CultBox asked you to vote for the Doctor Who story that frightens you the most.
Here we count down the results of the poll…
#5: ‘The Time of Angels’ / ‘Flesh and Stone’ (6.8%)
So, ‘Flesh and Stone’ may have diluted the concept of the Weeping Angels, making them defeatable not by keeping your eyes open but by keeping them closed, but let’s not let that take away from the mounting catalogue of horrors that is Season 5’s ‘The Time of Angels’.
Climaxing in the revelation that those twisted, misshapen statues are Angels – and they’re everywhere! – the story peaks before that in the scene where the monster of the week finally does what we always feared they could: reach out of the television and come to get us!
If we’re honest, the conceit starts to get a little fuddled when we’re given catchphrase-unfriendly lines such as ‘that which holds the image of an Angel becomes itself an Angel’, but let’s not quibble. This is so compelling a story that not even an animated Graham Norton could ruin it.
#4: ‘The Waters of Mars’ (10.2%)
Writer Phil Ford didn’t know what he’d embarked on when he started writing this 2009 special, did he? He’d imagined a Patrick Troughton story updated for a generation weaned on Serenity and Event Horizon: a base under siege; a terror from within; a horde of white-eyed, chapped-mouthed zombies.
Then along came Russell T Davies and made the ultimate terror the hubristic grandstanding of the Time Lord Victorious, leading to an ending in which, for once in Doctor Who history, self-sacrifice is not glossed over as an expedient means to resolve the plot, but is seen, in human terms, for what it is: suicide.
And people still condemn Russell for farting Slitheen! The man has gazed upon horrors and boldly, carefully interpreted them for a teatime audience.
#3: ‘The Empty Child’ / ‘The Doctor Dances’ (11.5%)
There is a theory that the use of childhood imagery in horror appeals more to adults than children, playing, as it does, on the gap between innocence and experience, and, typically, on our fearful horror when innocence is corrupted.
If that’s the case, then Christopher Eccleston’s ‘The Empty Child’ / ‘The Doctor Dances’ is as perfect a slice of horror for adults as you’re likely to see in Who, ticking off any number of primal fears, from abandonment by the mother to the uncanny frisson generated by zombies and automata (weird clapping monkey, we’re looking at you). Really, it’s a psychotherapist’s field day. Even Steven Moffat’s title, ‘The Empty Child’ obliges investigation on the psychiatrist’s couch.
And the fact that it all ends happily, and has jokes about bananas and bottoms and such, doesn’t make it any less so. For the child audience, it’s right that Jamie should find his Mummy and that everyone should live. For the adult audience, the lid is not put back on the Pandora’s Box so easily.
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