Everybody watching David Tennant and Billie Piper, every Saturday evening, knows what the Doctor and Rose look like, knows their mannerisms and inflections of speech, but an actor, on the television, has no idea of the appearance or attitudes of his or her audience. Probably just as well, I hear you cry! But the point is, to the Thespian breed, we are the faceless ones. This, I believe, was the purpose of the villain, enigmatically known as the Wire, removing the facial characteristics of all those watching their newly acquired television sets in the latest episode of the second series of revamped "Doctor Who", aptly entitled "The Idiot's Lantern" - after an expression coined in the Fifties to express disapproval of this new means of keeping oneself entertained!
Mark Gatiss turned in a script of great clarity. The writer left his spectators in no doubt as to the nature of the subtext, and moral message, behind his story, encouraging us to apply some thought right from the off as Maureen Lipman infers we should be inclusive of both sexes. Equality and tolerance were the themes behind this sojourn back to the day before the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. On the day itself, as everyone gathered round, Tommy's Mum plucked up enough courage to rid herself of the monster within, her bullying husband Eddie, but I couldn't help feeling she should've asked the aunt to leave as well for suggesting the use of violence against the boy to change his ways. But life is never straightforward and Rose encouraging Tommy not to abandon his father altogether was a seemingly simple but sublime touch that got straight to the heart of the domestic approach to "Doctor Who" that RTD has been striving for and which Ruth Rendell's "Inspector Wexford" carries off with effortless ease.
It was difficult to follow the explosive nature of the previous two-part Cybermen story but it was intelligently done and without a slowing of the pace. The editing was extremely fast. Just look at the scene where Rose follows the Doctor down the stairs. Being set in the Fifties, I had expected a fun story along the lines of "Delta and the Bannermen". I will probably incur the wrath of many "Doctor Who" fans for admitting a liking for that story! However, "The Idiot's Lantern" was entirely different. And, while Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard were referenced, so, too, was Kylie Minogue, thus helping to make the present story pertinent to a modern day audience, in case they felt excluded through not knowing the era. A good morality tale though is timeless, always relevant. As my English teacher, from my school days, said, "Literature's news that stays news"!