Sleep No More – some thoughts

Doctor and Clara in Sleep No MoreRather than a review, I’m just going to collect together some thoughts as my normal structure doesn’t best serve Sleep No More. This Mark Gatiss Twelfth Doctor story has no opening credits (almost, apart from in an initial word-search), a curious plot and a novel (for Doctor Who) narrative approach — the so-called found footage style of films such as The Blair Witch Project.

Here goes…

The Storytelling

I didn’t mind the food-footage aspect though it thinned out for me after about twenty minutes, which may just mean I’d got the hang of it. It was a shame the villain (Rassmussen, played by Reace Sheersmith) had to distort it by the end with the re-casting as a faux documentary.

What didn’t work for me was engagement, once the story was stripped back to what had to be key moments it became very hard to care at all about the subsidiary characters, who may have all been wearing Star Trek red shirts for all the interest they brought to the story (ie very little). I found it very easy to become distracted and the storytelling also under Clara immensely. Maybe she was already written out by this stage in the early drafting of the series. Maybe it’s all part of the Clara is already dead theory?

Everything else

The science was ambiguous as was the origin / nature of the Sandmen. One moment it was sleep dust become monster, the next side-effect of the Morpheus machine. I would have accepted this as a deliberate setup by Rasmussen but his ending (ie the message in the video) takes us towards a bug in the Morpheus machines; in this case why does watching a video make a difference?

[pullquote]Maybe it was all meant allegorically?[/pullquote]

I did like the Morpheus idea, and I am sure if a company could find a way for us all to not sleep it would happily allow us all to work twice as long (and for the same money). I also liked this technique have a downside, I just didn’t go for it taking us until the 38th century to find out we needed to sleep to avoid becoming literal monsters. Maybe it was all meant allegorically?

I gather Mark Gatiss has asked to write a sequel; if so I hope it elevates this story rather than repeats it. I don’t need to re-visit this world, with its Indo-Japanese empire Captain dropping ‘Pet’ into conversation like a Geordie cliché, didn’t see the point of any of the ‘rescue party’ characters and the only take-away for me is once more Clara got looked into a metal casing.


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