Doctor Who: It Takes You Away

A weird spooky episode, with a bit of a Sapphire & Steel style spooky British TV sci-fi mixed with a bi of a Neil Gaiman vibe. This one is a bit hard to review without spoilers, so click for more if you’ve seen it.

The crew are in Norway for no specific reason and spot a remote house by a lake. The exterior of the house is boarded up but there’s movement inside and possibly something monstrous outside…

Like many good Doctor Who story ideas, this one suffers from having to fit into the allotted time. The missing dad’s odd behaviour does make sense in retrospect (he’s being manipulated) but nobody really comments on the fact that he intentionally decided to terrorize his own daughter into thinking the house was being besieged by monsters. I feel like a degree of buildup was missing.

Graham continues to be the central companion, given more things to do and feelings to feel. Once again Yaz gets the least to do and with just one episode left for this year, it doesn’t look likely that she’s going to get a stronger episode than Arachnids in the UK.

The frog was a bit bizarre and could have done with better mouth movement when talking. However, it add to the weird folktale feel of the story. The story, minus the Doctor’s explanation of what the creature was at the other end of the portal, would have worked quite nicely with just the girl discovering the portal and finding her way to rescue her father.

Entertaining and competent.

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15 thoughts on “Doctor Who: It Takes You Away

  1. I found myself wondering about that weird alien in the buffer zone. How did it get there? What did it want? How long had it been there, and how was it surviving? Ideally you shouldn’t think about that kind of thing until the episode is over and you’re getting a snack out of the fridge, but it didn’t take me that long.

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      1. True enough. Both the moths and the alien were little more than a tacked-on menace. If we had lost them, in favor of a minute or two of stumbling through a cave instead, would we have lost anything interesting? For my money, no.

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  2. A few minutes in (at the first ad break in the US), I said “This is a proper spooky episode”.

    The audience (i.e. me) should not have twigged before Graham that that wasn’t a true copy of Grace when she didn’t immediately say he needed to run back to save Ryan, but he was under a great deal of stress and got it the second time. But it ended all right.

    It was a bit sad that Ryan was correct about the dad running away, but it made sense when the girl pointed out how he wasn’t in his right mind. But that ended all right too. She’s a very forgiving girl.

    I think we could have done without the alien, or at least with less of him. The creepy caves between mirror worlds were enough.

    While it was literally just a frog on a chair in a white room, I really must commend Jodie for selling the sensawunda of it being a whole parallel universe/person she was glad to know.

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    1. Yeah, without evil Zathras you could have developed something in the real world linking into the weird spooky caves, teasing why the dad left more interestingly, before moving onto the finale more or less as written.
      I did like the cave sequence, it was nicely creepy, but all it actually did was act as an middle – middle of the three locations, middle of the three acts – that you traveled through to get to the important places.

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  3. I’d have liked a tie-in to local mythology or something. They ended up inventing a bunch of new stuff for this episode that made the actual setting seem a bit irrelevant.
    The frog was unfortunately shonky, but the Doctors reaction really sold that scene.
    A strong episode for Graham, quite a nuanced one for Ryan (I like that he was clearly having parental issues but the episode didn’t foreground them too blatantly), and yet another so-so treatment of Yaz. I don’t think they quite know what they ought to do with her. There are hints that think her police training is supposed to be her “thing” but it seems to just manifest in a throwaway comment every episode before she gets overshadowed by the Graham/Ryan relationship.

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    1. I’m sure there’s a bunch of Norse/Scandinavian-flavour cave/other-worlds stuff they could’ve drawn on instead of inventing some things for that cave area. Would’ve been better. Also, seriously, that frog. Really honestly it might’ve been better if they’d gone with generic-ball-of-light instead of shoehorning in a wonky frog. But then again maybe how out-of-sync it was was a reminder that the whatjamacallit was struggling to hold its little pocket universe together properly.

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  4. I was a bit distracted by that not-at-all-Norwegian accent affected for the Hanne role by blind English teenage actress Ellie Wallwork. But otherwise, Wallwork did a fine job with the role. (Worst-Dad-Ever Erik and imitation-Trine are played by actual Norwegian character actors.) The Welsh countryside looked fetchingly nice, even though it wasn’t seen much. The plot made less sense than usual, and seemed a little overstuffed, to me.

    BBC Wales aren’t ‘fessing up about having done their location shooting not far from Cardiff, but the Wales Norway Society lent them 50 books in Norsk, a few months ago, to help them shoot this episode, that being a bit of a tip-off. Also, guys? Real cabins in Norway probably wouldn’t have posters on the walls advertising travel to exotic ‘Norway: Land of the Midnight Sun’.

    I read that many found the theme of loss and grieving quite affecting, in this season. Guess I already got that memo fifty years ago. (Glade Jul, everyone.)

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  5. I forgot to mention that I liked Graham’s toting a sandwich about. “Quite right, Graham!” I thought; they’re always ending up in places with nothing to eat. Though he should wrap it. And then it was perfect for feeding hungry/lonely Hanne, and getting her to open up. I do the same thing (except a protein bar), and it has served me and people with high or low blood sugar problems well.

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