Please feel free to comment on my review.
Haunted House and the Landlord with the Doctor, Bill, Shireen, Pavel, Harry, Felicity and Paul
I saw this ‘Doctor Who’ episode while I was away for my birthday weekend at ‘The Capitol II’ convention in Gatwick, May 2017. I could not have wished for a more entertaining episode than this!
I enjoyed ‘Knock Knock’ very much! This is a tense, gripping episode by a newcomer to the series, Mike Bartlett. It’s also a haunted house adventure with the Doctor, Bill and some young people in it!
This is another episode I shared with Pearl Mackie at the ‘MCM Birmingham Comic Con’ in November 2017, saying it’s one of my favourites. It’s not a perfect episode, but I found it enjoyable.
I watched the episode on my tablet via BBC iPlayer whilst staying at the Premier Inn I was in. Apparently this was the first ‘Doctor Who’ story to be released on BBC iPlayer with a binaural sound.
Not sure I understand ‘binaural’, but apparently it’s a method of recording sound that uses two microphones to create a 3-D stereo sound sensation for the listener. Sound is a key for this episode.
‘Knock Knock’…and I refuse to say “Who’s there?”… (realises) Oh drat! Now look what you made me do! 😀 …features Bill with five students staying at a large mansion. It is run by a mysterious landlord.
Beforehand, Bill and the five students are trying to find a place of residence but have no luck at the episode’s beginning. David Suchet as a peculiar Landlord invites them to stay at a grand old mansion.
Bill and her friends sign a contract made by the Landlord once they approve of the place. But inside the mansion, the floorboards and the walls creak and each of Bill’s friends get picked off one by one.
Things become strange and surreal as the episode progresses. But Bill and her friends don’t have to worry or panic as the Doctor is there to stay; help and find out what’s happening at the weird house.
Incidentally the location used in the episode for the haunted mansion was also used for another ‘Doctor Who’ episode. I’ve just discovered the location was the same one used for the story, ‘Blink’.
This episode is also notable for featuring special guest star David Suchet as the mysterious Landlord. David Suchet is very well-known for his starring role in the ITV crime series, ‘Agatha Christie’s Poriot’.
I enjoyed Suchet’s performance as the Landlord in this episode. He balances the mystery and the sinister quality required for the character well in this. It was intriguing to see the Landlord’s motives.
I also enjoyed the performances of the five students who appeared alongside Bill in the episode. They all have unique character traits. I’m very sad they didn’t return again for another ‘Doctor Who’.
I liked the character moments featured from these five students in the episode. Apparently they all seem to know the Doctor when they meet him. They must’ve attended his lectures at the university.
There’s Mandeep Dhillon as Shireen, who is presumably Bill’s best friend. Shireen introduces Bill to their four new housemates when looking for a house. They both spend a lot of scenes together here.
Bart Suavek guest stars as Pavel, one of the students at St. Luke’s University who joined Shireen and Bill’s group as a housemate because he got kicked out by his parents. He is the first to be picked off.
This makes me wonder. How come Bill and the others didn’t check on Pavel to see whether he was in his room when he moved in early in the mansion? Would it not have made sense to check on him?
There’s Colin Ryan as Harry. Harry is one of the students who clearly likes the Doctor from seeing him at his lectures. He gets scared when he accompanies the Doctor as his ‘companion’ in the house.
Alice Hewkin guest stars as Felicity. Felicity gets annoyed when there’s no phone signal in the house she and the other students are in. She gets scared when the house seems to be trapping her inside.
And there’s Ben Presley as Paul. Paul is a tall Scottish guy I believe. He starts to take an interest in Bill as he seems to flirt with her. But Bill gently wards Paul off, as she’s not interested in men but in girls.
I enjoyed it when Bill tried to get rid of the Doctor when he came to visit the mansion at night. It was interesting to see how Bill reacts to the Doctor in the house and she tries to get rid of him in the tale.
She doesn’t want him around, thinking there’s not a mystery to solve in the strange, creaky wooden house. But the Doctor’s determined to stay on, despite Bill’s best attempts which must be annoying.
The episode also features Mariah Gale as Eliza, the mysterious daughter of the Landlord who’s called John, I believe. She is made out of wood and it becomes a shock for Bill and Shireen as they see her.
The design for the wooden lady in Eliza is impressive. She almost looks like she is made of wood. The prosthetic make-up looks convincing and reminds me of ‘The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe’.
It becomes clear that Eliza isn’t an evil person and that it’s the Landlord who has been causing these disappearances of people who come to stay in the house. It was interesting how things got revealed.
