The Crimson Horror is the 12th episode of this seventh series of Doctor Who and actually the 100th episode for the whole series. The episode sees the Doctor and Clara travel to 19th century Yorkshire where the doctor must battle an old woman gone mad called Mrs Gillyflower and her partner the mysterious Mr Sweet.
From the episodes early minutes it appears to be going somewhere and spends a large amount of time setting up the story and the scenery that the Doctor and Clara will interact with. On first viewing I actually thought this might have been a double episode as the doctor and Clara are absent sight for the most part of the early section of this episode. It’s not a two part episode though and that’s where I think it went slightly wrong.
The beginning part of this episode is through the eyes of Jenny (Caytin Stewart) who explores the worrying things happening in Sweetville as she looks to rescue the Doctor and Clara and solve the mystery of what is happening there. There was a short scene in this episode where Mrs Gillyflower was selling the idea of Sweetville to the people in a large town hall meeting, where shortly after it was finished with a song. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the monorail episode of the Simpsons where the same thing happened. There was also one part where the Doctor mentioned putting a roller coaster in, I don’t know if it’s related at all but it came to my mind when I watching the episode.
When the Doctor is finally found some way into the episodes minutes he tells his story through a series of Flashback sequences and an effect is used to make it look as if filmed during the time. Or old style type of filming as an effect for his telling of how he became infected by the red goo they were putting on everyone. I liked this sort of flashback sequence and thought it told the story well, but it was so short that maybe it could have just been part of the episode. I sort of thought it made the earlier scenes of Jenny exploring the place sort of irrelevant because it didn’t really add anything other than the surprise of finding the Doctor in the condition he was.
Another thing I noticed in this episode that reminded me of something else I have seen was the fight sequence between Jenny (Catrin Stewart) and the goons that were sent after her and the Doctor. The way she removed her clothes to reveal that she was wearing all leather was very similar to the fight scene in Iron Man 2 for the Black Widow character, or the same character in the Avengers. I don’t know why this was placed in the episode and I don’t understand where the leather she was wearing comes from considering the era Jenny is wearing it. Is it an anachronism?
The episode starts moving forward quite quickly once the Doctor is revived and up and running. He rescues Clara from the same condition he was in. He then focuses on bringing down Sweetville and the threat of Mrs Gillyflower’s plan to the human population.
I found the dynamics between the characters in this episode to be almost good. The episode had a very slow start focusing on the Jenny character who we watched explore, but she didn’t really have much dialogue. While the Doctor was held captive by Ada (Rachael Stirling) where there was an implied attachment that Ada had to the Doctor yet none of this was shown, only mentioned. Ada’s character and her explanation of her condition and her poor treatment from her mother, Mrs Gillyflower, were well explained however and the ending between the two characters was good. I just felt with all that was going on in this episode that quite possibly it could have been made better with a double episode, rather than just the one.
One particularly gripe with the episode I had was with it’s ending. This was the final Clara scene where the children she is caring for find pictures of her time travelling adventures. They immediately assume she’s a time traveller? The pictures also must have been in a book or somewhere recorded so how did they get taken? The ones in the cold war especially, when exactly did they have time to take pictures with the whole crew here? Who was taking them? Either way, I felt it was an awkward end to the episode.
Overall this episode was entertaining to watch, but for me I felt in some parts that it was just some things I had seen before. I felt it needed to be longer to make it a more fully realised story so hopefully another episode could have this attribute in the future for the show. I remember in classic Doctor who there were 6 part episodes sometimes, I think the show needs something longer to make at least one adventure feel like a longer one rather than such a short dabble in a time period each week.