One of the cleverest tricks a writer, production team and cast of a science fiction show has to pull off is to make the fantastical believable, if only for a short while. The longer and higher the viewer has to suspend their disbelief the harder it is. On the other hand creating a believable premise, with believable in story logic and a believable cast can make this task so much easier.
Hide falls so very neatly into this ‘other hand’. In today’s fast paced, single story, rapid moving story telling it can be easy to consider the explanation fudged or the dénouement too simple. The glory of Hide is that the pace never drops while allowing the viewer to become immersed in the world it presents. The setting, an ancient manor house in 1974, is beautifully realised and no jarring set dressing. The logical explanation of the ghost, which haunts the manor, is delightful and believable. The solution and heart breaking sub plot are not rushed, while the ongoing plot elements regarding the Doctor’s latest project, Clara, fit in neatly without feeling like an after thought.
In a few, clear, swift strokes new Doctor Who writer, Neil Cross, presents enough detail on the supporting cast to give the viewers a solid and believable background and relationship. It is in this relationship, which Dougray Scott and Jessica Raine excel. The performance of the simmering, subtle, unrequited love between them is core to the story and core to the episode. Both actors, Cross, and the production team are to be congratulated in this understated portrayal, especially as it is reflected so beautifully in the excellent subplot.
The main plot, of ghosts, pocket universes, time travel trials, and rescues is exciting, chilling, intriguing and engaging in equal measure. The Doctor is forced to solve a problem using his wits, a lot of clever time travel and an ‘old fashioned’ slide show. These touches of a dark room, toggle switches, film based photography and slides add an extra layer of enjoyment to a story, which may well have been weakened if set in the present.
In addition to all this wonderful storytelling craft there are also the special treats for long term Doctor Who fans. The blue crystal from Metabelis III, a Eye of Harmony reference, pocket dimensions and the orange space suit all calling happy memories to mind. Then, with a look to the future the viewers are also treated to further clues in the mystery of Clara Oswald; Why does the Tardis distrust her? Why doesn’t Emma see anything special in her?
A perfectly packaged episode of Doctor Who with a believable, ‘so called’, monster that is not lost among the other excellent elements of an excellent story.