Doctor Who – Sleep No More

It’s Doctor Who day! By which I mean there is new Verity! out today, so getting back to my Doctor Who reviews seemed thematically relevant. On V!, we’re discussing the very first episode of the New Series and it’s quite a spiffy ep, of the podcast I mean (the telly ep is quite good too). I imagine we all have different prefs over what makes a good recording, but I love it best when there is enthusiastic disagreement, and discussion. Which there is.

Less controversially, or at least that’s been my impression, is Sleep No More. But just in case you’re a big fan, I give FAIR WARNING: for me this is the nadir of the season, maybe even of Capaldi’s run so far. So while I shall point out all the things I loved – and even though this is a definite lowpoint for me, I do recall there being quite a lot of bits that made me yay – there will also probably be a smidgen of argh about the stuff I did not like.

  • I do love the episode name, but I find it impossible to say without trying to say “MacBeth does murder sleep!” THIS IS ANNOYING. For this prob, we can blame the Scottish education system, who decided that we rly rely needed to learn MacBeth. Over and over again. Because obv we would hugely sympathise with an early modern playwright’s fictious history of an early medieval king that we know sod all about. Because he’s Scottish.
  • That’s not to say MacBeth isn’t amazing. It is. It just doesn’t need to be drilled into Scottish schoolchildren, okay? GIVE US A COMEDY. WE LIKE LOLS.
  • The education system is probs v different now anyway, and I am tots avoiding actually talking about this story, ahem.
  • You must not watch this…you can never unsee it.” OH WHY DIDN’T I LISTEN??
  • YAY SUCH A CHEAP SHOT. There might be a few of those.
  • I do like Rasmus, I think that’s his name – the actor reminds me a bit of Gary Oldman, and he is quite good. They all are really. They can’t save it but they do try.
  • I am thumbs up at the “found footage” even though it’s a format I’m meh about. It’s not something Doctor Who’s done before, so hurrah for the attempt at something different.
  • I eyeroll at the cast list exposition. A bit. I’m torn really between the courageous lampshading of an exposition dump and just thinking it’s a tedious exposition dump.
  • Two thumbs up at the worldbuilding though. Whatever the problems with the story, and characters, and dialogue, and the serious unpleasantness towards certain subsections of humanity, the WORLDBUILDING IS QUALITY. We’re IN SPACE, yay, in Neptune in the future with cool tech.
  • The Liverpudlian soldier is my fav. Nagata should be in such a better story.
  • And the core of the story has a nice, classic sci-fi feel to it: future corporations stealing our sleep so we can be more productive.
  • “We all know a Grunt when we see one.” See, that is in essence another neat bit of worldbuilding but omg whoever is responsible for the casting is THE WORST. If you’re going to have one trans actor in your series, DO NOT give them the role where they’re referred to as “it”, cause disgust in their peers, and are a disposable human being. DO NOT.
  • There is a smashing shot out a porthole of Neptune and more space hardware, it is most excellent.
  • Extra infuriating is there’s such terrible casting of a trans actor, in an episode that suggests a  Japanese-Indian dominated future, and most of the guest cast are actually of Japanese or Indian descent. Just…HOW? How can you get it so right one way and so painfully wrong the other?? …or Indo-Japanese, whatev.
  • “They never put the word ‘space’ in front of something…” LIES DOCTOR, TERRIBLE TERRIBLE LIES. Putting space in front of any noun is the best thing that can happen to that noun.
  • And the lighting is splendid too – dark, claustrophibic, shadowy – this is win.
  • Space pirates! (That’s a classic Who story too…don’t watch it, it’s terrible.)
  • One nice thing about the format is Peter Capaldi gets to stare into a lot of cameras. I like this.
  • “Hold my hand.” OH DOCTOR.
  • This shouldn’t be boring. But it is. There’s a energetic attack by Unknown Monster going on and I’m just meh. I should feel at least a tremor of fear but nothing.
  • I mean there’s a heartbeat in the soundscape! And no tension at all!
  • I now know that they really have those sleep pods in Helsinki airport. But they’re not evil there. They are for sleeping in though.
  • Clara getting stuck in the pod was at least briefly “meep!” but…no fallout, or build-up, or WHY AM I NOT SCARED EVEN A JOT?
  • Another piece of media got there first to make me hate that song…I can’t remember what it is though….I want to stay Back to the Future but that seems odd.
  • Knocking on the pod! *clings to the amusing moment*
