Category Archives: Rose

The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End

Journey’s End is everything that is wrong with modern Doctor Who all rolled into one. I was torn over whether this is worse than Voyage of the Damned, but I think it has to pip it. It… is… terrible! It’s a melting pot of ideas thrown together and stirred until it’s nothing but fanboy pulp; it’s Russell T Davies writing from the point of view of a ten-year-old playing with his Doctor Who action figures and going “and then Jack turns up and then the Daleks fight them and then Torchwood and Sarah Jane help them and then Mickey comes back and then Martha and she teleports and then they explode and then there’s two Doctors and then-…”. There is no restraint shown, it’s just trash. It’s hard to believe this is the same writer coming from Turn Left and Midnight.

It's telling that Davies wanted the Shadow Proclamation scene to be much bigger and include hordes of aliens from the past four years but they ran out of money so it had to be some Judoon and a woman with red contact lenses instead.

It’s telling that Davies wanted the Shadow Proclamation scene to be much bigger and include hordes of aliens from the past four years but they ran out of money so it had to be some Judoon and a woman with red contact lenses instead.

It’s simultaneously overblown and boring. It’s full of rambling exposition and ridiculous technobabble. It even makes fun of its own technobabble, but continues to use it to solve the plot anyway; meanwhile, interesting setups (like the Osterhagen key) go literally nowhere. A bluff amongst other bluffs with no consequence. Devices work and break and work again, people teleport in and out. Despite the two parts and extended length, the cast of characters is still too huge to get enough screen time. Even previously satisfying conclusions, such as Rose’s farewell in season 2, are undone, like prodding at a corpse to make it twitch. Rose now comes back then returns to the parallel world for really poor reasons, with a half-human double of the Doctor to spend her life with, just to thoroughly undermine one of the few good things about Doomsday.

She's back, and she's got a great big gun.

She’s back, and she’s got a great big gun.

As for the Daleks, I think they’ve given up any pretence that they’re an endangered species now. Time War? Void ships? Pah! Despite Rose eliminating “all Daleks” from existence with her godly powers, there’s somehow another army of them, grown from the cells of Davros himself, with enough power to move entire planets and destroy the Universe. No, not just the Universe, that’s not big enough anymore. We have to go bigger. All Universes! All parallel worlds, alternative timelines, past, present and future. All of reality and unreality and everything in between. The Daleks will destroy all of it. Don’t worry, though, the duplicate Doctor presses some buttons and all the Daleks are destroyed.

The 27 missing planets, pulled out of time and space, are used as a power source for the Daleks' Reality Bomb, within the Medusa Cascade. Also something about bees.

The 27 missing planets, pulled out of time and space, are used as a power source for the Daleks’ Reality Bomb, within the Medusa Cascade. Also something about bees.

I hated pretty much everything about this. Every little cliché that all the “big event” episodes have. All those TV news reports from around the world, celebrity cameos, disastrous events having no apparent consequences on everyday life, big fleets of CGI things swarming over the Earth while overbearingly bombastic music plays, the Doctor running about shouting plot things at people, and so on. There’s even a ratings-grabbing tease of a cliffhanger as it seems like the Doctor is going to regenerate (ooh, they kept that a secret!) but actually he comes back as David Tennant again because… yeah. The planet Earth being carried through space by the Tardis is the giant cherry on top of a very cheesy cake, and not in a good way.

The Doctor, the other Doctor, Captain Jack, Sarah Jane Smith, Martha, Rose and Rose's mum, take the controls of the Tardis.

The Doctor, the other Doctor, Captain Jack, Sarah Jane Smith, Martha, Rose and Rose’s mum, take the controls of the Tardis.

