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Jul 04, 2006

So that's what those Torchwood references were about!

Oh dear. Oh deary, deary me.

I think I’m going to have to find out exactly how much the BBC spent on this programme, work out what percentage that is of their total budget and subtract that same percentage from my TV Licence fee. In that way I can again sleep soundly knowing that I am in no way contributing to the continued existence of this Science Fiction Farce. Someone once said (I want to say that it was Sheridan -The playwright not the Babylon 5 chap - but can’t find the quote now) that swearing is the last refuge of a limited imagination and I tend to agree. But I might be tempted to break that rule for his pile of total and utter dross!!

Kidding! You were expecting me to launch into yet another diatribe about what was wrong with it and how much I hated this episode, weren’t you? Not this time. I have to say that I really enjoyed this one – It was a great episode!

And, to me at least, it was something of a surprise at the end. I have managed to avoid all spoilers and didn’t watch any of the trailers on the Beeb by closing my eyes, putting my fingers in my ears and singing "Not listening, not listening. Na-nah, na-nah, nah!!!". Which is fine at home but does tend to go down less well in Dixons.

So the fabled, mano-a-mano battle royale comes to pass. I have to say my initial response was one of excitement. "A fight between the Daleks and Cybermen sounds great!"

But then, memory kicks in with "Ah, but remember Freddy Vs Jason and Alien Vs Predator?"

And memory has a good point. Both were interesting ideas on paper. The Alien/Predator thing particularly had been brought to life incredibly well in the Dark Horse comic series. But the filmed versions were a waste of time, money, effort and a good idea. They were really, really bad. Really. And this makes me wonder. Will this latest meeting of the Titans turn out to be the diamond in the rough or merely another wasted chance?

Some dreams aren’t meant to be realised. The concept is just too perfect to be made flesh. The unobtainable "Wouldn’t it be great if…". The fact that we can tell each other how cool something would be if only somebody would do it, knowing all the while that the collective imagining will be far greater than the reality could ever be. Is this to be another humbled God?

I hope not. I really want this to work.

The_different_oneComing down from the dreaming spire for a moment and lighting on a slightly more practical note. I can’t help but notice we have three Daleks against a million Cybermen? I know the pepperpots are mean, but sheer weight of numbers has to eventually work  against them. Especially now that Cyber-dudes have upgraded themselves to sporting weaponry rather than just carrying hand buzzers around. Although I did notice that one of the Daleks was a different colour. Is that significant do you think?

So, that’s the ending done. What about the rest of it?

The pre-credit scene was interesting, to say the least. Although I should have known that something as minor as death wouldn’t be able to shut Rose up. My money is on an alternate universe Rose buying the farm. ‘Our’ Rose sees how upset Jackie will be and decides to stay home with the new and improved Mickey whose Grandmother has by now come a cropper on the stair carpet because he was off in Paris fighting the good fight. But I could be wrong. It would make a change, if nothing else. And wasn’t it good to see a little continuity thrown in with that clip of Doctor 9? I wonder how much that cost the Beeb in repeat fees.

The ‘ghosts’ idea was interesting. The fact that they were being drawn to those people who wanted to see the dear departed again was touching. I’m not sure that the television would have been quite so obsessed (possessed?) with the whole thing if it had been going on for so long. If the ghosts were appearing at regular timed intervals why did they need a ghostly weather forecast? Same time, same place every day – What’s to predict? And why would they need the Ghost Watch programme? They turn up for a couple of minutes and then vanish. What’s to watch? Unless, as it was presented by the old House Doctor front man, they were intending to give the ghosts a make over. Using Mr Sheen for Spooks, of course. And then there was the long promised Eastenders appearance. I have to admit that I chuckled – That is definitely the sort of line that they would come up with in that situation. And I loved the "How did it start?", "Well, Peggy heard a noise in the cellar…" business between Jackie and the Doctor.

So, the ghost idea was good but the TV coverage was less well done. I would have preferred one factual programme covering the Ghost phenomenon and the Eastenders bit because I did like that.

