by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Doctor Who”

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Two: The Idiot's Lantern

Posted 17 March 2009 in by Catriona

This live-blogging brought to you by the fact that I’m desperately waiting for coffee—which I’m sure will turn up very soon. I can smell it. I could make it myself, but Nick’s sorted that out.

Also, I’m still not finding this Jack Dee comedy terribly funny. Am I missing something? Maybe it’s because I’m only watching the last ten minutes or so of each episode? I just don’t see anything appealing about the character, at all. I don’t mind a character who is a little bit of a bastard (case in point, almost everyone in Green Wing), but this character is just out-and-out awful. I haven’t seen a single redeeming characteristic.

It’s becoming something of an obsession with me, how much I dislike this programme. Am I mad? Or is he genuinely horrible?

No, actually. I’m not mad. He is horrible. Of course, I’m not a great fan of unadulterated comedy of embarrassment. A little bit leavened with other forms of humour? Sure. (Case in point, Green Wing.) But not a show that’s nothing but comedy of embarrassment.

I’m sure Doctor Who will start soon.

Nick and I are now united in how much we despise this character and see no redeeming characteristics in him, at all. I mean, Guy Secretan slept with his own mother (accidentally) and we still wanted to give him a bit of a cuddle.

Shouldn’t Doctor Who have started by now?

Wait, what? Lost Cities of the Ancients in Doctor Who time?

Oh, we’ll deal with that later. Because here’s the episode.

A woman, on a television set. And a man fretting about his overdraft, insisting that he needs a miracle, as the sounds of “God Save the Queen” swell behind him.

Now another house: a family sitting around a wireless, with the mother sewing on a treadle machine, the grandmother sitting reading the paper, the father heading out covered in medals, and the son insisting they should have a television. The father says, perhaps. For the coronation, perhaps.

Now back to Mr Magpie, the man with the overdraft. Now the woman on the television is speaking to him—and sucking his face towards the screen. All thanks, it seems, to a lucky lightning strike.

Credits.

Now here comes Rose in pink stilettos and headband—and, in between, a pink skirt and a denim jacket. And the Doctor has a moped: they’re off the see Elvis at the Ed Sullivan TV studios. The Doctor hasn’t noticed that this clearly is not New York: given the double-decker buses and the red post boxes (instituted by Anthony Trollope).

Now back to the family from the pre-credit sequence. Mother, father, and son are there—but grandmother is not, and the mother is fretting about what happened to her. “That face! That horrible face!” The father doesn’t understand why they’re worried about this.

Rose is wondering why so many people have television—everyone has an aerial, whereas Rose remembers Jackie saying they were so rare, people had to pile into one room.

Rose and the Doctor see a man being taken away with a sack over his head—his wife is weeping and begging, but no one listens. Tommy, the young boy from before, says to the Doctor that it’s happening all over: people are turning into monsters.

The Doctor and Rose try to chase the car, but it’s a well-practiced maneouver, and they lose it behind some fake doors.

ROSE: Maybe we should go and ask the neighbours?
DOCTOR: That’s what I like about you: the domestic approach.
ROSE: Thank you. Wait, was that an insult?

Mr Magpie is speaking to the woman in the telly again, and she’s creepier than she was.

Now Tommy is trying to see his grandmother, but the domestic tyrant that is his father creeps up and stops him. Nick starts muttering and complaining—he can’t cope with this father character, stereotype that he is.

I like the flying ducks, though.

Rose and the Doctor are on the doorstep, fulsomely greeting the Connellys and claiming to be representatives of Queen and Country.

I can’t get over the Doctor’s hair. It’s always been . . . odd. But that pompadour?

I’ve skipped the bit where the Doctor banters with Mr Connelly about his gender politics, because it doesn’t really change anything. And having one character address the fact doesn’t really change the fact that the character is a stereotype.

DOCTOR: Union flag?
ROSE: Mum went out with a sailor.
DOCTOR AND EVERYONE WATCHING THE ABC, SIMULTANEOUSLY: Of course she did.