  • The lady explaining how we can all be more productive without sleep is the creepiest thing in this. But let’s skip over this corporate oppression to get to the bizarre shit about EVIL GRIT IN YOUR EYES WHAT.
  • “Even I sleep…when you’re not looking.” YAY A GOOD MOMENT.
  • Oh, and then he slips into Tom Baker mode. He is so Tom Baker-ish, it is ridic sometimes. Season 12 Tom Baker, when he wasn’t drunk most of the time. Probably.
  • What I’m saying is Capaldi is making this watchable, almost.
  • See, and getting rid of sleep creating a monster that eats people is an EXCELLENT IDEA. But sleep dust?? EYE MUCUS?! It’s like someone looked at Moffat’s ‘let’s make every day stuff scary’ and tried to copy it, while heavily intoxicated, and high. I mean, spot the odd one out: statues, shadows, people in gas masks, eye mucus.
  • Oh, yay, another good bit: the computer that won’t let the soldier in until he does the song! THAT IS GREAT. More hilarious computers pls!
  • The monsters are legit not that good looking but I don’t hold that against them. People in rubber suits > any CGI bollocks.
  • Some shields are being broken now, it has nothing to do with sleep or sleep monsters, but the camera is shaking a lot.
  • They remind me of a monster from Red Dwarf…that one that eats your emotions.
  • I do like all the shots of Neptune. They look splendid.
  • Yay, more Macbeth quotage!
  • Cold storage should be scarier than this. It’s ALWAYS cold storage or giant freezers people end up hiding from killers in, why is that? Is it cause they usually have carcasses hanging up and that makes it scarier cause of….meat being scary?
  • And now they’re an infection, when did this happen? I don’t know, maybe it’s not it, maybe it’s me. It makes perfect sense, and I’ve watched so many episodes of Thundercats I don’t know how proper plotting works any more.
  • I seem to remember a Big Finish with Sandmen or something; it was better than this.
  • “It’s like the Silurians all over again.” LOL! Probs my fav moment of the episode. (The Silurians, from the episode of the same name, couldn’t possibly be from the era they’re named after…or the Eocene era the Doctor later says they’re from…I shouldn’t mock or such. They probably didn’t have libraries in the seventies.)
  • “Clever startegy.” Oh judgey at making someone comment on your plot about how clever you’ve made your characters. WHICH YOU HAVEN’T.
  • ….I really do just want to capslock EYE MUCUS for the next fifteen minutes.
  • On the bright side, it’s still not The Curse of the Black Spot.
  • Oh, and the eye mucus monsters can’t see…handy. But the eye mucus can visually record stuff. THAT MAKES SENSE. Oh my…this didn’t annoy me half so much the first time because I NAIVELY ASSUMED it would all make sense at the end.
  • Right, no, sorry, it’s the *dust* that can see, and has stolen the eye mucus monsters’ eyesight…sure, why not? There’re only twelve minutes left and my will to live has gone.
  • So the grav shields were powered down deliberately…did THE DUST do it then?? No, apparently not. Or the eye mucus monsters. On first watch, believe it or not, I still had some hope at this point. I AM FULL OF OPTIMISM.
  • Rasmus did it. Okay. But he’s actually working for the eye mucus. I think. And actually *is* eye mucus…I think. Cause he got eaten. And then they maked him again.
  • And he has a Mysterious Cargo of dust and/or eye mucus. The cargo is Patient Zero, someone who hasn’t slept for five years and so he is extra mucus-y and/or dusty, and…the eye mucus started as a signal but also has all these other ways to spread…somehow. I DON’T KNOW.
  • “When I say run, run.! Yay! Clinging to the Troughton line!
  • “This doesn’t make any sense. ” YOU THINK?! AND DAMMIT THAT IS A BUG NOT A FEATURE.
  • Did Nagata get away then? I couldn’t see last time, and I was watching specifically for it this time and I STILL DON’T KNOW.
  • Ah, but spore infection thing was as fib, a pointless confusing fib, so that cargo was there for….no reason, okay, great. And we’re back to electronic signals, which this found footage is infected with, and now we’re all infected. YAY. And the Doctor has run away,  so humanity died in the 38th century, of eye mucus. Who’d have thought?
  • The last Rasmus-to-camera delivery is a bit good. And a bit scary. So at least it all ends on a high. But still. That was…not the best telly I’ve ever seen.
  • It’s two Neptunes out of ten for Sleep No More, one for world-building and one for having some good moments.
  • Onwards! Thank goodness…

2 thoughts on “Doctor Who – Sleep No More

  1. I kept thinking, “This is an episode of Nebulous” — specifically the one where the Professor (Gatiss) and company were pitted against actual sentient dust. I’d always thought Nebulous was supposed to be a spoof of Who, not the other way round…

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