It’s not all bad, but it almost is. Admittedly, amongst all the running around, there’s some nice moments between the reunited characters. Wilf is good, as he always is. Doing a crossover with The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood is an interesting idea, and I’ve been keeping up with both shows in parallel, so the events line up properly, but I can’t imagine the average viewer doing the same, given the target demographic for them. The return of Davros is a big moment and he is as bonkers as ever and looks disgusting, as he should. Oh, and German Daleks. It’s almost worth it for German Daleks. “Exterminieren!” Aaaaand… that’s it. That’s basically the extent of anything good in this finale.

Davros' new hand is shocking! Sorry.

Davros’ new hand is shocking! Sorry.

Even Donna has to leave, and to make sure she can never come back, there has to be some memory-enabled killswitch in her head, because in modern Doctor Who, you can’t just part ways like ordinary people. Donna has, frankly, been fantastic, and she deserves a better end than this. She has been the moral compass for the Doctor on more than one occasion, and the best decision they made was in removing any possibility of romance right from the start so that she could have balanced motives and behave in a more human fashion. She will be missed.

Unable to retain the Time Lord knowledge, Donna's memory is wiped. Because the Doctor can do that, apparently.

Unable to retain the Time Lord knowledge, Donna’s memory is wiped. Because the Doctor can do that, apparently.

Season 4 has been really good, so it’s a shame that it had to end on such a duff note. This is the ultimate lesson in why “less is more”.

Turn Left

Turn Left is this season’s “Doctor-Lite” episode (filmed alongside the previous “Companion-Lite” episode for convenience, presumably), in which Donna relives an alternative life, a life that would have played out if she’d taken a different path and never met the Doctor, depicted in this case by a literal cross-roads situation. Turn left or turn right? How big a difference can one tiny decision really make?

Left or right? The right leads to a fascist dystopia. Subtle.

Left or right? The right leads to a fascist dystopia. Subtle.

The Doctor's death happens too quickly for him to regenerate.

The Doctor’s death happens too quickly for him to regenerate.

As it happens, quite a big difference. Without Donna to save the Doctor’s life during the encounter with the Racnoss, he is no longer alive to protect Earth from all the other invading aliens. The episode is like a big recap of events, just with a different perspective on things. Without the Doctor, we learn that Martha, Sarah Jane Smith and her group of kids are killed protecting the hospital from the Judoon attack, the Torchwood Cardiff team is killed stopping the Sontarans from choking the Earth, and all of London is obliterated when the Titanic crashes into it.

Donna and her family witness the destruction of London from afar.

Donna and her family witness the destruction of London from afar.

We see all of this from Donna’s perspective, as her and her family are swept up in events and end up as refugees as Britain descends into fascism. There are some touching moments as they spend time with their temporary housemates, and sadness as said housemates are carted off to a “labour camp” with other immigrants, their resilient spirits finally crushed. It shows how messed up the world has become that we could descend to such a level, but it’s scarily believable, and it drives home just how important the Doctor is to the world, and by extension, how important Donna is to saving the entire universe.

Mr. Colasanto and his family are whisked off in a truck.

Mr. Colasanto and his family are whisked off in a truck.

The reappearance of Rose is disappointing because it takes the focus away from Donna’s character, and this is supposed to be Donna’s story, not Rose’s. Moreover, Rose has had her chance, she’s reached the end of her character’s arc, and that should be it. The wall between dimensions should be locked shut, rather than have Rose repeatedly cross over like it’s no bother at all. I don’t entirely understand how she’s able to exist in Donna’s altered timeline, or how she knows what’s going to happen to her in the future. I know more will be explained in the final two parts, and there needed to be some external influence to guide Donna’s actions, which is fair enough, but I feel it dilutes this episode with unnecessary mystery. And why “bad wolf” again? It was a meaningless phrase then and it’s a meaningless phrase now.

Rose and Donna stare at the night sky.

Rose and Donna stare at the night sky.

