Nuke this site from orbit. Only way to be sure

Skip to content

Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Blueshift
    December 8, 2014 @ 12:16 am

    I really, really disliked Hide when it was first broadcast, and was quite shocked to see everyone else proclaiming it an instant classic.

    For me, I think this is when the Moffat era experimentation of hyper-condensed storytelling snapped and broke. There is so much plot and so many ideas that it never gets the time to actually dwell on the ideas and situations it presents. We go from a genuinely atmospheric scary house to wacky comedy to psychic powers to a ghost to a monster to the Doctor travelling through all history to the Doctor on a planet with a monster to a time traveller out of nowhere (this is from memory, it's probably out of order, but you get the idea).

    The scary stuff is good, but you don't get a chance to be scared because the plot changes mere seconds later. Each part of the plot is interesting but is so rushed it feels like a synopsis, or just an explanation of what is happening rather than letting the viewer actually feel involved. This is something series 8 fixed, but right here and now, it is showing "yes, you can fit about three hours worth of plot into 45 minutes and make it feel coherant, but not effective".

    Also that mispronouncing of 'Metabelis'. I don't want to sound all entitled fanboy, but /seriously/?! It is really hard to believe that no-one involved at any point in the production (and a lot of these people are Doctor Who fans!) ever picked up on that. It makes me suspect that there was a lot of rush behind the scenes as well. More the symptom of what a blatant mistake like that indicates rather than the mistake itself.


  2. ferret
    December 8, 2014 @ 12:32 am

    For me, the title "Hide" referred to the Doctor's mistaken belief that Clara was hiding something from him (knowingly or otherwise) – that a psychic could perhaps uncover.

    A bit of a stretch considering it's a minor moment in the episode, but no more than the odd naming of "The bells of St John" – which presumably would have had an entirely different placeholder name when it was sketched out for Victorian!Clara.


  3. Blueshift
    December 8, 2014 @ 12:49 am

    I don't think the title is that mysterious. It wants to be portrayed as a scary story, so the title is ominous (one word: HIDE!). There is a scary monster hiding in the house, and you are supposed to hide from scary monsters. It signifies to the audience that the episode is a scary one. It is functional but effective, which is what I want from a title.

    Is it the shortest story title in Dr Who? I can't think of any other four letter ones (or fewer!)


  4. ReNeilssance
    December 8, 2014 @ 12:53 am

    Your point about Kneale's worldview vs Who's also indicates why none of the 90's Who/Lovecraft mashups quite clicked – Ol' Brown Sauce's take on the Universe being equally nihilistic. The reason Hide works a lot better for me is because it actively takes on and debates that bleaker take on existence, rather than just doing what everyone does with Lovecraft, which is to say nicking his monsters and iconography without considering what the actual worldview behind them is.


  5. John Binns
    December 8, 2014 @ 12:58 am



  6. Blueshift
    December 8, 2014 @ 1:00 am

    Quite right! Though I guess 42 technically has more syllables…


  7. John Binns
    December 8, 2014 @ 1:26 am

    I guess the prize for the episode whose title has the fewest syllables goes to the TV movie…


  8. Abigail Brady
    December 8, 2014 @ 1:31 am

    A rush? Behind the scenes? On television? Perish the thought.


  9. mengu
    December 8, 2014 @ 1:36 am

    Do not forget the moment when Clara looks at Emma, exhausted and in pain from opening the portal, and say what she did wasn't enough, she has to do it again. The first time we see that particular negative side of her quite so clearly. Nor when Clara asks the Doctor to dare her to explore the house. or that she is the one who notices that Hila is always in the same position, that she prefers tea to whiskey, (seriously, the tea is important) or "we're all ghosts to you". Not even just for the philosophical observation but the muddle of words that comes out, it's really quite stunning. Also don't forget that of all the images the TARDIS could provide, Clara is the person whom she most esteems.


    December 8, 2014 @ 2:24 am

    Whilst I do love 'Hide', part of me wants to see the story where they realised the idea of a stranded time traveller "haunting" the corresponding location in our universe was strong enough on its own to be the first "monster-free" nuWho story. I guess you'd have to change the title to start with.


