The Crimson Horror is the eleventh episode of the seventh series of Doctor Who, starring Matt Smith as The Eleventh Doctor, Jenna-Louise Coleman as companion Clara Oswald, and featuring Neve McIntosh and Catrin Stewart as recurring characters Jenny and Madame Vastra. It also featured Diana Rigg and her real life daughter Rachael Stirling as a mother and daughter. The episode was written by Mark Gatiss, a frequent contributor to the show.
The episode has somewhat of a bait and switch plot, since it begins in medias res. It seems at first to be a Doctor-Lite episode, but the Doctor does appear sooner than later. The story takes place in Victorian England (for various reasons, a common enough period for Doctor Who stories). In a historically accurate manner, a woman named Mrs. Gillyflower is promoting a futuristic utopian community. But like any Doctor Who story, utopian communities are always up to something, and that something is always: aliens. The Doctor and his impromptu team must get together to save the world from Mrs. Gillyflower's plans.
Different things occur to me while watching Doctor Who. During this episode, one of the biggest revelations I had was just what an immense project Doctor Who is. This isn't that radical of a revelation: as one of the BBC's flagship shows, and as a science-fiction show, producing Doctor Who is going to be an event. But for this episode, they had to find dozens of speaking parts and hundreds of extras, and find appropriate costuming for them. They then had to construct several sets showing large Victorian buildings. And then there was the science-fiction elements, such as the construction of a steampunk rocket. Even with the advances in CGI, the amount of work put into constructing sets, costumes and props for an episode like this is amazing.
But other than getting an A in logistics, how does this episode work for the viewer? Like many Doctor Who episodes lately, I feel that there is a great build up with a rushed or off-key conclusion. This episode starts out with some genuinely scary psychological suspense. About half-way through it turns into a much more kitschy adventure. The creators of the show seem to not know whether they want to make Doctor Who an adventure, or a drama. The episode is still good, but it (like many others of late) has failed to push the audiences expectations.