Doctor Who: Series 9, Episode 9
Sleep No More
Written by: Mark Gatiss
Directed by: Justin Molotnikov
Broadcast Date: Saturday 14th November at 8:15pm on BBC One
The Gallifrey Times have seen Sleep No More and have put our spoiler free preview together.
Can you believe it? Series 9 of Doctor Who is sadly reaching it’s bitter end, with no more two-parters (albeit the finale), and only 2 singular episodes foreboding, it’s nearly time to say goodbye to a full series of our favourite show for another year. Don’t be all too sad though, because this episode, titled, Sleep No More, is an eccentric, ambitious and tremendously creative outing that will leave you destined to never shut your eyes again. Be scared, be very scared.
Uh-oh, yes, as every other review has mentioned, this is Mark Gatiss, whom in the land of Doctor Who writing has pounced dubiously between OK-to-dreadful episodes. Whilst of course, his writing is suitably fitted for Sherlock, and alas, he shines with honour on that side of the BBC universe, but over on the Doctor Who side of things, I was sceptical about his episode in regards to how much I am still bitter with disgust at the simplicity of Robots of Sherwood last year.
However, I was hugely blown away, if-anything, Gatiss doesn’t hold back, and even if you’re not a fan of this hugely sickening and manic episode, you have to admire Gatiss’ ambition in moving away from the normality of his usual attire. Really, I am hugely fond of Sleep No More, it’s crazy antics, deep and reckless conclusions, and true creative elegance pronounce it as, whilst not totally original, a sinister and hugely enjoyable ride.
The clarity of tension and horror here is gritty in a very different way, it’s madness and chaos abandon leave it to be one of the most sickening and shocking episodes in Doctor Who history. Whilst falling into a few pacing issues, Sleep No More has a hugely engaging and tormenting, yet intricate and delicately woven story that moulds the horror into something way more mysterious and intriguing.
Whilst originally concerned with the idea of found-footage, due to the many failures of found-footage horror movies in their simplicity, you can tell Gatiss is true to his word when suggesting this episode’s core idea has been ‘long on the waiting list’, because the shocks feel very intricate and manipulative. The gimmicks of found-footage don’t destroy the distinct atmosphere set, rather, building to it with claustrophobic realism.
Possibly the most singular episode in the entirety of Series 9, Sleep No More fits perfectly slotted between hugely developing episodes with large climatic events such as The Zygon Invasion/Inversion. It’s dialed down with a small budget, lack of enormous props or characters needed, and so-forth rather relies on its intentions of mystery and drama – which actually, provides a huge shift in the dynamic compared to these gigantic two-parters that have been sprawled through the series.
Like previously mentioned, don’t expect big, brash sets, exquisite speeches or character development, this episode is pure story, almost relaxing Moffat’s raging claws to bring the blockbuster to Who. Even the connections between The Doctor and Clara are suitably refined, and whilst adding a touch of warmth and occasionally satire to the episode, the supporting-cast don’t provide too much to the whole story. However, if I was to credit any of the cast, it’d have to be Reece Shearsmith for a truly suitable, yet insanely creepy alternative to a villain, for, his shift in the episode continues to move, his presence almost becomes a guessing-game, subsequently ranking up the intrigue.
Sleep No More has its flaws, but whatever they may be, it’s eradicated by Gatiss’ step up into the astonishing world of Doctor Who. The ambition, creativity, sense of direction and tension all make this possibly his finest Doctor Who instalment to-date. With an engrossing gross and sensitive thematic and the horror and mystery through subtleties such as the dialled-down execution act as a perfect way to re-establish the wildly rich and hugely enjoyable tension that fans forget is what makes the show.