Visit the official Doctor Who website

Visit the official Doctor Who website
Look to the future

Asylum seekers...

Asylum seekers...
Refuge of the Daleks

Doctor Who picture resource

Doctor Who picture resource
Roam the space lanes!

Explore the Doctor Who classic series website

Explore the Doctor Who classic series website
Step back in time

Infiltrate The Hub of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood

Infiltrate The Hub of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood
Armed and extremely dangerous

Investigate The Sarah Jane Adventures

Investigate The Sarah Jane Adventures
Fearless in the face of adversity

Call on Dani’s House

Call on Dani’s House
Harmer’s a charmer

Intercept the UFO fabsite

Intercept the UFO fabsite
Defending the Earth against alien invaders!

Uncover the secrets of the Dollhouse

Uncover the secrets of the Dollhouse
Programmable agent Echo exposed!

Hell’s belles

Hell’s belles
Naughty but nice

Love Exposure

Love Exposure
Flash photography!

Primeval portal

Primeval portal
Dressed to kill or damsels in distress?

Charmed, to be sure!

Charmed, to be sure!
The witches of San Francisco

Take on t.A.T.u.

Take on t.A.T.u.
All the way from Moscow

Proceed to the Luther website

Proceed to the Luther website
John and Jenny discuss their next move

DCI Banks is on the case

DCI Banks is on the case
You can bet on it!

On The Grid with Spooks

On The Grid with Spooks
Secret agents of Section D

Bridge to Hustle

Bridge to Hustle
Shady characters

Life on Ashes To Ashes

Life on Ashes To Ashes
Coppers with a chequered past

Claire’s no Exile

Claire’s no Exile
Goose steps

Vexed is back on the beat!

Vexed is back on the beat!
Mismatched DI Armstrong and bright fast-tracker Georgina Dixon

Medium, both super and natural

Medium, both super and natural
Open the door to your dreams

Who’s that girl? (350-picture Slideshow)

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Warden’s Watch: Midnight


I found myself groaning as the latest episode of “Doctor Who”, named after the planet “Midnight”, began in the usual comedy-laden style of Russell T. Davies but, by its conclusion, realised I had been thoroughly gripped. In a bizarre twist of the pen, episode ten was much more terrifying than the preceding two-parter by Steven Moffat, which I admired more than enjoyed. While Moffat’s adventure was experimental in nature, RTD’s story was more a case of horror by the book, though none the worse because of that. Once it got past its silliness, “Midnight” became thoroughly scary. In fact, the throwaway lightness of the opening moments only served to heighten the horror once it kicked in. Possession is always a reliable storyteller… with no need for monsters so obviously human in rubber suits. What you can’t see is often more frightening than what you can because once something is visible you can make an assessment as how, best, to deal with it.

I’ve always found Lesley Sharp to be a reliably good actress. In this week’s episode of “Doctor Who”, she played her role, as being under the influence of an unknown alien entity, for all she was worth. She didn’t look down on the show as, somehow, being dramatically inferior. Even Rusty in his writing capacity, obliged to let us know Sky was a lesbian, didn’t manage to ruin it for Lesley with his too often-repeated personal agenda! David Troughton, also, sustained a good performance as Professor Hobbes, even giving those of us with long televisual memories welcome hints of his “A Very Peculiar Practice” character, Doctor Bob Buzzard! Loved it when he shook hands with the Doctor. It was like the ghost of his dad, Patrick, greeting the present incarnation… though Troughton junior’s been in the show in his own right of course, notably as King Peladon, during the run of his father’s successor.

Much of the pre-publicity for “Midnight” focused on Lindsey Coulson because we’re all supposed to know who she is from “EastEnders”. But, not being a watcher of soaps, the BBC’s presumption was lost on me! Having looked it up, I’m able to inform those of you in a similar position to myself that she played somebody called Carol Jackson!! And, naturally, that leaves us all none the wiser!!! I was more interested in one of her co-stars. The production team seems to have developed a penchant, this year, for actresses with the Christian name Ayesha. “Planet of the Ood” featured Ayesha Dharker as Solana Mercurio and, now, “Midnight” introduced us to gorgeous “Grange Hill” actress Ayesha Antoine as the Professor’s put-upon prodigy Dee Dee Blasco. Curious how the younger characters in this story were shown as smarter than their elders. Older folk are not necessarily immune to new ideas!

Unlike Miss Dharker in the earlier episode this season, Miss Antoine survived to the end of the current story which, in itself, makes a refreshing change. Not everyone lived in Russell’s latest, a contentious issue since the conclusion of Moffat’s overly-optimistic recent opus. “Midnight” saw the demise of all three crew members together with the possessed passenger, the ship’s hostess taking the latter in a moment of self-sacrifice. The suggestion the hostess knew the Doctor wasn’t human was a nice touch, though I’m sure there will be those wanting an answer as to how she knew rather than just enjoying the joke. Rose appeared briefly again, still in a state of distress, unseen by the Doctor who had his back to the monitor on which she appeared to call his name. Next week, we’ll be able to see Billie Piper in full, so to speak, but the Doctor will have to wait that little bit longer…

9 comments:

Steve said...

I was similarly impressed with RTD's latest outing - no silly monsters but instead a tightly written, psychological horror that worked on a deep level... that childhood copycat taunt. Loved the claustrophobic feel to it too. My first reaction was that Moffat has forced RTD to raise his game!

Rol said...

I thought this was RTD's best offering too, and the closest this incarnation of Dr. Who has got to capturing the Rod Serling vibe.

Old Cheeser said...

I really enjoyed it too. It was obviously low budget and a bit of a "filler" episode, not to mention "Donna-lite" as opposed to "Doctor-lite" (is the latter a new concept then? Shades of "The Deadly Assassin" with the Doc going it alone!) but as psychological dramas go, it was very well done. Shows that you can achieve a lot with limited resources. The whole possession thing was marvelously creepy - who would have thought that so much nastiness could come out of two people just staring at one another and repeating each other's words?? Lesley Sharp as you say Tim, was good, as were the majority of the cast. As for Lindsey Coulson I always thought she was brilliant as Carol J in Eastenders but in this she was a trifle shrewish...

Hope RTD can keep it up with "Turn Left" next week - looks potentially very good and finally the return of the Pipester!

And I see that today the Sun has blown the gaff with a pic of Davros and the Red Dalek!

TimeWarden said...

I suspect RTD has been capable of writing this type of story all along, Steve, because his two children's serials, of the early Nineties, are terrifically claustrophobic. It's nice to be able to say something positive about Russell, though, before he leaves the show!

I presume you're thinking of "The Twilight Zone" episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", Rol. The inimitable Bill Shatner believes there is a monster damaging one of the engines out on a wing of the plane on which he is a reluctant passenger. As you probably know, they remade the story, in the movie version, with John Lithgow.

It seems to me that "Doctor Who" works so much better when it actually has less money to spend, Simon. "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy" was partly shot in the BBC car park, due to an asbestos scare, and turned out to be one of the most frightening Sylvester McCoy tales!

I got the pics of Davros and the Red Dalek, online, last night. The Dalek creator has been well cast, in my opinion, unlike The Master last year, so I'm hoping for good things. There are echoes of the Special Weapons Dalek, from "Remembrance", about the Red Dalek! When did you start looking at pictures in "The Sun"?!! ;)

Andrew Glazebrook said...

I was disappointed that we never got to see the vehicle they were in traveling across the actual landscape at any point, it looked cool from what was seen, I liked the look of the caterpillar tracks it was on,I suppose they cut any shots to keep the budget down on this episode.

Michael G Clark said...

I think the clearest shot of the vehicle is on the poster for the tours, I would have liked a nice shot of it trundling about. But it may have blown the claustrophobic atmosphere.

Good story about an evil lezzer. What agenda was that Russell?

TimeWarden said...

The cockpit interior looked like the vehicle set used in "Gridlock" slightly redressed! But, I agree that showing the craft's exterior would've reduced the feeling of confinement felt throughout the story.

Old Cheeser said...

It's true - big budget, special effects and spectacle do not necessarily a good story make.

As for looking at "The Sun" I don't do it as a rule Tim, just saw the reference to the spoilers on a DW website first, and then visited the aforementioned tabloid's website! That's my excuse anyhow...;-)

TimeWarden said...

I don't buy "The Sun" either, unless they're giving away free "Doctor Who" DVDs! And, there's never anything in it worth reading!!