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Doctor Who: Night Terrors (Review)

I’ve really liked Mark Gatiss’ contributions to Doctor Who. While not amongst the very best the series has to offer, The Unquiet Dead and The Idiot’s Lantern were both very solid monster-of-the-week episodes with clever concepts, a huge amount of energy and a sharp wit. Night Terrors shares all these attributes with those two earlier of Gatiss’ stories, but benefits from a wonderfully endearing sense of nostalgia and a very effective urban setting we really haven’t seen since the end of the Davies era.

George needs professional help…

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Sympathy for the Daleks: Steven Moffat & The Shifting Status Quo

I suppose you could bring them back, but I’d be slightly puzzled, because they were robots that went wrong. Generally speaking, and maybe Russell wouldn’t agree with a word I’m saying right now, but my favorite Doctor Who story is the one with brand new monsters that you see once and once only. The moment you start crowding the universe with familiar monsters, I think it’s less interesting. Two of the words that you could reasonably apply to the Daleks are ‘reliably defeatable.’ You know those guys are going to lose at the last minute anyway, and you always know what they’re up to, so the best bit about bringing back old monsters is the reveal. After that, it’s all downhill. It’s like Agatha Christie deciding that the butler should always do it, because it was successful in the last book, so that’s not my favorite kind of Doctor Who story. I like brand new monsters.

– Steven Moffat

That answer comes from an interview he gave waaaay back in 2006 – about the time he was writing The Girl in the Fireplace, his second story for the relaunched Doctor Who. I don’t know if he knew then that he was heir apparent to the throne and would succeed Russell T. Davies, but I wonder if being positioned as showrunner has somewhat changed his perspective. In his inaugural year running the show, we’ve already had the return of the Daleks, three episodes in with Victory of the Daleks, next week we’ll witness Moffat returning to one of his own monstrous creations in The Time of Angels and previews have already confirmed that the Cybermen themselves – foes dating from the show’s first leading actor – will be returning as well (with Roman centurians). I’m not complaining at all (a writer as talented as Moffat can do pretty much whatever he wants and I’ll trust him), but I can’t help wondering if perhaps Moffat is playing his own long game with the franchise in his opening season.

Don't worry, this Cyberman is mostly 'armless...

Note: This article contains spoilers for the end of this week’s episode, The Victory of the Daleks, so those who haven’t caught it yet might want to look away or come back to this when they’ve seen the episode. You’ve been warned, so you have.

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