I liked the twisty-turn revelations about Eliza and what her actual connection to the Landlord was. It’s initially assumed that he is her father, but it turns out he is her son. Wow! That’s so screwed up!
Also apparently the Landlord has invited groups of people over certain periods of twenty years to be devoured into the house. This includes years such 1957, 1977 and 1997. Wait! Is the year now 2017? 😀
It was also interesting to see and hear about the Dryads in this episode. The Dryads are actually insect-like creatures or lice that live in the wood of the house. They feed on humans that come to it.
The Doctor also refers to these insect-like Dryads as ‘wood nymphs’ and ‘tree spirits’. For some reason, the word ‘Dryad’ had me think of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, though they are different here.
There were a lot of creepy moments featured throughout this episode. It made for tense drama and enjoyable character interaction. It was quite creepy when the house tended to creak and groan a lot.
There was a nice balance of humour and horrific moments that suited the episode very well. I quite enjoyed the moments when the episode was trying to do a blend of comedy and horror into the mix.
There are also some emotional moments here and there, especially when the truth is revealed between the Landlord and her mother, Eliza. I did find that last scene between them pretty moving.
David Suchet is reduced to tears, almost sounding like the little boy he was once was when he’s with Eliza. It was interesting and touching how things were resolved between the Landlord and Eliza.
At that time of seeing this in 2017, I found ‘Knock Knock’ to be one of the best episodes from Series 10 of ‘Doctor Who’ and still do. However I know there is an issue regarding how things got resolved.
This is especially in the episode’s ending where all the characters survived. This is usually the case with the stories of the Steven Moffat era. Characters that were presumed dead become resurrected.
But honestly, I didn’t mind that so much in this episode. Considering this episode is by a new writer to the TV series, it made sense for me to have the characters survive once Eliza repaired the damage.
The issue with ‘everyone lives’ by Steven Moffat is that it’s been done so many times now. Because of that, there isn’t tension or drama when you come to watch ‘Doctor Who’ episodes in Moffat’s era.
This happened with Clara in ‘Hell Bent’ where it’s unclear whether she’s alive or dead since she’s now travelling in a TARDIS with Ashildr. I also feel that about Danny’s ‘demise’ in ‘Death In Heaven’.
Thankfully I resolved these issues myself in my own ‘Doctor Who’ short story, ‘The Impossible Girl Returns’. But the fact it was not resolved in the TV series by Steven Moffat is somewhat frustrating.
As ‘Knock Knock’ is an episode by Mike Bartlett and it was his first contribution to the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series, I can forgive him for having his characters resurrected at the end. It did make sense to me.
I think the reason I accept it here is that it’s not done in an overly complicated timey-wimey manner as is often the case with Steven Moffat’s ‘Doctor Who’ stories. ‘Hell Bent’ is a good example of that.
Mind you, I have to question one thing about this resurrection business. What happened to the other people that were devoured in 1957, 1977 and 1997? Weren’t they resurrected at the end too?
Granted the 2017 people that got devoured were recent ones and one can assume the 1957, 1977 and 1997 ones died long ago. But how come it’s not mentioned on what happened to those people?
ROWAN ATKINSON’S DOCTOR: “I’ll explain later!”
(groans) Anyway, ‘Knock Knock’ still remains for me one of my favourite episodes from Series 10 of ‘Doctor Who’. I liked the haunted house atmosphere in this episode and I’m glad I have seen it again.
I enjoyed David Suchet’s performance throughout this episode as he stood out for me as the Landlord. Everyone else including Peter Capaldi; Pearl Mackie and the five students were superb too.
The episode ends with the Doctor taking over Matt Lucas as Nardole from guarding the vault. He soon opens the vault to have dinner with a prisoner who plays a piano inside. What’s all this about?!
The DVD special features on this episode are as follows. On Disc 2 of ‘Series 10 – Part 1’ of ‘Doctor Who’, there’s the ‘Knock Knock’ – Inside Look’ featurette.
On Disc 2 of ‘The Complete Series 10’ of ‘Doctor Who’, the ‘Knock Knock’ – Inside Look’ featurette can also be found on there. There’s also the ‘…Who’s There’ making-of documentary; a commentary with director Bill Anderson and writer Mike Bartlett and the binaural audio option for this episode. On Disc 6, there’s the ‘Doctor Who: The Fan Show – The Aftershow’ edition for this episode.
‘Knock Knock’ rating – 8/10
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