The Idiot’s Lantern

Tardisode: An old lady’s brand new telly is on the blink, so gives it a good whack. In retaliation, the telly eats her. This is followed by a trailer for the Queen’s Coronation. Bloody repeats.

* Ah, the Doctor and Rose pissing about with scooters, grinning inanely as they reel off some suspect 50s slang. They’re definitely back to the annoying phase now that grumpy old Mickey is gone. Everything’s bright and vibrant, even the grade seems noticeably more Technicolor than usual, which serves to place a barrier between the audience and the aciton, making it harder for us to care because it all feels artificial and detached from reality.

* Cockney Hitler dad is a bit over the top, and is an irredeemable tosser – no shades of grey to be seen, and some of the dialogue reminded me of Gatiss’s earlier work, specifically Legz Akimbo’s take on kitchen sink dramas. If they’d have left it at The Doctor and Rose admonishing him, it would have been worth it for the nice bit of patriarchy smashing on a Saturday afternoon. But instead, his comeuppance is spread out over the course of the episode, and it just gets in the way of this week’s monster story.

* Aside from when they gang up against Cockney Hitler, The Doctor and Rose are both better when they’re apart at the moment. Rose gets to play the lead role for a while when she’s confronting and interrogating Magpie, and things are beginning to look up. Then she loses her face, which is careless of her, and so The Doctor gets all angry and teams up with Cockney Hitler’s son. He’s played by someone that I used to work with – it was years after this episode was made, and while I knew in the back of my mind that he’d been in Who, I failed to recognise him until I saw his name in the credits. I can only conclude that the costume and period detail had a transformative effect.

* “Hungry” is a rubbish catchphrase for a monster, “The Wire” is a rubbish name and her power is to turn everyone into Holly from Red Dwarf. I should be all over a villain based on an in-vision continuity announcer, and Maureen Lipman doesn’t do a bad job, but the character is so thin and inconsequential.

* It all becomes very cheesey towards the end. The dashboard-mounted camera in Magpie’s van reminded me of Marion & Geoff, and the long, drawn-out climbs to the top of the Ally Pally transmitter took forever. “It’s closedown, I’m afraid, and no epilogue.” Oh, shut up, you tit. Extra points for The Doctor’s use of Betamax and the action taking place on “Florizel Street”, but very little else in the plus column.


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