Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S02E07 – The Idiot’s Lantern

In the seventh episode of the second series of Doctor Who, the Doctor and Rose accidentally end up in London on the day before Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. They discover that the local police are covering up a disturbing affliction that is caused by some bizarrely inexpensive television sets. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.

Oh man. For most of this episode, the creepy factor was raised to a billion. Let me start of by saying that Maureen Lipman, who portrays The Wire in “The Idiot’s Lantern,” carries this episode solely on her tiny portions of screen time. I don’t they could have picked a woman who was better at combining the purity of 50s television with the terror of an alien being keeping itself alive through electricity.

This episode has a decent plot/mystery and a fantastic set of minor characters in the Connolly family. Mark Gatiss, who also wrote “The Unquiet Dead” last series, manages to write a pretty tight script here, one that primarily focuses on the Doctor and the Connollys. (A side note: Rose seems unnaturally jubilant after the events of the last episode, but this wasn’t filmed in order, so I understand that. To an extent.)

They mistakenly land (this happens a lot, doesn’t it?) in London, just prior to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and we get to see Billie Piper in a fantastic hoop skirt and David Tennant with a smashing new hairstyle. Actually, a lot of this episode is us watching both the main characters try something new, in a way. Of course, it’s not long before the two of them land in a new time and place and discover that SOMETHING IS WRONG! AND WE MUST FIX IT!

A whole lot seems to go wrong that the Doctor fixes, right?

Anyway, that isn’t really the point. WHAT WOULD THIS SHOW BE IF THEY DIDN’T HAVE THINGS TO SOLVE? Actually, I’d probably just stare at David Tennant making faces and that would be it. Clearly, this is a bad example. But I did appreciate that this episode had a much longer cold open than usual and I was, of course, reminded how The X-Files used to open that way, without the lead characters appearing at all. Again, it’s a very unsettling way to deliver this episode’s mystery: What if your television could talk to you? And what if your television was actually bad for you?

But for me, as interesting as the “mystery” is, the portrayal of the (somewhat) stereotypical 50s family and how that disintegrates over the course of the episode. The Connollys are the center of what happens with The Wire, though we don’t learn why Gatiss chose to focus on them until the end. There’s a very specific order to this household, with Mr. Connolly firmly in charge of everyone else there. The thing is, it isn’t until Grandma Connolly is afflicted with The Wire’s face-stealing that the dark side of Mr. Connolly’s dynamic comes to life. Maybe it’s the stress or the terror of the unknown, but I loved the parallel that Mr. Connolly transformed at the same moment as his mother-in-law, but in an entirely different way.

The Doctor and Rose witness someone being taken away by the police, but covered in a sheet, and, naturally, they’re curious. But when they try to speak to a young boy named Tommy, his father, Mr. Connolly, refuses to allow him to do so, piquing the Doctor’s interest. I mean, that’s literally the worst thing you can do to the Doctor and expect him to leave you alone. Oh, Mr. Connolly. You had no idea!

I don’t think the faceless people in this episode are quite as creepy as the faceless aliens in season five of The X-Files (guarantee you will see me mention that show a couple thousand times on this site), but it’s still hard to look at them because…well, it just looks so wrong. What’s creepier too is that, until the end, we don’t even know where these people’s souls went or if they’re any way for them to get them back.

Knowing this, the Doctor’s reaction to Mr. Connolly’s insistent desire not to help out is one of his better moments in the series. I think we’re so used to Tennant’s infectious silliness that when the moment happens (and, by the way, the camera zooms into his face quite uncomfortably), it’s possibly the most shocking scene in the series.

It’s also fascinating because the Doctor so naturally takes the side of Mrs. Connolly and her son and pits them against their father. Something could be said about how he interferes with a family he knows nothing about, and I don’t think he should be absolved of any criticism. However, especially with the revelation that Mr. Connolly has locked up his mother-in-law in a bedroom upstairs and has made no attempt to help her, I can forgive the Doctor for doing what he does to this family. Because holy god, Eddie Connolly is the douchiest of douchebags in “The Idiot’s Lantern.” And maybe this is a caricature in that sense, and I’m ok admitting that. My experience growing up was not in the slightest the same as this. (My mom ran my family, not my father.) But the Doctor’s work here is to dismantle the dishonesty Mr. Connolly lives in, a dishonesty to save his reputation at the expense of his wife’s mother and at the expense of his son’s happiness. It’s all made even worse when the Doctor discovers that Rose had been affected by all of this too.

There wasn’t much of her in this episode, since she was rendered faceless early on, but it was great to see her begin to work independent of the Doctor. She certainly doesn’t have the same smooth confidence that comes with being a Time Lord, but at least she tries to talk to Mr. Magpie, who is distributing the “infected” TVs for an absurdly low price. It’s a nice change to see Rose figure it out long before the Doctor, but then, of course, her face gets sucked away, sooooooo….is she going to take this as a sign that maybe she should leave things up to the Doctor? We’ll see, but my guess is that she’ll only feel more confident after this.

Like most plot conclusions we’ve seen, “The Idiot’s Lantern” wraps up rather rapidly, though I will say I expected the Doctor to disable the signal before it ever went out, so it made it much more tense than usual. The only really memorable thing from the conclusion of the main plot was that a pair of Chucks saved the Doctor’s life. That’s pretty awesome.

I will say that after everything that happened, most especially considering the Doctor’s role in dismantling the Connolly family and giving Mrs. Connolly the motivation to leave her husband, I hated that the Doctor and Rose told Tommy to go run after his father. SERIOUSLY, HE IS LEAVING BECAUSE OF YOU. Doesn’t it defeat the purpose to keep him around? Sorry, I just can’t accept that. It doesn’t make any sense.

All in all, this was a solid and unsettling episode of Doctor Who. And now:


  • No, seriously, could Billie Piper and David Tennant dress like that in every episode?
  • Whenever Maureen Lipman introduced herself as “The Wire,” I couldn’t help but think of the TV show.
  • I’ll have to watch it again, but I could swear one of the policemen referenced Torchwood in this episode. DUN DUN DUN.
  • “Start from the beginning. Tell me everything you know.” “Well, for starters, I know…you can’t wrap your hand round your elbow and make your fingers meet.”
  • “That’s incredible, it’s like a television, but portable! A portable television!” Oh, Bishop, you have no idea.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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443 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S02E07 – The Idiot’s Lantern

  1. bibliotrek says:

    If I recall correctly, in the Doctor Who Confidential for this episode, David Tennant gets completely obsessed by the plight of the poor actors playing the faceless people and keeps talking about how awful and surreal their experiences are. Good old DT!

    ETA: Also, I just now realized that the subtitle of the site is "Shit just got real." AHAHA SO AWESOME.

  2. echinodermata says:

    <img src=""&gt;

    The rest of the episode? Eh. I'm sorry, I just do not take the faceless people seriously. And then there's the over-the-top bit with the Wire, and it just adds up to too much cheese for me.

    <img src=""&gt;

  3. karate0kat says:

    I think they wanted him to run after his father because it was really a turning point. Connolly was thrown out of his own home, has basically lost his whole life, at least as he knew it. If there was ever a time where he might be willing to listen, reflect on himself, and change, it was then. Keeping some connection with his family, even if he's not living with them, might help him move in the right direction.

    Rose telling Mr. Connolly off about how he hangs his flags always puts a smile on my face.

    • who_cares86 says:

      I don't get what Mark has against the ending. The Doctor didn't drive Mr Connely out of his house he did it himself and he IS an idiot but he's still Tommy's dad. I think that was the right message to send. Family always stays family no matter what happens.

      • I beg to differ. Sometimes one *has* to completely disassociate from one's relatives.

        • who_cares86 says:

          Well if you're talking criminal offences and god knows what yes but throwing a family member out of your life is never something you do lightly. Falling out with your partner is one thing but as said in this episode. He's still your dad. Never seeing you own parent or child again no matter what has happened is not really an option. The blood ties are too strong and you're only denying yourself in the end. I think it would have hurt Tommy in the end if he hadn't gone after his father.

          • nyssaoftraken74 says:

            Mr Connelly has done some Bad Things(TM) but so bad as to be unforgivable for the rest of his life? I don't think so. There's nothing so irredeemable about him. He's out of the family home, so he can do no more harm, but by going after him maybe Tommy has a chance to help him be a better man.

        • whatsername says:

          Yeah, especially when they're abusive. Which is how I read Mr. Connely. I didn't understand why the Doctor told the kid to go after him either.

          • eleniel says:

            This, this, this. Mr Connelly was an abusive husband. He may not have hit Mrs Connelly, but he was still emotionally abusive to both her and their son. I understand Rose thinks Tommy should appreciate the dad he has because she never got to know her dad, but at the same time saying one should keep in contact with a parent (or any relative) just because you are related to them is AWFUL and dangerous to people who would truly be better off if they cut ties with abusive relatives.

            Now, maybe Connelly can change, who knows. But abusers generally don't, and the episode definitely didn't show that he is willing to change.

          • Reddi says:

            The doctor did not. Rose did. The doctor looked rather puzzled about it all. It makes sense that Rose, who lost her dad, would see keeping contact with even an imperfect dad as important.

        • drippingmercury says:

          I completely agree with you. The idea that "blood is blood, you have to stick with family" just smacks of privilege to me.

    • Matthew says:

      I think the problem with Mr Connolly is more in the acting than the writing, he hasn't quite found the emotional truth a lot of the time and it comes across as a bit forced.

      It's not a big problem for me though, and I think Mrs Connolly is played really well.

      • Matthew says:

        Damn! Wrong comment replied to! Sorry that doesn't make a lot of sense.

        I'll copy it to the correct comment and now, this instant, get an account so that I can edit these things. I don't have the right type or brain to do anything else.