Things go slightly odd, as I lose my wireless Internet connection for a moment, there.

Basically, the Doctor bullies Mr Connelly into letting him talk to the grandmother—whose face has completely gone. That is rather creepy. But Mr Connelly has rung the strange men in black who took the man earlier, and they grab Gran, after punching the Doctor in the face and pushing Mrs Connelly over.

The Doctor, of course, legs it straight out of the house without looking, but Rose sees that there’s something going on with the television.

Nevertheless, the Doctor is in time this time around to see the ruse with the fake doors and the sweeping men.

NICK: Terrific lighting in this episode.

So the Doctor breaks in to where the men in black have been taking their prisoners—only to find people standing randomly in cages, none of whom have any faces, but all of whom have at least a basic survival instinct, since they bunch their fists and circle him menacingly.

Rose, meanwhile, has gone to Mr Magpie’s television shop—actually, that’s not a denim jacket. It’s some kind of dark-blue nylon—pretending to buy a television. Mr Magpie is trying to push her out, but Rose is over-extending herself a little, here. She can’t see how terrified he is—she’s pushing as though he’s the villain, not seeing his desperation.

Still, I do like to see Rose striking out on her own.

The woman on the television—identifying herself as “The Wire”—speaks directly to Rose, claiming to be hungry, and then eats Rose’s face. That’s blunter than it should be, but that’s what happens: Rose’s face is sucked off.

The Doctor, meanwhile, is being interrogated by a detective inspector, and being as glib and fluent as always. And taunting the poor old inspector. Doctor, of course he’s out of his depth. Don’t taunt the poor man.

And here’s someone else (sans visage, the inspector says, which I love) being brought in with a bag over their head—and of course it’s Rose. The Doctor is furious because they left her in the street, but I suppose that’s an advantage to the narrative, because now the Doctor’s acting all American-movie action-hero macho, which is thoroughly out of character and annoys me.

Back to the family with the stereotypical father, who is now terrorising his wife in a way we haven’t seen before. And the son is fuming quietly. But this seems not in keeping with the first scene, where mother, son, and grandmother seemed content enough, and to have a non-confrontational relationship with the father. And that was a scene that took place exclusively in the home, so why would he have been dissembling then? Perhaps he was in an unusually good mood? But we haven’t seen him in a good mood since?

Hmm. I’m having to over-think this. That’s not a good sign.

The sentence earlier where I mentioned that the father ratted Gran out to the men in black? Apparently, that was a spoiler. But it did seem quite obvious, from the way he had his hands around their shoulders.

But this scene with Rita Connelly and her husband and son? I’m not sure I buy this. Is he a typical 1950s’ father? In which case, where does the mother’s sudden fury come from? She’d be conditioned into a complementary state of mind.

Oh, look: I’m missing plot.

Tommy tells the Doctor and the inspector that his grandmother was watching telly when she changed, so they go to Mr Magpie’s shop—where they find the faces of the missing people staring out of and screaming out of the televisions around the store. Rose is screaming “Doctor!” over and over again, but she doesn’t seem to be able to interact with the Doctor, to see or hear him.

Ack! Colour television! In fact, it’s a sign of The Wire’s increasing (but fluctuating) strength. Apparently, she was executed by her people, but fled across the universe in this form. She needs corporeal form, and she’s exploiting the coronation—the first time, the Doctor says, that millions of people gathered around televisions—to get the energy she needs.

Meanwhile, she attacks the inspector, Tommy, and the Doctor, but the Doctor manages to get his sonic screwdriver in between him and the screen. He and the others are knocked out, but The Wire transfers herself to a smaller, bakelite television set.

All this frantic action is intercut with scenes from the coronation, in grainy black and white.

The inspector’s face is gone, but Tommy and the Doctor are fine. The Doctor, suddenly realising they are in Muswell Hill, recognises the TV transmitter nearby—to which Mr Magpie is frantically driving The Wire—and grabs a selection of material from the shop.

Mr Magpie is taking The Wire to the top of the TV transmitter tower: he tries to back out of their arrangement, but she’s insistent. The Doctor gets past security by apparently pretending to be the King of Belgium.

