Doctor Who #833: The Eternity Trap Part 1

"I bet he made a mean balloon giraffe at kids' parties."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Nov.5 2009.

IN THIS ONE... The team gets up to some ghost-breaking in a house haunted by a 17th-century alchemist.

REVIEW: I often find that haunted house stories kind of twiddle their thumbs plot-wise, showing varied manifestations of the haunting in various scenes that nevertheless make the same point, and that's the case here. It does manage a few spooky scenes, among them books fidgeting behind Sarah Jane and Professor Rivers' sudden abduction, but most of it is, not surprisingly, fairly tame. Donald Sumpter, lately of Game of Thrones, plays the "ghost" of Erasmus Darkening (is that really a proper name though?), and has a great face for it. And of course the series continues to play on the theme of child abductions, a recurring anxiety on the Adventures, though the twist is that these kids (and others) were taken centuries ago.

Sarah Jane perhaps protests too much that ghost and such are impossible and have no scientific basis, even though she admits "stone tapes" are a possible explanation. This is the woman who's dealt with Egyptian gods, gorgons, and astrology (twice!) and they've all turned out to have a "scientific basis". Rani is more open to the possibility, and clearly having fun with the concept, while Clyde hides his fears behind his trademark humor. Luke's not in this one - the actor was taking his exams - because he REALLY doesn't believe in this stuff. They make the best of it by having other eggheads around which might have been made redundant by his presence.

Of these, I was impressed with Adam Gillen as the asocial Toby who found a creepy, awkward performance just shy of caricature. It's not the type of character we're used to seeing on SJA, where young people tend to be precocious, charismatic and positive, and Sarah quickly divines he's got a personal stake in proving the paranormal exists, which hopefully will figure in the climax. I'm less enthused about Professor Rivers of the Pharos Institute, a recurring character that seems to be applied to any situation, like an all-purpose Emil Hamilton in the Superman comics, every time they need a scientist. What's her specific field of study anyway? And how does she still trust Sarah after she took a huge chunk off a priceless meteorite the last time we saw her? Her wide-eyed performance speaks to her existing in a kind of vacuum, ready to get plugged into any script and motivations be damned.

- A perfectly fine ghost story, but feels like we're counting the minutes until something important happens.



Blog Archive


5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zine