Doctor: 'Ah, I'll be fine. Taking a big space truck with a bunch of strangers across a diamond planet called Midnight—what could possibly go wrong?'
They did things differently this year.
Since 2006, each season of Doctor Who has contained what's lovingly referred to
as a Doctor-lite episode. If it wasn't for the now traditional
Christmas episode, there'd be no need, as there'd be more than enough time
to film all thirteen episodes—but since Christmas wouldn't be
Christmas without a festive Who, concessions had to be
made, and the Doctor-lite episode is it.
general idea is, the Doctor makes a brief appearance, whilst the rest of the story is carried by a cast of relative unknowns. And whilst this admittedly sounds like a fucking horrible idea (and in the case of 'Love and Monsters' arguably was), it hasn't been a complete disaster. Season three's 'Blink' was a veritable triumph of storytelling. This year, however, rather of having
one episode almost completely devoid of the Doctor and his companion,
they split them up instead—Tennant got to star in 'Midnight', and Donna got to star in 'Turn Left'. Which in the grand scheme of things worked out
pretty well; 'Midnight' and 'Turn Left' are two of my favourite
episodes of the season.
This episode was written as a replacement for the
Tom MacRae penned episode 'Century House', which was pulled from the
schedule after Russell T. Davies deemed it too similar to 'The Unicorn
and the Wasp'. Those of you with good memories may remember that Tom
MacRae also wrote season two story 'The Rise of the Cybermen/The Age
of Steel', a tale which also bore striking similarities to 'Father Day'. I think I see that pattern
This was a claustrophobic episode all told.
Lesley Sharp was excellent as Sky Silvestry. The possession sequences were
totally creepy. Having Sky speak in exact sync with the other passengers
was a mesmerising effect, and for the first half of the episode I was
absolutely engrossed in her exchanges with the Doctor. Logistically
speaking, this must have been an insanely difficult episode to film. The
mimicry was so exacting, the margin for error so small—but Tennant and Sharp pulled it off with absolute conviction.
I thought the wheels came off (at least a little), was during the last
15 minutes. It was interesting to watch the Doctor trying to call
everyone's bluff, but what an unlikable bunch they all turned out to
be. Not one of them rose to the occasion. Even though the Hostess
sacrificed herself at the end, I'm still not sure it made up for her earlier
behaviour. Even Jethro switched sides. I know everyone was frightened,
and that their predicament was dire, but everyone seemed to turn to
murder far too quickly. The Doctor's 'everything will be fine, trust
me' spiel fell on totally deaf ears. He didn't have one ally—and in the
end they almost ended up killing him.
It was odd, too,
that the shuttle passengers showed surprise at the Doctor being an
alien. They were on an alien planet and, presumably, in the future.
Were they not theoretically aliens themselves? Or had they just not
encountered other aliens before?
—Why didn't the hostess just shove Sky out the door? Why the self sacrifice?
—I actually didn't recognise Colin Morgan first time around—he played rebellious emo, Jethro Cane. Morgan's now the star of BBC drama show, Merlin (now inexplicably in its second season), which like Doctor Who, is produced by TV Wales and also fills the early Saturday evening time-slot. Coincidence? Of course. What else would it be? I'm not suggesting favouritism for a moment.
—No TARDIS in tonight's episode.
—David Troughton, who played Professor Hobbes, is the son of second Doctor, Patrick Troughton.
—Rose's face appeared briefly on one of the shuttle's monitor screens.
I'm not sure how. Didn't The Doctor shut down the shuttle's
Doctor: 'I'll be back for dinner. We'll try that anti-gravity restaurant, with bibs.'
and Sky: 'Roast beef. Bananas. The Medusa Cascade. BANG! Rose Tyler,
Martha Jones, Donna Noble, TARDIS. Shamble-bobble-dibble-dooble. Oh,
Doctor, you're so handsome. Yes, I am, thank you.
Doctor and Sky: 'Mrs
Silvestry, I'm trying to understand. You've captured my speech, what
for? What do you need? You need my voice in particular, the cleverest
voice in the room? Why? Because I'm only one who can help? Ooh, I'd love
that to be true but your eyes, they're saying something else.'