Leaving Tommy’ behind, the Doctor races up the transmitter tower, trailing copper wire behind him.

Mr Magpie is higher, though, and he plugs The Wire in, allowing her to start sucking the faces off everyone watching the coronation.

I suspect, if it weren’t such an exciting part of the episode, I could have thought of a better way of putting that.

THE WIRE: You can’t stop The Wire!
NICK: Well, it did end after five seasons.

While I was repeating that anecdote, The Wire kills Magpie. And the Doctor grabs the small television—but his plan has backfired somewhere. I’m not sure where, because electronics confuse me. Thankfully, he has left Tommy downstairs, and Tommy fixes it, so everyone’s faces snap back into place, and they’re left slightly disorientated.

And The Wire is, apparently, destroyed. She can’t have been destroyed, though? Nope: she’s trapped in a video cassette. Beta, too. Well, that’ll be obsolete soon enough. And Tommy and the Doctor watch the coronation together.

And then Gran has her face back, and Rose, too.

And Mrs Connelly is kicking her husband out, because apparently the house is in her mother’s name? I still think this sub-plot needs a bit more work.

Meanwhile, we’re at a coronation street party—where Rose and the Doctor debate, briefly, about where history takes place, and decide that it’s in the domestic sphere, not the public sphere.

(The Doctor says he’s going to tape over The Wire. That doesn’t seem like the Doctor, but then this episode is a little like that.)

Mr Connelly is walking away, but Rose convinces Tommy to go after him.

NICK: Oh, Rose! Don’t work out your daddy issues with someone else.

And—scene.

“That was the final of Doctor Who for now?” What!? Why!? How shall I finish my live-blogging? This is just odd.

So . . . I suppose that it’s for season two of Doctor Who. For now. Definitely ending with a whimper, that.

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Two: The Age of Steel

Posted 10 March 2009 in by Catriona

This live-blogging brought to you by the fact that someone threw a hubcap onto our roof last night. Or perhaps by the fact that we didn’t notice that someone had thrown a hubcap onto the roof until Nick spotted it from the bus-stop across the road this morning. Seriously, how did we not hear that? We perhaps did, and thought it was an unusually rambunctious possum.

And who throws hubcaps onto somebody’s roof? We’ve had people try to kick our fence over (after it was on its last legs, post someone driving through it), we’ve had people punch holes in our fence (unfortunately, a new fence after someone else had driven through it), we’ve had people photograph themselves next to our stricken fence, we’ve had people drive through our fence (four separate people, so far), we’ve had people wander in and urinate on our driveway when we forget to close the gates, and on one memorable occasion I had an authoritative but ultimately kind conversation with some very young boys who had woken me up by trying to use my fence as a bottle-opener.

Much of this is the price you pay for living on a direct route between the colleges and the closest pub.

But a hubcap on the roof is something entirely new in my experience.

Actually, if Nick doesn’t get back from the shops fairly soon, this live-blogging will be brought to you by the fact that I don’t know how to turn our television on, and will have to make it all up based on my last viewing of this episode three years ago.

That could be interesting.

No, he’s back. So as long as nothing thoroughly weird happens, it will be a proper, legitimate live-blogging.

Doctor Who at the Proms? Now there’s a clashing of high and low culture.

Okay, Tropical Cyclone Hamish makes me giggle and giggle every time I see news on it. Hamish, Auntie Treena thinks you rock, and if you could read, I wouldn’t have made this joke on the blog. Now we need a Tropical Cyclone Jack.

Ack! Explosion! Ah, it’s a flashback to the previous episode. Startled me a little, though. I’d stopped paying attention.

Now, the Doctor is trying to surrender, but the Cybermen don’t really want anyone to surrender. The Doctor doesn’t really have a plan here, does he?

Credits.

So we pick up where we left off, except that the Doctor manages to kill a huge number of Cybermen with the power cell from the TARDIS that he had in his pocket. Why it bounces from Cyberman to Cyberman in a chain effect, I don’t know.

