Sleep No More took place in Le Verrier Station, a laboratory in orbit around Neptune, an episode which we were told by the man who turned out to be the station’s sole survivor – Gagan Rassmussen (The League of Gentlemen‘s Reece Shearsmith). But what happened exactly in the past 24 hours? With a look of panic in his eyes, voice and overall demeanour – a stock-in-trade for Shearsmith – what followed was apparently cobbled together from the sole footage available on board – seemingly put together from the crew’s own helmet-cams as well as CCTV, with the strict instruction that you do NOT watch, because what you’re about to see is unwatchable.
Now, had it not been for Shearsmith, what folowed would be pretty damn unwatchable because most Doctor Who episodes this series have been. There hasn’t been a single killer episode this year, and while the Doctor has all the time in the world, for this series, time is not on its side.
It centered around Project Morpheus, a pod device which allows you to get a month’s worth of sleep in five minutes, so-called because Morpheus is the Greek God of Dreams. Sounds like a great idea – I could certainly get a lot more done than I do in a conventional day. And while you’re under, a hologram of women appear atop the pod singing “Mr Sandman“. Amusing once, but imagine if you had to hear that every time!
Well, with a forever-laboured event that there’s only four of a rescue crew attending due to austerity cuts, we’ve been here far too often as The Doctor plus assistant join a small crew and said crew gets picked off one by one. However, the baddies this time were the Sandmen, made from sleep dust – the crusted mucus you get in the corner of your eye, who ‘digested’ the station’s original crew. The trouble with these monsters is that they’re like zombies, yet even slower-moving. Plus, they can’t see, although surely they have other senses in order to get about, especially since they held their arms up when faced with fire.
Sleep No More had a few interesting lines of dialogue, such as with Clara calling them Sandmen, and The Doctor retorting: “You don’t get to name them. *I* do the naming!”, plus the later exchange:
- Doctor: “Sleep is wonderful. Even *I* sleep!”
Doctor: “When you’re not looking.”
And when Gagan said of the reason for inventing the machines, “We spend a third of our lives asleep – and time is money.” Well, Mr Burns in The Simpsons once said, relating to expensive paintings, “Time is *Monet*!”, and today, the day of this programme’s broadcast, would have been ompressionist painter Claude Monet’s 175th birthday! But that’s probably a coincidence.
Another place we’ve been before is that, with Gagan wanting to bring the Sandmen to civilisation, to spread their seed – so to speak – and kill everyone, he was the real monster by being a tyrannical twat who wanted to cause mass genocide. Oh, and there was also a lot of running around corridors in the dark with the rescue team getting picked off one by one, the sole survivor of them being Nagata (Elaine Tan). Oh, and there was the bollocks that there were no cameras, after all. The dust does all the filming. Really??
Most of the rest of the cast were fairly interchangeable, including transgender comedienne Bethany Black as 38th-Century-engineered clone Grunt 474. She’s someone I used to find funny but, for no apparent reason, blocked me on Facebook. Why? No idea. Ask her. I know some people have a cull every now and again if they don’t see someone regularly, but when you’ve never had a cross word, who blocks someone? Bizarre. As such, don’t expect me to get too excited about your Doctor Who debut.
At one point, for two of the others, Chopra (Neet Mohan) is alone with Grunt 474, assuming they’re the only ones left and that they’ll have to escape the station. As the last ones alive, potentially, Chopra says he would destroy the station. I know this happened in Alien, too, but, seriously, what sort of government would build a space station that can be self-destructed?
And with a script by Mark Gatiss – also from The League of Gentlemen, and also responsible for earlier Who episodes such as The Idiot’s Lantern and last year’s godawful Robot Of Sherwood, the only accurate line he got right were the words from The Doctor: “It doesn’t make sense. None of this makes any sense!”
The only other points of interest was that I loved that the computer had a tweaked robotic-style voice to sound similar to GLaDOS from the Portal games. Also, there were also no opening credits, reportedly for the first time in the programme’s history… although I haven’t seen every single episode before it came back in 2005. As a wave of text appeared onscreen, you could see the title and the characters’ names amongst them (see below).
Next week: There are secret pockets of alien life on Earth… To break the peace, you have to Face The Raven, and despite not seeing her in the flesh, we get the return of Maisie Williams as Ashildr. Let’s just hope her third episode is a damn sight better than the first two.
Sleep No More is available on the BBC iPlayer until December 13th.
Doctor Who Series 9 Part 1 is available to buy on Blu-ray and DVD, you can also pre-order Series 9 Part 2 on Blu-ray and DVD ahead of its release on January 4th 2016, and individual episodes can be bought in HD and SD here.
And click on all the images in this review for the full-sized version.
Director: Justin Molotnikov
Producer: Nikki Wilson
Screenplay: Mark Gatiss
Music: Murray Gold
The Doctor: Peter Capaldi
Clara Oswald: Jenna Coleman
Gagan Rassmussen: Reece Shearsmith
Nagata: Elaine Tan
Chopra: Neet Mohan
474: Bethany Black
Deep-Ando: Paul Courtenay Hyu
Morpheus Presenter: Zina Badran
Hologram Singers: Natasha Patel, Elizabeth Chong, Nikkita Chadha, Gracie Lai
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.