There have been hints about Donna’s ultimate fate sprinkled throughout this season, and in the Pompeii episode, the psychic was able to sense the alien beetle on her back (even though it wasn’t there in that timeline). I thought the presence of the beetle was fantastic; there’s something very creepy about not being able to see something attached to your back, particularly combined with the clickety-clack of insect noises. It reminded me of the giant spiders from Jon Pertwee’s final serial, Planet of the Spiders, and the Star Trek TNG episode, Phantasms, which featured small invisible insects feeding off the crew, invisible except under certain light. But, generally, big insects on your back are just creepy, man.

UNIT's special equipment reveals the Time Beetle on Donna's back. What happens when she takes off her coat?

UNIT’s special equipment reveals the Time Beetle on Donna’s back. What happens when she takes off her coat?

With the stars going out, Rose returning and universes colliding, Turn Left is a prelude to the finale of Russell T Davies’ last season as showrunner, but it stands on its own as a thematically and emotionally strong episode that would have been even stronger without such baggage. It’s a little bit self-indulgent in revisiting episodes through stock footage, but it’s a clever idea, well-written and the episode is better than I remember it being the first time around. In fact, season 4 on the whole has been better than I remember; I can only assume the finale tainted it!

Army of Ghosts / Doomsday

“This is the story of how I died”, lies Rose, in a narration that immediately demands attention. This is the season finale, the last regular appearance of Billie Piper as Rose Tyler and, as expected, a typically overblown finale that throws in everything but the kitchen sink.

An army of Cybermen emerges from the dimensional rift at the Canary Wharf branch of Torchwood.

An army of Cybermen emerges from the dimensional rift at the Canary Wharf branch of Torchwood.

I guess the problem is that none of it is really surprising. Torchwood is supposed to be a revelation, but even at the time this episode was first aired, it wasn’t. It had been namedropped and teased throughout the entire season (without subtlety, this is no “Bad Wolf”) and we’d already seen what they were capable of in the Christmas episode. So when we finally meet the Torchwood bunch, the only new thing we learn is that they’re all complete morons with more money than sense, commanded by the deplorable Yvonne, and operating some of the worst security systems imaginable (staff have training against psychic paper but electronic locks don’t? What?). The Cybermen reveal could have been amazing, but it’s spoiled by showing them earlier on (not to mention in last week’s preview). It’s only really the Daleks turning up that has an impact, but that’s mitigated by a sense of “oh bloody hell, not these again”. Thankfully, these are a rogue sect with a somewhat interesting story behind them, and their skirmishes with the Cybermen are exactly as magnificent as you would hope.

Daleks and Cybermen battle it out, with humans caught in the middle. "Delete!", "exterminate!", "delete!", "exterminate!"

Daleks and Cybermen battle it out, with humans caught in the middle. “Delete!”, “exterminate!”, “delete!”, “exterminate!”

Being a Russell T. Davies script, naturally the entire world is in peril without carefully considering the repercussions of the situation. We’re instead treated to the cliché of news reports around the world showing famous landmarks, pop culture references (lolz, ghosts on Eastenders), Rose’s mum tagging along, the Doctor being his usual ‘wacky’ self, and the necessity of a big magic reset button that sucks all the bad guys away from every single country in the world within a matter of seconds. What about the ones indoors? Still, it’s probably best to just enjoy the spectacle while it lasts and not think too much about it.

The Time War was rather less effective than first thought. Millions of Daleks were still trapped in a Genesis Ark, sealed with a void ship, floating endlessly in the space between dimensions. Basically the equivalent of finding money down the side of the sofa.

The Time War was rather less effective than first thought. Millions of Daleks were still trapped in a Genesis Ark, sealed with a void ship, floating endlessly in the space between dimensions. Basically the equivalent of finding money down the side of the sofa.

