The Crimson Horror

The Crimson Horror
Crimson Horror.jpg
Season: 7
Episode: 11
Vital statistics
Air date 4 May 2013
Written by Mark Gatiss
Directed by Saul Metzstein
Episode guide
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Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS Nightmare in Silver
Look out guv'nor, it's the Crimsuhn 'Orror!
Matt Smith helps Mark Gatiss mix up some bits taken from one story with some other thefts, only to create something worth watching, for once.

The Crimson Horror is the eleventh episode of the Seventh Series’s back half of the British science-fiction drama Doctor Who.

Arguably the most forgettable story of the Eleventh Doctor, although some may testify that The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe is more suited to that title. It was written by Mark “look-a me showing off my historical trivia!” Gatiss and directed by Saul Metzstein. It featured the return of the Pedromonstra Gang and was the 100th episode of Doctor Who since its revival in 2005.

This episode was conceived for and tailored to mother and daughter Diana Rigg and Rachael Stirling, which may explain why it feels more focused than most of Gatiss’ base forgeries and tone-deaf imitations. He included numerous “homages” (meaning “rip-offs”) to Dame Rigg's work in the silly British TV show The Avengers, such as the over-the-top melodramatic tone, the eccentric English villain bent on destroying the world and the leather catsuit that a much younger and much more desirable Rigg wore on that programme. So maybe Gatiss just needs to crib his shit from better sources is all or have better directors? Anyway, shut up about Moffat and series seven sucking for once and give this one another spin - you’ll find it quite comfy. Certainly head and shoulders above Gatiss’ usual.


British law once required that everyone paint their town’s name and the current year on the side of every building, to avoid audience confusion. A couple of nobodys get caught by Mrs. Gutterflower (Dame Rigg) and her Victorian All-Women Squad, walk into a red room and later turn up dead and red all over. A ghoulish coroner, mumbling the barely distinguishable Britbong language that gave rise to chavs, gets to say “Thuh Crimson ‘Orrah!” with great relish like fifteen times - right before penny dreadfuls are flat-out namechecked as well, Gatiss is such a cheeky thief eh wot!  

Some other guy seeks help from a couple of lesbians and their potato butler, who suggests using “scissor grenades, limbo vapor and triple-blast brain splitters,” which might double as lesbian-specific sex toys and drugs for all I know. Jenny infiltrates the sinister group of hymn singers (another William Blake reference walks upon England's mountains green!) and sees a bunch of people smile at an engraving of Sweetville after being wound up about “moral turpitude” - fitting somehow that a show written by a gay man with lesbian characters would make fun of reactionary blather, I suppose. The establishing shots of Sweetville made me think I was watching an episode of Sherlock for some reason, maybe it was the music?  

Inside, Mrs. Gildedflower’s daughter Ada takes some food to her only friend in the world, “her monster.” Mrs. Guiltyflower herself slurps soup. Jenny discovers that the daughter’s Frankenstein's monster rip-off is a visibly blushing Matt Smith with a stiffy who can’t close his mouth (as usual); actually this scene’s pretty effective and notable for not introducing the Doctor until about 14 minutes into a 43 minute-long episode. Together, they see people being dipped into that red sweet-n-sour sauce shit you get with Chinese take-away inside that red room. In a rather dumb scene, Matt climbs into a closet with his sonic screwdriver, gets himself off with it and appears all better now, thanks, after about thirty seconds.  

A nicely condensed flashback tells us all the boring bits that used to drag out the first four episodes of a six parter back in the classic days, about how the Doctor and Clardar got caught up in the story:  

  • The Doctor slagged off on Tegan Jovankout, which made me laugh.  
  • The Doctor touched a corpse and the red make-up came off on his glove.  
  • He and Clara used the ol' “Doctor Smith” joke to infiltrate Sweetville and got dipped into the red sweet-n-sour sauce.  
  • The Doctor didn’t take to it but also didn’t die like the rest, probably because he’s a Timelord.
  • Ada kept him as a friend rather than tossing him into the canal like the other rejects.

And there we go - Bob’s Your Uncle and we’re back to the present plot moment with The Doctor and Jenny. Not a bad cover in two minutes or so - better than four 25-minute episodes to be sure.

So the Doctor and Jenny are attacked by the All-Girl Squadron again, Jenny shows off her second-hand Avengers’ catsuit and the Doctor gets another stiffy. Later, Gatiss intentionally makes one of the most despised jokes in all of Doctor Who history. Jenny and The Doctor find Clala in a jar and smash it. Mrs. Gullyfleur gets into it with her daughter Ada and rejects her; note to villains: never simply abandon former colleagues, partners, friends or henchmen as they will always come back to get the boot into your goolies later. Kill them outright and save yourself now.

The Meme Sontaran and the Lesbian Lizard Lady show up and save the Doctor and Jenny and we all groan when Matt’s peering into the closet saying “I think she’s about done,” and we’re hearing the simpering snippet of “Clara’s Theme.” Gatiss names the little critter after a fictional Sherlock Holmes story. Mrs. Glitterfollower has a missile simply ages before Wernher von Bron came along and invented them, which makes no damn sense, but this is a Gaypiss story so try not to worry about that. She’s going to send it up with some of the sweet-n-sour sauce in it (loaded from a laundry hamper that’s clearly made of plastic) to poison everyone except her preserved people. The Doctor and Clarinet have a decently touching scene with Ada, convincing her to rat out on her mother.

They confront Mrs. Goudafucker in one of the more deliciously over-the-top scenes since Anthony Ainley trod the Doctor Who boards: she reveals Mr. Sweet is a red lobster-like thing that’s repulsively almost suckling at her breast (and this on a fucking children’s show) who’s an evolved dinosaur leach. She badmouths her daughter Ada who then storms in, her scarred face twisted with hatred and screaming directly into the camera in a wonderfully scary-as-fuck moment. Alas, Mrs. Goldenshower escapes to go launch her stupidly improbable rocket, which leads to a tension-escalating chase up the rocket tower.  

Yes, they should have all been fried once the rocket launches, but so it goes; write Gaytits an email and see if he cares. She’s going to kill the “freaks” but falls to the bottom of the silo herself, and dies as her only friend in the world, a fucking poisonous dinosaur leach (this descriptive phrase you'll notice also describes her character, ha ha), crawls away, only to be audibly and visibly beaten into a gloppy pulp by Ada. A fucking children’s program!  

As fun as all this was, the last couple of minutes get used to set up the next upcoming disappointing episode.

Stupid Bits; I Admit They Exist

  • Vastra's client continually fainting when seeing something shocking is supposedly satire of how women were culturally perceived to act in the Victorian era, so he does this once, twice, three times a Victorian laaadaaaaayy!  (Also, Vastra tells us twice she’s a lizard, but, strangely, not once that she’s a lesbian.)
  • Matt Smith making himself all better with the sonic in the closet.
  • The Thomas-Thomas moment that makes you grind your teeth and Gatisss cackle with glee.
  • A motherfucking rocket in Victorian England.

Good Bits

Everything else. Seriously, go watch it again.