        I agree with your analysis, anyway. The Doctor was instrumental in helping the family get the confidence to stand up to Eddie, but chucking him out and never seeing him again is not necessarily the answer, especially for his son – or at least Rose thinks so (but maybe Rose still has an over-optimistic view of fathers).

        Doctor Who often does the drama thing that I like which is not really to have a message, all the characters can get things wrong and the things they say and do belong to them and not the message of the show.

      • Matthew says:

        So first I make a comment in the wrong place and then my explanation gets eaten up by the system*.

        Posting again sometimes bring them back, but briefly: this comment is really a reply to the comment below, I put it on the wrong place. And I pretty much agree with your analysis.

        *it's HUNGREEEEE!

  4. kaybee42 says:

    Number one- Mr Connolly is NOT a caricature. They still exist today, trust me. I lived with one.
    Two- Chucks? An American word for Converse? Or just for trainers? Where did it come from?
    3. This quote: “Start from the beginning. Tell me everything you know.” “Well, for starters, I know…you can’t wrap your hand round your elbow and make your fingers meet.” Makes me LOL all the more cause a second later you can see the slightly dimmer man trying it behind the main police man. 😀

    • NB2000 says:

      "Two- Chucks? An American word for Converse?"

      The type of Converse that Ten wears are Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Hence "Chucks".

    • Matthew says:

      I accidentally posted this above, but this is what I meant to say here:

      I think the problem with Mr Connolly is more in the acting than the writing, he hasn't quite found the emotional truth a lot of the time and it comes across as a bit forced.

      It's not a big problem for me though, and I think Mrs Connolly is played really well.

      • swimmingtrunks says:

        IA. I got a better feel for his abusiveness from the reactions of his family than I did from his shouting.

    • syntheticjesso says:

      Ha! I missed that with the other cop guy. Love it.

  5. NB2000 says:

    I may never be able to hear the phrase "Are you sitting comfortably?" again without thinking of this episode and wondering if my face is about to get stolen.

    "I hated that the Doctor and Rose told Tommy to go run after his father. SERIOUSLY, HE IS LEAVING BECAUSE OF YOU. Doesn’t it defeat the purpose to keep him around? Sorry, I just can’t accept that. It doesn’t make any sense."

    ITA about that. No, just no. I was actually really enjoying The Doctor and, especially, Rose (her pointing out the flag was upside down before running off was particularly fun) in this episode until that moment. The rest of the family are well shot of Mr Connolly IMHO.

    • Sal Davis says:

      In the 1950s there was a children's radio show on the Home Service every day called Listen With Mother. There were songs and counting games and the high point was a story introduced with the words "Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.."

      Gattiss must be nearly as old as me.

      • NB2000 says:

        Oh I know (although I was under the impression it originated from Watch With Mother, a bit of poking around on Wikipedia after watching this episode set me right), hence the hearing it again part of my comment. Now if it ever comes up in something I'm watching or randomly pops into my head (as these things do) I'll start thinking of this episode.

  6. Stephen_M says:

    I do like this episode but wish it had been anywhere but straight after the Lumic episodes. Too much ham in a short space of time. Thought Rose was WAY out of character on a couple of occasions too, the union flag bit in particular and being dumb enough to go off on her own AGAIN as that's worked so well before. Enjoyable cheese but no more than that.

    • Spugsy says:

      You could argue that as there are so many different writers it's inevitable that she won't be exactly the same each time. Plus the episodes aren't written at the same time, so are they going to know if one writer has developed her character in a different way? I don't know it's just a thought!

      • Stephen_M says:

        I know I've had this argument before on here but as RTD rewrites more-or-less every script for just that reason then yeah, I do expect characters to be consistent. Plus while they may be written by different writers it's a LONG process complete with drafts and notes on exactly this sort of thing so the only time you should really get noticeable issues is when episodes are switched from their planed order.

        In this particular case the in-depth knowledge on the Union Flag just seemed out of the blue for Rose, think back to that 'I got the Bronze' speech in, uh, Rose (man that's confusing), never got the impression this is someone who does well in general knowledge trivia. But the wandering off thing I have more problems with to be honest. Not the investigating itself but actually confronting Magpie was stupid and after everything she's seen she should have known better. Or, to put it another way, it's the sort of thing you expect a companion to do in their first series not their second.

        It's also a REAL shame that there's not even a hint of what happened with Mickey here. Such a huge wasted opportunity and while of course there could have been a dozen adventures between episodes it seems harsh when we loose not only a major character but one that's been a huge part of her life too. Unfortunately it also plays into the impression that she's just not that likeable a character if she recovers faster than the audience which, again, is a shame as this was a great opportunity to give her a really good sympathetic episode showing her being affected by events in the parallel world.

        Heh, and a great big hi and howdy to the 'you say anything bad about rose, you get downvoted' crowd! *waves* I did learn from last time mind… I brought enough popcorn for all! Here you go, pass it round…

    • rys says:

      Dumb if she takes some initiative to investigate, and useless and clingy if she stays with the Doctor. Rose can't win.

      • MowerOfLorn says:

        Really, that's the problem of every companion, isn't it?

        • rys says:


          The real reason why the Doctor picks up companions: the only way he gets to have adventures is when they get captured and need rescuing. 😉

      • sabra_n says:

        Actually, I really appreciated that hurrah, she managed to unhook herself from the Doctor for long enough to do her own investigation. I hated the plot for punishing her for it by turning her into a damsel in distress so that Tennant could make his I ARE A BADASS face and rescue her. Eurgh.

    • sabra_n says:

      I like that she went off to investigate on her own. I hated that the plot punished her for it.

    • rys says:

      I agree about the episode placement. I think it could have worked after Tooth and Claw but they have some tonal similarities that may have been too much. Later in the season would probably have been better (the most I can say without discussing future episodes).

      • Spugsy says:

        Actually I'm sure I read somewhere that this episode actually should have come later in the season but they changed it last minute.

        • maccyAkaMatthew says:

          Yes, the originally planned running order was:

          1: New Earth
          2: The Girl in the Fireplace
          3: School Reunion
          4/5: Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel
          6: The Runaway Bride
          7/8: The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit
          9: The Idiot's Lantern
          10: Love and Monsters
          11: The 1920s (Stephen Fry's script)
          12/13: Army of Ghosts/Doomsday

          When the second Christmas special was commissioned by the BBC, RTD moved The Runaway Bride into that slot, freeing up an episode for series two. Because Moffat's take on the Madame de Pompadour story was more complex than RTD had initially invisaged, he moved it back to #4 and dug out the Queen Victoria commission (which had been dropped when the writer came up with an unsuitable outline) for #2, writing Tooth and Claw in a week.

          That meant that they now had two two-parters in a row, so The Idiot's Lantern was moved forward to go in between them. Mark Gatiss has remarked that he had to rush the script somewhat and wasn't entirely happy that he managed to get all the elements to gel, I think.

          Then The 1920s was obviously going to cost more than they could afford, so they delayed until series three and pulled Fear Her out of the extra commissions, which meant Matthew Graham working on it rather faster than he'd hoped (if they'd had the money to do The 1920s then Fear Her would probably have ended up in series three).

          When series three did roll around, Stephen Fry was too busy to complete the rewrites on his script, so it was dropped.

          You can read all about the production process here:

          The specific entry for The Idiot's Lantern is here:

  7. who_cares86 says:

    "Hmm Betamax." Somehow that always makes me laugh.

    • wahlee says:

      I LOVE that the Doctor saves the world with a Betamax. It's so uber-geeky.

      (My family still has a working Betamax, which is good because some of the stuff we taped off the air is unavailable on VHS or DVD. Heh.)

  8. Karen says:

    I hated that the Doctor and Rose told Tommy to go run after his father.
    I read that scene as them telling Tommy not to completely lose the relationship with his father.

    Rose seems unnaturally jubilant after the events of the last episode
    Also, the show generally runs with the assumptions that there are adventures going on in between episodes so we don't actually know how long its been since she said goodbye to Mickey.

    For me this episode might as well be titled “The One in Which Rose and the Doctor Are Adorable”. Lol. Idk. This plot just doesn’t really do it for me, even though I do find the faceless people supremely creepy.

    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;
    The Doctor [impersonating Elvis]: You going my way, doll?
    Rose: Is there any other way to go Daddy-o? Straight from the fridge, man!

    The Doctor/Rose moments in this episode and adorable and plentiful. Aside from the aforementioned scooter of cuteness, the Doctor and Rose are adorable when they go investigating at Tommy’s house.

    <img src=""&gt;

    I love the way that Rose messes with Mr. Connolly because she knows that he’s a bully.

    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;
    Rose: 'Scuse me Mr Connolly, hang on a minute. Union Jacks?
    Eddie: Yes, that's right, isn't it?
    Rose: That's the Union Flag. It's the Union Jack only when it's flown at sea.
    Eddie: Oh. Oh, I'm sorry. I… I do apologise.
    Rose: Well, don't get it wrong again. There's a good man, now get to it!
    The Doctor: Right then! Nice and comfy, at Her Majesty's Leisure.
    [to Rose]
    The Doctor: Union Flag?
    Rose: Mum went out with a sailor.
    The Doctor: Oh, I bet she did.

    Their reunion is epic. They way that their faces light up when they see each other just makes me grin, as does the way that they just hug each other like they’re holding on to each other for dear life.

    <img src=""&gt;

    The episode ends with them walking the streets, enjoying the coronation celebration. I love that the episode started with them planning to go see Elvis and just enjoying having the universe at their fingertips and it ends the same way. They just love being together and love traveling in space and time together.

    Rose is pretty great in this episode too. She’s the first one to notice that something isn’t quite right. There are too many TV aerials, and Rose picks up on that. And then Rose notices that something is weird with the TV, so she goes off to investigate Magpie Electricals. Rose is more and more coming into her own. Like, as much as I love series 1 Rose, this isn’t something that she would have done. Series 2 is when Rose really starts to grow into herself as a hero in her own right.