Rose and Pete want to go back for Jackie, but the Doctor tells Pete that Jackie is already dead and tells Rose that she’s not actually her mother.

During the getaway, Rickey and the Brummie attack Pete, suggesting that he’s part of the conspiracy to place Lumic in charge of the goverment and that Pete has been working with Lumic for years. Apparently, they have a government mole called Gemini—which Pete says is him.

They introduce themselves:

DOCTOR: I’m the Doctor, by the way.
ROSE: And I’m Rose.
PETE: Better and better. That’s the name of my dog.

The Doctor is in favour of stopping Lumic, of course—and he removes Pete’s earbuds, in case Lumic is listening. In fact, Lumic, chatting to his Cybermen about their uniformity, is using the earbuds to control the population of London.

News reporters are trying to get people to remove their earbuds—and Rose, seeing the zombified humans wandering through the city, plans on just pulling the earbuds off, but the Doctor tells her that she’ll cause a brainstorm.

Ah! Rose mentions the head in Von Statten’s museum, and the Doctor says yes, there are Cybermen in our universe, and mentions a brief version of their origin—so that answers some of the questions that came up on the comment thread last week.

With the Cybermen coming, Rickey and Mickey scatter from the others, and there’s rather a painful scene where Mickey is seeking validation from the alternative-universe form of himself, poor sod. He really has had all his confidence sucked out in his time in the TARDIS, hasn’t he?

Meanwhile, the people controlled by their earbuds wander into the Cyber factory, including Jackie.

Elsewhere, Rickey fails to make it over a chainlink fence, and is deleted by the Cybermen in front of a horrified Mickey.

Mr Crane wanders into Lumic’s room—Lumic doesn’t know why Crane isn’t controlled, but Crane claims his earbuds must have malfunctioned and requests an upgrade. This is an attempt to get close enough to detach some of Lumic’s life-support systems. The Cybermen kill Crane, but instead of reconnecting Lumic’s systems, they take him off for a forcible upgrade, despite him insisting that he will upgrade only with his last breath.

The Brummie is devastated to hear of Rickey’s death, and insults Mickey as a worthless substitute.

And there’s a gorgeous shot of Battersea Power Station.

The group look out over Battersea, and think of ways to take out the production lines. Rose and Pete will wear fake earbuds and go in through the front door, Jake will take out the earbud transmitter on the zeppelin above the factory, and the Doctor and the woman whose name I have already forgotten will enter through the tunnels.

The Doctor, of course, completely forgets about Mickey, who volunteers to go with the Brummie, Jake, despite Jake’s vicious rejection of Mickey’s offer.

The tunnels are full of Cybermen, pre-converted by “put on ice,” the Doctor says. Still, he wants her to keep an eye out for trip systems, which seems as though it would be good advice.

Pete and Rose, though Pete is bewildered by Rose’s reasons for wanting to help rescue Jackie, join the end of the queue of people being sent in for “upgrading”: Billie Piper does a good job of looking like someone who is trying not to show any emotion while actually being terrified.

Jake and Mickey head up to the zeppelin, where they find two guards. Mickey doesn’t want to kill the guards, and Jake eventually agrees—they have a gas, one of Mrs Moore’s little gadgets, apparently—and they knock them out. They’re human guards, not Cybermen.

Meanwhile, the Doctor is asking Mrs Moore (which I originally heard as “Muir,” with the Brummie accent and all) how she became involved in the Preachers. She tells the Doctor that her real name is Angela Price, and she ended up on the run after reading the wrong file on the mainframe.

Meanwhile, something triggers the Cybermen where they are, and they end up frantically trying to climb out of a hatch before the implacable cyborgs can reach them.

In the other plotline, Rose is stopped just before entering the upgrade machines: she can hear the noises and we can see something of what’s happening in the booths. But there’s no screaming at all, as there was with the homeless men. That’s even creepier.

Meanwhile, Rose and Pete are identified by a Cyberman who says that it was once Jackie Tyler, much to their horror. They think that maybe the process can be reversed, but, of course, when they look back to her, they can’t tell which one she is in a sea of Cybermen. The Cybermen plan to “reward” Pete forcibly for his work with Cybus Industries.

