Binge watchers of The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix have had a lot of fun spotting all the hidden ghosts, crossover Easter eggs, and little nods to the award-winning Shirley Jackson novel on which the hit series is based. And now, thanks to the show’s creative lead, we also know that one shoutout to the Whoniverse, in particular, is no coincidence.
Mike Flanagan, the mastermind behind adapting Hill House for the streaming giant’s 10-installment first run, recently tweeted his confirmation that a line of reassuring dialogue in the show’s second episode took its sentimental inspiration straight from a 2010 episode of Doctor Who.
In the Hill House scene, mom Olivia (Carla Gugino) comforts a young Shirley (Lulu Wilson) about the death of the runt in a liter of kittens Shirley found in a garden shed. Instead of thinking about death as an end, Olivia says, think about it as the back cover of life’s story.
“When we die, we turn into stories — and every time someone tells one of those stories, it's like we're still here for them,” Olivia says. “We’re all stories in the end.”
Former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat told Digital Spy earlier this month that he appreciated what appeared to be a knowing homage — but said he didn’t know whether Flanagan and the Hill House team had specifically crafted it as such.
“If that line is a deliberate tribute, I am extremely touched,” said Moffat. "[But] if it's just a case of two writers coming up with the same idea (happens all the time) then I'm hugely embarrassed to have been so presumptuous and will hide in this cupboard for the rest of the day.”
Once Flanagan picked up on that, he left no doubt that Mr. Moffat’s writing had indeed inspired the Hill House moment. “[Y]es, Mr Moffat, it’s absolutely a deliberate tribute,” he tweeted.
With Flanagan also working on a different "doctor" project of his own — an adaptation of Doctor Sleep, Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining — there might be even more onscreen Doctor Who nods still to come. Doctor Sleep is set to awaken in theaters in January of 2020. As for The Haunting of Hill House, it’s ready right now to spook up your Halloween binge at Netflix.