    The Doctor is great in this episode too. I love that moment when he sees faceless!Rose. I love slightly emo and righteously angry Doctor.

    The Doctor: They did what?
    Bishop: I'm sorry?
    The Doctor: They left her where?
    Bishop: Just… in the street.
    The Doctor: The street. They left her in the street. They took her face, and just chucked her out and left her in the street. And as a result, that makes things… simple. Very very simple. Do you know why?
    Bishop: No.
    The Doctor: Because now, Detective Inspector Bishop, there is now power on this earth that can stop me!

    There’s also this heart breaking face that the Doctor has when he sees Rose’s face in the TV.
    <img src=""&gt;

    The Doctor also has a lot of fun moments.

    Bishop: Start from the beginning. Tell me everything you know.
    The Doctor: Well, for starters, I know… you can't wrap your hand round your elbow and make your fingers meet.

    This episode also gives me one of my favorite gifs.
    <img src=""&gt;

    • swimmingtrunks says:

      That is the cutest/ most up beat deal with it gif I have seen!

    • echinodermata says:

      For me this episode might as well be titled “The One in Which Rose and the Doctor Are Adorable”. Lol. Idk. This plot just doesn’t really do it for me

      Agreed; love the clothes and the fact this ep is a good source of gifs, though.

      <img src=""&gt;

    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

      It's heart breaking that all the other captured faces are miming `help me` and Rose is clearly saying, `Doctor!`

      But before that, the line, "Only and idiot hangs the Union Flag upside down, Shame on you! " followed by a very Doctor-ish grin and scarper. She's learning from the best!

  9. PeterRabid says:

    I'm no Doctor/Rose shipper, but there were some seriously adorable moments in this episode. The whole opening scene in which they believe they're in New York is hilarious from an American's stand-point. When the Connollys open the door and they say "Hiiii," I seriously snorted with laughter. Rose's insistence that Union Jacks are only flown at sea was one of those rare moments when I really loved her character to bits. Though I have to say, DT's hair was super distracting in this episode.

    I couldn't take The Wire all that seriously. Every time she said "Feed me!" my mind went straight to Audrey II from "Little Shop of Horrors."

    Supposedly they cut one of the Doctor's lines saying he was afraid of transmitter towers because he "fell off one once." When I heard of that I simultaneously went "A Classic Who reference :D" and "NOOO!!! FOUR!!! D:" I think they should have kept it in.

  10. Karen says:

    I LOVE BILLIE PIPER'S POP CAREER. lol. I definitely have all of her CDs in my iTunes. DON'T JUDGE ME.

  11. diane says:

    "My mom dated a sailor."
    "I'll bet she did!"

    Some great lines, very creepy, but there were some real holes that keep this from feeling like a solid episode. "Hungry! Hungry!" has to be the worst dialog ever given to a villain.

    This is my second time through this episode, and I never got the feeling that Mr. Connolly became such a jerk only when his mother-in-law had her face stolen. In fact, he was rather overbearing towards Tommy before they got the television, which would of course be before Tommy's gran got her face stolen.

    At the end, it was only Rose who sent Tommy off for his father. The Doctor only watched. Once again, Rose is trying to fix a family, and the parallel with Rose having lost her own father was anvillicious. I do like Rose very much, but this "fixing" is a deep character flaw, one that is very understandable considering her own family background. But the person she's always trying to fix is herself.

  12. Minish says:

    Not one of my favorite episodes, but I don't particularly mind it.

    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

      I think it's a quiet, small scale episode that suffers a bit from the structure of this series, wedged in between a couple of `blockbusters`. But judging it entirely on its own merits, I think it's a bit of a hidden gem.

  13. Matthew says:

    I am rather fond of this one and may say more about it later.

    Before there are too many comments, though.

    Mark, are you planning on watching some more old Doctor Who at the end of this series? If so, you should probably do another voting post, assuming that's still how you want to choose.

    You could do it before or after the Christmas special, easily – or even before and after if you wanted to do two. The Christmas specials are quite standalone.

  14. NB2000 says:

    Curse you! I got it stuck in my head without even clicking the link.

    Well now I have to go dig it out of the depths of my iPod (thank god for Now albums).

  15. bookling says:

    Oh, you mean these guys?

    <img src=""&gt;

    I don't know – they're definitely scarier than the faceless people in this DW episode, but not nearly the scariest thing on the X-Files. Donnie Pfaster I'm looking at you.

    • Treasure Cat says:

      So not prepared for a pic like that when I am innocently scrolling through comments D:
      *having nightmares tonight*

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      YES THE REBEL ALIENS. They are scarier in Patient X and The Red and the Black when they are first introduced.

    • Ali says:

      Oh god I could have lived without that picture. 😛

      They've got to at least be in the top ten freakiest things in the X Files, and that's saying a lot.
      Though for me – those invisible things in Detour, = NIGHTMARES FOR WEEKS.

      Though that was a great episode. Oh god no, I'll try not to get started on the X Files! Doctor who, Doctor Who…

      • amandajane5 says:

        For some reason that's the only X-Files episode I've ever seen, and it's always the one that's on when I'm flipping through channels, and those damn invisible thing scared me so much I've never been able to watch the rest of the series, even with all of the great things I've heard about it!

      • bookling says:

        Those things are VERY VERY SCARY. That's one of those episodes that I prefer to watch in broad daylight. The scariest things in the X-Files to me are Donnie Pfaster, Eugene Tooms, the Peacock family in "Home", Leonard Betts, and Flukeman.

    • Hypatia_ says:

      Holy crap those are creepy. X-Files has been on my to-watch list for some time, but now I'm not so sure I want to watch it if those things are going to be there…

  16. murgatroid1 says:

    I definitely tried to wrap my fingers around my elbow. Didn't work.

  17. ferriswheeljunky says:

    Oh wow, that song was literally half of my childhood. Why have I not heard it for so long?

  18. Kaci says:

    I love how a few episodes ago, several people used the fact that the Doctor is perfectly fine/happy in the episode immediately following, "The Girl in the Fireplace," as proof that his feelings for her were entirely superficial, and yet now, we see Rose perfectly fine/happy in the episode immediately after losing Mickey, and yet I spent most of yesterday trying to argue the point that Rose hadn't demonstrated enough care about Mickey to justify all that crying when they said goodbye.

    Fun times with hypocrisy.

    Other than that, I have literally nothing to say about this episode. I don't dislike it, but I tend to forget it exists because it just wasn't that memorable to me.

    • Matthew says:

      The person that made that point hasn't posted a comment yet. I didn't see anyone else agreeing or saying the same thing elsewhere, so I'm really not sure about several people.

      I take it that some time has passed since the last adventure, which is also what I think happened after "The Girl in the Fireplace".

      The show is written to make sense for the viewers that don't catch every episode (and there are millions of them in the UK) so emotional stuff isn't usually carried over from one story to the next. These are largely standalone adventures – or at least they're supposed to work that way.

      The overall structure of the series rewards people who see every one, but it's designed not to be essential to watch it that way. Hence if something depends on a previous story we'll usually get an explanation or a flashback or both.

      The easiest way I find to make sense of this is the gap between adventures idea. If you want, you can construct some theory about this episode telling us about the characters in the previous ones, but that's in no way intentional on the part of the production team and I think it makes more sense to follow my assumption.

      For what it's worth, there are three spin-off novels set between The Age of Steel and the series finale. And the whole book series is predicated on the idea that we don't see all the adventures in the TV series.

      • Kaci says:

        Oh, I wasn't denying that time hadn't passed between the episodes. In my opinion, a lot of time does. If I believed that Rose did in fact care for him as much as their goodbye scene indicated, I still wouldn't expect her to be upset in this episode. That's the way Who tends to work. It's a fact of the show.

        I was simply pointing out that it works both ways, and that since Rose is happy here, it can hardly be used as an indication of Ten's feelings that he wasn't upset in the episode immediately after The Girl in the Fireplace. I wasn't trying to use it to bolster my argument, but rather to point out that the lack of emotions in the next episode after any show can't really be used as an argument.

        I agree with you, is what I'm saying. My point was just that if someone uses Ten's lack of distress over Reinette in the episode after hers, they have to apply the same principal here. Either it's indicative of their feelings in both cases, or it's not in either. My personal opinion is that it isn't in either. That's all I was trying to say.

        • Matthew says:

          Right, I understand now. I made a post in the comments to the last episode about how deciding to ship characters can lead to something like confrimation bias where you tend to interpret things in such a way that it backs up your pre-conceived idea of the characters. I suppose that extends to making an argument in one circumstance and ignoring the same argument in a different one.

          I suspect this applies in some degree to all the battling elements of fandom, which is possibly why the discussions so often end up being unresolved rows.

    • kilodalton says:

      You're referring to me on GITF. I didn't say anything about Mickey, so I don't see how I'm a hypocrite …

      But since a question was implied there: Do I think Mickey meant something to Rose? At one time, maybe. Others may disagree – and that's fine – but I think by the time ROTC rolled around, what he *represented* to Rose (a fail safe, backup, Tin Dog, Old Faithful) was what she was crying over losing, not him per se. We haven't seen them close since well … ever? IMO again. I think her tears in her mom's flat were mainly about losing alt!Jackie and yet another Pete (plus, sure, why not, maybe the emotional toll taken by the other emotional body blows of Sarah Jane, Reinette, sure – maybe even "Old Faithful" I suppose you could argue). But do I think it was a huge deal for her to lose him? Nope. Do I think it was a huge deal for Ten to lose Reinette? Nope.

      That's how I see it at least, ymmv.

