Thanks to the BBC’s generosity I was fortunate enough to see The Crimson Horror a couple of evenings ago, and would like to share with you my spoiler-free impressions of the episode.
First and foremost, this is an unusual tale, presented in a manner not before seen in Doctor Who (although there are similarities to the 2006 serial Love & Monsters). The story itself relies heavily on the Doctor’s Victorian team of Vastra, Jenny and Sontaran Commander Strax, and as with The Snowmen they provide both the narrative drive and the jokes.
There is a lot of humour in The Crimson Horror - indeed, one gets the impression that Mark Gatiss was given free reign here to mix the mirth with the macabre, something that he does with the aplomb only a former League of Gentlemen could manage.
Along with the script – which may well prove to be Gatiss’ best yet for all it manages to squeeze in – the stars of The Crimson Horror aren’t Matt Smith or Jenna-Louise Coleman (as gorgeous as she looks), nor is it Dan Starkey (as brilliant as he continues to be as Strax), but the guest stars, mother and daughter Dame Diana Rigg and Rachael Stirling, playing mother and daughter Mrs Gillyflower and her tragic daughter Ada. They’re both brilliant, with the older actress clearly loving the villainous role, which she takes to deliciously without resorting to scenery chewing. That Yorkshire accent isn’t bad either, although the sharp eared will notice that Ms Stirling doesn’t attempt one…
All in all, The Crimson Horror is an enjoyable episode of Doctor Who, verging on the “Doctor-lite” format of previous years, but backed up with a strong supporting and guest cast.
You can tune in on Saturday at 6.30pm on BBC One and BBC HD, and at 8 ET on BBC America.