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23 January 2016 @ 03:19 pm
NuWho Rewatch: The Crimson Horror  
I want to like The Crimson Horror. It has Diana Rigg in it, Madame Vastra and her gang, and the plot holds together pretty well, but somehow I can't get over feeling it's all a bit over-the-top and has too much of the grotesque.

Having written that, I then almost instantly want to compare to the Sixth Doctor era. Especially since Revelation of the Daleks (arguably the best story of the era) is also over-the-top and grotesque and another story I don't personally like very much. I feel The Crimson Horror has less to admire though - Eric Saward was pursuing a particular vision of a world in which there are no heroes, one in fact where heroic gestures most often merely lead to pointless death - while The Crimson Horror feels more like someone decided to throw Victorian Gothic, and Hammer Horror around more or less at random and see what resulted.

I also think the level of humour sits awkwardly with the rest of the story. I can see that, on the page, linking a slightly Hammer aesthetic with several comedic sequences ought to have worked, but I have a suspicion that over-the-top gothic horror works better when played completely straight with the audience allowed to find its own humour in the sheer outrageousness of the whole thing. The Tom-Tom joke in The Crimson Horror is particularly painful. I had to explain it at length to The Child who, even once she'd grasped it was a SatNav joke, kept demanding to know what it was doing in the story. She was not impressed.

All that said, it is difficult to find a lot to criticise here. The performances are good. The plot makes sense, at least by its own gothic standards. The use of flashbacks, and starting the story in the middle works surprisingly well. Even the unwanted kiss between Eleven and Jenny is more a failing of the era as a whole, than of this story in particular. Still, I it's not a story I find I like much and the best I can say is that my dislike may not really be the episode's fault. Since the story isn't really trying to do anything beyond entertain, it's difficult to even say I can appreciate it even where I don't much like it.

Addendum: Over Christmas The Child discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer. NuWho viewing has slowed considerably as a result.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/183452.html.
liadtbunny: DW Eleventy and coliadtbunny on January 23rd, 2016 04:12 pm (UTC)
I had forgotten the Tom-Tom "joke". I hate those jokes in Who... the unfunny ones;p I liked 'The Crimson Horror' apart from the humour. Not fond of 'Revelation', I'm not keen on Clive Swift, but at least he's not playing a chummy character. I don't buy him acting friendly.

louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 24th, 2016 01:06 pm (UTC)
Thinking more about the Tom-Tom joke, I think one of the disappointments I've had with the "Paternoster Gang" is that I want them to be exciting (lizard) lady detectives having adventures in Victorian London, but in reality they are the comedy side-kicks. Strax, in particular obviously, but even Vastra and Jenny mostly exist to feed plot exposition to the Doctor and provide grist for jokes about up-tight Victorian men fainting all the time.

Even so, I'm not sure that entirely explains my lack of love for The Crimson Horror.

I think there is more to dislike in Revelation, but also more to admire...
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on January 23rd, 2016 08:55 pm (UTC)
The Tom-Tom joke is bizarre as it comes out of nowhere. It's like something from a third-rate sketch show. I often do not like the innuendo-laden jokes in new Who, but this is different. Not funny, but different and out of place. I share The Child's puzzlement.

EDIT: my own trip through the Matt Smith era has also gone slower than expected, as I find I don't like it as much now as I did on first viewing. Some of this may be due to my poor mental health, but I'm not sure how much, as I mostly enjoyed a diversion into The Sea Devils. Re-viewing Deep Space 9 often seems more tempting, though I feel like a traitor for saying so (I got the complete box set for Chanukah and have just started season two).

Edited at 2016-01-23 08:57 pm (UTC)
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 24th, 2016 01:10 pm (UTC)
I was mentioning above to liadtbunny, I think part of the problem is that the Paternoster Gang are written (and possibly envisaged) as comedy side-kicks (Strax in particular) while their initial presentation was as Victorian detectives. I suspect in the writers minds they are therefore a natural conduit for miscellaneous jokes and slap-stick which then seems out of place to the audience.

I think I've rated it more highly on reviewing, though I don't hold out much hope for the next few episodes, though we'll see. The Child's interest was, I would say, fairly obviously slowing from the introduction of Clara, even though it was Clara who first hooked her interest in the show and Buffy, at the moment with its school setting, is definitely engaging her more.
cynthia2015cynthia2015 on January 25th, 2016 02:39 am (UTC)
There was the domestic violence aspect of the story, which Mark Gatiss addressed last time in "The Idiots Lantern".

Edited at 2016-01-25 02:40 am (UTC)
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 25th, 2016 10:17 am (UTC)
londonkds noted this on the post over at DW. I'm in two minds about whether this was a deliberate counter-point to The Idiots Lantern or not.
cynthia2015cynthia2015 on January 25th, 2016 09:19 pm (UTC)
Whether it was intentional or not, it certainty triggered my own personal life experiences on the issue.