Sunday 5 May 2013

The Crimson Horror

I really don't like Mark Gatiss' writing. I also really don't like Steampunk and Victorian fantasy tropes. I was thus rather dreading this story. I am not sure exactly what I dislike so much about Victorian fantasy, but as I expected, it very much left me cold.

I have seen very little negative feedback in reviews. This ought to suggest that it is a good episode that I just don't like. In fairness, this story does seem to be superior to some of Gatiss' other offerings. Nevertheless, it is not free from some of Gatiss' faults.

Most significantly, like other Gatiss stories, it tries to do far more than the time limit allows. He follows his usual approach of throwing everything in, including the bathroom sink. We have a disease from the Eocene era, Steampunk technology, more stuff about Clara, the return of those Vastra et al, satire about Victorian religion and values and Ada's relationship with her 'monster.' None of these ideas are given significant time for them to have any impact.

The second Gatiss weakness, is his tendency toward silliness. I can take some silliness some times. Delta and the Bannermen is silly in a way that works, as is Robot. But there is a restraint to these stories that enables it to work. The Crimson Horror just feels stupid. Rocket technology in the Victorian era? Come on, that's crazy.

Personally, I can't stand the trio of Vastra, Jenny and Strax. They are supposed to be funny, but are actually just annoying. Yet I did find that it was refreshing for them to take the lead at the start of the episode. Too much of the time, everything is centred on Dr. Who. It was also refreshing to see the Doctor in pain and vulnerable for once.

I am sure STFU Moffat will bring up the horrible ableism seen in the way Ada was portrayed. Her blindness was shown as a source of horror and creepiness, along with the language of being in 'darkness.'


  1. I didn't mind that there was a rocket so much (Mrs. Gillybottom is reknowned as a mechanical engineer & chemist -- it's scant evidence for her ability get it built, but perhaps some assistance from the GI was involved in her being able to pull her plan together); but, it bothered me immensely that the a bunch of people were standing around the rocket, unprotected and in an enclosed space, and barely got their hair mussed during its fiery lift-off.

    Apart from dragging Clara through the story, I'm hard-pressed to recall what the Doctor actually contributed to the resolution even after getting himself un-Frankenberry-ed, that the Vastra Scooby gang couldn't have handled themselves.

    The Tom-Tom gag was inexcusable. I've since forgiven RTD for having a burping trash bin in "Rose," but I don't think I'm going to get over this bit of forced silliness. I think "The Unquiet Dead" remains Gatiss's best effort to date for the series.

  2. I agree whole-heartedly. This was silly nonsense start to finish. If this had been a tv pilot, the series would never have been picked up by the network. A show with a history like this doesn't have room for nonsense. Excellence can't be hit-n-miss and 7B has been more miss than hit. That final scene was reminiscent of a cheesy 80s sitcom. I expect better.