The Idiots Lantern (2006)

After dealing with the Cybermen, the Doctor and Rose travel to 1952 London just before Elizabeth II became Queen. This story is written by Mark Gatiss who is someone that could best be described as having a macabre sense of humour. This story does a smart thing of making TV the baddie. The very TV that you were watching this episode on. The big name in this story is Maureen Lipman who only appears on the TV and its how she gets her victims that’s smart.

Setting it in the 1950’s is just an excuse to give Tennant a quiff and stick Piper in a big pink dress and for the pair of them to ride a moped. Does this mean that the TARDIS has an entire forecourt of mopeds and bikes somewhere. Anyway, the story sees lots of people by TV’s bought from the Magpie shop who becomes the first victim of the wire. The fact that she is dressed like the newsreaders that appeared on TV during this time adds to the creepy feel of what she does. The way that she was defeated was very clever which given the author isn’t a surprising statement. Putting on a betamax video and wipe over isn’t the sort of thing that would have been thought of by any other writer but its very clever.

The main story is about the wire’s attempt to feed off the faces of London (and then the world) but there is another story going is the Connolly family who is led by the bullish Eddie Connolly (Jamie Foreman) who regularly mocks and belittles his son Tommy (Rory Jennings). In the end Tommy stands up to him in a lovely little moment which makes everyone feel good about themselves. There was a mili-second where I felt sorry for Eddie but when you think of what he’s been like then that

It’s impressive how the production team managed to make 1950’s London come alive in 21st Century Cardiff. With houses having modern window frames and satellite dishes it’s quite an achievement to get around that. There is a part of this story which is wonderful and its when Rose loses her face. Sadly it returns but the CGI is quite good and watching how it was done on Doctor Who Confidential afterwards shows that everyone who’s name didn’t appear in the title wasn’t given the CGI treatment and would have undergone what appears to be a claustrophobic experience. The whole feel of the story is wonderful and everything worked from the sets to the acting to the story itself.

Credit to David Tennant who does a good job throughout and doesn’t seem to stop for a moment. He works well with the Tommy character and with the Rose not having a face issue it meant that the Tommy character could grow and become the temporary companion. Rory Jennings is on good form and does well with what he is given. Maureen Lipman is very good as the Wire and when you get an actress like her on screen its important to give her something good to do and she has in this story and she does it very well. As does Ron Cook (Parker in the Thunderbirds movie) who is an actor that I like and think that he does well as Magpie.

The Idiots Lantern is a good solid story. It’s not the best story of the season but its still something that will help past 40 odd minutes. Mark Gatiss is a top writer and this is another good script from him and whilst this isn’t as good as The Unquiet Dead from the previous year its still a good effort.


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