      • Kaci says:

        I wasn't referring to any one specific person. Believe it or not, the "Ten's fine in the next episode, so he must not've cared about Reinette" argument has been made before, and it probably will be made again after. I was simply pointing out that if one applies it to his situation, one must also apply it to Rose's. And as I have had this same argument over and over again not just on this site, but on others as well: I believe Rose's behavior in general, but especially towards Mickey was deplorable. And several people I have had that argument with have argued back to me that she did, in fact, care for him genuinely, that she simply cared for the Doctor more. Said people have also been some of the people to make the "Ten didn't care about Reinette because he was fine in the very next episode," argument. I was simply pointing out that said people who said it was proof that he didn't and yet wasn't proof in Rose's case were making a false argument built on hypocrisy.

        While I may disagree with your interpretation of Rose, The Doctor, Reinette, Mickey, and all permutations of a relationship thereof, I did not call you a hypocrite. I specifically went out of my way in this threat to not "get personal," since I was accused of that on my thread in the previous episode.

        If you choose to see it as personal, then that is entirely up to you. It was not, however, intended that way.

        • kilodalton says:

          "I was simply pointing out that said people who said it was proof that he didn't and yet wasn't proof in Rose's case were making a false argument built on hypocrisy. "

          I would agree with this. Frankly, I ((heart)) Rose for reasons beyond the scope of this post, but yeah her behavior towards Mickey makes me cringe. I don't think she's aware of how awful she can be … which is why I overlook it in terms of how I judge her as a fictional!person, but again that's just me.

          "If you choose to see it as personal, then that is entirely up to you. It was not, however, intended that way. "

          Oh nononono!! Thank you for explaining that =) I assumed you meant me because I had "first comment!!!" on that episode post and had a bunch of replies. So I assumed wrong.

          (Dude, why did someone rate you down for that comment? Rating you back up to +1) =P

          • Kaci says:

            Maybe the "if you choose to see it," came off as catty? (It wasn't meant to be.) On the previous review, things got…well, ugly in my thread, and in my attempt to keep things civil in this one, I think I may have gone from "dispassionate" (my intention) to "sounds catty" (not my intention) with the "if you choose to see it that way," remark.

            At any rate, I certainly respect your differing opinion, and I just wanted to clarify that my comments have not been directed at any one person, but were instead directed at various people I have encountered in fandom who did use the described hypocritical argument. As long as someone doesn't try to apply it to one but not the other, while I may disagree, I certainly wouldn't call them a hypocrite and for anyone (not just kilodalton) who read the comment and thought I might be referring to them when they hadn't used it on one but not the other, then to those people, too: I wasn't talking about you, promise!

            • kilodalton says:

              "Maybe the "if you choose to see it," came off as catty? "

              I didn't take it that way, at any rate! =)

              And I respect your differing opinion too!

  19. witbeyondmeasure says:

    Technically Rose’s skirt is a poodle skirt (very, very tiny nit-pick).

    Also, who wouldn’t want to spend an hour a week watching Teninch’s facial expressions? Not me. That’s why I watched him in Hamlet and enjoyed the wonderful nineties Scottish sitcom ‘Taking Over the Asylum’, but that was enhanced by him saying ‘loonies’ at least once an episode in his lovely Scottish accent.

    • kaybee42 says:

      I've never heard of either type of skirt! What is the difference between the two? or is it like the difference between a trilby and a fedora and it is difficult to draw a line?

      • swimmingtrunks says:

        A poodle skirt is what you see rose wearing (usually has the image of a poodle stitched on it, thus the name), a hoop skirt is a skirt with an underlying structure to give it shape, usually constructed with hoops (again, thus the name). A search via google images should give you an idea of just how different they are!

        • Megan says:

          Yes! I was going to say this. Poodle skirt! My mom had one. 😛

          • amandajane5 says:

            I was very into the 50s in middle school and actually made my own! Crinolines are important with a poodle skirt, but it's definitely not a hoop skirt – think Scarlett O'Hara with those!

    • Wee-Asher says:

      'Taking Over the Asylum" = some of the best tv ever!

  20. MichelleZB says:

    Billie Piper is the Robin Sparkles of the UK.

  21. Blabbla says:

    "Whenever Maureen Lipman introduced herself as “The Wire,” I couldn’t help but think of the TV show.

    Heh, for me it's the other way around. I think of this episode when people mention the show.

  22. Taylor says:

    I know that both Rose's and the Doctor's attitudes are jubilant considering the events of the last episode, but many times there most likely is a break between episodes; they write it assuming we don't see all of their adventures. Like in "Bad Wolf", Rose describes those planets that she went to with the Doctor, but we, as viewers, didn't see them. That is probably what they wanted to happen here as well, at least in my opinion.

    • NeonProdigy says:

      I agree. It definitely feels like there's sometimes a time gap between the events of one episode and the next. I doubt that the Doctor and Rose, right after leaving the alternate Earth, decided to go see Elvis (though, if your ex-boyfriend got stuck on an alternate Earth forever and you needed cheering up, going back in time to see Elvis live might be a good way to cheer up, idk 😛 ).

  23. swimmingtrunks says:

    To add: Another thing that bothers me about the Doctor's shoutiness, I just realized, is that it's the same sort of behavior that they use as shorthand to show Mr. Connolly as abusive. So one minute the Doctor is taking him down for his behavior (by using fire against fire, which isn't the best example to set, but could reasonably be the best way to get to him), and the next minute he's the big guy in charge shouting at everyone because Rose lost her face. Not exactly the same situation, I know, but it definitely paints the Doctor into the white privileged male role- and not at all critically, I think. It seemed like to me were were supposed to feel his anger was justified.

    ETA (because I had too many cups of coffee this morning so I keep coming up with things and I don't want to make yet another post): Some people have once again noted that Rose's cheerfulness could be accounted for by unseen adventures between episodes. That's likely, but I think it could be just as likely that she's so cheerful here because she's upset about Mickey. I guess it's more in character for her to mope, but sometimes when you're sad you throw yourself into something fun and distract yourself, because there's really nothing you can do to fix things. Hell, the Doctor himself uses this coping mechanism like EVERY DAY OF HIS LIFE. Who's to say he hasn't roped Rose into it too?

    • sabra_n says:

      Not exactly the same situation, I know, but it definitely paints the Doctor into the white privileged male role- and not at all critically, I think. It seemed like to me were were supposed to feel his anger was justified.

      And there, in a nutshell, is what I hate about Ten. He's had that yucky privilege from the moment he turned on Harriet in his very first episode, and the show never digs at him deeply enough for it. I see quite enough of the macho male rescuer in every other show, thank you very much. The delight of the Doctor (normally) is that he isn't like that.

      • arctic_hare says:

        It's one of the major things (perhaps the biggest) that bugs me about Ten too, so you are not alone.

    • arctic_hare says:

      Ten is definitely much more shouty than Nine, and it's one of the reasons I like Nine more.

      • swimmingtrunks says:

        Yeah, like I said below- it was silly of me to compare across a regeneration. I had no idea that I disliked Ten's shouty nature (though I was definitely growing weary of it later on) until I saw a different Doctor, and upon review, I like Nine more too. It's almost absurd what a 180 my feelings for Ten have done. Well, maybe more like a 105.

        • arctic_hare says:

          Yeah, I think Aud – er, I mean, The Wire ate it, cause I got the notification and then… nothing.

          It's not that silly, I mean, they're the same person, just different versions, and there is the fandom thing of "x Doctor is my Doctor", and everyone has their own reasons for liking one incarnation over another. I hope this is making sense. 😡 I had a hard time adjusting to Ten after Nine's tenure, Nine was "my" Doctor at the end of Ten's still… and now it's Eleven. But I don't want to say any more about the slightly odd way this happened just yet. =D My feelings on Ten flip-flop depending on the episode.

        • RocketDarkness says:

          I'm the same. While I don't hate Ten by any means, he isn't the bee's knees he used to be when I watched the show for the first time.

      • Megan says:

        I love his shouty and his taking control. I’m assuming 11 is more Doctor-y than 10, and while I’m glad that now I get to see the character everyone used to love 30 years ago, I still love 10’s different sort of personality. And while it may be a typical role he’s showing, being testosterone-y every once in a while, I think it’s the whole idea that at the heart of it, 10 is nearly human. And getting enraged at your girlfriend/best friend/whatever’s possible cold hearted murderer is completely understandable.

  24. pica_scribit says:

    Re: The disconnect in Rose's emotions between this episode and the last, it's been implied in a couple of places that we don't see *all* of their adventures, so who knows what they've been doing since the last time we saw them? It could have been weeks ago for them.

    Also, I think it's pretty much implied that the TARDIS takes the Doctor where he's needed, which explains why they usually end up having wacky adventures wherever they go.

    And I don't think the Doctor sent Tommy to try and bring his father back; I think they were just acknowledging the importance of the relationship between a father and son, and saying that the relationship could change if Tommy wanted to make the effort. Mr Connolly was not necessarily beyond saving. It's nice that his son didn't just give up on him, however much of a dick he was.

  25. EmmylovesWho says:

    They mistakenly land (this happens a lot, doesn’t it?)

    TARDIS is broken, needs more pilots, The Doctor is a crap pilot – yeah, it happens a lot!

    I really love this episode.

  26. who_cares86 says:

    Does anyone else really want the Doctor to actually meet Elvis now?

  27. EmmylovesWho says:

    Pre actress Billie. Hello, teenager hood.

    Don't forget this one!

  28. kelseyintherain says:

    Mr. Conolly: He loves his gran this one. Proper little mummie's boy all around!
    Aunt Betty: Oh, you know what they say about them. Eddie, you want to beat that out of him.

    Ugh, I hate this bullshit.

    That said, I think Rose's cheerfulness at the beginning of this episode is due to the fact there's probably been a lot of time between the Age of Steel and The Idiot's Lantern. With Doctor Who, we only get to see the adventures that make for an interesting plot. The Doctor has many off screen adventures with his companions where nothing goes wrong. I suspect that after The Age of Steel the Doctor took Rose to a lot of nice places to cheer her up (which is kind of sad, actually).

