It’s been a while since I’ve been this dually stoked and let down by an episode of Doctor Who. The last time may have been “Victory of the Daleks,” which suffered from a similar schizophrenia and was also written by Mark Gatiss, whom I slobbered all over just a few weeks ago thanks to his script for “Cold War.” “The Crimson Horror” is a marvelous, almost jaw-droppingly innovative episode … for about the first half of its running time. In its second half it falls victim to horribly clichéd villainy and stock evil sci-fi plans, that all feels like it’s been done before, probably because it has.
Before dwelling on the bad, let’s revel in the good, of which there’s a fair amount. At this point, any episode showcasing Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), Jenny (Catrin Stewart), and Strax (Dan Starkey) is an episode worth tuning into. There may be a point at which there’s nothing interesting left for the series to do with these characters, but that’s a long way off. Talk of a spinoff series set around this trio is a given, but it’s difficult to tell if it could actually work week in and out. Despite them figuring heavily into this tale, we’re not much closer to finding out after this viewing, as once the Doctor showed up, they were each marginalized to some degree or other. (Bit of a shame this wasn’t a true “Doctor-lite” episode such as “Blink” or “Love & Monsters” from RTD days of old.)
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