Doctor Who (2005) s04e10 – Midnight

Midnight is kind of great.

Also kind of not.

It’s a strange episode for a couple obvious reasons. First, the Doctor (David Tennant) doesn’t have a companion with him when he needs one. He and Catherine Tate are on a pleasure planet resort and she wants to sunbathe not go on a tourist outing. It’s a diamond planet (literally made out of diamonds, diamond mountains, and so on) and the sunlight is lethal to humans so they’re in protective glass all the time. And shielding. Shielding is important.

So presumably it saves some budget only having a handful of establishing shots.

Off topic a moment because the episode reminds so much of “Star Trek”—but when it comes to lousy CGI establishing shots, which is often a “Who” standard, can’t you just get a matte painter? Bad CGI establishing shots are nowhere near as effective as a good matte; especially not for a TV show.

Anyway.

So it’s a strange episode because Tennant is alone. More alone than any other episode he’s been on or anything the season he wasn’t on yet.

Second reason it’s strange is because it’s an obvious Lifeboat setup. All the action takes place in a future travel bus vehicle, which finds a new route across the planet and complications ensure, causing the assortment of characters to panic in all the familiar ways. They eventually turn against Tennant, who’s all of a sudden oddly powerless without his capital A authority.

It’s particularly striking because it’s a bunch of humans who turn against him and the Doctor loves the humans. Hopefully writer Russell T. Davies will come up with a satisfactory explanation for it all.

He does. With a “Star Trek: The Next Generation” device.

So it’s like a mix of “TOS” and “TNG,” but “Doctor Who.” Not just one “Who” either, but two—former Doctor David Troughton guest stars as a… racist, misogynist professor who treats his protege (Ayesha Antoine) like complete shit.

It was weird when I thought Troughton was director Alice Troughton’s dad. It’s weirder when you find out he used to be a Doctor.

Good acting from Tennant, Antoine, and sometimes Lesley Sharp. Okay acting from Colin Morgan, Troughton, and sometimes Rakie Ayola. Daniel Ryan and Lindsey Coulson are bad, which hurts in a Lifeboat.

Is it weird I’m more curious what Catherine Tate did with her non-shooting time? She’s Margot Kidder in Superman III in this episode.

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