    Also, I love Rose getting her Detective-Awesome on in this episode, and the scenes with her and the Doctor being cute. 🙂

    • who_cares86 says:

      "Mr. Conolly: He loves his gran this one. Proper little mummie's boy all around!
      Aunt Betty: Oh, you know what they say about them. Eddie, you want to beat that out of him.

      Ugh, I hate this bullshit."

      Why, it's meant to be a reflection on life in the 50's. It's not like the writers they have anything against mummie's boys. One of the main characters in the Sarah Jane Adventures is a mummie's boy and that's almost always played sympathetically and never as anything bad.

      • kelseyintherain says:

        Oh, I know. I should have been more clear I guess. I meant to say that I hated that 1950s perfect family point of view. It's very clear in the episode that the writers are not condoning this view at all.

      • Matthew says:

        Also the number of gay men involved in the making of this episode (writer, producer, exec producer/showrunner and director) suggests that the well know what that implies and that when Tommy takes a stand against his father he's also taking a stand against that klnd of attitude.

        It wasn't until 1967 that homosexuality was made legal in the UK and it was Tommy's post-war generation that played a large part in bringing that about.

        • Megan says:

          Made legal? What does ‘made legal’ entail? I should catch up on just how liberal the UK is. And there is little to no racial discrimination in Who either. How does that reflect in the UK?

          • maccyAkaMatthew says:

            Up until 1967 it was a criminal offence for two men to have sex and the police would regularly entrap gay men in public toilets and other cottaging locations in order to prosecute them. Alan Turing, the genius who cracked the Enigma code, lost his government job after being prosecuted and committed suicide after undergoing a programme designed to turn him striaght.

            Lesbianism wasn't covered by the law, apparently because Queen Victoria refused to believe it existed – but socially lesbians and gay men were both outsiders. Much is made of the supposed counter culture in the lat 60s, but for the true heroes of the age were Roy Jenkins, the Home Secretary who lliberalised the divorce laws and got rid of theatre censorship, and Leo Abse and David Steel, who put forward bills to legalise homosexuality and abortion, respectively and which Jenkins gave government support to.

            The gay rights movement in the UK didn't really get going until the 1970s and even the late 80s the government introduced clause 28 of the local government bill to outlaw the promotion of homosexuality in schools and libraries. It has since been repealed, but it feels like a big cultural shift only really happened through the 90s and into this century. That's why stuff like Queer as Folk was genuinely ground breaking.

            The race thing is mixed, the UK has always been pretty tolerant of outside influences so, by comparison to other European countries we do quite well. And apparently the UK has the highest incidence of mixed-race couples in the world. Despite that, though, there has also been widespread racism and in the 1960s and 70s it was ingrained in the culture as well. A couple of low points for Doctor Who were The Tomb of the Cybermen and The Talons of Weng Chiang, both great stories despite their failings. For context, the BBC ran an entertainment show called The Black and White Minstrel Show, which had men in blackface singing minstrel songs. It ran until 1978 and was very popular.

            In general Doctor Who is engaging in some revisionist myth-making on the issue of race, putting an emphasis on multiculturalism and diversity (see the black couple in the street party at the end of this episode, for example). This is partly to fall into the general diversity aims that the BBC has but also it would be hard to do justice to historical racism in an episode without making it the theme of the episode (or "a very special episode") and that's a tough challenge in an adventure show about aliens, which never wants to come across as preachy. Remembrance of the Daleks did do a good job of examining 1960s racism, though, and they had a good allegorical go at colonialism and apartheid in The Mutants (which Salman Rushdie still branded as racist in The Satanic Verses, even though the intention was anti-racism).

            Race in Britain is a huge subject, but here are a couple of places you could start:

            For a lot of detail, try the book There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack by Paul Gilroy.

            • nyssaoftraken74 says:

              Steven Moffat has quipped that he's the first straight producer of Doctor Who since 1979. 🙂

              • maccyAkaMatthew says:

                That's correct (although I'm not sure about the TV Movie*), but that is only two people!

                The Doctor has always been something of a gay icon in the UK – unconventional in dress and attitude and often travels with a beautiful woman that he shows no sexual interest in. Despite all the "gay agenda" talk, Davies' contribution has actually been to make the Doctor more heterosexual than he had previously been. Which is OK, I think, since the TV landscape (including Doctor Who) has changed sufficiently not to need coded gay icons any more – you can just make a character gay. There's another view of the gay cultural thing here:

                Also, here's a not entirely serious overview of all the LGBT moments in the entire series (SPOILERS for anything you haven't already seen, obviously):

                Edit: also the early Doctor Who was very much conceived by outsiders. Verity Lambert, a young Jewish female producer in a world dominated by older white men and Waris Hussein, a gay Muslim immigrant from India, also starting his career, who directed the first serial and also Marco Polo. Even Sydney Newman, who was head of drama and set the series in motion, was Canadian, and so from outside the British establishment.

                Verity Lambert and Waris Hussein went on to work on Shoulder to Shoulder about the suffragettes, which was just one of the many achievements in her legendary career, which included The Naked Civil Servant in 1975, which had a major impact in starting to change the cultural perceptions of gay men in the UK.

                *no information on Philip Segal's sexuality in his Wikipedia article.

            • maccyAkaMatthew says:

              "(which Salman Rushdie still branded as racist in The Satanic Verses, even though the intention was anti-racism). "

              And of course Rushdie famously had to go into hiding when angry Who fans declared a fatwah against him because of this.

              • NeonProdigy says:

                I feel bad for laughing at this…

                But since I've actually read The Satanic Verses and know about the whole fatwah thing, and I'm a Who fan, I find this to be hilarious.

                • maccyAkaMatthew says:

                  You should have seen the book burnings at Who conventions, it was nasty stuff.

                  When all the actual fatwah stuff went down, I used to wear a badge that said "I am Salman Rushdie".

              • notemily says:

                "I know, it got SO out of hand!"

            • mkjcaylor says:

              Just wanted to say thanks for this! I really appreciate it. I know what it's been like here (US) in our past, but here there's no real 'requirement' for there to be ethnic or multiracial casts or characters in anything, I don't think. Well, obviously. Look at the majority of the casts in our shows. ;P

              I do appreciate the complete lack or racism in Who (except during episodes set in a different time period, and then it is only briefly mentioned) without actually having people say LOOK THERE IS NO RACISM, THAT IS COOL. This is different for the homosexual 'agenda' in the show, which does sort of stand out more I think. But I appreciate it, too.

              And one thing I had never thought of– the Doctor as a gay icon. I guess I'm a nuWho-er and so my Doctor has always been very heterosexual. But I understand how it could be perceived that way especially in the 60's or 70's.

      • kelseyintherain says:

        Oh, I know. I should have been more clear I suppose. I was trying to say that I hated that perfect-family philosophy of the 1950s. I think it's quite obvious that the writers are not trying to condone this attitude,

  29. Claire says:

    I don’t even actively like Doctor Who. I actively DISlike Tennant’s tenure (in general, specifically his acting, whichever and both). But I read your recaps and enjoy them and read the comments and am interested and sometimes I debate a bit.

    You’re a good media hub, sir.

  30. Znachki says:

    Ahhh…Mark Gatiss, who can bring creepy in an entirely different way than the Moff. Fun Fact: Gatiss is a huge, huge horror fan, and wrote a biography of James Whale (director of Frankenstein) and did the recent "A History of Horror" documentary series.

    Now of course, he's writing the new Sherlock series with Moffat.

  31. Vicki_Louise says:

    This episode isn't a love episode for me, but it is a really really really like episode.

    Maureen Lipman is so deliciously evil!

    Billie's dress is gorgeous! I love Rose's clothes for this series. For the first series they had a man dressing her, but for this series they've got a woman (called Louise Page) dressing everyone and you can really tell. In series one Rose was dressing as a teenager now she's dressing like a young woman.

    The thing i love the most about this series is how much fun the Doctor and Rose have, i think the shock of time/space travel has worn off for Rose so now she's just enjoying the adventure. This series is always so much fun to watch for me.

    David Tennant and his hair *sigh*
    David Tennant's everything really. *sigh* (And by everything, i mean everything, i've seen THAT picture, if you know what picture i'm referring to then congratulations you're as pervy as i am!) tennan…..

    The faceless people are so creepy. DO-NOT-LIKE.

    I like the bit at the end and i also like that it's Rose that makes Tommy go after his Father. She's lost her dad three times (when she was a baby, in Fathers Day and The Age of Steel) in her life, so of course she'd encourage someone to forgive their dad, you only get one (or two in Rose's case……..sort of)

    When Rose called her t-shirt a 'Union Jack' in The Empty Child /The Doctor Dances i was so tempted to use the quote from this episode to prove she called it the wrong name, but that would have been spoilery and would have made me a bumface. I like the word bumface, don't know why. 😀


    (So excite for AVPM tomorrow!)

  32. kilodalton says:

    I've never understood the dislike for this episode. To me, that's like hating a fluffy bunny because it's fluffy and a bunny. This episode reeks of adorkableness Ten, Rose and Ten/Rose, which, I suppose, is why some people dislike it.

    My favorite moment never gets any mention =( … it's when Rose is correcting Eddie on the Union Flag/Union Jack thing, and she looks shyly at Ten like she is soooo proud of herself for knowing obscure historical trivia, and even he — king of obscure historical trivia — is like "ummm, random, OK…." She's trying to be like Ten and impressive him and it's just … totally adorkable =)

    But on to the fun stuff!!!!!!!!!