As ever, Davies does his best work when dealing with human drama, and it doesn’t get much more dramatic than Rose being forced to leave the Doctor. Now, I could whine about overly dramatic big goodbyes with tears and sad music, unlike in the old days where companions would just leave when they felt like it, but the fact of the matter is that Rose’s relationship with the Doctor is different from all of them. Such is her love for him that she would give up ever seeing her own mother again, and it seems clear to me (and to a legion of fangirls, if Google images is any indication) that the Doctor feels the same way in return. This necessitates the creation of the ‘void’ and a sealed off universe for Rose to live with her reunited family, a final goodbye for the Doctor and Rose with no hope of them ever seeing each other again. If you need closure, that’s the way to do it. I mean, it’s not like they’d ever bring her back in some awfully contrived situation, is it? Erm.

Separated by the fabric of reality itself, Rose grieves as she is permanently cut-off from the Doctor. Forever. Yes, forever! No, I'm not listening, la-la-la-laaaa!!

Separated by the fabric of reality itself, Rose grieves as she is permanently cut-off from the Doctor. Forever. Yes, forever! No, I’m not listening, la-la-la-laaaa!!

So, mixed feelings about this finale. On the one hand, at least it actually feels like a finale that has been earned, laying the groundwork throughout the second season (Torchwood, Cybermen, Pete Tyler, parallel universes), with a good cliffhanger, some good action and a sweet final farewell. On the other hand, it just feels too big for its boots at times – contrived, overblown, pushing the peril to ridiculous levels, always trying to top the previous effort. We’re not at the point where the Doctor tows the entire planet through space or where all of the known universe is going to explode, but it’s set a damaging precedent already.

Oh look, Catherine Tate is in the Tardis in a wedding dress…

What?

What?!

WHAT?!

Fear Her

On a quiet suburban street, a little girl is drawing people and making them disappear. This is a monster story where the ‘monster’ is a girl’s imagination… except the girl is actually a lonely alien who has stolen her body. Er, yeah, okay.

The Doctor uses his mind meld to talk to the Isolus inside Chloe. Coincidentally, in this episode, he also does the Vulcan salute.

The Doctor uses his mind meld to talk to the Isolus inside Chloe. Coincidentally, in this episode, he also does the Vulcan salute.

In short, it’s not very good, but there is a degree of merit in this story. The idea of ‘monsters’ being misunderstood creatures rather than purely evil beings has been a defining characteristic of some of Doctor Who’s more imaginative episodes; however it’s simplistically handled here and all of it through clumsy exposition. It’s up to the Doctor to tediously explain what’s happening, who the alien is, why it’s so lonely, what it wants, and so on. The performance of the girl is not up to the task, unfortunately.

Chloe draws the Doctor and his Tardis. Oh noes!

Chloe draws the Doctor and his Tardis. Oh noes!

The performances are awful across the board; it’s as if the Doctor and Rose have dropped into a cheap soap opera. From the prophetic old woman, pulled straight from the book of clichés, to parents whose only reaction to losing their children is to sound a bit annoyed. The girl’s mother, Trish, who is supposed to be conveying fear over her child, barely shows it and comes across emotionally detached and negligent. Instead, most of the characterisation is projected onto her by the Doctor and Rose, telling her what she must be feeling. Between them, they carry the entire story, and their chemistry and jokes are just about strong enough to hold it.

Rose is attacked by a scribble.

Rose is attacked by a scribble.

The only other remarkable thing is the 2012 setting at the London olympic games, although it’s almost irrelevant to the plot. Using the torch as an ‘icon of love’ (and warmth) is schmaltzy as hell and the Doctor running up to light the torch at the end is even worse. Obviously, now that 2012 has been and gone, David Tennant did not run up and light the torch during the opening ceremony – as that would have singlehandedly redeemed this in my eyes!

Even the torch is wrong! Failed predictions all round.

Even the torch is wrong! Failed predictions all round.

The episode has a creepy tone: pictures that move in the corner of your eye, monsters living in your closet, the silhouette of the girl at the window from outside… it’s pulling from well-worn tropes at every turn, but doesn’t have much style of its own. Kids might find it more unsettling, particularly, the shadowy ‘daddy monster’ figure at the end, but, for me, it’s too broad and doesn’t quite work. Unfortunately, it takes the peril too far with the ridiculous moment when the whole stadium of people disappears, as if the story can’t possibly work on an intimate level, so instead the whole world has to be in danger yet again. Is this going to be explained to the public as another publicity stunt? I tell you what, Torchwood has got its work cut out for it.

