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Written by Mark Gatiss. The working title was "What Are Little Boys Made Of?", but the title length wasn't allowed.
A distress call from a terrified little boy breaks through all barriers of time and space, leading the Doctor to visit the scariest place in the Universe: George's bedroom. George is terrorised by obsessive-compulsive disorder, night terrors and by every fear you can possibly imagine, which all live in his bedroom cupboard. That's not a coincidence: his parents thought that locking scary toys safely away in the cupboard would help their son sleep. It didn't work, obviously, and now they're desperate -- George needs a doctor.
Cue the distress call heard by the Doctor, Amy, and Rory, who visit an apartment complex. It's time for the Doctor to make a house call. And the Doctor admits one of the scariest places in the universe is a "child's bedroom." Team TARDIS splits up and interviews some of the residents with door-to-door asking and phony identities. This isn't where The Beautiful People live: little George and his neighbours really just look like ordinary English people, living in an ordinary English Crapsack World.
After a considerable amount of time, the Doctor finds the apartment of George. He introduces himself to Alex, George's father, who assumes that this is the doctor his wife told him she found. As the Doctor talks to George about the monsters, Amy and Rory go into an elevator, only for it to plummet. The duo find themselves in a really conspicuous-looking house.
Rory: We're dead. Again.
And then, a few more of the residents start having really bad things happening to them. They get sucked into the earth.
As the Doctor looks around, he scans the cupboard with the Sonic Screwdriver, and he is utterly horrified by whatever result the Sonic Screwdriver read. (Before you ask: it's not Hitler.) Alex doesn't take the Doctor seriously anymore by that point and asks him to leave, whilst the Doctor is trying to make coffee, and asking, "Do you have any Jammy Dodgers?" Alex is quite insistent and just wants the odd man out of his flat.
Suddenly, George does something terrifying involving the cupboard, and Alex and the Doctor get sucked in. They're in the same house as Amy and Rory. The married duo find some creepy wooden dolls, and one of the victims from earlier gets turned into a doll as well. Amy and Rory hide in another room, but as they try to bust out, Amy is captured and turned into a doll. Rory finds Alex and the Doctor, the latter trying to solve the mystery surrounding George.
It turns out that they were in a dollhouse in the cupboard all along. The Doctor's screwdriver still doesn't do wood (it's getting embarrassing by now, he remarks), so he has to improvise. He calls out to George, who turns out to be an all-powerful Reality Warper accidentally causing all of this. He's an alien larva (a Tenza), whose species act like cuckoos: they leave their young in other species' nests. Alex is horrified at first, but then decides that he doesn't care. Even if his memories were altered, even if his son is actually an all-powerful alien, the boy is still just George. With The Power of Love from Alex, George is convinced to turn everyone back to normal.
The Doctor leaves the happy family again, saying that he'll come back for another checkup around puberty. Team TARDIS goes off to more adventures, but not without a creepy ending tune, complete with the screen telling us of the Doctor's death.
- Actor Allusion: Even though he's Playing Against Type, numerous to Danny Mays's best-known role - time-travelling, people thinking they're dead, Rubik's Cubes, a character named "Alex", an Evil Elevator, and someone saying "you're not from [place you claim to be], are you?".
- Adult Fear: Partly with in the beginning parts with Alex, who neatly captures the struggles and frustrations of a parent of a child apparently suffering from some sort of disorder or syndrome he doesn't fully understand and is afraid he never will - and having to deal with all that as well as a Jerkass landlord extorting rent you have trouble paying.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Rory is skeptical of the living dolls, to which Amy points out that he's a time-travelling nurse.
- Who was even once plastic himself.
- Asshole Victim : The Landlord. Sadly subverted, as he gets changed back to a human. That said, if they had let the Landlord die or remain as a doll it would cause a serious What the Hell, Hero? moment if only Amy and the old lady were changed back.
- Asshole though he is, it's pretty apparent that his only friend is his dog. And even the dog didn't care that he disappeared.
- Badass Boast: The Doctor has a couple of these.
- Bigger on the Inside: The dollhouse. Even accounting for the shrinking, it's much larger and more intricate than it should be in scale.