Then there was a nice bit of detecting; trapping a ‘Ghost’, tracking the path of the power and setting course for the source. Which led to a very surreal moment. I can sort of understand Chrissie Watts being slightly in awe of the man they’ve been watching for a couple of centuries and maybe she would have indulged in a moment of girlishly gleeful hand clapping, but why did all the armed guards join in? Repeatedly? What was the point of having them so heavily armed if all that was really called for was a Cheerleading squad? He’s the enemy! You don’t give the bad guy an ovation. I don’t applaud the Taxman. That was just an odd moment. Still, they are among the more polite captors that we’ve encountered down through the years.

Then we have the Void Sphere, which is actually a very clever way to get around the whole wiping out of the Daleks. At some point in the past, or indeed future as neither exist in the void, you stuff them in a Void Sphere and move it outside of time and space. Then they can pop back into our reality whenever the narrative requires it or the viewing figures start to fall. It beats the hell out of waking up and finding a Dalek in your shower that’s for sure.

However, I’m hoping that it doesn’t become another convenience from whence we can get around this sort of tricky situation. I don’t want to be encountering these things every week. Especially as the Doctor said that it should be impossible. You can imagine the Void stuffed full of Golden Balls (which is odd because the void can usually be found between his ears) containing all manner of friends and foes just waiting for their cue. It’s a lovely idea and a very neat work around, but please let it be a one off.

And the Sonic Screwdriver gets another function. 12B this time (I think. I’ve only seen this the once and so I’m a little hazy on the detail). Although why he couldn’t set it to 12B before handing it over I don’t know. No idea what this setting would have done – It just sounds like a really soft pencil to me.

Although I did like the demonstration of the splintered dimension he did on the glass partition. He could actually have used some kind of sonic disruption to crack the glass in the middle of the ‘O’ like that. That was a well-explained, simple to follow and effective narrative device. I could have been watching Think of a Number.

That was a very odd office that Torchwood had as well. I know that they were monitoring the rift/link to the void/blank wall thing, but they could have faced their desks to look out of the windows and spun round on their chairs when they needed to. That wall would have been great to use as a screen for a projection TV – Imagine Barbara Windsor 30 feet tall, ten times bigger than in real life. Scary.

And why did nobody notice the fact that a few people were wearing two ear pieces all of a sudden? For a top-secret organisation they’re as bad as CTU for being infiltrated and attacked.

Has anybody else noticed that Doctor 10 seems to have adopted "I’m sorry" as his catch phrase? Most every week he gets to apologise to somebody – Even if he isn’t about to kill them. On the whole I think I prefer "Fantastic".

Whilst all this was going on, Rose was having a little adventure of her own. I assume that the sarcophagus that the TARDIS was dumped next to was a homage to Pyramids of Mars, but it’s been quite a while since I saw that story, so will just have to pretend that it was. I did wonder why Rose had to steal a white coat that had a) been conveniently abandoned right next to the TARDIS and b) fitted very well when the TARDIS has a hugely well equipped wardrobe that must have had a lab coat somewhere.

Its_blankI was surprised that the psychic paper worked so well on a card reader, but did like the  fact that Dr Singh saw straight through it. It helped puncture the smugness that we’ve seen building up over time. Suddenly they are up against people that aren’t that impressed with them. They’re now facing responses more along the lines of "Ooh, you can shatter glass" and "Blank paper. Big deal" rather than the gullible, stupid and willing to believe attitudes we’ve had of late. I thought that it made a nice change and will hopefully make them (or him at least) a little more humble.

As an aside, did you know that there’s actually no such word as ‘gullible’ in the English dictionary? Fascinating little factoid for you there.

Mickey_1And the return of Mickey! I must admit that I thought he was going to call first, but I  have to say it was good to see him. It would appear that kicking line-dancing cyberbutt seems to have actually done him some good and I thought that he was pretty cool this time round. Even if he was another example of the CTU levels of staff screening that goes on in Torchwood. It was good to see him back and I’m sure Noel Clarke is overjoyed at being able to play the guy with a bit of gumption and finally rid the collective memory of "Ricky the Idiot".

