Alien trouble up north – Review of Doctor Who The Crimson Horror

For the first fifteen minutes of Doctor Who The Crimson Horror I thought I was watching the pilot episode for a spin-off series featuring Victorian London detectives Madame Vastra, her wife Jenny, and their Sontaran side kick Strax. And very entertaining it was as well indeed I do hope they make such a spin-off series.

Strax gets all the funniest lines as he constantly suggests grenades and other war hardware as solutions to every problem. Madame Vastra remains an intriguing character, noble, and despite her lizard-like features, quite sexy. Jenny gets much more to do in this episode and I liked the moment when she steps out of her Victorian garb to show her Avengers style leather cat suit underneath. Perhaps this was a cute nod towards guest star Diana Rigg who, of course, was an Avengers girl back in the 1960s.

Review of Doctor Who The Crimson Horror
Movie of the week poster.

The BBC really do period drama well and the costumes, props and locations in The Crimson Horror are of a particularly high standard.

“To find him she needs only ignore all keep out signs, go through every locked door, and run towards any form of danger that presents itself.”

The Vastra Crew are investigating the disappearance of people who go to Sweetville a seemingly idillic town up north away from corrupt London. Eventually Jenny finds The Doctor (Matt Smith) locked in a room doing his best Hell Boy impression with bright red skin and agonised moaning. This leads to an impressive flash back sequence told in a sepia tone like an old news reel. Once cured, the Doctor can also rescue Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) and finally face the spooky harridan Miss Gillyflower.

“Yes, I’m the Doctor, you’re nuts, and I’m gonna stop you.”

Diana Rigg, who is also delighting audiences in the third series of Game of Thrones, stops just short of hamming up her part. Her interactions with her real life daughter, Rachel Stirling are a delight, and Stirling’s character, Ada,  is both sad and brave, especially when she realises her mother’s betrayal and becomes stronger as a result.

The Crimson Horror is a great episode of Doctor Who, funny and entertaining but I thought it was quite light weight. The reveal of the scarlet monster, Mr Sweet, attached and suckling on Rigg’s chest could have been a genuine horror moment but it was too cute. When Strax takes directions from a boy who reveals his name is Thomas Thomas I wanted to phone Stephen Moffat straight away and complain at the awfulness of this joke.

Overall it did feel as this was genuinely a children’s episode. If this was indeed a blue print for a spin of series about the Vastra Crew then I think we can expect a drama along the lines of The Sarah Jane Adventures rather then the more adult oriented Torchwood.

Your turn: Do you agree with my review of Doctor Who The Crimson Horror? Would you like to see a spin-off series featuring Vastra, Jenny and Strax? Please leave a comment and let me know what you think or post a link to your own review.

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