The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Amy and Rory to a chintzy hotel, but their destination suddenly seems less relaxing when three people – two humans and one alien – burst into the hotel lounge with warnings about the hotel. No one who goes into a room alone comes out the same – those who survive chant “Praise him” and eventually meet a horrible fate. A monster stalks the halls, seeking its next victim and their worship. The surviving hotel guests warn that to go into a room alone invites one’s worst fears to appear all at once, but what nightmares await time travelers who have survived the worst horrors the universe has to offer… and who demands their praise?
written by Toby Whithouse
directed by Nick Hurran
music by Murray Gold
Cast: Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams), Sarah Quintrell (Lucy Hayward), Amara Karan (Rita), Dimitri Leonidas (Howie Spragg), Daniel Pirrie (Joe Buchanan), David Walliams (Gibbis), Dafydd Emyh (P.E. Teacher), Spencer Wilding (The Creature), Rashid Karapiet (Rita’s Father), Caitlin Blackwood (Amelia Pond), Roger Ennals (Gorilla)
Notes: David Walliams is either making his first or second Doctor Who appearance, depending on how you look at it; he starred alongside writer/actor Mark Gatiss in The Web Of Caves, a spoof of Hartnell-era Who that Walliams co-wrote with Gatiss for BBC2’s Doctor Who Night in 1999. That same year, he and Gatiss also appeared in Gatiss’ first Doctor Who script for Big Finish Productions, Phantasmagoria (the second story produced in Big Finish’s long series of audio plays based on the Doctor’s previous incarnations). With comedy partner Matt Lucas, Walliams is best known as one of the creators and stars of Little Britain.
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: As avant garde as it seems in places, The God Complex is one gigantic callback to the final season of the original Doctor Who. And they could’ve gotten away with it if not for us meddling kids – or, at the very least, if not for the fact that The God Complex borrows the central escape hatch of what may remain the seventh Doctor‘s most-revered, best-known story.
It was interesting and unexpected to hear a mention of the Nimon – the Minotaur-esque beasts behind The Horns Of Nimon (1979), which may well be the fourth Doctor‘s least-revered, worst-regarded story. (Even the staunchly fearless crew at Big Finish, never ones to shy away from either continuity references or opportunities to reassess unlikely parts of Doctor Who history, have locked horns with the Nimon only once and never again.) Interestingly, the Doctor seems to have forgotten his previous encounter with the Minotaur, during his third incarnation in The Time Monster (1972). The Nimon reference is one of those little seasoning flavors: newbies will brush it off, longtime fans will probably, at most, get a giggle at the mention.
The more overt bit of borrowing, however, comes in the crucial plot element of the Doctor needing to break Amy’s faith in him in order to fend off the big bad. It’s done in a low-key way, but add more histrionics, more World War II and more torrential rain, and you’ve got the exact same scenario from 1989‘s The Curse Of Fenric, in which the seventh Doctor had to cruelly dismiss Ace in order to stave off the power of the Ancient Haemovore. Granted, it’s not like this story is borrowing a big twist from something terribly well-known like The Ark In Space, but it is sort of like a familiar song that never got past #26 on the charts landing on a greatest hits album.
And truth be told, most folks won’t notice the lift, since the emphasis is on imagery here; this may well be the sixth series’ most visually striking tale. But the horror is purely psychological, and it too falls back on an old chestnut, the room filled with horrors custom-made to fit the person walking in the door (if you’re going to borrow from the best, it’s a shame not to include Orwell in that list). Some of the horrors are oddly tame (a clown?), mildly creepy (ventriloquist dolls who laugh without an operator), not entirely surprising (a father’s disappointment) and rather funny (Howie’s fear of being confronted with a gaggle of teenage girls). Let’s also add vague to that list (whatever the Doctor sees that involves the TARDIS’ cloister bell). Other external influences on the story include an obvious Star Trek reference (It was all on the holodeck! And I don’t mean that metaphorically: change those grid lines from blue to yellow, and bam! You are on the holodeck!)
All in all, it’s a mix of familiar ingredients that adds up to something that’s probably going to be new to younger viewers, and will creep everyone else out in the meantime. Perhaps worthy of praise indeed.