    I did this as a poll on my LJ a couple of weeks back. But it amuses me greatly, so I think it merits mention here too as a discussion question!! XD

    <img src="; width="300" height="169" border='0'/>

    D.I. BISHOP: Take a good look. See what you can deduce.
    (The policeman takes the blanket off Rose's head. The Doctor's eyes widen with horror as he approaches her.)
    THE DOCTOR: Rose.
    D.I. BISHOP: Do you know her?
    (The Doctor goes right up close to her, staring down at her featureless face. The voices in the background fade out, meaningless to him.)
    THE DOCTOR: Know her? She…

    OK participation time!!!!!
    …. what do YOU think — how was that sentence gonna end?

    • echinodermata says:

      This episode reeks of adorkableness Ten, Rose and Ten/Rose, which, I suppose, is why some people dislike it.

      I don't think that's even close to a main reason people don't care for the episode very much. I think the plot is dull, and I think the faceless people look silly, and the Wire is hammy. For me, the ONLY redeemable aspect of this episode is Ten and Rose being adorable together. And I don't ship it, and Ten and Rose are actually my least favorite doctor and companion.

      Frankly, I feel like your comment is close to promoting a ship war.

    • jackiep says:

      That gif of his face when he sees Rose's face (lack of) is made even more impressive, given the blooper reel which shows how many takes it took for him to be able to do that scene… When they first took the blanket off to show him Billie's face covered in black marker pen crosses (to assist the cgi) it clearly was not what David Tennant was prepared for.

  33. rys says:

    This is another episode I enjoy as a more standalone one (although none of the episodes are perfectly standalone of course, as there are more general stories being told over the course of the season). I like seeing Rita stand up for herself, and the wonderfully civilised street party at the end, and the King of Belgium. But most of all I think the Doctor and Rose and their enthusiasm for this adventure they're having really tie the disparate elements of this episode together and take it from being a fun little story into something really enagaging. Joy is so rare on tv. DW ignores the trend of being edgy, cynical and harsh and jumps into it with both feet.

  34. nyssaoftraken74 says:

    *Adpots posh RP Voice*
    And now on BBC1, it's time our regular Tardisode slot where we see a short scene that happened before our heroes arrived on the scene…

    Grandma Conolly has her new television installed. Later, as she sits down, a strange red lightning reaches out from the television towards her. As she looks back at the screen, the lightning retracts back into the set and dances on the screen. Presuming that the set is broken, she proceeds to hit it with her hands. The lightning shoots towards her face and she shouts for help.
    The television then shows a trailer for the upcoming coronation of Queen Elizabeth II…

  35. sabra_n says:

    HAAAAAAATE. This isn't quite my least favorite New Who episode ever, but oh, it's up there. A huge reason why is the thing you pointed out, Mark – Rose's sanctimonious urging of the son to reconcile with his fairy-tale-horrible father. It's like if the Weaselys had urged Harry to keep in touch with Vernon or something. Eugh.

    I wasn't the tiniest bit scared by the story, either -and I'm not saying that in a "oooh, I'm hard core and you're not" sort of way. In fact I'm scared by almost everything and avoid horror movies like the plague. But this episode was so friggin' annoying it kept my mind off the scares. The father was, as you mentioned, a caricature straight out of Roald Dahl but without the humor, and utterly awful to watch. I hated our protagonists' smugness. And I hated that Rose's punishment for actually taking some initiative and daring to unhook her hip from the Doctor's was turning into the damsel in distress so Tennant could attempt to make the "oooh, I'm scary" face and fail utterly. Again.

    And while Maureen Lippman is the shiznit, she'll forever be Aunt Eller from the 1998 RNT Oklahoma! to me. 😛

    Ooh, I do remember one thing I liked: Rose being pedantic about flag protocol and revealing that Jackie once dated a sailor. Yes, Jackie-by-proxy was the best thing about this episode.

    But nonetheless, I like reading your essentially optimistic take on it, Mark. My annoyance at this episode kept me from being scared, but it also kept me from seeing structure that you pointed out. I've enjoyed Gatiss more as an actor of late than as a writer, but he does have some chops.

  36. sabra_n says:

    I think the over-smoothness might be why I never felt creeped out by the faceless people at all, even though FACELESSNESS OH NOES is usually right in my body horror wheelhouse. Good point there.

  37. Radagast says:

    One cool little detail: according to a military historian, those medals that Eddie wears so proudly in front of company? They indicate he was NOT much of a soldier, and pretty much say 'he showed up'. Which is not surprising, knowing Eddie, but he's still so damn proud of them. The git.

    • maccyAkaMatthew says:

      I take your point, but you shouldn't underestimate showing up to fight in a war.

      You can be brave and serve your country in a time of need and still not be a very nice person. There's no need to belittle the former in order to emphasise the latter.

  38. tasneemoo says:

    OMG WHAT JUST HAPPENED TO THE COMMENTING SYSTEM sooooo confused right now, it’s 1am and I think I’m hallucinating >.<

    what the.

    oh shit :'(

  39. kilodalton says:

    She's the Bad Wolf — she brings life!!! XD

  40. StarGirlAlice says:

    I like this episode just because it's set in the fifties, and I am obsessed with fifties fashion, so naturally, I adore Rose's skirt.

  41. Pseudonymph says:

    I'm pretty sure that's not a hoop skirt but she does look supercute. This is a fun episode. I love when the Doctor chastises the husband for his "women's work" bullshit. Does the Queen do her own house work? Kind of a weird argument but better than nothing.

  42. Mauve_Avenger says:

    Not my favorite episode, but I loved this exchange:
    DOCTOR: Hold on a minute, Mr Connoly. You've got hands. Two big hands. So why's that your wife's job?
    CONNOLY: Well, it's housework, isn't it?
    DOCTOR: And that's a woman's job?
    CONNOLY: Course it is!
    DOCTOR: Mr Connolly, what gender is the Queen?
    CONNOLY: She's a female.
    DOCTOR: And are you suggesting the Queen does the housework?
    <img src=""&gt;

  43. Vicki_Louise says:

    Okay, so here is my opinion on the world:

    Just because people act shitty towards you it doesn't mean you have an automatic right to act shitty back. You can be the bigger, better person. You can show compassion, understanding and forgiveness instead of being selfish, childish and narrow-minded. I've had experience of this recently, my Auntie decided she didn't want me in her life anymore. We've had no contact since. While i can't deny that her decision hurt me, if she changes her mind i'm not going to turn away just to get back at her. I'm trying to be better than that.

    That's what Rose was trying to do with Tommy, make him the better person.

    *End of rant*

    • Minish says:

      Clap clap clap

      She's not saying Tommy should allow his father to treat him like shit, she's saying that Tommy doesn't have to keep his father out of his life. He doesn't NEED his father; he and his mother can get along perfectly fine without him. But Tommy deserves better than that, he deserves to be treated right by his father. And now that Mr. Connoly has been taken down a few levels, Tommy has an opportunity to change him into a father that he deserves. He can keep his father in his life without necessarily letting him slip back into his old antics.

      Just because something's broken doesn't mean you have to throw it out, it just means it needs repair. Mr. Connoly isn't a complete monster, he's just a bigoted fool. He's LUCKY to have Tommy.

    • Hypatia_ says:

      It's not being "selfish, childish and narrow-minded" to decide you won't put up with abuse anymore. That's what Tommy and Mrs. Connolly were doing, standing up and chucking the abuser out of their lives. I fail to see how that's a bad thing, or being the lesser person. It's being strong.

      • Minish says:

        I certainly wouldn't disagree with the decision to keep his father out of his life, but it does take quite a strong person (I don't think 'better' would be quite the right word) to acknowledge that he does actually have the potential to change (I mean, his wife's obviously not going to take him back, and Tommy won't put up with his bullshit). It certainly isn't wrong of him to want to keep his father in his life, especially after Mr. Conolly has been stripped away from every privilege that gave him the grounds to act like a massive fascist dick, and therefore would be unlikely continue his shittery.

        He's like a violent dog that's broken one if its legs and has become less of a vicious animal and more of a pitiful creature. You COULD leave the dog in the ditch to die and no one would blame you for it, but a stronger person could rehabilitate the dog and turn him into a loveable pet that you can play catch with and roll around in the grass laughing. Don't you think Tommy deserves a dad he can play catch with and roll around in the grass laughing? Or at least go around for tea on the weekends?

        • Hypatia_ says:

          Sure, but like swimmingtrunks said, I don't see any indication that he realizes his mistakes and feels remorse. Most abusers don't turn around and change just because someone calls them on it. It's possible that Mr. Connolly is the exception. But to suggest that most abusers can be changed into lovable types with a bit of loving care from the people they abused is…pretty bizarre, really.

          • Minish says:

            Well, in the about 4 minutes his storyline wrapped up, when Tommy went to to walk with him, he didn't exactly whack him upside the head, did he? And, remember, this is Doctor Who, which pretty much gets itself off on idealism. He's just more of a… giant dick than an abuser. A coward, really. He just needed to have the shit scared out of him by having all his privileges swept out from under his feet. Look how submissive he was when his wife kicked him out of the house. They told him off earlier and he learned.

            It's a lot of character development that happens off-screen and we only get to see about 3 minutes of it, but we just have to sort of trust by his behavior and Tommy's willingness to keep him in his life that it has happened.

    • swimmingtrunks says:

      I don't think anyone is thinking Rose had anything but good intentions in her actions, but every situation is different, and I think that's key. Sometimes being the bigger, better person means cutting someone out of your life- sometimes it's the less shitty thing to do. I'm sorry for your recent experience- I've recently lost a relative who estranged herself and her family from the rest of her relations a long time ago, and it can be hurtful. But it isn't necessarily so in every relationship. And honestly, I didn't see any sign that Mr. Connolly had a change of heart. He was shocked, sure, hurt, perhaps, but I'm not sure he was repentant.