On the zeppelin, Jake and Mickey look for the transmitter controls.

The Doctor and Mrs Moore are ambushed by a Cyberman, but Mrs Moore manages to take it down with some form of electromagnetic bomb.

The Doctor looks inside: the Cybermen have a central nervous system and a human brain, but they have an emotional inhibitor, so they can use the human brain without the risk of the Cyberman going insane during the process.

The Doctor, fiddling around, breaks the emotional inhibitor, so the Cybermen tells us that it is a woman called Sally, who simultaneously wants to know where her fiance Gareth is and doesn’t want him to see her on the night before their wedding.

A little manipulate-y, there, Doctor Who. It could have been traumatic without the wedding angle.

The Doctor thinks if they could override all the emotional inhibitors at once, they would be able to kill the Cybermen. I have a problem with that, but no time to go over it now.

Suddenly, Mrs Moore is electrocuted from behind.

Mickey and Jake plan to crash the zeppelin, because they can’t get to the controls—they’re behind a safety screen. And the Cyberman in the zeppelin isn’t actually dead, after all.

But Lumic has been upgraded—to a Cyber Controller, complete with visible brain.

Mickey and Jake do manage to take the Cyberman out and simultaneously electrocute the transmitter controls, so that the humans still in the factory freak out and break away.

And now is the time for the Doctor’s monologue; this one is about imagination, emotion, and how much he likes humans. (He also manages to point out that other people aren’t as clever as he is, but that’s not unusual.)

Lumic challenges the Doctor with the pain of emotions, but the Doctor won’t be taunted—he talking now to Mickey, whom he seems to know can hear him from the zeppelin, and tell him to find the code to override the emotional inhibitor.

Mickey does. The Doctor uses it. And everyone celebrates the fact that the Cybermen are so horrified, so traumatised by what has been done to them while they were unconscious that, apparently, their heads explode.

To be fair, the Doctor is not celebrating.

I’m not sure why the Cybermen freaking out also sets fire to the power station, but perhaps they’re pulling out cords and things?

Jake wants to leg it, but Mickey refuses—he calls Rose and tells her, and Pete and the Doctor, to head to the roof. They do, but a furious Lumic pulls himself free from his Cyber-couch.

I’m impressed with Rose’s ability to climb a rope ladder. I don’t think I could do that. Maybe if a Cyberman was chasing me and I was on the roof of a burning Art Deco power station. It’s all about finding the inspiration, really.

Speaking of Cybermen, Lumic the Cyber Controller is climbing up after them, but Pete very slowly severs the rope with the sonic screwdriver, and Lumic falls back into the now seriously burning factory. Isn’t Battersea heritage listed? I think there might be some questions to ask about that.

In the aftermath, Rose is offering to show Pete the inside of the TARDIS, but he refuses, especially after she hints that she’s his daughter. When she pushes it, and calls him “Dad,” he really freaks out. I can’t blame her, with all her longings to see her father, but he’s not set up to cope with this, especially given what just happened to his wife.

Meanwhile, the Doctor has got his suit back.

But Mickey—he’s staying in the parallel world. He says they’ve lost their Rickey, and his gran needs him.

Rose irritates me by asking what if she needs Mickey? (I’d be more irritated, but she’s already a bit fragile about her parallel-dad’s rejection.) Mickey points out that she doesn’t need him—and, bless you, Mickey, you’re quite right. She’s been quite horrible to you, and I can’t imagine what it must be like living in the TARDIS when its other two occupants keep forgetting that you’re there.

Rose is crying, but Mickey is absolutely making the right decision here.

Mickey and Jake watch the TARDIS disappear—and we cut to Jackie filling the kettle, to find that the TARDIS has materialised in her living room, and she’s being embraced by a semi-hysterical daughter. (And I can’t blame Rose for being freaked out.)

Mickey, meanwhile, is off to liberate Paris in a van.

Bless him.

Next week, “The Idiot’s Lantern.” Ah. Well, that will be fun.

