Brent: Welcome back to Second Opinion! Tonight we’re going to be talking about episode 9, “Sleep No More.” Jerry, what were your thoughts on the show?
Jerry: My thoughts? Well, it started out very promising, but I felt kind of let down by the time it resolved itself.
B: I am in that same camp. I thought that if they were going to do a found footage episode, that it should be completely comprised of found footage. Although I thought the gimmick with having peoples’ eyes actually record the data rather then their helmet cams was interesting, I feel like that if they had gone with that exclusively, it would have made you feel much more like you were a part of the adventure; that you were actually trying to solve the problem along with the Doctor and Clara. Because they would have been looking at you and talking to you the whole time.
The way they did it with the narration added back in and the cuts between peoples’ eye footage and the ship’s footage, I thought that’s where it broke down, because that shattered the illusion every time.
J: This was the one story this season when I really thought that having the two-part episode would have worked in its favor…
J: …Because I think it felt overly rushed to get it done with just one episode. I really found a lot of the characters that were introduced very interesting. For example, the grunt soldier who has his programming. The solder operates under the most basic of Asimov’s rules for robots – protect humans, protect self, in that order. I liked the guy that came out of the suspended animation capsule. They had a lot of really interesting characters, but they just didn’t have time to develop them fully.
B: I agree! They could have divided it up and had one part be the found footage that was just recorded from peoples’ eyes, and then they could change the point of view for the second episode to have it all be from the ship footage cameras. That way, both would be individual and different, but it would still be maintaining that found footage consistency.
J: There was just so much that they could have done more with this episode. But I think they had to cut things down due to the limitations of the single hour.
B: I also thought that it seemed like it had originally been started as a two-parter, but then condensed down to just one part, because there were several things that just didn’t jive timing-wise. Like the whole scene where the guy had to sing Mr. Sandman in order to get into that room for protection. I thought that was totally extraneous. Although it would have been a cute bit in a two-parter, it took up way too much time in just a one-parter. That could have been completely eliminated, and freed up time to build up the scare level or add more plot.
J: On a side note, I was really thrilled to see Mr. Sandman utilized like that. It’s always been a favorite song of mine. I found myself humming that song all week long after viewing the show.
B: I felt like the creatures were a letdown, or at least the way the creatures were filmed was a letdown. They looked a little bit like Scooby-Doo monsters. I know the show doesn’t have a feature film budget, but if they mirrored their portrayal of the creatures by looking at the Sandman from Spider-Man 3, I think it would have appeared much more threatening. But these creatures just didn’t scare me.
J: I don’t think we ever really got a good look at them. One of the things I have talked about offline with you is just how many of these episodes have just been dark. I don’t mean in terms of the content, but in the amount of visible light in the scenes. We’ve seen lots of low-light situations this season. Outside of the first Maisie Williams episode where a lot of it was filmed outside, most of these shows have taken place in dark settings.
B: I agree. That may be a case where they’ve been using the cover of darkness to make the budget work.
J: You know what this is going to lead us to?
B: No, what?
J: Hey, who turned out the lights?
B: HA! I love it when you say that!
As far as continuity nods to past episodes, I only noticed two this time. The first had the Doctor channeling Cisco from The Flash, being upset that Clara has named the monsters the Sandmen before he had a chance to, and then mentioned it was the Silurians all over again. That goes back to a 1970s Jon Pertwee Third Doctor adventure when they named this race that had been on Earth long before humans the Silurians when it technically wasn’t a scientifically correct name. So they made fun of that several times throughout the series.
The second nod came when the Doctor looked at Clara and said, “When I say run, run!“ That’s something every Doctor says at some point.
J: Most people will go back to the first Eccleston episode when we first met Rose.
B: It’s always been a good callback line.
One other thing that I really like about this episode was a shot they did when they discovered that a lot of the footage was coming from the point of view of people’s eyes. This scene had Clara looking at the screen that was showing what her eyes were showing, and it had that recursive image going on through it with the Doctor on the screen looking at the Doctor on the screen and going on and on. I thought that was a nifty little addition.
J: So if we were to look into the screen to look into the screen look in the screen to look ahead to episode 10, what would we see?
B: I have a feeling we will see the beginning of the end of Clara Oswald. Capaldi let it slip on The Graham Norton Show that this episode tonight is where Clara makes her exit supposedly. So I imagine we will see much weeping and gnashing of teeth. I’ve been trying to avoid spoilers, but that one popped up all over my Facebook feed this week and I couldn’t avoid it.
I’m sure we’ll have have some other characters returning from earlier this season, be it Missy or Maisie Williams’ character, as we start to approach the big finale.
J: So what do you have going on with That Time on Doctor Who this week?
B: This week I take a pause from the Capaldi adventures to shake things up a little bit and look back at a mini-episode featuring Paul McGann that debuted in the Fiftieth Anniversary year, which was 2013.
J: For a random idiot such as me, Paul McGann was which Doctor?
B: The Eighth Doctor! He portrayed it once on screen in 1996, and then got a chance to come back in 2013 to portray him on screen, which doubled his time on screen.
J: So eight was not enough?
B: Exactly! And I think you just found the perfect ending to this week’s Second Opinion.
#ThatTimeOnDrWho is created mostly weekly by Brent Kincade for Word of the Nerd Online!
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