Written by: Mike Bartlett
Directed by: Bill Anderson
Bill moves into a house share with some of the students from the university and when they’re approached by a strange landlord, they find a huge property that seems to good to be true. Will this turn into a dream home or will each of the students slowly get eaten by weird creatures in order of how annoying they are like in any classic horror movie?
It’s fair to say that season ten launched with a bit of a whimper when compared to previous years. The episodes have been carried solely on the strength of the blossoming relationship of the TARDIS team (which in itself is quite a feat) with some simplistic, unsatisfying stories that have been more style than substance with only the tease of what’s in the vault as a lure to keep watching.
‘Knock Knock’, whilst still not being perfect, definitely sees the series up its game and is essentially a better version of two different series 7 stories ‘The Crimson Horror’ and ‘Hide’. That said, whereas the previous episodes nicely segued into each other as many classic Doctor Who stories did, the cold opening of Bill suddenly deciding to move out from home and move in with some random young folk (clearly fresh out of drama school) did seem a bit random. This is particularly odd considering she’s now best buds with a time traveller and has the universe at her fingertips. Is she not still a bit new in the door to be so blasé about her TARDIS time?
In hindsight, the story would have probably fitted in better within the young adult spin-off Class which had similarly structured episodes. While I do enjoy some of the more character-focused episode, never forget that Doctor Who really pulls out all the punches when the universe is in grave danger and let’s face it, the TARDIS was nowhere near chiming the Cloister Bell.
Splitting up the Doctor and Bill for large chunks of the episode allows the Time Lord to do his usual thing and lets the audience get to understand Bill better in her own time and space. Throughout the episode Bill remains a grounded, curious companion whose humanity is a welcome contrast from Clara’s ego and self importance. There’s a Donna Noble vibe to her which grounds the Doctor again, another stark contrast to Clara who would have egged him on.
On the whole, the episode was good enough and for the most part, the tension of discovering the big bad was gripping – particularly if you listened to the binaural version of the episode. The resolution, like this week’s monster, was pretty wooden and not really satisfying. We’ve seen in ‘The Doctor Dances’ that a family role reversal is possible, but there wasn’t enough depth here to give it the same impact. Also, similar to that episode, everyone rather conveniently lives but in this case it felt like some rather brutal deaths were all too easily reversed. The dryad lice too were awkwardly explained and too many questions were unanswered to make this believable let alone enjoyable.
The final scene with the Doctor and Nardole allowed the episode to recover from the main plot’s conclusion and injected further intrigue about the mystery of what’s in the box? Many rumours are flying around online as to what this could be with the Master or Missy being right up there – isn’t that too obvious?