TARDIS Thoughts: NaBloPoMo (catchup): Series 2, Episode 7 - "The Idiot's Lantern"


NaBloPoMo (catchup): Series 2, Episode 7 - "The Idiot's Lantern"


Welcome to yet another post of NaBloPoMo catch up...almost done. Just the "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit" 2-parter after this, and I'll be caught up. Whew. Anyway, this post is about Series 2, Episode 7, "The Idiot's Lantern." 

This is one of those middle-of-the-season episodes that lets us take a breather between more intense episodes. Typically there are at least two such episodes in a Doctor Who season - one toward the middle and one near the end, right before the finale. (It depends on the season though). The episode is not without its conflict and action, of course, but it's much lighter than the Cybermen 2-parter that precedes it or the "Impossible Planet" 2-parter that follows it.

So the story takes place in 1953. First we look in on a family about to watch TV. Strange noises come from upstairs, worrying the son of the house, but his father tells him to ignore it. Elsewhere a frustrated shopkeeper, Mr. Magpie (his name, and the implied connotation of that word, was not lost on me) is checking his books and realizes he's in the red trying to sell his electronics, especially TVs. Some TV show with a very proper woman addressing the audience is playing on one of the TVs. Suddenly, some sort of strange lightning strikes, and the woman starts speaking directly to Magpie. He is, naturally, alarmed, but when she agrees to help him if he helps her, he gladly agrees. His face then starts getting sucked into the TV screen and...cue the opening credits.

When we return, the TARDIS has landed on a city road. Rose steps out in a very 1950's outfit, complete with a poodle skirt (rose-colored even!) and a '50's updo. It's hands down my favorite of Rose's outfits:

The Doctor is not so period-appropriate; he just has his suit on (minus the trenchcoat) as usual. She asks where they're going, and we learn they're going to some TV studio to hear Elvis play. Or at least that's the plan. He pops back into the TARDIS and emerges with a very nice scooter:

The two then address each other in stereotypical '50's fashion, complete with not-half-bad American accents:
DOCTOR: You going my way, doll?
ROSE: Is there any other way to go, daddy-o? Straight from the fridge, man.
But it becomes increasingly obvious that they are NOT in New York, as they planned, but London. So right decade, wrong city. Eh well, that's the TARDIS for you.

Rose comments on the large amount of TV antennas on the local rooftops, which she says doesn't seem right for the period. She and The Doctor question some people unloading TVs, and learn they have arrived on the eve of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation. Mr. Magpie, it seems, is selling TVs for £5 (an extremely low price) to people so they can watch the momentous event.

Just then, they see someone get pulled out of a nearby house with a blanket over his or her head. Unable to stop the abduction, they decide to question the Connellys, a nearby family, posing (via the psychic paper) as inspectors from the government. Mr. Connelly seems suspicious of them, though, and acts antagonistic towards them throughout the whole scene. The Doctor tries to get info out of the son Tommy while Rose throws her weight around telling Mr. Connelly he has his Union Jack streamers hung the wrong way. Suddenly, noises are heard from upstairs. Mr. Connelly tries to dismiss the noises, but The Doctor sees through the ruse, and Connelly begrudgingly leads them upstairs. He opens a bedroom, where sits a woman we learn is the grandmother of the family. Like the person we saw abducted earlier, she has a blanket over her head. They pull the blanket off, only to see she has no face!

Just after this, the police arrive to take Gran Connelly away, to the protests of everybody. The Doctor and Rose split up, The Doctor pursuing the police on the scooter while Rose goes on foot to investigate Magpie.

The Doctor traces the police to some sort of warehouse. The door is locked, but we all know that's no problem for our intrepid Time Lord. :) A few Soniced doors later, he comes across a sort of cell or cage, in which stand a large number of faceless people. But before he can do anything, the police find him.

