The first two episodes of series 9 had been so strong it had caused a little bit of worry amongst the shows fan base. Could they keep it up the quality beyond the first story? Well as the credits rolled at the end of episode three the answer seems to be yes. That’s not to say ‘Under the Lake’ didn’t have its problems but, we’ll touch on those later.
So episode three sees the Doctor and Clara busting ghosts in an underwater base in the year 2119. They are joined by the bases crew all of whom are found hiding from the ghosts who, if they catch any of the crew, will kill them and turn them also into ghosts.
As strange as all this sounds (I love explaining ‘Doctor Who’ plots to people who don’t watch the show) it genuinely was creepy with a little bit on menace thrown in. The crew was believable, although trying to work out what I’d previously seen them all in was distracting, and the use of the deaf character Cass (Sophie Stone) was inspired. Whilst seeing the Doctors ghost walking across the lake was a great plot twist.
The episode lacked the pace of the first two and at times did seem to dwell on explanations of plot developments. The slower pace wasn’t always a bad thing as it did also add to the overall creepiness. Peter Capaldi was again on good form. He’s really grown into the part with his Doctors use of humour being especially pleasing. The skit with Clara, the Doctor, and the cue cards was laugh out loud funny as was many of his one liners throughout. The rehabilitation of Jenna Colemans Clara also continues as, again, she was a joy to watch.
So here’s the major problem with ‘Under the Lake’ it just reminded me of other ‘Doctor Who’ episodes. The ghosts were reminiscent of the zombies in ‘Waters of Mars’ and the feel of the story had a touch of the ‘Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit’ double episode from series 2. It is the series 3 story ‘42’ that seemed to have influenced ‘Under the Lake’ the most; what with the infection of the crew, the ship / base being used against the them and the turning of the Doctor.
In the main it was a fun episode to watch and series 9 is starting to look like it’s going to not disappoint. One more gripe with casting. You have Colin McFarlane, owner of one of the best voices in British acting today, in the episode and you make him mute for most of it?!? What the hell were they thinking?
Rating out of 10: 7