Bracebridge Hemyng Was A Doctor Who Villain

Posted 4 March 2009 in by Catriona

Apparently.

I was rummaging through Wikipedia earlier this afternoon, as you do.

Actually, I was looking for the name of the actor who played John Lumic, so that I could appear omniscient in a comment thread. As you do.

And I found that Lumic is one of many in a list of minor Doctor Who villains. Some way below him is this man:

The Master of the Land of Fiction was a human writer from the year 1926 who was drawn to the Land of Fiction and forced to continuously write stories which were enacted within that realm. The Master’s name was never revealed, but he did identify himself as the writer of “The Adventures of Captain Jack Harkaway” in The Ensign, a magazine for boys. He was freed by the Second Doctor, and returned to his own time.

I don’t know about “Captain” Jack Harkaway, but Jack Harkaway—schoolboy adventurer, all-round sterling example of the late-nineteenth-century pioneering (and occasionally violent, especially if you’re foreign or you make a pass at Jack’s girlfriend) English spirit, and proposed member of an early League of Extraordinary Gentlemen—was the most successful creation of hack writer Bracebridge Hemyng. Of course, Bracebridge Hemyng died in 1901, but then Doctor Who is a show about time travel.

Hemyng doesn’t get his own Wikipedia page, which is a kind of cultural oblivion compared to which the journey to that bourne from whence no traveller returns is a walk in the park.

He does turn up on the Wikipedia page for Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor, for which he undertook some of the interviews.

But he does have his own page on the truly fabulous Albert Johannsen’s truly fabulous The House of Beadle and Adams and Its Dime and Nickel Novels: The Story of A Vanished Literature. (And if you ever need to know anything about American dime-novel writers or—given the networks of exchange between and the piratical publishing practices of the two countries—English penny-weekly writers, go straight to Northern Illinois University Libraries’ excellent online version of Johannsen’s book.)

And he also wrote some serials for Bow Bells, which is how I came across his name originally, when I was indexing the contents of that journal.

And he once “tried to lure the Second Doctor into becoming his replacement as the controller for the “Master Brain Computer”, the controlling force behind the Land of Fiction.”

Now that is something that he should add to his curriculum vitae.

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Two: Rise of the Cybermen

Posted 3 March 2009 in by Catriona

This live-blogging brought to you by the fact that I have new armchairs: they’re 1940s’ club-style, and I’m finding myself a little constricted by the arms—I keep mistyping things.

Actually, I don’t think I can live-blog in this chair. I can’t move my arms sufficiently.

This live-blogging brought to you by the fact that I’ve been sensible and moved to the Tibetan coffee table, my usual live-blogging position, and can now move my arms again.

Whoops, it started while I wasn’t looking.

Now, apparently, the “prototype” is “working”—but a man I’m going to call Owen until I get another name says “prototype” is the wrong word, as it implies a machine. The scientist, Dr Kendrick, apologises: “I should have said: it’s alive!”

And the Frankenstein analogy starts already.

Now Owen, now known as John Lumic, has his new creature—strangely Cyberman shaped—kill Dr Kendricks, who wants the creature ratified by the Geneva convention—Geneva convention? That doesn’t sound right—as a new form of life, and sets sail for Great Britain.

Credits.

Now the Doctor and Rose are roaring over shared experiences, and Mickey feels terribly left out, especially since the Doctor seems to be subjecting him to some kind of hazing—or forgetting him, Mickey says.

The Doctor says, no: “I know exactly what I’m doing.”

And, of course, the TARDIS console room blows up at that point. And oxygen masks drop from the ceiling, as the Doctor says the TARDIS is dead.

The TARDIS can’t be dead!

Nick says this is the first episode directed by Graeme Harper since “Revelation of the Daleks” in 1985.

The Doctor is ranting about how they fell out of the Vortex into some kind of “no-time,” but Mickey points out that they’re in London.

It’s not our London, despite the similarity of the dates. There are zeppelins. So they’re in a Jasper Fforde novel?

