‘THE IDIOT’S LANTERN’
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The Queen’s Coronation and the Wire
This episode is by Mark Gatiss. It is set in 1953 and is on the day of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. It is also a story about television and an alien menace that gets inside the TV that wants to feed on us!
The Doctor hoped to take Rose to 1950s New York to see Elvis. Instead they end up in Britain on the day of the coronation. But something’s odd since people are turned into monsters and taken away.
I enjoyed watching this episode. Mark Gattiss does well in blending in the unusual and familiar aspects of 1950s London. It has an air of nostalgia about it as well as an air of menace occurring in it.
It was pretty frightening when this evil Wire, who appears in the image of a woman on TV, feeds on the electrical impulses on people. It steals the person’s face, leaving him or her blank and helpless.
There are intonations of patriotism and prejudice in this episode, especially as Britain is still in recovery from World War II. There are shocking twists and revelations about some of the characters.
David Tennant is great as the Doctor in this episode. He blends in with a 1950s hairstyle as well as driving a moped. He’s very angry once he sees Rose’s face missing and nothing’s going to stop him.
Billie Piper is lovely as Rose in this. She gets to wear a stylish 1950s dress that I find out of place. She gets absorbed by the Wire and sadly has her face stolen. Rose does get to have a go at Mr Connolly.
The guest cast includes Ron Cook as Mr Magpie. I’ve seen Ron as Parker in the 2004 ‘Thunderbirds’ movie with Sophia Myles. I felt sorry for Mr Magpie who gets tortured by the Wire to do her bidding.
Maureen Lipman, who is a well-known actress, columnist and comedienne, guest stars as the Wire. The Wire is a malicious being and never stops feeding on people as she keeps on saying, “Hungry!”
There are the Connolly family that the Doctor and Rose meet. They appear to be a typical 1950s British family. But there’s something horrible going on and hidden upstairs in one of the bedrooms.
Jamie Foreman guest stars as Eddie Connolly, the father of the family. Eddie wants to cover up this thing that’s going on upstairs in his house. He seems patriotic and has some old-fashioned opinions.
Debra Gillett guest stars as Rita Connolly, the mother of the family. Rita is quietly-spoken and is worried about her mother. She is upset about something wrong despite her husband covering it up.
Rory Jennings guest stars as Tommy Connolly, the son of the family. Tommy is a victim of his dad’s bullying ways and helps the Doctor to save her grandma; Rose and the world by stopping the Wire.
The climax of the story has the Doctor saving the world by climbing up the transmitter tower of Alexandra Palace television station. There was an action-movie feel to it when watching the episode.
‘The Idiot’s Lantern’ has been enjoyable to watch. It has a pretty good dramatic feel to it as well as a nostalgic sense of the 1950s about it. Be careful you don’t get too glued to your TV set next time. The special team of the Tenth Doctor and Rose works really well in these episodes of ‘Doctor Who’.
The DVD special features on this episode on ‘The Complete Series 2’ DVD are as follows. On Disc 3, there’s a commentary with David Tennant; production designer Edward Thomas and SFX technician Charlie Bluett. On Disc 6, there’s the ‘Doctor Who Confidential’ episode ‘The Writer’s Tale’.
‘The Idiot’s Lantern’ rating – 7/10
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