Doctor Who Review by John Keegan

Doctor Who 9.09: Sleep No More

Doctor Who 9.09: Sleep No More

Written By:
Mark Gatiss
Directed By:
Justin Molotnikov



I’ll give the writers’ room credit; they tried to make the idea of a “found footage” episode of Doctor Who appealing.  After all, despite the fact that most of those employing the concept are terrible at it, there is a certain charm to the notion of seeing events play out as they have been recorded for posterity, intentionally or not.  But if the story being told is sub-par in the first place, no clever gimmick is going to make up for it. 





Can we all give thanks to whatever logical decision-making stopped this from becoming a two-parter?  Because this one episode was quite enough.  This was an episode that tried to make the crap that accumulates in the corners of your eyes when you sleep into nightmare fuel.  And while it was a disgusting thought, it was hardly terrifying.  This is the sort of concept that is best left to episodes devoted to self-mockery, and if that was the intention, it fell short of communicating that notion.


There just wasn’t much to the central concept.  If I understood it correctly, the crap in the corner of your eyes that accumulates during the use of the Morpheus system somehow made it possible for the sentient creature that it was a part of to see through your visual perspective.  It’s a concept that seems awfully elusive and needlessly complicated, when a solid “found footage”-style story could have been done without something so nonsensical.    





The central scheme of the story, as explained by Rassmussen, was also dependent on a very specific set of circumstances, which is a lot of weight to put on a scenario.  In essence, the story has to provide for the idea that a mastermind managed to influence events in just the right way to bring the right people into the right place at the right time.  That’s a lot harder than it sounds, even taking The Doctor’s peculiar sense of interest into account.  So the plot just starts to implode under its own weight.


Which is why it is also a little irritating that the episode seems a little open-ended.  Not unlike the motivations and actions of Ashildr (who was oddly absent during the Zygon crisis, which likely would have gotten her attention), Rasmussen’s plan is uncovered and everyone escaped, but the situation is still unresolved.  Normally that’s not necessarily a problem, but I would hate to see this factor into future episodes.






At the center of it all was a commentary on modern living.  How many of us sacrifice so much sleep as it is, just to keep up, let alone get ahead of the competition?  How many of us would love something like Morpheus, that would allow us to get more done?  Of course, the episode presents the downside: that would mean the world you live in knows you can do more, too, so things don’t get easier, they just get even more strained.  It’s something to consider, but perhaps not with this plot device and directorial gimmick.

Our Grade:
C-
The Good:
  • Some interesting ideas buried in the midst of the Morpheus concept
The Bad:
  • The central “monster” was far from terrifying and more just disgusting
  • The conceit for the “found footage” gimmick just seemed too far-fetched, even for this show!

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

Doctor Who by - 11/16/2015 8:05 AM141 views

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