The final two episodes of the second season of new “Doctor Who”, “Army of Ghosts” and “Doomsday”, followed a similar path to the concluding two-part story of last year’s opening season. Although not as pronounced as last year, it was still really a case of two single episode stories tenuously linked together. “Army of Ghosts” was protracted padding up to the supposedly big reveal. I’d already guessed the Daleks were in the sphere, just from watching the trailer, despite the script’s desperate attempts to wrong foot us into thinking the void ship contained more Cybermen! It had to be something bigger otherwise the episode would simply have been replicating the climax of “Rise of the Cybermen”. I was more surprised, though only slightly, knowing these concluding episodes were shot back-to-back with the earlier Cybermen episodes, by the reappearance of Mickey towards the end of “Army of Ghosts”!! After that, it was only to be expected that Pete would put in an appearance in “Doomsday” and, surprise surprise, not to leave anyone out, up pops resistance-leader Jake, restraint being an unknown concept to RTD!!!
Everything RTD does is so obvious. I wonder how many children actually got the “Ghostbusters” reference in “Army of Ghosts”? Only those whose parents own a copy of the film on DVD I suspect, or have seen it by chance on TV. He seems to have a checklist of things “Doctor Who” has never done and wants to be the first to do them. Three examples spring immediately to mind. Firstly, a Dalek had never appeared inside the TARDIS until “The Parting of the Ways”; secondly, a Dalek and Cyberman hadn’t appeared in the same frame until “Doomsday”… One question that occurred to me, before “Doomsday” aired, was how well would the Daleks and Cybermen look together, bearing in mind their difference in size? It would obviously have to be shot quite carefully to avoid making the Cybermen seem ridiculously tall or, conversely, the Daleks too short; and finally, Martha Jones, to be played by Freema Agyeman, will be the first black female companion. There is nothing wrong with any of these ideas as long as they evolve naturally out of a good script.
Good scripts are currently very scarce in “Doctor Who”. Matt Jones wrote the strongest story this year, with “The Impossible Planet” and ”The Satan Pit”. You could argue even those episodes are highly derivative but when has that not been the case in “Doctor Who”? Jon Pertwee’s first two seasons borrowed unashamedly from “The Avengers”, “Adam Adamant Lives!” and especially the Fifties’ “Quatermass” trilogy, for example. There’s nothing wrong with borrowing intelligently from the best! Tellingly, Matt is the one writer who won’t talk about his work on the show. Could that be because it was tampered with too much by a certain Executive Producer? It didn’t need jokes about Walford, just as the plot of “Army of Ghosts” wasn’t advanced with the inclusion of Peggy Mitchell. Not all of us are slaves to “EastEnders”. Could it be RTD wants us to think of “Doctor Who” as “EastEnders” in space?!! I’ve only ever watched one episode of “EastEnders” and that was because, ironically, it was directed by Graeme Harper, the man at the helm of these closing Cybermen episodes!!!