Thursday, July 10, 2008

the monster within

As I've mentioned before, Doctor Who's Russell T. Davies will be stepping down as show runner, and writer Stephen Moffat will take the helm. The BBC's reincarnation of Doctor Who was Davies' brainchild, and he wrote some of the series' most compelling episodes. One of my absolute favorites is season four's 'Midnight,' which will air this Friday at 9pm EST on the SciFi Channel. Since it already aired in the UK, I watched the episode weeks ago (thank you, internet). It's the best kind of horror story, the sort in which it's impossible to tell who the monsters really are. Should we be more concerned about whatever supernatural or alien threat is upon us, or is the greater danger what humans are capable of doing to one another in times of crisis?

This episode ratcheted up the tension, and had me grinding my teeth, chewing my fingernails, and pleading for the characters to come to their senses. Horror and science fiction are great vehicles to study human psychology, and examining the mob mentality in this fashion is especially compelling. I doubt I'll be attacked by an unknown alien force on the planet Midnight anytime soon, but the story had me wondering about the choices I would make when faced with mortal danger, and hoping that I would hold strong to the same ideals that I can easily uphold when it's convenient and safe. I suppose no one can really know what horrors they're capable of until they're faced with a horror of their own.

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