Doctor Who : Under the Lake
Under the Lake was a very strong episode and had all of the elements of an instant Doctor Who classic: confined setting, check; small number of characters whom have no idea if they are going to make it out the story alive, check; monsters, check; all the standard base under siege stories that the show has always done really well and this episode was no different.
I liked the fact that the story was set under water which made it a bit different than it being set in space, or on a different planet, which would have been just as effective for a base under siege type of story but a bit different to the standard type set on a spaceship or space station which have really been done to death.
I also liked the look of the mining facility which was a really impressive set and was the perfect setting for a base under siege story as there is literally nowhere else to go, apart from outside the facility which will mean instant and sudden death.
I also liked the fact that one of the main characters in the story was profoundly deaf and that the actress playing them was also profoundly deaf which was a first for the show but really worked in the confines of the story, and it was really nice to see that she was in fact in charge which was also a refreshing change and she was easily the best character in the episode after the Doctor.
Peter Capaldi was excellent in this episode, and was very commanding, spending most of the episode pooh-poohing the very idea of ghosts before admitting, near the end of the episode, that they might actually be ghosts, even after admitting that one of the ghosts was from a rather friendly alien species, last seen in the shape of David Walliams, whom for some reason was dressed like an undertaker for no apparent reason.
For the most part this episode is full of tension and you really feel like you are trapped in a confined space thanks to the tight and claustrophobic direction by Daniel O’Hara who really knows how to ratchet up the tension, and it is interesting in trying to work out who might be the next victim of the ghosts and who will turn into one next, as it really can be anyone of them, as no one is immune to be deaded a ala Bluebottle in the Goon Show (You dirty rotten swine you!).
I also thought the look of the ghosts with the sunken hollow eyesockets were really striking and quite scary and, I can imagine, that if I were a lot younger then I would find this rather spooky indeed and would probably have not been able to sleep after watching this.
Clara was a bit in the background of this episode which was nice considering that most of the time she appears to be the main character with the Doctor as her eccentric co-star and she was pretty much eclipsed in this story by the Cass characters who, I must say, would make an excellent companion.
Toby Whithouse’s script was also good and rather witty and there were some quite funny bits amongst the tension which it has to be said is one of the hallmarks of this episode.
The cue-cards that Clara made for the Doctor, to show empathy to the people around him, are also a hoot especially the “It was my fault. I should have known you didn’t live in Aberdeen.” and “”No-one is going to get eaten / vapourised / exterminated / upgraded / possessed / mortally wounded / turned into jelly. We’ll all get out of this unharmed .”
The end of episode cliffhanger was also very good and not one that I, or Clara judging from her expression, saw coming at all.
It certainly makes for an interesting second episode, given what happened at the end of this one!