And another fantastic cliff hanger! I know I was all excited at the end of Impossible Planet, only to feel terribly let down in the opening moments of Satan Pit but this is different. We’ve basically spent the whole of the first episode setting up the action for the next. It doesn’t need resolving all in the first five minutes. I’m looking forward to seeing everybody putting their differences aside and joining together to fight a three way battle over most of the episode. I can hardly wait!

Except, of course, that I have to. As it happens I’m off on my holidays from Friday and will not be back for a week. I just hope I remember to set the doohickey to record it. I should have checked the TV listings before booking this little jaunt, but them’s the breaks.

So there we go. That was one of the best episodes from this season and I’m very much looking forward to whenever I get to see Doomsday.

Jacks_back

One question. Why hasn’t anybody mentioned the Cardiff branch of Torchwood yet? I  was hoping for some kind of link or name check getting us ready for the triumphant return of Captain Jack! That’s something to look forward to. I hope.

So, one episode left. And there’s still a lot to tell. The Doctor has to defeat both the Daleks and the Cybermen, reclaim his TARDIS from the Torchwood Institute, make his peace with said organisation and find a new companion. Rose has a much shorter to do list.

Gotta say, I’m looking forward to it.

TTFN. I’ll send you a postcard.

Comments

I used the 'gullible' trick on Outpost Gallifrey last year and it worked!
Always worth an outing...

It's interesting that even top secret organisations need a brand these days, and make sure that they plaster it everywhere just in case an employee forgets who they work for. Crap logo, though. D'you think this is gonna be used in the new series?

I had a thought earlier: I reckon the 'something special' that's planned for the Christmas episode is the resolution to next week's episode, which will be decided by text voting: Who wins, Daleks or Cybermen? You decide...

Admit it, you all think it could just be true, don't you?!

On a faintly banal note, the sarcophagus was indeed meant to be the one from Pyramids of Mars, Russel scripted it as such and said so on the commentary.

They can avoid the big mistake of AvP and FvJ by doing ONE big thing. Having a clear-cut winner. Those two match-ups suffered because they both ended in a draw. Personally, I hope the Daleks hand the Cybermen their tin-plated asses . There's just something invincible looking about Daleks. I'll be dissapointed if it's a draw, or a loss on their part.

Oh, and I don't think this alt-uni Rose is going to kick it. She is, after all, a small yippy dog.

And, if they stick to established history, having a black Dalek IS significant. Black Daleks are usually Dalek Supremes(high-rank). Figured if the Emporer Dalek had survived, the Dalek Supreme HAD to have survived somehow.

Hey leave CTU alone, they're trying =/ And it's not like they're a supersecret organization like Torchwood. Mind you, having Jack Bauer thrown into the mix vs. the Daleks and Cybermen would be interesting. Even odds, I'd say.

Three Daleks vs a million Cybermen? They've already referenced 'Horatius' once this season.

"In yon strait path a thousand
May well be stopped by three.
Now who will stand on either hand,
And keep the bridge with me?"

Ugh there were FOUR daleks, I swear. There was another soldier Dalek behind the Dalek Supreme, look again.

Jonathan - The gullible gag has always been one of my favourites. I'm just sorry that nobody picked me up on it here. Everybody's obviously far too savvy.

Flick - Thanks for the confirmation. I've not had chance to listen to the commentary yet.

J Salem - Ah, but what if it's a Rose from another Altternative Universe. I know this is starting to sound like a DC story line, but there could be a convergence of realities.

I afraid that I can't watch it again as I didn't record it. I'll take your word on the Dalek count. Ugh?

John - I like that. Showing my ignorance but who's Horatius?

Agh Crisis on Infinite Gallifreys Nooooooo!

Ugh - I think I'm the only one besides Mickey and Rose that saw the 4th Dalek.

There are definately four in the previews available online, plus the genesis ark.

Thanks Flick, I knew I wasn't going crackers..

'Horatius' is the poem that was quoted in 'The Impossible Planet'. One of my favourites.

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Horatius

See particularly stanzas XXVII-XXIX.

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