Tardisode: A hard-hitting advert for a service called Crime Crackers, in which a slightly irritating Welsh man appeals for information on the mysterious disappearances of several children in Dame Kelly Holmes Close. It then ends with a crash zoom into a wardrobe; there’s a formula to these Tardisodes whereby each one has to end with a fleeting glimpse of the Monster Of The Week, but often, when the rest of the piece has a central conceit such as this one, it doesn’t quite fit, and the clip would be better off without it. Especially when the monster is just a wardrobe with a red light in it.
* Ah, remember when 2012 was the future, and not some far distant nostalgic utopia where it briefly felt like we had a united country and hope for the future? The prevalence of Union Jacks has slightly different connotations now, and there’s a hint of racial tension bubbling under throughout – it just so happens that the only black family on the street are the ones who are causing the paranoia, and it’s the only black workman that everyone rounds on and basically accuses of being a child abductor.
* There’s no way around this – the big baddy this week is shit. She’s basically a malevolent Penny Crayon, except Penny Crayon had a bigger budget. Having the cheap and quick episode back-to-back with the double-banked episode gives this season a very odd structure, losing all momentum as it heads to the finale. They could have made more of the personal drama to make up for the lack of a traditional monster, but it was all so broad and half-arsed. The only details that are memorable are the ones that stand out from an otherwise particularly child-friendly episode because they’re so dark – there’s hints that Chloe’s father was abusive in some way, and naturally you assume the worst.
* The scribble monster is shit, obviously, and that’s when you really know that this is a duff episode. It’s leads to Rose making a hell of a leap to go from “this is made of graphite” to “it’s the little girl that I saw in the window, she must be trapping children in drawings”. It’s one of a number of unconvincing plot contrivances which culminates in Chloe’s mum leaving her alone in her room with a bunch of colouring pencils, minutes after Rose specifically told her not to. And what’s it all leading up to? Some flashing red lights at the top of the stairs, defeated by the simple act of a mother reassuring her child for the first time in a year.
* Huw Edwards is comically useless. For over ten years now, every time I’ve seen him on TV, I’ve found myself saying “it’s not just a torch now, it’s HOPE and it’s LOVE.” I’ve now discovered that he doesn’t say that exact sentence in the episode, but close enough to make it an accurate parody. One even funnier bit that I’d forgotten was when the torch bearer fell over, and Huw asks, in the most matter of fact way possible, “does this mean that the Olympic dream is dead?”. He delivers it as if he’s asking Nick Robinson whether something or other is good news for the government, as if “the Olympic dream” is a quantifiable thing that actually exists.
* Then if Tennant’s shit-eating grin as he lights the flame isn’t enough, we get the worst piece of foreshadowing I think I’ve ever seen on Who, and possibly on TV in general. Everything is completely fine and resolved and straightforward, and then the tone switches in a split second as Tennant looks up at the sky and arbitrarily decides that “a storm’s approaching”, although we’re never told exactly how he knows this. What a load of wank.
* As you may have surmised, I’m not a huge fan of David Tennant in this particular phase of his tenure – I thought he had a brilliant start, and that he got better again later on, but right now him and Rose together are so smug that I’m glad there’s a storm coming to split them up. Despite the godawful conclusion to the episode, the next time trailer is particularly good – although I wasn’t expecting to hear a Dalek gun, as I remember being surprised by their appearance at the cliffhanger to Army of Ghosts. Maybe I wasn’t quite as familiar with what a Dalek gun sounds like at the time…