15th Nov2015

‘Doctor Who: 9×09 – Sleep No More’ Review

by Paul Metcalf


I am going to start this review by saying I like Doctor Who, in fact I love it. I also like a show that is not afraid to experiment, and do something new. The problem is Doctor Who: 9×09 – Sleep No More is an experiment that went wrong though as usual manages to have some positives at least.

This week The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman) find themselves on the Le Verrier Space Station meeting a rescue team looking for any evidence of the crew who appear to have vanished. When strange sand-like monsters attack them, they must work out just what they are, and how they can stop them before they end up being the next victims.

So there you have it, a generic description of the episode. Add a found footage concept onto it and a storyline that feels like it is ripped out of one of a few science fiction action films and you have this episode. The problem is it just doesn’t work. It may be that I have “seen it all before” right down to the story itself, but it just doesn’t click, and neither does the found footage style of storytelling for this episode.

In the time the show has to pull the story together and make the audience invest in what they are seeing they don’t connect to the audience. In fact because everything has to be rushed to fit into the episode time frame, the characters are paper-thin because there is no chance for character development.

To sympathise with their plight we actually have to empathise with them. This just does not happen, and the audience sits back waiting for the moment where it is all revealed to be a fake dream, or something that could save the episode. The problem is it just never comes.

Sleep No More feels like it is trying to create another Blink, and the building blocks are there, right down to one of the characters having a David Tennant like moment telling you not to watch what you are actually watching. If anything what happens is the that found footage style damages the impact, as the episode falls into the trap that many films that use the style does. We just don’t care, we are detached from what we are seeing and the sand creatures don’t have the same effect as the Weeping Angels.

So the positives? Reese Shearsmith is in this episode and he puts in a good performance. He does not have much to work with, but he still manages to be the most interesting character of the show. This may be the aim, as his character does have a specific purpose that pulls everything together. It’s just a shame that when you realise what movie the plot has been ripped from, you also know his character and what he is destined to do…and once again it just doesn’t have the effect that it should on the audience.

Now as I said, I’m a fan of Doctor Who and I would love people to enjoy Doctor Who: 9×09 – Sleep No More a lot more than I myself did. There are many good ideas going into this episode, and there are moments that you can see what the aim was. It’s just a shame that it just doesn’t work, and comes off as a failed experiment that even tells you itself…you shouldn’t have watched (though you should watch, and make up your own opinion, just as I did).

***½  3.5/5

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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