  11. Kit
    December 8, 2014 @ 2:30 am

    People who worked on the show noted (in their surprise) on twitter after TX that it had been pronounced correctly on the set, but Smith had evidently mispronounced it in ADR months later (presumably with only one or two other people in the room, none sufficently vetted for nerd-dom).

    Or maybe Three had it wrong all along, and was too arrogant to correct himself.


  12. Archeology of the Future
    December 8, 2014 @ 2:53 am

    Surely the hide of the title is thematic, as the story is all about things that people can't hide? It's a story about people trying to keep things hidden and failing. The opposite of hiding something is revealing it.


  13. Blueshift
    December 8, 2014 @ 2:59 am

    Surely it should have been called '!Hide' then!


  14. Lewis Christian
    December 8, 2014 @ 3:12 am

    Working and rumoured titles also included: Hider in the House (and) Phantoms of the Hex, for a short time.


  15. Blueshift
    December 8, 2014 @ 3:14 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  16. Blueshift
    December 8, 2014 @ 3:14 am

    I misread that as "Hitler in the House" and had visions of a very different episode!


  17. Wm Keith
    December 8, 2014 @ 3:53 am

    "Hide" is a noun.


  18. David Anderson
    December 8, 2014 @ 4:29 am

    I think there are eras of Doctor Who that can be seen as siding with Quartermass. The early Troughton base under siege era ('there are some corners of the universe that have bred the most terrible things') and, on a superficial level, the Hinchcliffe era are examples. The universe does turn out to be full of ancient evils hiding just outside the lamplight. (The Pertwee-era a bit less so, ironically. There may be monsters out there in the darkness of space, but they're dayglo orange. The universe cannot be too horrifying if the monsters are dayglo orange.)
    To some extent, I wonder if that doesn't explain some of the anti-Moffat animus among a traditionalist element of fandom. If that's the aesthetic standard you want to read Doctor Who with, you're not going to like the Moffat-era which is often about deliberately subverting that set up.


  19. Thomas Lawrence
    December 8, 2014 @ 4:57 am

    I think you're just making an arch joke, but just to be sure: you do actually know why the Wizard of Oz cast were charting, right? 🙂


  20. Jarl
    December 8, 2014 @ 5:11 am

    Wasn't the original title of The Bells of St. John "The Monster in the Wi-Fi"? Seems pretty straightforward to me.

    I recall that the working title of Asylum of the Daleks was "All of the Daleks", which is an adorable title. It also points towards the misdirection of what the story was "supposed" to be about, which is nice.


  21. John
    December 8, 2014 @ 5:11 am

    The Pertwee era also gives us a number of occasions when apparently horrifying monsters turn out to basically just be people worthy of sympathy, as in Silurians, Frontier in Space, The Mutants. It also de-monsterizes the Ice Warriors in Curse of Peladon.


  22. Jarl
    December 8, 2014 @ 5:12 am

    Yeah, everyone knows you keep him in the cupboard.


  23. Jarl
    December 8, 2014 @ 5:25 am

    The first time I saw this, my DVR cut the last 5ish minutes off, basically as the Doctor was explaining why Hila was being drawn back towards the two of them. As a result, my first viewing excised the miniature secondary adventure at the end, and I found the episode to be immensely and hugely satisfying. I then went online and found out what I had missed, and when I saw the full ending, was a bit disappointed. Not that they'd de-monstered the monster (well, a bit of that), but that the Crooked Man didn't get to have a romantic reunion with the… uh, heteronormativity, does it have a place here… well, they use the word mate, so the Crooked Woman. The secondary adventure having no resolution was, for me, the microscopic defect that cracks the secondary adventure, which develops into a fault line through the rest of the episode, dragging it down from fantastic to merely "pretty good with a rushed ending".

    The bit with the Doctor going through all of history in the TARDIS to take photographs continues this series's fascination with the TARDIS and its implications. It is, essentially, my single favorite thing about 7b: The cloud in The Snowmen, the airplane scene in The Bells of St. John, this, the setting of Journey to the Center of the TARDIS, the tomb's size in Name of the Doctor, and the numerous stupid TARDIS tricks in Day of the Doctor. I suppose the HADS in Cold War technically counts, but it doesn't really have any particular influence on any scene, except in that it removes the TARDIS from the story. Next series will feature another great one in Flatline, so lovely.


