Yowza! It’s Halloween! That came quickly didn’t it?
Now, Americans think they’ve got the jump on Brits when it comes to scary-season. But you know what? We’ve got a secret weapon. The world’s longest running Sci-Fi programme just happens to be founded on that very institution. Doctor Who: Keeping kids behind sofas for fifty years (come 2013).
So, without further ado – I present to you GravityShmavity’s seven picks for Doctor Who on Halloween! (Note: This isn’t a “scariest episodes” list. I’ve tried to compile a mix of fun and scary stories. Enjoy! – M)
7. The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone (S5, Ep4/5)
Past readers will know this story is one of my favorites. “But why would you pick this Angels story over Blink?” you may ask. Simple – Blink is terrifying in it’s own way, but it’s also sad and wonderful and brooding and urban. Don’t get me wrong – I love Blink – but this episode tops it, in terms of action and pure Halloweeneyness. I mean come on! A forest, in a bottle, in a spaceship, in a maze – full of Weeping Angels and River Song! How cool is that?
6. Tooth and Claw (S2, Ep2)
Besides the fact this is a brilliant episode in its own right, Tooth and Claw does also feature a Werewolf – which basically guarantees it a place on this list! The Tenth Doctor and Rose are off to see Ian Dury & The Blockheads and all of a sudden they’re trying to save Queen Victoria from a group of monks trying to infect her with the nip of the wolf! What could possibly go wrong? It also features a crack at the Royal Family at the end too, which is always good fun. A cracking story for a spooky night!
5. The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit (S2, Ep8/9)
“This is the darkness… this is my domain.”
If you know your stuff, then you’ve probably realized that it is from this story that my online name originates. (“Gravity-shmavity, my people practically invented black holes…”) Ten and Rose land on a planet that’s in orbit of a black hole, and end up facing the devil itself – PLUS the Ood make their debut. Is any Halloween list really complete without it? Great set design and a stellar cast combined with epic storytelling that questions our beliefs in the supernatural. What more could you want?
4. The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (S1, Ep9/10)
“Are you my mummy?”
So you want more eh? Well I’ve got it right here. Steven Moffat delivers a trope-tastic, spookerific story that oozes style and excellence. The Ninth Doctor and Rose uncover a mystery surrounding a gas-mask-child who’s looking for his mummy that all comes back to a mauve-alert object that crashed in 1940’s London, in what can only be described as the story that convinced people Doctor Who was properly scary again. Rated J, for its use of Jack Harkness and the word “dancing”.
3. The Waters of Mars (S4.5, Ep3)
“Water always wins.”
While this story will be eternally remembered as the one where the Tenth Doctor declares himself the “Time Lord victorious”, it’s also the episode where we meet one of the most terrifying and uncompromising enemies Doctor Who has ever seen. The Waters of Mars is quite simply superb. The Doctor battles against what he knows he shouldn’t do with his own guilt, as the flood consumes all aboard Bowie Base One – and not even the famous Captain Adelaide Brooke can escape… A fast-paced thriller, that’s perfect for Halloween viewing.
2. Dinosaurs On a Spaceship (S7, Ep2)
“Dinosaurs… on a spaceship!”
OK, so it’s far flung in tone from the last few but that’s not a problem! Dinosaurs… is a fun, hilarious and ridiculous romp for all the family that’s great for light viewing. Peppered with laughs and featuring a wonderfully vibrant cast, it is hard to recall more stories that are so effortlessly fun to watch.
1. Midnight (S4, Ep8)
“I can’t imagine you without a voice. ”
Claustrophobic, terrifying and ingeniously fresh, Russell T Davies’ bottle episode takes the cake in this list. Tennant’s Doctor, usually all smiles and struts, is reduced to the status of victim by a sinister copycat and a group of scared humans. A truly intense story that bristles with psychological insight and leaves the monster a mystery in the end – the ultimate Halloween episode.
Thanks for reading. Agree with this list? What do you think the best Doctor Who stories are for Halloween? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.
All pictures taken from the BBC Doctor Who website.
