Category: Doctor Who

Torchwood episode 31: Children of Earth – Day Five (10/7/2009)

‘Sometimes the Doctor must look at this planet and turn away in shame.’ Victory at a terrible cost, so business as usual for Torchwood. It works better than some Doctor Who finales by virtue of being quite so bleak, even if there are strong Turn Left overtones to it (the UK collapsing into martial law as people are rounded up and bussed away). Clearly the murder of Jack’s grandson for the sake of all the millions of children being harvested by the 456 is more extreme than Donna choosing to sacrifice her own life to save the “proper” timeline, but in the end it all boils down to the same thing.

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Torchwood episode 30: Children of Earth – Day Four (9/7/2009)

‘There’s nothing we can do.’ The first half of this episode is Torchwood Gogglebox, as the team watch the negotiations with the 456 and the British Government’s response. At first, they bargain with the lives of the easily forgotten: failed asylum seekers, one child for every million people. When the aliens reject the offer, and stick to their demands for 325,000 kids, the discussion descends into squabbling over exemptions and throwing the underprivileged under the bus. That’s one way to level up, I suppose.

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Torchwood episode 29: Children of Earth – Day Three (8/7/2009)

‘We want your children. We will take your children.’ The first half of this episode is a mash-up of various popular TV shows of the 2000s. The Torchwood team turning out their pockets and going out to add to the stash is Hustle, Johnny’s own hustling is like something from Shameless, and the scenes set in the corridors of Whitehall come from any number of political thrillers (although Capaldi’s presence inevitably recalls The Thick of It). And is Hub 2 the same warehouse the Doctor, Jack and Martha hid out in during The Sound of Drums?

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Torchwood episode 28: Children of Earth – Day Two (7/7/2009)

‘If you’re the good guys, who am I working for and why do they want you dead?’ The 456 remain noises off in an episode that focuses on Torchwood as fugitives, fleeing a conspiracy to take them off the board ahead of the aliens’ arrival. This makes for a gripping interlude as Gwen and Rhys hide out, Ianto makes covert contact with his family, Jack demonstrates his most remarkable restorative powers yet, and Lois flirts with becoming Torchwood’s Deep Throat.

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Torchwood episode 27: Children of Earth – Day One (6/7/2009)

‘I can survive anything.’ Almost a different show, this feels less like a sexy version of Fringe and more like a 21st Century reimagining of Quatermass, with a Nigel Kneale-ish streak of brutality. The cold open, children encountering what looks like an alien spaceship in 1960s Scotland, flips to present-day Cardiff and Gwen going about her business while around her kids on the way to school suddenly freeze and without much preamble we’re straight into the story.

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Doctor Who episode 768: Planet of the Dead (11/4/2009)

‘The worse it gets the more I love it.’ This one almost feels like it was written as a counterpoint to Midnight. That went dark, with the Doctor failing to hold together a small group of humans stuck on a stranded bus: he even makes reference to it: ‘humans on buses, always blaming me.’ By contrast, this could be called Midday, and not just because it’s set in the blazing dunes of Dubai. Other than the unnamed bus driver, who gets croaked early on to establish the danger of trying to pass through the wormhole unshielded, all the passengers live because they work together, don’t turn on each other, and trust the Doctor. After the darkness of the back half of Series Four, this looks like a return to bright, light comedy.

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The Sarah Jane Adventures: From Raxacoricofallapatorius, With Love (13/3/2009)

‘I think that was the most bizarre five minutes of my life.’ A Comic Relief episode, although it more or less functions like some of Series Two proper with a comedy legend menacing the Bannerman Road gang. Ronnie Corbett gets wonderfully into the spirit of it, and everyone just stands back to watch him do his thing as he cracks jokes about ‘the two Ranis’, name drops Brucie and Tarbuck, and begins one his infamous anecdotes nestled in a leather chair. Even the fart gags don’t seem out of place. K9 being clamped and then getting a Red Nose is adorable, as is Sarah Jane’s rousing declaration that they ‘save the world from an attic in Ealing.’ My only regret is that Corbett didn’t get to deliver a proper monologue.

From Rax With Love

Sarah Jane will return in Prisoner of the Judoon

Next Time: Planet of the Dead

Doctor Who Confidential: The Eleventh Doctor (3/1/2009)

‘I’ve got this wonderful journey in front of me where I’ve got this six months to build this Time Lord’. The feverish speculation about Tennant’s replacement meant that they couldn’t just announce the new Doctor in a press release. Instead, a special Doctor Who Confidential episode was broadcast three days into 2009 which, watched back, looks like as much an attempt to reassure viewers that the changeover is business as usual for the series as it is an introduction to Matt Smith.

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Doctor Who episode 767: The Next Doctor (25/12/2008)

‘Complete and utter, wonderful nonsense. How very, very silly.’ By the time this aired, David Tennant had made his bombshell announcement that he’d be relinquishing his Doctorate before they had to wheel him out of the TARDIS in a bath chair. As such, this arrived amid febrile speculation on who could possibly replace him. The episode title absolutely plays into this, as did a lot of the publicity which included interviews with David Morrissey demurring when pressed on whether he really was the next Doctor. In that context, this is possible the most on-point Doctor Who episode ever.

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The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 23: Enemy of the Bane – Part Two (8/12/2008)

‘Sarah Jane Smith was the wet nurse. I am your mother.’ This isn’t quite as impressive as the first episode, largely because Wormwood and Kaagh’s detour to another derelict factory for a runaround gets in the way of the convergence at Whitebarrow’s standing stones. It does, at least, give Wormwood some time to get to know a little more of Luke’s abilities, and to start to view him as her son, the Prince to her Empress. In turn, this leads to a climax where Luke’s choice between nature and nurture, between the woman that bred him and the woman that raised him, is key. It also means we’re left with a hooded would-be Empress trying to tempt Luke to become her young apprentice before her current apprentice turns on her and together they plunge into a pit while lightning strikes about them. I wonder where I’ve seen that before.

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