  24. Leslie Lozada
    December 8, 2014 @ 5:58 am

    And to think, people thought she had no personality that season.


  25. Blueshift
    December 8, 2014 @ 6:06 am

    I still maintain she didn't. Or at least a very inconsistent one, or one too subtle to be noticable. I never got a handle on Clara til series 8, when suddenly she was fantastic. In series 7 it is very difficult to work out who she is and where her character is coming from, which isn't helped by one week she is spunky, one week she is scared of monsters and the next week she is a military commander cooly taking command of an army against Cybermen.

    I'd say it was the 'Impossible Girl' arc, but I genuinely found Victorian Clara a very engaging character, and she was in the same arc. Modern day Clara in series 7 just doesn't seem to have any obvious motivations. I agree you can look back at series 7 and see echos of the Clara we know there, but most of the time she serves as 'generic companion'. I suppose if we knew too much about her and what makes her tick then the 'Impossible Girl' arc wouldn't have worked, but given the payoff to it is so up-front in the finale (no buildup, just telling us what's going on), I'm not sure that it does, or was worth it.

    I do like series 8 Clara though. I think it's telling that once they give her something to react against (new Doctor! Danny! Proper relatable home life and issues) her character comes out. By comparison, her job in series 7 seemed to be a bit too perfect, sure of herself and unphased by most things.


  26. BerserkRL
    December 8, 2014 @ 6:23 am

    to put it another way, all imagination is the future

    I'm reminded of C. J. Cherryh's Faded Sun series, in which the aliens lack, and cannot quite grasp, the human capacity for imagination, so they refer to humans as being able to "remember the future."


  27. BerserkRL
    December 8, 2014 @ 6:27 am

    Well, if different incarnations of the Doctor can have different accents, maybe they can have different pronunciation choices too.


  28. BerserkRL
    December 8, 2014 @ 6:27 am

    Hey, the site published my last comment without asking for a captcha!


  29. BerserkRL
    December 8, 2014 @ 6:28 am

    And that one too.


  30. Robert Lloyd
    December 8, 2014 @ 6:28 am

    I agree. For me, this was a prime example of something that seemed to pop up a lot in the Smith era – cramming a New Adventures story into 45 minutes of TV. Too much stuff glanced at or glossed over, and ultimately unsatisfying.

    It's gotten somewhat better in Capaldi's first season, though.


  31. Robert Lloyd
    December 8, 2014 @ 6:32 am

    I don't, so could you please explain?


  32. Alan
    December 8, 2014 @ 6:42 am

    I just couldn't get into the haunted house aspect. At 45 minutes, there was just too much happening to establish mood. Also, I was strangely bothered by Prof. Palmer's age. He is explicitly mentioned as being an important figure in the Special Operations Executive. If that's true, then it's nearly inconceivable that he's any younger than 35 at the end of WW2, which puts him in his mid-sixties in 1974. IOW, Dougray Scott does not look remotely 65 and, in fact, looks to me a bit younger than his actual age of 48 when this was filmed. I don't know what that distracted me so much but it did.


  33. Andy H.
    December 8, 2014 @ 6:48 am

    Jarl asks, "heteronormativity, does it have a place here"

    It seems unavoidable! The Doctor explicitly tells the story of the monsters as, "Boy and girl fall in love, get separated by events." Until he understands the story he's in as a love story, neither monster is gendered (in fact, it's not clear that there's two of them), but here and afterward the Doctor gets very confident in his pronouns. Not knowing what kind of creature they are, never having even got a good look at them, how does he know even whether they're sexually dimorphic, or which one is which?