    • Vicki_Louise says:

      I don't know who to reply to because you all make good points, so i'll just reply to myself. 😀

      The point i was trying to make is that, by going after his dad, Tommy Isn't saying that the way his dad treated him was okay, nor am i saying that he's prepared to let it continue, of course he isn't, he just saved the world from Maureen Lipman there's nothing Tommy couldn't do now! He's just giving his dad the chance to make a positive change.
      Mr Connoly has lost everything (through his own fault), his wife, son, home and the respect of his friends, family and neighbours. He's fallen as far as a person can fall, so surely the only possible way left for him is up.
      Though i do agree that there are people who do the most despicable disgusting things to others, so much so that there is nothing left to salvage in them, no chance to be given, but just because those people exist it doesn't mean you should tar others with the same brush.
      For a person to prove that they are capable of making a positve change in their life they first need to be given the chance to do so.

  44. hassibah says:

    OH damn I remember this. Also googling I found out Billie Piper is my age which is way older than I thought she was, but I just always feel like a million years old. Weird.

  45. Nikki says:

    I also HATE HATE HATE the fact that Rose told Tommy to be the better person and go after his father. Rose quite clearly has no experience with abusers here. I wish like hell she would not try to give advice on something she doesn't know anything about. Her father, Pete, was an amazing man. A very good man. But, Rose, I'm sorry, not all fathers are Pete. Some people, no matter what their relation to you is, NEED to be taken out of your life.

    Abusers do not change because their victims try to convince them to treat them better. No change, just revenge. And they only get worse with time. All I could think when I saw Tommy run after his dad was that the abuse would never be over for them. And this because Rose convinced him he was doing the right thing and being a good person by not letting him go. With that in mind he'll be trying in vein for years to "fix" his father before he finally, far too late realizes it can't happen.

    • arctic_hare says:

      Agreed so hard. I've been there, it doesn't work that way, you just keep getting hurt till you wise up.

  46. hassibah says:

    Nine is calmer in general though. I was thinking that in the first episode of season 2 when 10 was yelling at the cat nuns, 9 would have said something really harsh to them and project himself as intimidating. Ten just likes to yell a lot more, maybe part of the reason is that he's a smaller bloke but I think that's just a part of who he is. And he asks if he's being rude while 9 will just insult you and move on like nothing happened.
    In the context of this episode though I think you have an interesting point!

    • swimmingtrunks says:

      Yeah, that's fair- I really shouldn't use a previous version for comparison. In New Earth the Doctor thinks the nuns have done something to Rose, which he can't really know is better or worse than her condition in this episode. He's still of a quieter rage there, and the level of his rage always seemed to me to be built up by the situation with the clones and then Rose on top of that. But you're right, Ten does yell quite a bit more. I don't know if the yelling is something I've come to be bothered by over the years, but I'd like to say I still think there are definitely times where it seems justified and is working really well for him. Then other times, like this episode, I think it's off-putting when it's not supposed to be.

      But the context of the episode definitely seems to unintentionally put it in a less favorable light. (And thanks for reading the reply where what I was getting to kind of crystallized. I don't know why I didn't just edit the first post! Silly coffee-addled brain.)

      • hassibah says:

        No it's totally fair, there's one future scene coming up with shouty 10 that always cracks me up but it's supposed to be dead serious. Like I said in this ep I saw what you meant and I'll prolly have more to say about it later.

    • Hypatia_ says:

      It's kind of a difference in how they behave when they're angry. Nine projects an air of "Do not fuck with me", usually fairly calmly (with the occasional moment of shouting, after which he returns to deadly calm). Whereas Ten, when he's set off, immediately goes to the yelling. He does do the deadly calm thing occasionally, but it's usually only when shit is really, really about to go down, as opposed to the usual peril he courts on a daily basis.

      On the whole, Nine is the Doctor it's least wise to piss off, IMO.

  47. Hypatia_ says:

    Okay, I do like this episode, mostly the scenes when Ten and Rose are cheerfully taking Mr. Connolly down several notches, but I have so much ragey hatred for Connolly himself. I know he's meant to represent the bad side of the 1950's, and he does that well, but something about him just makes me crazy. Like, throw-things-at-the-TV crazy. And I cannot STAND how Rose wants Tommy to reconcile with him. It's not like he and Tommy just had some disagreements, like maybe Connolly's always yelling at Tommy to turn his music down or something. The man is a misogynistic, abusive douche. He probably won't change. I just hope Mrs. Connolly's able to stand her ground and keep him from trying to move back in. Rose is transferring her own daddy issues to this situation, and I think she's doing more harm than good. I'm not saying that Tommy should categorically refuse to ever interact with his father again. The day might come when Connolly sincerely realizes what an ass he's being and makes an effort to change, in which case a bit of conciliatory interaction would be a good thing. Maybe I'm wrong, but I got the distinct impression that Rose was glossing over the abuse. Not okay in my book.

    And the Wire is yet another example of a Doctor Who villain who exists on a diet of pure scenery. Kind of silly, but definitely hilarious. I'm sure I'm not the only one who, whenever the Wire shrieks "FEEEEED MEEEE!" finishes off the line with "SEYMOUR!"

    In short, I love the interaction between Rose and the Doctor in this episode, but the issue with Connolly kind of overshadows the whole thing for me.

    • NB2000 says:

      "Rose is transferring her own daddy issues to this situation, and I think she's doing more harm than good."

      This is my big problem with that scene, and it's my only real problem with Rose in this episode.

  48. arctic_hare says:

    NOT a fan of this episode. Like you, Mark, and several others, I was really annoyed that Rose encouraged Tommy to reconcile with his father at the end. Flaming pissed, actually. It wasn't that they simply didn't get along, Mr. Connolly was AN ABUSER. And he did not seem willing to change. Rose has no fucking idea what she's doing there, and it really ticked me off. I have experience with an abusive parent myself, so I was beyond unhappy to see her do that.

    Didn't care for shouty privileged white knight Ten either, or Rose being punished for being proactive by getting turned into a damsel in distress. The Wire was SUCH a ham, too, and like some others, "FEED ME!" just made me break into songs from Little Shop of Horrors. The whole thing veered between boring and eye-rolling, till the end, when I got really mad.

    That said, I'm glad you're really enjoying the show as a whole, Mark, it's been wonderful to read your reviews regardless of how I feel about some of these episodes. It feels like experiencing it for the first time again, just like Harry Potter was for me (Potter-related side note: I got the Hogwarts Express Lego set today! SQUEE! I HAVE A LEGO LUNA LOVEGOOD WITH HER FUNKY GLASSES, MY LIFE IS NOW COMPLETE!), and that's an amazing thing.

    • Openattheclose says:


      • arctic_hare says:

        IT IS ONE OF THE BEST SETS EVER. 😀 It comes with Harry, Ron, Ginny, Draco, and most importantly, Luna. Each head has two expressions, one on each side, and one of Luna's is her funky glasses. AND AND AND. You get wands for each of them, a snack cart with a Chocolate Frog, three owls (including Hedwig, naturally), suitcases, a trunk (with stuff to go inside) Scabbers (wut), blocks that look like the Quibbler and the Daily Prophet (so detailed! The Prophet headline is about the Azkaban breakout, and the Quibbler's is Harry's interview, with a tiny line on the bottom that says "Nargles in the mistletoe), an INVISIBILITY CLOAK, and you get to assemble the Flying Ford Anglia too! EPIC TIMESTREAM ERROR, I know, but I DON'T CARE. IT IS THAT AMAZING A SET. <3 I currently have Ginny and Draco dueling on top of the passenger car, with Luna rushing to Ginny's aid, and Harry made a daring leap from the Anglia in the Cloak to come up behind Draco. [/dork]

        I seriously need to get all the other sets (especially Hogwarts Castle and Hagrid's Hut, omg I need a Lego Hagrid to further complete my life) and have all kinds of other wild things to pose them in (as well as more characters).

        ETA: HOLY CRAP! I just checked the Lego website and they have a set I didn't see on there before – DIAGON ALLEY! WITH FRED AND GEORGE! AND GRINGOTT'S GOBLINS! AND OLLIVANDER AND A REMOVABLE VAULT AND OMG SO MUCH I NEED IT!

        • Openattheclose says:

          That sounds awesome and I wish I had the space for some Legos. I really want a Hogwarts Castle. A couple of weeks ago at my work, a little kid left their Harry Potter Lego figure behind. I felt really bad for the kid, but since no one returned for it, we were using it as our "mascot" in my department. It made me unreasonably happy.

    • maccyAkaMatthew says:

      It is very much in character for Rose to do that, though. Do you think it reflects badly on the episode that Rose does something that you think is wrong?

      To me it adds something to ending since it isn't a simple as seeing Eddie treated by his family as irredeemable and just leaving, there's the added complication of Tommy keeping in touch with him, which gives us something more to think about. We'll never know how it will work out, but one of the things I like about the series is that we see things playing out without the programme obviously taking sides and without any character shown as always in the right. The Doctor's with actions Harriet Jones in The Christmas Invasion remain a matter of debate within the production team of that time (I can't remember who was one which side) – which I think shows it was intended to be a difficult moment.

      I understand the desire to want to feel like you're always on the same side of the protagonists in a drama, but seeing them making flawed, or at least controversial, decisions makes things more interesting to me. I think it can go too far (later Buffy for example – no details as Mark is planning to watch) but on the whole I think the balance works quite well.

      • arctic_hare says:

        It's certainly in character for her, I just don't like it. I didn't like the episode that much to begin with, and that ending was kind of a "last straw" kind of thing to sour me on it completely. We'd been presented with a character that was clearly abusive, and coming from a position of having experienced having an abusive parent, it was hard for me to watch. I understand that Rose had good intentions, but a) intent is not magic and the road to hell is paved with good ones and b) it wasn't her business anyway. She obviously doesn't know what it's like to be in that sort of situation, so she should've minded her own business, I feel.

