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Home > Doctor Who > 31 Monsters #5: The “Midnight” Monster

31 Monsters #5: The “Midnight” Monster

October 5th, 2009

Nigh-immortal and able to travel to any point in time and space, Doctor Who often exhibits a “been everywhere, seen that” attitude. Upon meeting the alien menace of the week, others may run and scream. But the Doctor excitedly identifies the slavering beast as a Variegated Ancephalapod from the planet Xextoid VII and points out ancephalapods are susceptible to mood lighting and glazed doughnuts.┬áThat tendency to be three steps ahead of the audience can be fun, but it can also rob the mystery and terror from a situation.

What made the 2008 Doctor Who episode “Midnight” deliciously frightening was that for once, the Doctor was completely in the dark. Up against a creature with no name and no face, living on a planet where it shouldn’t even have been able to exist, he had no answers and no defense.

The planet Midnight was a curious place: a resort world on which no known lifeform could last more than a few moments bathed in the “xtonic radiation” of its sun. Humans came to Midnight for brief glimpses of its unearthly crystalline beauty, but at all other times had to be completely shielded against the deadly rays.

While travelling cross-country to the Sapphire Waterfall, the Doctor’s tour bus had a technical problem. The pilots opened the cockpit shield just long enough to take a quick peek at the surroundings. Just as the door closed again, one of them thought he saw a dark shape running toward the bus. But nothing could live on Midnight, could it?

Something began banging on the outside of the windowless cabin, panicking the passengers. With a terrible crash, the cockpit was ripped free, instantly killing the pilots. Then, in the eerie calm that followed, a young woman with whom the Doctor had been chatting appeared to have become possessed by an alien intelligence, only capable of repeating the words of others.

As the Doctor attempted to get a handle on the situation, he noticed that the delay in the woman’s repetition was decreasing. Soon, she was speaking simultaneously. And then, as she began to focus solely on the Doctor’s words, the other passengers realized that she was speaking them ahead of him.

I don’t want to get any further into the details, as it’s an episode you really ought to check out for yourself. It’s the closest that Doctor Who has ever come to a Twilight Zone story, with the Doctor helpless against a busload of increasingly paranoid passengers and a malevolent, mysterious thing.

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