    The answer seems to be that Hide takes place in a narrative space where a specifically heterosexual love story logic holds sway. The story of the boy and girl monsters is the "oldest story in the universe," and the thing that is able to continue on, the future that doesn't need to end, is not just 'love' in some general sense but a heterosexual couple who produce genetic descendants. In other words, the lens of history here /is/ the love story — at one end, the past is defined by a Lovecraftian meet cute (in and among the birds, bees, and fleas), while at the other, the future is secured by the birth of a child to a happy marriage. Phil offered a reading of Children of Earth as a Lee Edelman-esque rejection of reproductive futurism. This is a story in which the Doctor most firmly allies himself with, and stands in for, the forces Edelman is reacting against — a sensibility to which reproductive futurism is overridingly important, the inevitable organizing principle of the natural and political world, and to which those loves which do not centre on it are always and already dismissed as barren and marginal, or as failed approximations of the mating pair.

    (But when the Doctor says "Every lonely monster needs a companion," the logic of the modern series requires us to read him as talking about himself. Is this enough to allow queerness to haunt the happy ending, in the form of the queer figure of the Doctor? The Eleventh Doctor's repeated embrace of the role of matchmaker for fertile couples can be read as a way of resisting the death he knows is waiting for him, and so his eventual confrontation of and transformation through that death can be read as an endorsement of the idea that the future always included stranger and more varied possibilities than we were afraid that the heterosexual script would allow for. But this episode read alone is still clinging to the script for all it's worth.)


  34. encyclops
    December 8, 2014 @ 7:39 am

    Quoting my past self again:

    What about that title? They don’t do a lot of hiding. Should it have been called “Well”? Or maybe, if Moffat isn’t saving this most perfect of Doctor Who episode titles for himself, “Run”?


  35. encyclops
    December 8, 2014 @ 7:41 am

    I have a pet theory that the inspiration for "Listen" came partly from Moffat thinking "if I'd written an episode called 'Hide,' what would it have been about?"


  36. Nyq Only
    December 8, 2014 @ 7:44 am

    Perhaps Pertwee mispronounced it and Smith finally got it right after years of complaint from the Metabelis tourist board ("Come for the Crystals! Stay for the Spiders!")… 🙂


  37. Nyq Only
    December 8, 2014 @ 7:53 am


  38. BerserkRL
    December 8, 2014 @ 7:53 am

    We do need an episode titled "Run."


  39. BerserkRL
    December 8, 2014 @ 7:54 am

    With the Indian?


  40. encyclops
    December 8, 2014 @ 8:03 am

    Really, the odds that a random episode of Doctor Who included a deliberate nod to my blog are essentially nil.

    Please, if we could all join hands? Let's close our eyes and concentrate. If the candles should blow out or the table begin to rattle and shake, do not panic or let go.


    We are addressing the spirit of Neil Cross that may or may not haunt this blog! If you can hear us, please give us some sign that you are present.


  41. encyclops
    December 8, 2014 @ 8:09 am

    My take is: we’re dealing with a thousand-year-old alien who currently has memory holes as small as the location of his hatstand and as large as the past occasions when he’s met the Great Intelligence, and you expect him to remember how to pronounce the name of a planet?

    Sorry to keep quoting myself (this is from, but I'm rather proud of how my reviews of this season turned out. I don't think they were as good before or since.


  42. Spoilers Below
    December 8, 2014 @ 8:32 am

    "Every love story is a ghost story." — David Foster Wallace, in a letter to Alice Elman. Attributed by Wallace to Virginia Woolf, on the Merv Griffin show, 1971.


  43. Matthew Celestis
    December 8, 2014 @ 9:44 am

    The Pit by Neil Penswick comes the closest to capturing Lovecraft's worldview in a Doctor Who story. Which is PART of why it's hated.


  44. Daibhid C
    December 8, 2014 @ 10:18 am

    There are a lot of Doctor Who episodes I've only seen once, and feel I'd like to see again when I get round to it. Shortly after watching this episode I found it was one of the few I need to see again, but I still haven't got round to it.

    See, I posted on my LJ about how you can't suddenly claim there's also a monster in the house at a late stage, when neither we nor the ghost-hunters have ever seen a monster in the house. And I got a reply saying "maybe they didn't, but we certainly did." And I thought "Did we? I never see the Observer in Fringe either, so maybe we did."


