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I rather liked most of this, mainly because I'm cheap for haunted houses. Yes, the hotel is a bit of a mash-up of the House of Leaves with the Overlook Hotel from The Shining, and the "faith" subplot was done better in The Curse of Fenric, but if you're going to steal, steal from the good ones. The visual design of the episode was mostly memorable and unnerving in a David Lynch kind of way, apart from the person in the unconvincing gorilla suit. It was also insightful enough to notice that one person's worst nightmare might well look a bit silly to an outsider; consider the Victorian girl with the horror of having her photograph taken.

Which is not to say that I don't have reservations about it, mainly down to the characterisation (or lack thereof). Rita was an interesting character, and it was rather cool to have a major role for a religion that wasn't Christianity. Still, the bit about the overbearing academically-pressuring father was a bit of a South Asian stereotype, and some of the handling of her religion felt a bit heavy-handed (like the whole "Don't be scared of me!" bit). It felt like she had a big sign hung round her neck with "DID I MENTION I WAS ASIAN?" written on it.

Then there's Tibbis the Surrender Monkey. There were a couple of good jokes there (my favourite being "Our anthem is Glory to [insert name here]), but that got run into the ground very quickly. Besides, Tibbis' world did seem to be a Planet of Hats, their hat being cowardice. This trope relies on the idea that it's possible for every member of a given culture to have essentially the same personality, which is lazy, stereotypical, lousy worldbuilding, and bloody dangerous when taken outside a ficitional context. If Tibbis had showed a little bit of cynicism about his people's track record, or conversely if he'd looked like a true believer in the power of appeasement and cowardice as a virtue (imagine Rincewind as an Aikido instructor), I could have got a bit more behind that. As [ profile] prochytes pointed out, though, it is rather clever that the worst fear of the perpetual collaborator is the Weeping Angels. They are quite literally unappeasable. Even the Daleks might be persuaded keep you alive as slave labour, but the Angels just want your temporal energy. And you have to take your eyes off them to grovel.

And then there's Amy. Since when has Amy had blind faith in the Doctor? The Eleventh Hour is all about him regaining her trust after he left little Amelia sat on her little red suitcase. She argued with him over the space whale, she called him on not being honest with her whilst they faced the Weeping Angels on the Byzantium. She knows for certain now that he couldn't rescue little Melody, and that he nearly left her alone in the hospital complex for 36 years and ended up wiping her future self out of existence. If you're going to convince me that Amy still thinks of the Doctor as her Fairy Godfather after all that, you'll have a lot of legwork to do.

Also, that final confrontation looked far too easy. Losing faith hurts, even if you do decide afterwards that you're better off without the faith in question. Amy barely seemed distressed or angry with the Doctor at all, and seemed perfectly happy to let him pack her off to her nice suburban existence with his farewell gifts (by the way, anyone else reminded of that bit in the first Spiderman film where Peter Parker dumps Mary Jane for her own good?)

Finally, "Amy Williams"? Amy made her call, after her wedding and again when naming baby Melody - she's Amy Pond, Rory is Mr Pond, her daughter is Melody Pond. Amy's surname clearly means a lot to her, and the Doctor seems to be dismissing her desire to hang on to it as an act of childish rebellion. I was worried right from the start that Amy had a character arc set out ahead of her in which her desire for excitement and adventure was something she'd have to get over, and learn to want nothing more than a nice husband, nice children and a nice little house. I had high hopes, after The Big Bang, that Amy would find some way to have Rory and adventure, and prove that getting married doesn't inevitably lead to Happy Ending but can open up More Story.

I do feel that peace and quiet is often underrated, and the unglamorous people who get on with making the lives of others worthwhile need more appreciation. I just don't like this current in NuWho that sees curiosity and adventure as fundamentally terrible, pernicious things, and can't see any middle ground between racketing round Time and Space fighting aliens and a suburban domestic idyll.

Phew, that turned a bit ranty. Have some Tori Amos:

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October 2012

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