Doctor Who: Knock Knock review

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This is a post-UK broadcast review of Doctor Who: Knock Knock. River Song always warned the Doctor against spoilers, so be sure to watch the episode first. Doctor Who airs on Saturdays at 7:20pm UK time on BBC One, and 9pm EDT on BBC America.

Meddling kids, alien woodlice, and a creepy Landlord throw Doctor Who‘s Knock Knock into a Scooby Doo-meets-The Mummy adventure complete with a time-warped, played-for-dark-laughs haunted house.

Steven Moffat’s last hurrah at the TARDIS console—the walls are inhabited by insect-like creatures. In Smile, worker bee microbots—dubbed Vardies—are the walls. That idea is partially repeated here, albeit in a different setting: Bill (Pearl Mackie) and the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) are back on present-day Earth (my favourite Doctor Who episodes are often the ones that give us aliens in the most ordinary of backdrops).

The Landlord, played by David Suchet, is understated and downright creepy.
Enlarge / The Landlord, played by David Suchet, is understated and downright creepy.

Bill is looking for new digs with five fellow, penniless students, who have rightly overlooked the fact that she was recently serving them chips in the university canteen. And straight away, Bill is the leader of this goofy gang as she fearlessly goes to check the kitchen when the students are spooked by an odd noise. She discovers a clattering-about Doctor investigating the “lots of wood” house.

The uneasy exchange between the pair reminds me of the awkward dynamic of a young person trying to look cool in front of new friends, while attempting to shake-off the claustrophobic attention of an elderly relative. Bill even fibs to the gang that the Doctor—their lecturer—is her grandad.

“This is the bit of my life you’re not in,” Bill later reminds the Doctor, who insists on sticking around.

The tuning fork-wielding Landlord (sublimely played by David Suchet) ramps up the ghoulish theme of Knock Knock. And it quickly becomes clear that it might be best for everyone to make like a tree and leave.

“You signed the contract and now it’s time to pay!,” the evil Landlord (is there any other kind?) tells his tenants, who clearly failed to read the small print, which perhaps revealed that their other roommates are alien woodlice.

The Doctor works through various names, “wood nymphs, tree spirits,” before settling on “dryads.” He tells Harry (Colin Ryan) that the creatures aren’t just in the wood, but “they’re becoming the wood.” A high-pitched noise is needed to lure them out for dinner, which explains the Landlord’s tuning fork.

Ars Technica UK

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