This time around, Doctor Who brings us a scary episode with an unusual twist for the Whoverse. Normally things we can’t do are impressed up on us: don’t blink (Weeping Angels), don’t breathe (clockwork droids), don’t look (dream crabs), and don’t think (dream crabs again). However this go around, the Doctor lets us know something that we should be doing.
Despite the clever twist on typical Doctor Who story and the funny quibble between Clara and Twelve about putting “space” in front of things, this episode felt rather weak on the whole and… unremarkable. There wasn’t even one specific part or thing that I can solidly say I hated, it was just terribly lackluster throughout the episode.
The head cameras was fairly obvious from the get go and I was waiting to see how the Doctor would go about explaining how cameras
can see through people’s eyes. The sleep dust was interesting-ish but quite honestly felt more on a children’s show level – for whatever reason I was reminded of the Sandman in Rise of the Guardians. And get some sleep? Is that not plastered in every Kindergarten through twelfth grade school across the world? Every other news article is about the importance of getting sleep and just how terrible you are when you don’t get any sleep and sleep is the key to immortality and winning the lottery and a bunch of other really cool stuff you’re missing out on because you’re not sleeping enough (as I write, suffering from insomnia myself). The message feels a little juvenile.
The sandmen in Doctor Who were obviously far scarier looking than the Sandman in Rise of the Guardians, but how exactly were they able to hold Rasmussen’s form but no one else’s? Maybe it’s just me, but I would think as a power hungry, crazed pile of sleep dust that it would be easier to infiltrate a planet disguised as a member of the population rather than as giant scary dust monster but what do I know? I haven’t actually done that yet so I’m not exactly an expert. Nor am I a sleep dust doctor, so maybe their way was right.
And can we just talk about sleep dust for a moment. What do you normally call it? Eye gunk? Sleep in your eye? Eye boogers? Eye sand? Eye shnooters? Yeah I don’t even know about that last one. But seriously, monsters made of your eye goop. The scientific term for those little boogers is gound. So maybe we should have gotten a little human anatomy & physiology lecture from the Doctor and we could be calling them Gound monsters. But even then, still pretty weaksauce.
Other than that, the whole episode the audience is in as much dark as anyone with the constant question of what’s really going on, what the dust things are, what Rasmussen is up to, and everything really. The first-person cam was very Don’t-Blink-esque and the skipping of the opening sequence was good to keep you immersed in the story, unfortunately the story didn’t really pack enough of a punch to hold your immersion and suspension of disbelief for very long.
The mix of characters seemed to be the most interesting thing about the episode, but even then we are given so little of them and they died off so quickly it wasn’t enough to sustain the entire episode. They’re really just plot points to progress the Doctor and Clara through their investigation of this heinous act they’ve coincidentally stumbled upon. That’s definitely not a repeat of how the Doctor gets into all these adventures.
The worst part about all of this is Mark Gatiss wrote it, and while he’s not necessarily written masterpieces for Doctor Who, his work on Sherlock is above and beyond amazing. So I was probably a little biased thinking he’d bring a bit more to the table on this one. Perhaps the second part is worth it and will tie everything all together in a giant, clever, twist that’s better than anything M. Night Shyamalan could dream up. But I’m not exactly hopeful.
The acting was decent though the majority of the episode was spent jumping from first person cam to another first person cam and then back to Rasmussen’s “viral” video. Again, nothing was super terrible, but it had so much wasted potential it was a shame, especially to follow up a pair of powerful and political episodes. Still love you Mark, don’t hate me.
Stay tuned for the follow-up to what is hopefully the worst episode of Twelve’s tenure (please don’t make anything worse than this, please). Sarah Dollard replaces Gatiss at the writing helm but keeps Justin Molotnikov as the director, so perhaps there is hope. And speaking of hope, time is ticking for Clara! Only three more episodes in season 9, how long will she last?
What did you think about “Sleep No More,” loved it? Hated it? Tell us what you think in the comments below!