And Rose’s dad is alive. She sees him on a talking billboard, and Rose is, unsurprisingly, freaked out by this, but the Doctor says she can never see him, that he’s not her dad, he might have his own Rose and Jackie.

He certainly has much money, judging from the house and car. And he does have his own Jackie, though she’s much more of a shrew than the original Jackie—this one is annoyed that Pete has arranged her 40th birthday, when she’s “officially” thirty-nine. She’s also incredibly materialistic.

She draws attention to the fact that everyone is wearing earbuds: hers were a gift from John Lumic, which can’t be a good thing.

Meanwhile, Jackie has been calling “Rose! Rose!”—but Rose is in fact a Yorkshire terrier. I am partial to Yorkies, I admit.

Lumic is clearly not a well man, but that doesn’t justify his over-riding of Jackie’s earbuds, which causes a strangely Cybermannish arrangement to come out of her head, allowing him to download the security arrangements for Jackie’s party.

Lumic needs “extra staff”—and he appeals to a member of his staff who I’m fairly sure is called “Mr Crane,” who says he’s going on a “recruitment drive.”

Meanwhile, Rose has wandered off, and the Doctor is more than a little annoyed by this. Sitting on a bench by the Thames, Rose discovers that she has access to a mobile-phone network.

Torchwood reference! Drink!

The Doctor is trying to explain to Mickey why, comic books notwithstanding, you can no longer flip blithely between universes: once you could, but the Time Lords took that knowledge with them when they died.

Call back to “The Invasion,” one of the last Cyberman stories of the Patrick Troughton era, with the International Electromatics truck that Mr Crane uses to abduct a group of homeless men, except for one canny man who appears to be Brummie. He has an ugly accent, anyway.

Meanwhile, the Doctor finds one insignificant power cell that is clinging to life—he can’t charge it up, because he needs energy from his own universe: he breathes on it, and manically explains that “I just gave away ten years of my life! Worth every second!”

They’ll be able to return home in twenty-four hours.

The Doctor and Mickey find Rose, who is freaking out about the fact that her dad still married her mother, but she was never born. She wants to see them, and the Doctor is objecting—he appeals to Mickey to help him, but Mickey has his own things to take care of. The Doctor is trapped between his two companions, but Mickey tells him to go: “You can only chase after one of us. It’s never going to be me.”

Sure enough, the Doctor runs after Rose, and tells Mickey to be back in twenty-four hours.

MICKEY: Sure thing. If I haven’t found anything better.

Meanwhile, Pete and the British Prime Minister [President] are waiting for John Lumic at the airport, chatting about the state of the world. Lumic clearly has more influence than we’ve been given to understand.

Mickey, heading off somewhere, sees a soldier, who tells him he’s safe to pass: “The curfew doesn’t start ‘til ten”—and asks Mickey whether he’s been living up with the toffs in the zeppelins.

Somewhere else, Rose is telling the Doctor that Mickey’s mother couldn’t cope, his father only stuck around for a short while, and he was raised by his grandmother—ROSE: “She was such a great woman. She used to slap him . . .”—until she died in a fall down the stairs.

The Doctor feels quite guilty, until he’s distracted by everyone falling silent to listen simultaneously to “the daily download, published by Cybus Industries.” The bit where everyone laughs simultaneously at a joke we don’t hear is incredibly creepy.

When the Doctor realises that Cybus Industries owns Pete Tyler’s company, he agrees to go and see Rose’s alterna-parents.

Mickey, meanwhile, has reconnected with his grandmother, who is surprised to see her grandson, Rickey. She’s been worried that something terrible has happened to him. And the scene where he sees that the stair carpet is still rucked up at one corner, so his grandmother could trip on it, is devastating.

While they’re chatting, Mickey is grabbed off the street by people who are clearly friends of Rickey’s—Rickey, apparently, is “London’s most wanted.”

Meanwhile, Lumic’s voice over a recording—while Lumic himself is breathing through a respirator—is explaining to the Prime Minister [President] and Pete about the fact that he is saving the human brain, by preserving it in “a cradle of copyrighted chemicals.” Lumic needs permission to carry out his research, but the Prime Minister says it is not only unethical, it is obscene. He doesn’t even listen to the entire presentation before leaving.