Love & Monsters

Love & Monsters is a brave attempt to put a spin on Doctor Who by telling a story from the viewpoint of an onlooker. It won’t be the last story to do this, and arguably it’s not the first one either – ever since Rose, Russell T. Davies has wanted NuWho to be about the people who are caught up in the Doctor’s life, more than about the Doctor himself. However, Love & Monsters is even less traditional in its storytelling, taking place by way of flashbacks and video diaries, and revealing how poor Elton has had his life irrevocably changed by merely brushing against the Doctor’s.

Elton tells his story to the world. If nothing else, it's nice to remind ourselves that Auton, Slitheen and Sycorax invasions actually had an effect on people.

Elton tells his story to the world. If nothing else, it’s nice to remind ourselves that Auton, Slitheen and Sycorax invasions actually had an effect on people.

There’s a good story struggling to get out, I believe. Down-to-earth characters are where Davies excels and, I have to admit, this new guy and his gang of Doctor-hunting nerds are easy to like. The dialogue is, by and large, fairly good. Peter Kay’s character, on the other hand, is more of a pantomime villain, and his ‘abzorbaloff’ persona is the exact wrong sort of disgusting. If it looks like a creature designed by a nine-year-old, it’s because it was. Also, fart gags? Still?

Elton runs from the Abzorbaloff.

Elton runs from the Abzorbaloff.

Oh, it’s full of silly situations, but we have to take some of it, such as the Doctor and Rose running back and forth like they’re in a Scooby-Doo episode, as Elton’s unreliable testimony, rather than something they literally do. But when you have these daft moments happening, it’s hard to take the drama seriously. Jackie Tyler, though not endearing herself by flashing her underwear around, suddenly becomes a real person when she starts talking about protecting Rose no matter what and how the people the Doctor leaves behind are the ones most affected.

It's annoying because Jackie is sometimes written well, but when she's just being a man-eating flirt, it's painful to watch.

It’s annoying because Jackie is sometimes written well, but when she’s just being a man-eating flirt, it’s painful to watch.

Perhaps this is something that could be explored better in future, perhaps the Doctor could face the consequences of his actions and see how he affects those around him, but this is not the time for it. He and Rose are barely in it, and so Love & Monsters feels like a story made by necessity of their absence more than it does a genuine attempt to ask these sorts of questions.

Stopping suddenly to look directly at the camera, the implication is that Elton represents the audience, just watching the Doctor running around on one of his mad adventures. Side note: how did he recognise Elton if he hasn't seen him since he was three years old?

Stopping suddenly to look directly at the camera, the implication is that Elton represents the audience, just watching the Doctor running around on one of his mad adventures. Side note: how did he recognise Elton if he hasn’t seen him since he was three years old?

I suppose the ‘LINDA’ group represents Doctor Who fans, conspiracy-theorists, and general nerdy cult groups who get together to talk about stuff (if Clive had survived the Autons, I imagine he’d’ve been leading them himself – assuming he’d twigged that the Doctor changes his appearance). The transformation from an investigative group into a company of friends (and a band!) is sweet, and yet another thing that the Doctor’s involvement sadly destroys, as all of Elton’s friends are killed in an unfortunate fashion. Er, except for Ursula, who survives in the form of a paving slab, with inappropriate oral sex connotations. You couldn’t make it up! (Well, evidently you could.)

Words cannot describe how creepy this is.

Words cannot describe how creepy this is.

