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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.

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 Rory: We're dead. Again.

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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.


Tropes:

  • 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.
  • 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.
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 The Doctor: "It's more common than you think."

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  • Blatant Lies: When Amy, Rory and the Doctor are knocking on doors they claim rather ridiculous things.
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 Rory: "I'm from Community Services. Here to check up on...community...based...things...."

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  Amy: I found scary kids. Does that count?

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 Amy: "I take it all back. Panic now."

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 Tick tock goes the clock

And what now shall we play?

Tick tock goes the clock

Now summer's gone away?



Tick tock goes the clock

And what then shall we see?

Tick tock until the day

That thou shalt marry me



Tick tock goes the clock

And all the years they fly

Tick tock and all too soon

You and I must die



Tick tock goes the clock

We laughed at fate and mourned her

Tick tock goes the clock

Even for the Doctor



Tick tock goes the clock

He cradled her and he rocked her

Tick tock goes the clock

Even for the Doctor…

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  • 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.
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 Alex: 'E 'ates clowns,

Doctor: Understandable.

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  • 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.
    • Well, it's not like they seemed to worry about that in the two following episodes either.
    • It is likely that one of the reasons for the change was Amy temporarily being turned into a doll in this episode. It would be weird(er) if it were to happen to Ganger!Amy.
  • 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...
  • Shout-Out:
  • 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:
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 Alex: Claire can't have kids!

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 Tick tock goes the clock, he cradled and he rocked her... Tick tock goes the clock, even for the Doctor...

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