        Flawed characters sometimes making bad decisions – that's not a bad thing in fiction, at all. It's just that some things are easier for me to forgive than others, and this one hit close to home for me in a bad way, so it affects me more. I think it's very much a YMMV sort of thing, though I dislike some of the obviously privileged comments I'm seeing here. Not so much yours, but other people's.

        • maccyAkaMatthew says:

          That's understandable, I hope that didn't read like a challenge, I was genuinely interested in your perspective – it can be hard to write tone correctly sometimes, though.

          I suppose I feel more comfortable with the ambiguity of that scene because I don't read Eddie strongly as an abuser, more of a verbal bully who is actually quite weak once he's put in his place and so has a possibility of redemption. It also makes me think of the way masculinity and fatherhood was starting to be recast as time moved on. That has a lot to do with my own lack of traumatic experiences, so it is a rather privileged position to be in – and I certainly wouldn't take umbrage at some people's dislike of that scene, as seems to have happened elsewhere.

          • nyssaoftraken74 says:

            As you suggest, I think it very much comes down to how we choose to interpret the character of Eddie Connelly.

            If you see him as an abuser, then I completely understand why you would take exception to that closing scene. However, if you view him as simply a bully, that that's a very different thing. You can reconcile with a bully. You can't with an abuser.

            My personal opinion lies with Matthew on this, but I want to say thank you to artic_hare and others for making the reason for thier viewpoint so clear. I've never understood people's negative reactions to the scene before, but now while I continue to disagree, I do understand.

  49. Ali says:

    'Her face is completely gone!'

    That line made me burst out laughing. Just the way he deliveres it, like, no shit Sherlock.

    Thnaks for that precise scientific analysis of the situation, Doctor. 😛

    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

      Oh I don't know. It's possible that some kind of skin membrane could have grown *over* the face, which would look much the saem without the face being `completely gone`.

  50. qwopisinthemailbox says:

    “Well, for starters, I know…you can’t wrap your hand round your elbow and make your fingers meet.”
    i tried that out once the commercials came on…and i just tried it again. OMG YOU CAN'T.

  51. A-Mortal says:

    "They mistakenly land (this happens a lot, doesn’t it?)"

    Remember that the Doctor's TARDIS is a) old and crappy, and b) like all TARDISes, a sentient being. A lot of the time, it's just defective, and the rest, I like to think it takes the Doctor where he needs to be.

    • Tyrant says:

      This is a concept that I absolutely adore – that the TARDIS is simultaneously the most awesome, mind-bogglingly powerful and advanced vehicle around AND an archaic, clapped-out, obsolete wreck held together by the Tine Lord equivalent of duct tape and string, which is flying on a wing and a prayer.

  52. buyn says:


    Now then, Idiot's Lantern gets a 4 for scariness. I wish that they would've asked the kid along. He had potential. But I guess they learned that lesson with Adam. Oh well. And Tenny licking things. 😀

  53. trash_addict says:

    I couldn't even handle how completely OTT The Wire was. It was actually irritating.

    Faceless anything will always remind me of this children's show we had in Australia while I was growing up, called Lift Off. It had this very alarming faceless doll as a main character:
    <img src="; alt="EC"/>

  54. nyssaoftraken74 says:

    How about some Quite Interesting facts about a few of lines of the Wire's dialogue? (With thanks to DWM.)

    "Are we sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin," was the opening phrase of `Listen with Mother` which was a BBC Radio programme for children. It was broadcast on the `Light Programme` for fifteen minutes every weekday afternoon at 1.45 between 1950 and 1982, just before `Woman's Hour`, and was a programme of stories, songs and nursery rhymes.

    "Cometh the hour, cometh the man," had been popularised following cricketer Cliff Gladwin's comment in December 1948.

    "Good night children. Everywhere," was a phrase used by Derek McCulloch – known to young listeners as `Uncle Mac` – to close BBC Radio's `Children's Hour` towards the end of the war taken from a 1939 song recorded by Vera Lynn.

  55. csq says:

    <img src=""&gt;

    To be honest, outside of the costumes and the main characters being fun and crafty in their own way, this episode don't do that much for me. I think it's a great setting and the idea is interesting, but it could have been so much more. I do love that Rose is feeling confident enough to figure things out on her own though. She is a strong and clever person, and sometimes that aspect of her can be lost in the shadow of the Doctor.

  56. jackiep says:

    Like the way that the Doctor clearly tells the psychic paper to produce something impressive enough to get past security, without knowing in advance what it would be. Of course the joke about it claiming that he's the King of Belgium is that almost everybody in the UK would be totally unable to recognise the King of Belgium Then and now, the most anonymous monarch n Europe.

  57. Albion says:

    I thought you would post this on Monday. Glad it's up now 🙂

    I enjoy this episode, nothing spectacular but fun. I love Maureen Lipman as the Wire, her voice is just Aunteie Beeb to a T.

  58. peacockdawson says:

    They mistakenly land (this happens a lot, doesn’t it?)

    A whole lot seems to go wrong that the Doctor fixes, right?

    I had this theory going, that the TARDIS would sort of take the Doctor where he was needed. He would go approximately where he wanted, but the TARDIS would take him slightly to one side or the other, to where something was happening that needed the Doctor.
    But eventually you just don't even think about it.

    Doesn’t it defeat the purpose to keep him around?
    I really don't think it was about keeping him around. It was more for Tommy to keep a link to his father. No matter how much of a bully he was, he was still Tommy's father, and being entirely estranged from him was not the answer here. Mr. Connely still had to leave. It's not like they were just giving him a free pass for everything he did. But never speaking to his dad again seems like an emotionally unhealthy way to leave the situation.

  59. Tyrant says:

    I like this episode. It's not my absolute favourite but I do like it. Quite a lot.

    The only thing is, I now find myself wondering what would be left if the Wire got to dine on a diet of Face of Boe.

  60. Starsea28 says:

    I don't love this episode but I do like it. I actually like Rose and the Doctor in this episode because it's about them helping people rather than waltzing around and going "Aren't we sweet? Aren't we marvellous?" I like their funny interaction at the beginning (even though the Doctor's quiff scares me), Rose looks great in the 50s getup, and they form a great contrast against early 50s Britain, still recovering from WWII. I also love Tommy, think the actor did a great job (especialy since he was actually 24, not 16). Maureen Lipman is brilliant, even though she isn't given the best dialogue. It's just a shame that as soon as Rose does some investigating on her own, she figuratively and literally gets her identity wiped, and then she urges Tommy to go and talk to his dad at the end. I mean, I sort of understand why she does it, especially after the Cybermen two-parter, but that's no excuse. Please stop projecting your daddy issues onto other people, Rose.

  61. maccyAkaMatthew says:

    The faceless people were definitely inspired by the fourth Sapphire and Steel serial, commonly called "Assignment 4" (there are no official titles for any of them). Except the facelessness was much creepier in their version. Here's a fan made trailer:

    Sapphire and Steel was ITV's answer to Doctor Who, running in a similar tea time slot from 1979 to 1982 on the commercial network. It starred David McCallum and Joana Lumley as is basically a series of scince fiction ghost stories in a serialised format. It's quite slow and very stagey (it was pretty much all filmed on sets) but it's pretty creepy. It's well worth a look if you haven't seen it. The creator and main writer, PJ Hammond, ended up writing a couple of episodes of Torchwood. I think I may even suggest it on the suggestions page.

    Here's a short piece on it from a TV list show:

    Neither of those are especially spoilery*, but if you want to know nothing at all about it then you shouldn't watch them.

    *EDIT: actually, having watched it all the way through, it's best to stop watching the second one after about six minutes if you don't want to know how the series ends.


    The street in The Idiot's Lantern called Florizel Street, which was the original name for Coronation Street, the long running ITV soap opera. Soaps in the UK are pretty different to the US. Coronation Street was set up as a drama about the working class people living on a street in Manchester and ran (and still runs) in the evenings. It's, overall, the most popular drama format in the UK, with the BBC's soap EastEnders usually sharing the highest ratings in any given week with Coronation Street. It was fifty years old this year and there was an excellent drama made about its origins, called The Road to Coronation Street, which is well worth a look if you can get hold of it.

    The producer of Doctor Who for the first four years, Phil Collinson, is now in charge of Coronation Street and for the 50th anniversary episode, Graeme Harper (who directed the The Rise of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel as well some episodes of old Who) directed with team that do the practical effects on Doctor Who working on it as well.


    If you look carefully, you'll see that all the aerials in the episode are arrange in swastika patterns. That's no an accident or something they did on a whim while filming. To give an idea of how much of the look of things is planned, here's the concept art for them:

    <img src=""&gt;

    • maccyAkaMatthew says:

      Adding this as a reply to avoid the spam filter.

      The concept art is by Peter McKinstry who worked on series 2-5, Torchwood and the most recent Harry Potter films, among other things. His site is well worth a look, although it's spoilery for anything you haven't already seen, it's here:

      The concept art for series two is here:

      but it includes art from episodes that Mark hasn't watched yet. So be warned.

    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

      Wow! I've never picked up on the aerials before. I tend to think I know everything about Doctor Who, but then I read one of your fascinating posts and learn something new. Thanks! Keep it up! 🙂

  62. coughdrop says:

    While I certainly get why people don't like that they encouraged Tommy to go after his father, I see it a little differently. I don't think its about his father trying to change or anything like that (that doesn't seem likely to me) but more about Tommy being able to let go and not hold so much anger about it. It's not good for a person to hold so much anger even if the recipient completely and utterly deserves it. (Maybe most especially then, I don't know…)

  63. canyonoflight says:

    This was the very first episode of Doctor Who I ever watched! My dad was watching it when I came into the room and it reminded me of The Twilight Zone (which I also used to watch with him). Anyway, I enjoyed it, but I really didn't get into the show and watch the whole thing from Nine on until after my dad died. There's probably some meaning in that.

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