Doctor Who can be many things, and I appreciate on the one hand that they wanted to try something different. It shows how verstatile the premise of the show is that this can almost work. On the other hand, it’s just not very good. It’s not quite as dreadful as I remember it being, but my lasting impression of Love & Monsters will continue to be Peter Kay in a big green rubber suit with his tongue sticking out and Moaning Myrtle’s face on a paving slab. Its saving grace is the ELO soundtrack, I guess.

The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit

The lighthearted previous adventure is well and truly behind us now; this next one is deadly serious (and really good!). Space-age humans, ever curious, are digging beneath a remote and ancient planetoid, uncovering the relics of a lost civilization, while it orbits a deadly black hole. An accident causes the Doctor to lose his Tardis beneath the surface, stranding them there and putting him in a uniquely vulnerable position, while he learns the evil below them is older than anything could possibly be.

It's awfully bright for a black hole, isn't it?

It’s awfully bright for a black hole, isn’t it?

Let’s just take a moment to talk about this supposedly “impossible” planet, because the Doctor’s reaction is one of utter disbelief that he could be standing on a rock orbiting a black hole. My admittedly limited understanding of astrophysics says that this isn’t actually impossible at all. A black hole is simply a large body of mass like any other (just packed in smaller), and a planet would have no more difficulty orbiting it stably than it would any other star, so long as it wasn’t within the event horizon. Given the Tardis can so casually dismiss the effects of gravity at the end, the Doctor’s disbelief is even more incongruous (would he not have first thought “hey, where did you guys get Time Lord technology” rather than “hey, it’s impossible to do what I can do so easily”?). Perhaps his shock was more in the fact that he could actually see the black hole, which ought to be impossible for something that bends light around it. But I digress! The setting is visually striking and isolated by its nature, which makes it fantastic for this story.

The Ood, possessed by the telepathic link with the 'beast'.

The Ood, possessed by the telepathic link with the ‘beast’.

Speaking of event horizons, this two-parter shares more than a passing similarity to that flavour of sci-fi, not least of which because a devil-like creature possesses a member of the crew, but also the small roster of characters who cop it one-by-one. The dirty, grimy, industrial aesthetic is very much in the same vein (see also: Alien), and even on a BBC budget, this looks really great. This is, of course, a family-friendly interpretation, so you won’t see the gore or violence of a film like Event Horizon (note, for instance, even the Ood are never shown gunned down, despite being fired at repeatedly). That said, the image of Toby with red eyes and weird symbols all over his face, standing out in the airless rocky surface, is some grade-A spooky stuff. In terms of tone, direction, lighting and overall production, this is amongst the best Doctor Who has ever looked.

Very, very creepy. Also a nice easy hallowe'en costume option.

Very, very creepy. Also a nice easy hallowe’en costume option.

Even the music has settled down. The slower-paced Satan Pit features some gentler orchestrated pieces that set the tone and complement the dialogue nicely. The Doctor and Ida, ten miles down, cut off from any rescue, and talking about what they believe in, is unusually solemn but absolutely lovely. If you didn’t know the Doctor always survives, you’d seriously question how they will get out of this. Never have the lights of the Tardis been such a sight for sore eyes.

The Doctor descending into the unknown darkness is a highlight of The Satan Pit. So much done with so little. Marvelous.

The Doctor descending into the unknown darkness is a highlight of The Satan Pit. So much done with so little. Marvelous.

Prior to this, the Doctor is his usual cocky self. It wouldn’t have stuck out at the time, but watching it now, he’s like a parody of himself, with a full spread of Tenth Doctorisms, from “humans are fantastic” to his increasingly common “I’m so sorry” spiel. The supporting cast range from good to bland, with a couple of them you’d like to see survive that don’t (poor Jefferson!). The devil helpfully points out all their character flaws/traits, meaning they don’t have to. Then there’s the Ood, who will be making further appearances in future. For now, they’re just a creepy squid-like slave race – monsters in smart suits, like an army of polite Doctor Zoidbergs.

The Doctor stands in front of a gigantic beast and talks it out. This is how all good Doctor Who episodes should end.