  45. BatmanAoD
    December 8, 2014 @ 10:33 am

    "A bit of a stretch considering it's a minor moment in the episode"? Come on, this is the Moffat era! Of COURSE there's an episode that's named after a 30-second scene that ties into the season arc but has little to do with the rest of the episode!

    (Personally, I think it's a great name, largely because it has no single clear reason to have been chosen as the title but still seems applicable for all the reasons already stated.)


  46. David Anderson
    December 8, 2014 @ 11:00 am

    You do see a) one of those shadows crossing the open space between the camera and the characters (isn't that particular shot overworked by now?); b) and then the crooked man flicker in and out of view just after the Doctor says he's not the one holding Clara's hand. They're both blink and you miss it moments, but they're there.


  47. Jesse
    December 8, 2014 @ 12:17 pm

    We have met the semi-sentient metafiction, and it is us.


  48. inkdestroyedmybrush
    December 8, 2014 @ 12:34 pm



  49. Thomas Lawrence
    December 8, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

    Nyq Only's link covers it, but for the tl;dr crowd: Margaret Thatcher died, and so there was a campaign to get "Ding! Dong! The Witch Is Dead" from The Wizard of Oz to number one. It failed, but only just (got to number two).


  50. inkdestroyedmybrush
    December 8, 2014 @ 12:52 pm

    I love the Phil references Ghost Light in his write up, since I thought that this was absolutely the modern equivalent of Ghost Light: Too much story for its time on the air. (I will forever proclaim GL as the best McCoy, and one of my favorite Doctor Who's of all time for its complexity and willingness to not talk down to the audience. But they crammed too much into the time space)

    man, hide neede another 20 minutes to let us luxuriate in the hinchcliffe-ness of the gothic horror, to submerse us in the Holmes-ian secondary characters, make us THINK we were in a huanted house, and then pull the rug out from under us and twist the plot. It would ahve been brilliant.

    And I loved what we got on screen, don't get me wrong, but it was a 9 that had the ideas, cast and sets for a 10. Deconstruct the horror genre as it has been related to Doctor Who, why don't you, just to piss off the fan boys, and have a good call back to the later Letts or Hinchcliffe days during your anniversary season. But i agree that there was more there than just that. The idea of fundamentally disageeing with the Quatermass idea of the universe makes sense, because the corners of Matt's tenure were dark enough. (there was a horrific nihilism of the trap of the Pandorica that wasn't really dwelt upon, but being locked in there was so terrible that being imagined out of existence seems like a much nicer ending by comparison.)

    No, Hide has much more its trying to do, just a little too much of it.

    I have also spent some mental energy trying to imagine Victorian Clara in many of these episodes, and its very easy to see how much fun that would have been. Really. That is one of those paths not taken by the production folks that I will forever regret.


  51. encyclops
    December 8, 2014 @ 1:27 pm

    That would make it even more mysterious! Whose hide would it refer to?


  52. Kit
    December 8, 2014 @ 2:33 pm

    but that the Crooked Man didn't get to have a romantic reunion with the… […] The secondary adventure having no resolution was, for me, the microscopic defect that cracks the secondary adventure,

    Conversely, wrapping on Smith's delighted confrontation with the Crooked Man* made this one of the most thrilling and satisfying endings in years for me.

    *agreed, with various here, that the Moffattian autoheteronormativity was a frustrating detraction from the late twist


  53. Robert Lloyd
    December 8, 2014 @ 2:46 pm

    Ooooookay. Thanks!


  54. Jarl
    December 8, 2014 @ 3:36 pm

    You never saw the Observer? Not even in the hospital in Same Old Story? That was the first place I actually noticed him. Even my mom, with her terrible eyesight and general disinterest, was all "That guy looks strange…"


  55. Jarl
    December 8, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

    Berserk: If the NuWho tenth anniversary episode indeed was going to happen, I can't think of a better name. Well, maybe "Genesis of the Slitheen", just to make the fanboys really profoundly uncomfortable.


  56. Matthew Blanchette
    December 8, 2014 @ 3:42 pm

    To be fair, the episode's original title was "The Hider in the House"; you decide whether it was more effective than what it was shortened to.