Title: A Christmas Carol
Written by: Steven Moffat
It’s Christmas! I despise Christmas! I love new planets… Father Christmas. Santa Claus. Or, as I’ve always known him, Jeff. There isn’t any lottery! I’m the ghost of Christmas past…
A Christmas Carol has the best beginning of all the Christmas specials – no contest. Starting off with a view of a stormy planet we are suddenly greeted by a spaceship plummeting toward the world below and a gorgeous interior set of glossy white walls and shiny black surfaces. Sparks fly and alarm bells ring as the captain of the ship orders a status report before declaring Christmas is cancelled. But don’t fret! Amy and Rory burst onto the scene clad in police uniform and Roman Centurion garb with a device to call the Doctor and before we know it that little blue box is flying alongside the spaceship… “COME ALONG POND…” Best. Opening. Ever. Ladies and gentlemen, hold on to your fezzes.
Kazran Sardick (played brilliantly by Michael Gambon who you should know, unless you are a hermit, plays Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films 3-7) is an old Christmas-hating miser who has lost the ability to empathise with human suffering. Sound familiar? The problem is, he’s also the only person who can part the clouds in the skies above and allow the Ponds (and the rest of the crashing spaceship’s occupants) to land. Lucky thing our favourite Timelord is on hand…
A Christmas Carol, which draws its plot from its other namesake, is (as you’d expect) not an entirely regular story. Focusing more on its characters than the stakes, Moffat presents viewers with a tale of tragic love and loneliness, spangled with humour and joy throughout a young, adult and older Kazran’s life (played by Laurence Belcher, Danny Horn and Gambon respectively): a real Christmas caper indeed.
Guest stars Katherine Jenkins, who plays Abigail (in her first screen acting role), and Michael Gambon are excellently utilized here, with Moffat giving Matt Smith’s Doctor plenty of opportunity for his signature slapstick style and razor-sharp wit. Jenkins in particular really shines in scenes with Danny Horn and, being an opera singer (as many readers will no doubt already know), she does get to showcase her singing talent in this episode. While it is perhaps a bit forced, it does add to the generally Christmassy feeling and therefore just manages to escape becoming a cheap gimmick. Though Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill (who has a newly instated, and long overdue, title credit) are in this episode, apart from a few short scenes they are not very involved; The few scenes they are both in however, are a delight.
Laurence Belcher also adds to a long legacy of talented child actors to star in Moffat-penned episodes and has some brilliant scenes with Matt Smith in the first half of the episode that will have even the most cynical viewer crack a wry smile. Smith himself is dazzling in this story and clearly builds on the hugely successful persona he cultivated for his Doctor in Series 5 to add a touch more mystery and depth. The scene in which he calmly rests in an armchair and whispers “Tonight… I’m a ghost of Christmas past” in particular is magical.
Toby Haynes takes the helm on direction – and beautifully directed it is too – for his third episode in a row, the previous two parter of Series 5 The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang also being directed by him, and the entire episode is better for it. Scenes move fluidly and interesting angles and camera movement help to keep the magic intact throughout. *Haynes would go on to direct Series 6 opening two-parter story The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon, two episodes that were also flawlessly shot. As usual, Murray Gold’s soundtrack to this episode is perfectly crafted and sets the tone without becoming intrusive or over the top.
Favourite moment: The Doctor, Kazran and Abigail are at a party with Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe. Somehow, the Doctor has managed to accidentally propose to Marilyn and needs to make a quick getaway. However, Kazran and Abigail are… busy, in a manner of speaking, forcing the Doctor to face the problem on his own. “Fine…” sulks the Timelord, who promptly leaves the poolside shouting nonchalantly “Marilyn… Get your coat!”
A Christmas Carol is a whimsical ride through Christmas joy and tradition. Stephen Moffat brings us an unforgettable pastiche of a well-known classic that uses the original but doesn’t tarnish it.I admit: on first viewing I wasn’t as fond of this story as I am now. But there’s no denying: Its got everything; an old redeemable miser, a sleigh ride in the snow, a magical ending and to top it off… Santa Claus is real and the Doctor is mates with him and Einstein. Top notch Who.
Next review: My belated verdict on The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe.