Saturday, November 28, 2015

Doctor Who 9.09: "Sleep No More"

“Sleep is essential to every sentient being in the universe.”
- The Doctor

When I first saw the trailer for “Sleep No More” I have to admit I wasn’t impressed. It looked strange and a bit creepy. Turns out there’s a good reason for that. The framing device of this week’s episode is found footage from a failed rescue mission to a science lab space station. At first it felt a bit like Blink with the tapes of the Doctor explaining about the Weeping Angels. First we meet Gagen, the scientist who warns the viewer not to watch and then explains that what he’s showing is pieced together from personal body cams of the rescue team and the station’s security feed. He introduces us to the rescue team of four. They aren’t really anything special and the way Gagen talks about them makes them almost forgettable and just throw-away characters. I know this show is about the Doctor (and for a little bit longer Clara) but to have supporting cast that you don’t even really need to remember just seems like weak writing to me.

Anyway, the rescue team gets onto the station (which went dark 24-hours ago) and encounter Clara and the Doctor wandering around the station. We don’t know why our heroes are on the station but they use the psychic paper to convince the team that they are supposed to be there. Pretty quickly, though, things start going wrong. The station which is in the 38th century has very little light and something big and green starts chasing them. One of the team gets separated from the group and I’m guessing he’s going to be the first to die (just a whole bunch of Red Shirts here folks). Before we learn that guy’s fate though, we get some info on Morpheus. It is a pod system that compacts all the benefits of sleep into five minutes so you can keep on working. Definitely not a good thing when you really think about it. Not getting the proper sleep does all kinds of awful things to one’s body. We also meet Gagen in the past. He’s the designer of all of this and he is pretty damn proud of his invention.

The Doctor does some analysis on the bit of the monster that got squished by the door and discovers it is sleep dust (aka the nasty crap in the corner of your eyes when you wake up in the morning). Since people aren’t actually sleeping for long periods of time, the stuff is somehow becoming sentient and is able to form itself into humanoid shape and e3at people. And yes, the lone guy who is forced to kind of sing the Mr. Sandman song (have I mentioned I kind of hate that song?) gets eaten by one. While he’s getting eaten, the rest of the group has to deal with the gravity shields failing and pulling the station towards Neptune. The Doctor manages to fix the shields but they get separated from two more of the group and it looks like Gagen got eaten, too. Which makes no sense since he’s the one narrating the found footage stuff. The Doctor is annoyed with humanity for treating sleep like an inconvenience. He also seems rather worried about Clara dying.

The two rescue members that have been separated from the group decide to head for their ship and if all else fails, they are going to blow up the station to keep the sleep dust monsters from getting out. Yeah, they are going to die, too. Well it takes a while but they do both bite it. The grunt soldier (that’s basically just grown in a lab) risks its life to get the other guy through a fire and then eventually, the last guy gets eaten by one of the Sandmen things, too.

But more importantly, the Doctor is being clever and makes some observations that they are being watched. He also (somehow) determines that the Sandmen can’t see and that’s because their visual receptors are being used to monitor the station and since Clara got pulled in to one of the pods, she’s being turned into a receptor, too. The Doctor has an idea of who might be behind all of this and I figured it out given the footage we saw through the sonic glasses. Gagen is the one behind all of this and he says that the dust speaks to him and he wants to spread it. But the Doctor knows something is off and doesn’t make sense. I didn’t really follow how the ending led to what it did but apparently Gagen was filming all of this as an alibi and that there aren’t really sand monsters. Morpheus is still working as it did via electrical signals but it is the video recording he’s made and sent out that will trigger the changes. And that’s it. The end (oh the Doctor, Clara and the sole survivor of the rescue team get out in the TARDIS).

I honestly don’t know what the story was supposed to do or be but I did not like it very much. I did not like the style of shooting with the footage from the character point of view. It was just very difficult to watch and keep track of everything that was happening. In a season of less than stellar episodes, this was probably the bottom of the pile. It did nothing to really advance any character growth or anything like that and this close to the end of the season I feel like it should have. At least from what I’ve seen of next week’s episode, we get some more interesting storylines that tie in to things that have happened before. And it means we are one step closer to the Christmas special and the return of River Song. At this point I’m just holding out for that episode. I know shows can have up and down seasons but the last two have not been stellar which is a shame because Peter is so interesting. I think it is long past time for Moffatt to move on and find something new. The show needs some new blood in its veins or else it is just going to continue to suffer from his over inflated ego.

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