The Doctor: "It's more common than you think."
- Blatant Lies: When Amy, Rory and the Doctor are knocking on doors they claim rather ridiculous things.
Rory: "I'm from Community Services. Here to check up on...community...based...things...."
- Body Horror: Being turned into a doll. Creepy.
- Buffy-Speak: Rory's almost Doctor Lite at this point, he Buffies so much. "The TARDIS has gone funny again. It's some time... slippy... thing."
- Call Back:
- The Sonic Screwdriver still doesn't work on wood. The Doctor insists that he needs to install a function for that.
- The Doctor goes to the aid of a child. Also a crazy elevator to nowhere.
- The Doctor receives messages through the psychic paper.
- The Doctor is still asking for Jammie Dodgers. And tea.
- The humans turning into dolls felt very Empty Child.
- Not to mention that Alex's speech to George at the end was a lot like Nancy's to her son at the end of The Doctor Dances.
- The kid victim being the source of all the power and not being fully human? Fear Her?
- The Doctor makes vampire teeth in a mirror.
- The Doctor still thinks kissing people on the cheeks is an acceptable greeting in 21st-century England.
- What do we do with things we don't like? We put them in the cupboard.
- Changeling Fantasy: As it turns out, George himself is the source of his troubles - he's actually a Tenza, a powerfully psychic race who apparently masquerade as the children of other races in order to grow; the process is explicitly compared to cuckoos (though without the parasitic aspect, making them more like serial adoptees).
- Captain Obvious: "You're not from Social Services, are you."
- Chekhov's Gun: Rory's tiny torch that was useless in Vampires of Venice comes in handy now.
- The dollhouse is briefly visible when the Doctor first checks the cupboard. It later turns out that it's where George has been sending people.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: George's fears manifest in reality because he so completely believes them.
- Continuity Nod:
- "Snow White and the Seven Keys To Doomsday" references "Seven Keys To Doomsday", a Doctor Who stage play later adapted for audio.
- "The Emperor Dalek's New Clothes".
- The TARDIS materialisation is shown reflected in a puddle.
- The Doctor's death certificate comes up again, this time being sung about by the creepy doll children.
- Rory being dead (or at least thinking he may be).
- Council Estate: Although there is landlord who demands rent who lives with them, implying that the flats are ex-council.
- Crazy Cat Lady: One of the tenants of the Council Estate is a man with ten cats.
- Creepy Doll: Giant creepy dolls that turn others into giant creepy dolls. All they want to do is play.
- Creepy Twins: At least Amy thinks so.
Amy: I found scary kids. Does that count?
- As the initial dolls also look like the twins, George may agree.
- Deliberately Cute Child: George is an incredibly powerful psychic alien cuckoo baby who's desperate to fit in.
- Double Take: The Doctor and Alex get a good one when they realize a doll is behind them.
- Enfant Terrible
- Everybody Lives
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: The dolls. Be very glad they're stuck in one location, since that would be the most terrifying Zombie Apocalypse ever.
- Evil Elevator
- Evil Laugh: The CreepyDolls never stop laughing.
- Fake Memories: The reason that Alex and Claire believe George is their son.
- Fear Is the Appropriate Response: The Doctor, once he gets a look at the readings coming from the wardrobe, and later when it sucks him and Alex into it. Also Rory and Amy once they realise the dolls can turn people into one of them.
Amy: "I take it all back. Panic now."
- Four Is Death: Though as this is a British production it's probably unintentional. When Rory and Amy get into the lift she presses the 4 button before it drops causing Rory to think they're dead again.
- Frying Pan of Doom: Amy brandishes a wooden one, though it doesn't get used.
- Giant Eye of Doom: Spoofed; Rory and Amy shriek when they open a drawer to reveal a huge eye staring out at them, and are squicked at the thought of touching it...only for it to turn out to be a huge but harmless Glass Eye.
- Glass Eye: Although, for once, it wasn't actually in a socket.
- Genre Savvy / Wrong Genre Savvy: Rory theorises that he and Amy have either been killed or been time-shifted to the 1700s. He's wrong on both counts, but neither are unreasonable ideas, given the way his life usually plays out.
- Giggling Villain: The dolls, being children at heart.
