Doctor Who “The God Complex” – TV Review

You can check in but you’ll never check out…


6.11

Writer: Toby Whithouse
Director: Nick Hurran

THE ONE WHERE Our heroes are trapped in a creepy replica of a shabby ‘80s hotel.

VERDICT Rather like “Night Terrors”, “The God Complex” is a compendium of creepiness strung together by a highly indigestible (and slightly baffling) rationale (the late-’70s/early ’80s decor is another similarity). The notion that the hotel’s various Room 101s are designed to prompt people to fall back on their faith doesn’t really stack up: for example, how would a encounter with her demanding Dad cause Rita to lean on her Muslim beliefs? Come to think of it, wouldn’t being chased around by a terrifying monster be enough on its own? Still, however ramshackle the justification at least the “it’s all a holodeck simulation” reveal makes a change from explaining everything away with the words “perception filter”.

On the plus side, the script is extremely witty, particularly when it comes to David Walliams’s cowardly moleman Gibbis (the sort of character you can easily imagine Douglas Adams dreaming up). The fate of the noble Rita (best almost-companion since Lynda-with-a-Y?) is moving, although they do lay on the “possible companion” stuff a bit thick – they might as well tattoo “doomed” on her forehead. And for its opening half at least (it rather treads water after a while), this is an intriguingly enigmatic, surrealist tale. It’s just a shame that when our questions are answered there’s such a sense of bathos. Tinged with incomprehension.

GOODBYE, THEN The Doctor bids farewell to the Ponds, and it’s all terribly moving. Or at least, it would be if we believed a word of it. They’ll be back for the season finale, right? Right.

It might help if there was a stronger reason for the Doctor to decide to take Amy home – he’s placed her in far more perilous situations than this before. If this really was the end we’d also expect Amy to say a little more about River (indeed, the Ponds seem to have shrugged off that whole mind-f**king saga with extraordinary ease – shouldn’t they be traumatised?). So anyone with an ounce of nous will watch this scene muttering, “Yeah yeah, you’re writing them out for an episode”. Let’s hope the kids buy it (like I did when Tegan “left” briefly in 1982) – if they do, they’re in for a lovely surprise when their heroes return.

INFLUENCES The myth of Theseus and the Minotaur; The Shining; 1979 Tom Baker Who “The Horns Of Nimon” (we’re told the creature’s a “distant cousin of the Nimon”); creepy ventriloquist’s doll horrors like Devil Doll and Magic; Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “The Royale” (also set in a perfect replica of an Earth hotel); any Next Gen holodeck episode.

DID YOU SPOT? The framed photos on the wall include not only a Sontaran and a Cat Nun but also a Judoon and a Tritovore (the species of humanoid flies from “Planet Of The Dead”). What do you think was in the Tritovore’s room? A giant rolled-up newspaper?

TRIVIA Back in 1999, David Walliams appeared in some brilliant Who-spoofing sketches for a Doctor Who Night on BBC Two. You can watch them on YouTube here and here.

TRIVIA II Whithouse’s previous story for Doctor Who, “The Vampires Of Venice” was supposed to have a teaser that ended with a scream that blended with the opening howl of the theme tune, but then the episode was re-edited. Good to see he got his way this time.

WTF? Exactly what was the story which so terrified Lucy the policewoman as a young girl with its portrayal of a toilet-trained, very fake-looking gorilla? Answers on a postcard.

SPECULATION So, what do you reckon is in the Doctor’s personal room 101 (or rather, since he says “Who else?”, who)? The Master? Michael Grade? Adric?

BEST LINE Gibbis: “We’re lining all the streets with trees so invading forces can march in the shade.”

Ian Berriman