The Doctor stands in front of a gigantic beast and talks it out. This is how all good Doctor Who episodes should end.

The idea of the devil being based on historical fact, somehow spreading its influence over all of time and space, is not in itself an entirely new idea, but I like watching science-fiction that deals with this sort of big concept, particularly when it’s so brilliantly executed, stylish and creepy as this. Ultimately, it is a story about people overcoming their own demons and beating the odds, whether that be the crew working together and fulfilling their potential, the Doctor dealing with the loss of his Tardis and challenging his beliefs, or Rose taking charge and refusing to accept the Doctor is gone. But despite the devil being defeated, there is the ominous threat of death looming over Rose’s head, something that will come to pass before this season is over…

The Idiot’s Lantern

It’s another Mark Gatiss script and that means we’re back in a period setting, uncovering a mysterious alien influence posing as something else. It’s 1953, it’s the Queen’s coronation, and suspiciously cheap television sets are appearing all over London. I suppose it’s become a huge cliché by now, but the Doctor and Rose drop in at precisely the right moment to save the viewers of London from having their faces/minds eaten by a banished energy creature calling itself the Wire. How convenient!

Poor Mr. Magpie gets his face sucked off. I'm not going to rephrase that.

Poor Mr. Magpie gets his face sucked off. I’m not going to rephrase that.

The period setting is well-realised with lots of attention to detail in the sets, costumes, props and stock footage used on the old television sets, combining to create a believable sense of place. The direction is interesting in that it’s almost entirely ‘jaunty’ – almost every shot is at an angle. It looks good. It’s a shame the music is the usual Murray Gold bombast, as they could have had some fun with that too. The main characters certainly have some fun within the period setting, although they are overly cocky, even before they know what’s going on.

Detective Inspector Bishop doesn't do much detecting, taking the faceless people away without stopping to investigate. It's all a bit suspicious.

Detective Inspector Bishop doesn’t do much detecting, taking the faceless people away without stopping to investigate. It’s all a bit suspicious.

Before the ‘face’ reveal, I liked the bits with the gran in the upstairs room banging on the floor and everyone trying to ignore her. I thought that was really freaky. But this is as much a story about people’s faces mysteriously disappearing as it is about a prideful father trying to uphold his family’s dignity in an era when making a fuss was seen as a sign of weakness. These characters are somewhat two-dimensional, however, almost to the point of parody.

The blustering father is the character you love to hate. "I AM TALKING!"

The blustering father is the character you love to hate. “I AM TALKING!”

The Wire is an entity of consciousness or energy not unlike the Great Intelligence. Unfortunately, we don’t learn very much about her (it?) before the Doctor reverses the polarity (ho-ho!) and traps her in a betamax cassette, magically restoring everybody’s minds and faces somehow. The Idiot’s Lantern is more concerned with selling the believability of the era and in creating some scary scenarios (which it does) and less concerned with explaining the hows and whys of the plot. It’s not muddled, just underdeveloped. There’s also too much sonic screwdrivering, but this is becoming an issue in general.

Maureen Lipman plays The Wire, an evil entity with a calm and soothing BBC television voice - aside from the "HUNGRY, FEED ME" stuff.

Maureen Lipman plays The Wire, an evil entity with a calm and soothing BBC television voice – aside from the “HUNGRY, FEED ME” stuff.

But I actually quite enjoyed this on the whole. I can forgive some underdeveloped elements for a good sense of style and effective scares. The Doctor stuck in the cage full of faceless people is brilliant. It’s also good to see Rose leading the investigation for a bit, seeing things the Doctor missed, but unfortunately she gets damseled and the Doctor does his “now it’s personal” routine where he talks through his teeth and scrunches up his little face. I could take this more seriously if he didn’t have his Elvis hair throughout, but there you go.

"There is no power on this Earth that can stop me!" Grrr... Elvis SMASH!

“There is no power on this Earth that can stop me!” Grrr… Elvis SMASH!