- Good Hair, Evil Hair: Getting turned into a Creepy Doll gives you stringy doll's hair.
- Haunted House: The Creepy Doll house. It's a giant doll house, unlit and spooky, with giant Creepy Doll zombies and doors with no knobs and...
- Hell Is That Noise: The dolls' Evil Laugh. And George is scared stiff of the sound of the lift.
- Hellevator: Because George thinks it is.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Who knew Jim Keats could have such a soft and cuddly side?
- Happily Adopted: In a way. George's parents love him, and he loves them, but no one was aware he was adopted.
- Hollywood Darkness: Averted.
- Ironic Nursery Tune: In spades. Throughout the episode a creepy off-note one plays as the soundtrack. Here's the full version:
Tick tock goes the clock
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: The landlord who threatens Alex with a dog is the first one to get turned into a Creepy Doll. He gets better. Unfortunately.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: George's parents were desperate for a baby and tried for everything, but just couldn't succeed. Fortunately, a space-faring psychic cuckoo saw that they wanted a baby.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Alex initially blamed George's terrors on too much scary television, so he stopped letting him watch it. The Doctor emphatically replies that you don't want to do that...
- Like You Would Really Do It: Admit it, you were relieved when Amy turned into a doll. Nothing to do with how you feel about Amy. It's just that once Amy turned into a doll, you knew she and all the other dolls would turn back to normal by episode's end and this would be an episode where Everybody Lives.
- Madness Mantra: "Please save me from the monsters. Please save me from the monsters. Please save me from the monsters..."
- Mirror Scare
- Monster Clown: George is afraid of clowns.
Alex: 'E 'ates clowns,
- Oblivious Adoption: As in, "not even the parents knew their kid was a psychic alien".
- Ominous Music Box Tune: The leitmotif for the Doll Children.
- Out of Order: The episode was originally meant for the first half of Series 6, so it can appear a bit odd that Amy and Rory don't seem worried at all about their missing daughter. Plus the Doctor's offhand reference to "flesh," which could have been a neat piece of foreshadowing but now just comes off as insensitive. Only the very last scene gives any indication of the episode's new place in the story, and it's not even something any of the characters do.
- Papa Wolf: Alex. Unfortunately, though, he's going about protecting George in entirely the wrong way.
- Pet the Dog: At the end, the landlord hugs the dog.
- The Power of Love: It's Alex's love for George that ultimately persuades him to forget his fears.
- Readings Are Off the Scale: The Doctor says this of George's cabinet after scanning it with the screwdriver.
- Played so straight it's genuinely scary. The Doctor goes from being cocky to trying to get as far away from the cupboard as he can in a second.
- Reality Warper: George.
- Reality Warping Is Not a Toy: But since he's not aware of it, and also happens to be a little boy, sort-of adopted and feeling rejected, he unwittingly makes all his nightmares come true by believing in them so much...
- The Doctor's fairy tales.
- Among George's toys are Optimus Prime, a Gundam and, less noticeably, Daijinryuu/Serpentera (So, that Gallifrey shout-out in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy finally got its favor returned...).
- When he ends up in the Doll House, Rory suspects that it's due to the TARDIS malfunctioning and that he and Amy are there while The Doctor's been thrown into "EastEnders Land".
- The scene where the Doctor and Alex get sucked into the cupboard is strongly reminiscent of a similar scene from Poltergeist.
- Creepy twin girls.
- Spit Take: When the Doctor suggests opening the cupboard.
- Spot of Tea
- Took a Level In Jerkass: Rory is surprisingly unsympathetic to George's fear, first teasing Amy about letting the monsters gobble him up and secondly thinking it's just junk mail. Amy even gives him a small Death Glare for the first one.
- Things That Go Bump in the Night: George's world is littered with nightmares. Good thing his parents taught him to focus all his fears on his closet...
- Tomato in the Mirror: When the Doctor tries to confront George about his alien nature, George freaks out and traps him and his father in the dollhouse.
- Wham! Line: Boy howdy:
Alex: Claire can't have kids!
Tick tock goes the clock, he cradled and he rocked her... Tick tock goes the clock, even for the Doctor...