Eye Smutz can be scary! (Doctor Who "Sleep No More" review)

FTC Statement: Reviewers are frequently provided by the publisher/production company with a copy of the material being reviewed.The opinions published are solely those of the respective reviewers and may not reflect the opinions of CriticalBlast.com or its management.

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. (This is a legal requirement, as apparently some sites advertise for Amazon for free. Yes, that's sarcasm.)

Doctor Who Series 9 – Episode 9 – Sleep No More

Writer:  Mark Gatiss
Director: Justin Molotnikov


  • The Doctor- Peter Capaldi
  • Clara Oswald - Jenna Coleman
  • Reece Shearsmith – Rassmussen
  • Elaine Tan – Nagata
  • Neet Mohan – Chopra
  • Bethany Black – 474
  • Paul Courtenay Hyu – Deep-Ando
  • Paul Davis – King Sandman
  • Tom Wilton – Sandman
  • Matthew Doman – Sandman
  • Zina Badran – Morpheus Presenter
  • Natasha Patel – Hologram Singer
  • Elizabeth Chong – Hologram Singer
  • Nikkita Chadha – Hologram Singer
  • Gracie La – Hologram Singer
  • Nikki Wilson - Voice of the computer (uncredited)

Quick Synopsis: This is a found footage episode.  The Doctor and Clara end up on a space station around Neptune in the 38th Century.  A rescue crew has just arrived there, and they all find the base completely abandoned.  Soon the Doctor and company find themselves under attack by creatures made of sand and dust.


- Up front, I will say this was the weakest episode in this season, so far.  This episode is likely going to have some people who liked it, and some people who hate it.  I sort of fell in the middle.  There was quite a bit to enjoy here, but I also thought the episode felt real self-indulgent and it never really gets anywhere.

- I did think the ending was pretty ballsy.  It suggests that the events of the episode might not have happened at all, and this was a meta-fiction attempt to get the viewer to watch it so an alien power could beam a signal into the viewer's mind.  It was kind of clever, and the visual effect of Gagan Rassmussen melting was just awesome.   I also liked that they didn't do an opening credit sequence for this one.  It's supposed to be found footage, and the ending twisted everything on it's ear.  So you can argue whether or not this was even a real episode of Doctor Who.

- While found footage stories have been done to death, I do think it is still a real strong way to convey scary situations.  You definitely feel pulled right into the story.  I was skeptical about how this would work in a Doctor Who story, but it ended up working real well. The episode was pretty intense.  I also like that they played with the conventions of the media a bit.  The Doctor questioning where some of the shots were coming from, and how everything just seemed like a story helped bring the viewer into the joke.  Which made the ending more meaningful.

- One of the biggest problems for me was the villains of the piece, the Sandmen.  We are told that these monsters are smutz that comes from the corner of your eye. In order to improve worker efficiency, a company creates a device called Morpheus that changes your body to allow you to compress a whole month of sleep into one hour.  But in the process, it allows your eye crust to become sentient and evil.  Usually, I can suspend disbelief and just go with the flow, but I kept finding myself getting stuck on "eye gunk monster."  The episode had some great suspense and horror, but to appreciate it, you have to get past the fact that the Doctor is running away from eye gunk.  I just couldn't bring myself to do that.

- Another problem I had with the episode is that supporting cast really didn't do much.  I didn't feel any real connection to any of them, so seeing them in danger didn't have a real impact for me. I had the same problem with Gatiss's season 7 episode, Cold War.  The ending of this episode does suggest that this might have all just been staged, so it sort of makes a certain amount of sense, but I prefer when the supporting cast is a lot more engaging.

- There was one stand out in the cast.  Reece Shearsmith was great as Gagan Rassmussen.  He was basically the narrator of the story.  He starts the episode warning viewers that they should not watch the following story, which he had pieced together himself.  And he wraps it all up with the reveal that things were not quite as they seemed.  His performance was definitely a highlight of the episode.

- I just felt like there was something missing in this one.  All in all, it was basically just a mediocre episode in a season of great ones.  And I do appreciate that they at least tried to do a few new things here.  I always appreciate that, even when the episode doesn't quite work.

Next Episode: Face the Raven - The trailer for this one was a little vague.  It looks like Rigsy is back and it takes place in a hidden alien community in London. It actually looks a lot like Diagon Alley from Harry Potter.  The episode's cast list also tells us that Ashildr will be back for this one too.  This is the last episode before the two-part finale and there is a lot of speculation that Clara won't make it through this episode.  Guess we'll all have to wait and see.

3.5 / 5.0