9 September 2014

DWO’s spoiler-free preview of episode 8.4: Listen:

Since Doctor Who’s return to screens in 2005, current show-runner Steven Moffat has been the king of ‘scary’. He provided us with the chilling ‘are you my mummy?’ in Series One, ‘who turned out the lights?’ in Series Four, the ominous tick-tock of the Clockwork Droids in Series Two, and - of course - the Weeping Angels, some of the scariest monsters that the programme has ever produced. In many ways, Listen feels like a return to Moffat trying to scare us, and it’s safe to say that he succeeds.

This story revolves around a simple premise - what if when we’re all alone… we’re actually not. What if every second of our lives, there’s someone, or something there with us. What if when we talk aloud to ourselves, there’s someone listening, and when the hairs on the back of our necks stand on end, it’s the breath of another creature right behind you. It’s this thought which has preoccupied the Doctor when we find him at the start of the story, and the tale becomes his quest to find the answer.

The idea at the heart of this tale pulls on threads that Moffat has used before in a story for the 2007 Doctor Who story book, where he answered the question with the suggestion that people sometimes attract ‘Floofs’, small creatures which attach themselves to people and toy with them by hiding keys, or making mischief. Listen takes many of the concepts from that story and transfers them masterfully to the screen, managing to make them even more unnerving in the process. It’s safe to say that people will be checking in the shadows (and under the bed) on Saturday night. And probably Sunday night, too. And Monday, if we’re honest. [DWO have been checking for the last hour and a half, just in case.]

All the scares have been realised here by director Douglas Mackinnon, who storms back into the series with some truly gorgeous visuals. It’s some of his best directing work, and the use of colour in the episode is particularly nice. The direction of this story really serves to heighten the fear in places, and make a simple blanket the most terrifying thing in the universe. It’s also good to see that - as with Robot of Sherwood last week - directors are finding new and interesting ways to use the TARDIS set. It feels huge here, and somehow manages to make even Peter Capaldi seem small here, when left alone with his thoughts.

We’re also seeing the welcome return of Samuel Anderson in this episode, after a break from the programme last week. Danny Pink continues to be a source of humour here, but it’s nice to see Anderson given the chance to tackle some more dramatic stuff, too. He’s given lots to do here, and it’s hard not to simply love him. We can’t wait to see where his story goes from here - and this episode certainly give us some tantalising hints.

Five things to look out for: 

1) "Scared is a super power."
2) "Robinson Crusoe at the end of the universe…"
3) "A soldier so brave, he doesn’t need a gun."
4) Are you afraid of the dark?
5) "The human race. You’re never happy, are you?"

[Sources: DWOWill Brooks]

<mce:script 

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