Doctor Who (David Tennant) – The Idiot’s Lantern and The Impossible Planet

The Doctor (Tennant) and Rose (Billie Piper) are on their way to an Elvis Presley appearance in New York, but instead end up in London, 1953, where the city is preparing for the Queen’s Coronation. But there are a lot more televisions around than there should be for the time, and the Doctor is pulled into a new mystery.

The Idiot’s Lantern was penned by Mark Gatiss and premiered on 27 May, 2006.

It seems a Mr. Magpie (Ron Cook), who runs the local electrical shop, is selling televisions at a huge discounted price, all because he is serving an energy based entity named the Wire (Maureen Lipman) who is absorbing the life force of viewers through the television screen – removing their faces!!

It’s an updated Whovian spin on the old addage that television rots the brain.

There is also time for some domestic drama in the form of the Connollys, Eddie (Jamie Foreman) an almost abusive father, Rita (Debra Gillett) and son Tommy (Rory Jennings). This story is actually handled pretty well.

The alien mystery, of course, takes precedence, and as always, rockets along. There are chases, monsters, and the threat of an alien menace. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think this feels like a 1950s science fiction monster movie – totally meant as a compliment.

As a side note, I love the Doctor’s scooter, how Rose is becoming a stronger and outspoken character. Of course, that does seem to get her into some serious trouble with the Wire.

It also seems that one if tbe Doctor’s catchphrases ‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry’ appears again, but not said by the Time Lord.

Yet another fun, well-paced episode.

The Impossible Planet was written by Matt Jones and aired on 3 June, 2006. It introduced us to the Ood species, and plays out like a horror film… a crew trapped, something killing them one at a time.

The TARDIS arrives on a sanctuary base on the planet Krop Tor, in orbit, impossibly, around a black hole.

There is a language littering the walls that the TARDIS cannot decipher, as it is too old, and an entity seems to be able to speak and terrify through the Ood. 

The story embraces its horror roots, and plays up the terror rather nicely. There are religious overtones with talk of the Beast and His Army. A devil-like character is even glimpsed every now and again.

It tries to walk the line between science (or as science based as Doctor Who can get) and religious horror, coupled with a haunted house tale, and does so pretty damned well. The Doctor tries to puzzle out what is going on, and seems a little troubled by what is going on.

There is also the discussion of the Ood, a slave race, and their place in the universe. 

This episode sets up the plot nicely, ups the creep factor, and plants things for future episodes. It’s actually a really strong episode, the characters are well-realised, it walks that religious horror line incredibly well.

The addition of a big spooky, sealed hole, an ancient looking city, and possession things begin to look pretty dire for the sanctuary base crew. It gets really dark, really quick, and ends on a pretty hefty climax with the possesed Ood menacing Rose and the crew, while the Doctor stares into the abyss of the unsealed hole, and contemplates the Beast that may be below… waiting.

We’ll have to wait until next week to see what happens.

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