  57. Jarl
    December 8, 2014 @ 3:48 pm

    I was going to interject and name some homosexual couples that the Doctor set up, but I honestly cannot think of any. It's implied he played matchmaker for Vastra and Jenny, though that adventure remains offscreen and only ambiguously linked to Eleven. Oh! Canton Everett Delaware III and his offscreen would-be fiancee! That was a good one.

    Another way of looking at it, if somewhat perversely, is in the relationship between the Ponds, their daughter, and the Doctor serving as the template for the whole thing. The Eleventh Doctor wants to set up biologically compatible couples in order for them to have children that he can go on adventures with in the future. This is displayed without major comment in Closing Time. He did always seem to prefer Amelia Pond to her grown up self, at least in terms of adventuring. Amelia was the one who got the promise, Amy was taken along because she deserved an adventure after all her waiting.


  58. Matthew Blanchette
    December 8, 2014 @ 3:50 pm

    In other news… Aaron Sorkin decided to talk about rape. Badly, as it turned out.


  59. BerserkRL
    December 8, 2014 @ 4:11 pm

    Several, in fact.


  60. BerserkRL
    December 8, 2014 @ 4:14 pm

    I was going to interject and name some homosexual couples that the Doctor set up, but I honestly cannot think of any

    Well, Jack and Alonso, but it doesn't seem to have gone anywhere.


  61. Jarl
    December 8, 2014 @ 6:17 pm

    I was trying to be specific to Eleven, but that's a good point. Of course, Ten wasn't quite as much into the matchmaking, so there's that dragging the numbers down…


  62. encyclops
    December 8, 2014 @ 8:12 pm

    I didn't know a single thing about Fringe before I read this thread and then a little bit on a fan wiki. Is it me or are they basically the Silence?


  63. Daru
    December 8, 2014 @ 10:25 pm

    I remember that shock at hearing the word 'psychochronograph' in an actual episode of Doctor Who. This is one of my favourite New-Who moments as for me it felt likie it was revealed that this blog was haunting New-Who . In Phil's essay on The Gallifrey Chronicles in April 2013 it was hinted that there was a callout to the blog in Hide, and it was Jane who said:

    "And the Doctor practiced a kind of psychochronography going back and taking all those pictures in time, a decidedly psychogeographical take on the concept.

    A key moment is when the Doctor breaks the fourth wall while taking a picture. Suddenly it's not just about Caliburn House, but about us. Hence the long chat with Clara about our being ghosts, little flashes of light. Doctor Who is a psychochronograph not just of Britain, but humanity."

    Is it not us that need then to hide as in the title of the episode? If we are being subjected to the kind of intelligent (and heartful), and deep scrutiny by the Doctor over all of our history then would we not naturally want to Hide?


  64. James V
    December 9, 2014 @ 4:11 am

    Before that it was called "Phantoms of the Hex" which makes no goddamn sense but is a perfect good old fashioned fluffy scifi nonsense Dr. Who title!


  65. Jarl
    December 9, 2014 @ 9:09 am

    There's a resemblance, to be sure. Again, I think they're drawing on the same shared mythology as the Silence and the slender man, that of the men in black. Not to say there aren't some clear shout outs to Doctor Who along the way, though.


  66. gervase_fen
    December 9, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

    It's April 20th, 2013. Lucas Pruit hasn't bought ACN yet.


  67. mengu
    December 9, 2014 @ 5:44 pm

    Recommendation: look through this series


  68. Matthew Blanchette
    December 10, 2014 @ 8:53 pm

    I meant current news, not the news of Philly Pilgrim unstuck in time…


  69. Katherine Sas
    December 23, 2014 @ 9:30 am

    Love, love, LOVE this episode and your take on it. "Hide, in this respect, becomes the epitome of Doctor Who" felt true to me as soon as it aired – not in being definitive, as you say, nor really in being the best, but in its lack of categories and definite articles. "It's not a ghost story, it's a love story." Past, present and future meet, intersect, and interact. It has no real beginning or ending. I love the way the time-travel in this episode serves as a metaphor for the work you've done here. Well done. And Mr. Cross, if you're reading, well done.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Eruditorum Press

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading