Last night on Doctor Who we got the contribution from Mark Gatiss. After last year where the monsters came through the gas supply, this year his story was set in 1953, with the monster coming through the TV, in The Idiot’s Lantern.
Much as with his story last year, the Doctor hasn’t quite hit his target destination. Instead of his target of New York for a performance by Elvis, he instead ends up in early fifties London, who are preparing for the coronation. Along the street, a local electrical store is selling TV sets at knock down prices, apparently out of duty. However, strange things are happening – residents of the houses are being found, with their faces mysteriously gone, and no sooner does this happen do the Police turn up, and take the faceless people away.
As with his previous script, Gatiss has produced a great episode. The story is based around a lot of the warnings that parents used to give their children about what would happen if they watched too much TV, and there are some amusing jokes based around the whole TV monster idea, indeed the ultimate conclusion where the Doctor defeats the monster effectively by recording it onto a video tape continues the joke. As with some of the earlier stories, it’s all a bit of preposterous hokum, but enjoyable none the less. We again had the mixing of an alien threat, with a bit of domestic drama, and the character of the Doctor seemingly a lot more balanced than he has been – perhaps due to the friendship between David Tennant and Mark Gatiss himself. We also had Maureen Lipman doing her best BBC announcer – but becoming the monster…
Next week we have another of this seasons visits to a planet other than Earth. Although New Earth was set off world, it was on a planet that was supposed to be similar to Earth following the destruction of the original planet. The Impossible Planet is going all out for a really alien planet apparently, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out, as one of the often mentioned reasons for focusing on Earth based stories has been that the production team have been concerned that they couldn’t do an alien planet justice. The writer of the episode, Matt Jones although new to the series, is another who has been involved in writing Doctor Who before, in particular two stories in the New Adventures range.