I had high hopes for this episode. Higher hopes. Between writer Mark Gatiss, who wrote something last season and I didn’t hate it because I don’t remember his name, and director Euros Lyn, I figured it would be fine.
I just didn’t predict it’d be such a middling fine.
Once again the Doctor (David Tennant) can’t control his space and time ship and he and Rose (Billie Piper) find themselves unexpectedly in fifties London. Why is the time period important? Unclear. It’s set during the Queen’s coronation but it’s just a detail and completely unrelated to the main plot of mind-controlling televisions, which are the precursors to face-sucking-offing televisions. It’s a very unaware “Made in Britain” joke.
Tennant and Piper—shockingly, Noel Clarke does not make an appearance immediately after whining his way off again last episode—team up with teen Rory Jennings to save his gran, Margaret John. They don’t just have to contend with the face-sucking TV maker, a game Ron Cook, they also have to deal with Jennings’s absurdly asshole fifties dad Jamie Foreman. Foreman seems like a bit of a stunt cast, but he’s not any good in the part and no one seems to know how to deal with him being shorter than most of the rest of the cast so when he’s yelling at his family, he’s like yelling up at them.
I mean, not to be anti-short people but they needed the character to be consistent as a shorter bully than a taller bully.
Maureen Lipman plays the presence on the television who’s trying to get all the faces sucked off. It’s unclear why.
At one point, Tennant finds himself in a warehouse of faceless people and it’s immediately familiar because it’s already been an action beat this season.
At one point this episode, Piper—who’s having a crap season as far as character development goes—gets replaced by a red shirt copper, Sam Cox.
I’m not sure if the episode’s a success in Gatiss’s mind or a failure but it’s far more concerning if it’s the latter.
“Who”’s gone from being Tennant holding it up to Tennant the only one surviving in the rubble.