Doctor Doctor Who Guide

For a season with budgets unparalleled by anything that proceeds it (and that includes the TV Movie) this episode was played out on a very small stage. Despite the grandiose title, and the gravity of the ultimate threat- here we are presented with a (small) handful of sets, a mocked up Number 10 exterior and some garages. Now let me put this into context; through necessity the programme has in its past had to make the most of a very limited number of sets and locations, but has in turn succeeded in being epic, dramatic and convincing (e.g. Inferno). Here, however, the limited scope of the production (and lets be fair- the narrative too!) looks very amateur. It all looked a bit CBBC.

I'm not a fan of CGI, however you may be- if so, skip this paragraph. But lets be honest about it, in the main it's really not that good is it? I think CGI bears all the hallmarks of a technique very much in it's infancy. In the same way that CSO (ground breaking in the early 70's) always looked like CSO; CGI always looks like CGI. So what does this episode make of it? Well, in the main it's OK. The emergence of the Slitheen however from inside the (rubber?) disguises was rubbish. It looked like something out of a PC game from the early 90s. They only become convincing when we move into men in costumes/animatronics, but by this point the damage has been done. It's interesting that the best effect (the much trailed Big Ben crash) is actually a model shot. You get the feeling from the new show that The Mill are really pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved on a TV budget with CGI, and I salute this as it's very much in keeping of the show's traditions.

Although intriguing and at points, mesmerising in his portrayal of the Doctor thus far, CE seems to have lost his way a little in this episode. I'm not the first to say this I know, but the Doctor's... lets be kind... now becoming a little bit tiresome. This is characterised by the toothy grin and the constant cry's of 'Brilliant!'. 'Ace!' anyone? It's old hat to show the Doctor frustrated by the ignorance of mere mortals (i.e. Mickey), but here it's played with such venom that one wonders why the Doc doesn't just sod off and leave the Earth to its fate. Some ropey acting doesn't help CE either, most notably when he interrupts the briefing at Number 10 (the radar blip etc etc). He trys to be Tom Baker, and to be fair the moment is clearly written for Tom Baker's doctor (circa 'Seeds of Doom')- but CE isn't Tom Baker. So the soliloquy seems stagy and strangely alienating. Basically, it's a pants execution of a potentially dramatic plot point. I'm sure though it's nothing a bit of coaching from the Director could not have solved. Billy of course continues to act CE off the screen.

With the narrative scope of say...'Timeflight' and the subtle comedy of say...' The Creature from the Pit' I have to say this is the worst outing so far for the new Doctor. Even it's strongest moment (the execution of the tragic mutant-pig and the Doctor's subsequent reprimand of the guard) is ripped off from 'Full Circle'.

I'll sit through the concluding part of this story because I'm a fan for my sins, but I know I'm treading water until the Daleks come back. Just like old times then! Five out of ten- must try harder.

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television