I thought I would revisit it and try and work out why I think it is an underrated classic.
I think the show don't tell rule is one of the most important and easily forgotten aspects of story-telling. It feels like the production is constantly pulling its punches because there are a few deaths but no death scenes. We see people being chased and running around corridors and then slumped unmarked bodies afterwards. I know this is a family show but can ou imagine Hinchcliffe taking this approach? The Minotaurs death scene is smothered in emotive music and a beautiful moment. I have nothing against beautiful moments but I have no sympathy for this character as nothing unjust has happened to a beast locked away because it's a cruel killer. So the biggest problem for me is the tone.
The there is the logic behind all this. They built a prison rather than kill off the threat - so they are merciful? Yet, let it continue feeding on innocents that are selected in a way that would suggest a slow small scale cleansing of the universe of a certain type of person. I have no idea why the Minotaur couldn't just stop feeding if it wanted to die so badly.
Stylistically the sets are wonderfully detailed but the bright colours also sabotage the tone a bit. And when the reveal of it not really being a hotel comes it has no impact because we knew along, though, I don't think there was actually intended to be any doubt in the viewers mind. The pictures of previous victims are an indexical symbol of how many have gone before. You could argue that that breaks the show don't tell rule but hundreds of deaths scenes strung together would be laborious and impractically slow. The odd camera shots and various other nods to The Shining are all very nice. It's a shame they didn't pay more than lip service to the creepy atmosphere of that film.
The characters are pretty decent. It's nice that Gibbis is a sly coward rather than a cute one but the photo of the Sontaran makes think he would have been a more interesting choice. A Sontaran getting scared and going against type seems an interesting idea to me. The first scare with the guy in the gorilla costume is silly and again tonally deficient. In fact, most of the scares are actually social awkwardness rather than any sort of phobia. The laughing girls or the Gym Teacher, for example. The end scene is awful and tacked on. One week the Doctor is shouting about how he will find their baby and then the next it's, "Oh, I am off for a bit, see you later. Bye!".
It's a lovely little puzzle that is thematically dense with wonderful directing and good acting. The biggest plus is Nick Durran's directing. I would like to say more about that but I would just be describing it. This could have been so good. I don't know who was responsible avoiding the death scenes but that is the biggest flaw, for me. This is indicative of the fear of story-telling that has consequences which is so often displayed in the Moffat-era and that really is a shame. This could have been so much more.