Lumic doesn’t seem too fazed, though: he talks to Mr Crane, and Mr Crane shows how he has grafted earbuds onto the homeless men whom he earlier tricked into his van with the offer of free food.

Mr Crane finds it “irresistible” to use the earbudded men as toys, making them turn left, turn right, etc. But Lumic wants the men “upgraded”—Mr Crane sends them into a factory and when the sounds of screams filter out, asks a lackey to “cover up that noise.” “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” starts up.

Mickey and his new friends arrive at one of their hideouts, but Rickey is already there.

Meanwhile, Rose and the Doctor are crashing Jackie’s birthday party as waiters. Rose is not impressed, since she though the psychic paper could have done better, but the Doctor thinks there in a better position to hear gossip.

Rose is incredibly jealous of someone she’s never met called Lucy. I’m sorry, Drew, but that was clearly jealousy.

Damn, now I have to go and replace the words “Prime Minister” with the word “President.” I thought they’d said “President,” but I was distracted. Oh, well—maybe I’ll get around to that later.

Rose is not impressed to hear that she is now a Yorkie, but I can’t blame her for that. The Doctor, on the other hand, finds it hilarious.

Mr Crane is “mobile,” while Lumic is “arriving.” Is that deliberately obscure?

Mickey has been stripped to his knickers, but they’re confused by the fact that he’s human—and identical to Rickey.

RICKEY OFFSIDER: Well, it could be that Cybus Industries has perfected human cloning. Or, perhaps your dad had a bike?

Rickey points out that they aren’t wearing earbuds: they’re independent of Lumic’s network.

They know Lumic is on the move, and they’re following him. They’re armed, too—so they have some suspicion of what’s going on.

The Doctor, passing a partly open door, sees a computer, and can’t help his sticky-beaking. Rose is gobsmacked at seeing her mum again, while Pete is remembering Jackie’s twenty-first birthday: “A pint of cider down the George the Fourth.”

There was a pub in Picton called the George the Fourth—used to brew its own German beer. Not such a god pub now, though I feel guilty saying so.

Rose is chatting to Pete, who says he moved out last month. She doesn’t want her parents to split, but Pete suddenly realises he doesn’t know why he’s saying these things to a waitress.

And that’s the first sight of the Cybermen. Spoiler! Feet stomping down a gangplank.

Meanwhile, Rose is chatting to her mother outside.

Bugger, my Internet connection has gone flaky. I’ll finish this in one hit, then try and upload the rest.

Rose tries to chat to her mother about the dissolution of her marriage, but Jackie is—and I’m rather with her on this, though she is grotesquely classist in her expression—entirely unimpressed.

The Cybermen burst into the Tylers’ party, and Lumic tells the President that these are his children. Both the Doctor and the President know that these were once real people, and both are horrified.

The Cybermen claim to be “Human.2,” which sounds better than it types.

The Cybermen claim that every human will receive a free, compulsory upgrade, and if you refuse, you are deemed “incompatible” and promptly deleted. The President is deleted, but the Cybermen seem to be deleting everyone who runs away from them, which is bound to have a negative effect on their eventual numbers.

Pete, Rose, and the Doctor get out of the house, but Jackie is hiding in the basement, and a Cyberman is coming down the steps.

Rickey and the Brummie come running up, firing—but the five of them are surrounded by Cybermen now. The Doctor surrenders, thinking that this will stop the Cybermen from deleting them. The Cybermen says no: they are a rogue element, inferior, and they will perish under maximum deletion.

Cliffhanger!

Usual Reminder

Posted 3 March 2009 in by Catriona

Live-blogging Doctor Who tonight at 8.30 pm, Brisbane time.

In the meantime, here’s a link to Defamer’s YouTube Clip of the Day.

I don’t normally watch them, but this one combines Adolf Hitler and grammar, and made me laugh so hard I hurt myself.

It was absolutely worth it.

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