Rose, meanwhile, is at Magpie's shop. Magpie tells her to leave, as he's closed, and to come back tomorrow. She points out that he'll be closed tomorrow because of the coronation. (The days such events occur are usually declared public holidays in the UK, meaning people don't have to go to work; the day of Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding in 2011, for example, was declared a public holiday). She then begins to question him about the TVs and the faceless people, making him agitated. The mysterious lady on the TV pops up again, asking Magpie to "feed" her. Rose, naturally, finds this suspicious and confronts the woman. This does no good, however, and we soon see the lady go on the attack once more.

The Doctor is undergoing questioning by the police inspector but manages to convince them he's not suspicious and probes them for information on the faceless persons case. The Police Inspector says they just wanted to get the faceless people out of the way, to avoid controversy what with the coronation going on, and adds that Torchwood is going to have their necks if anything happens in public during the coronation (this being Series 2, of course there has to be a Torchwood reference in the episode). Just about then, another police officer brings in another covered figure. We can't see the face, but a certain familiar pink skirt gives it away:

It's Rose. The police lift the blanket, and sure enough, her face has been taken as well. The Inspector asks where she was found, and the other officer says they just found her lying in the street.

The Doctor is now VERY furious:
DOCTOR: They did what?
BISHOP: I'm sorry?
DOCTOR: They left her where?
BISHOP: Just in the street.
DOCTOR: In the street. They left her in the street. They took her face and just chucked her out and left her in the street. And as a result, that makes things simple. Very, very simple. Do you know why?
DOCTOR: Because now, Detective Inspector Bishop, there is no power on this Earth that can stop me. Come on!
Motivated by his righteous anger, The Doctor heads out with the Inspector to confront Magpie, somehow also adding Tommy Connelly to the party along the way. They reach the store and question him, but he blames it on the woman. The woman reveals herself as a being called The Wire, who escaped the destruction of its people by turning itself into a being of pure electrical energy. But it needs nourishment to live (don't we all?), and apparently it feeds off of faces. The Wire's plan, it seems, is to feed off the faces of the people watching the coronation, via the cheap TVs Magpie was selling. 

The Doctor, obviously, is not about to let that happen, and says so. The Wire gets angry and attacks him, Tommy, and the Inspector, trying to take their faces, but the Doctor stops her with his Sonic. 

The Wire then transfers herself to a portable TV and demands Magpie go forward with the next part of the plan, which involves heading for the TV transmitter at Alexandra Palace, which will be broadcasting the coronation. The Doctor and Tommy team up to stop him (the Inspector got his face stolen by the Wire). They cobble together a device using parts from the TARDIS and from Magpie's shop before pursuing Magpie to the transmitter. Some guards try to stop them, but the Doctor just flashes the psychic paper as they run past, and the guards let him through. This moment shows a rare case of the Doctor not even knowing what the psychic paper is showing:
GUARD: Wait, wait, wait! Where do you think
(The Doctor shows him the psychic paper.)
OFFICIAL: Oh! I'm very sorry, sir. Shouldn't you be at the Coronation?
DOCTOR: They're saving me a seat.
TOMMY: Who did he think you were?
DOCTOR: King of Belgium, apparently.
The Doctor sees Magpie climbing up the transmitter antenna to connect his portable TV, containing The Wire, to the antenna. He initially succeeds, and The Wire begins gleefully stealing faces from the people watching the coronation:

But The Doctor has other plans. He confronts The Wire with his own contraption, and connects it to the transmitter, dragging The Wire into it instead of the TV. Those whose faces The Wire had stolen get their faces back, and everyone watches the newly-crowned Queen Elizabeth II leave Westminster Abbey. (We don't actually see footage of her being crowned; in the commentary we learn that, while they were allowed to use original TV footage of the coronation for this episode - meaning that all the footage we do see is actually real-life footage - they were not permitted to use footage of her actually being crowned).

The Doctor rejoins Tommy (who stayed downstairs to operate the main part of the Doctor's machine) and shows Tommy what he trapped The Wire on - a VHS tape. Essentially he's created a primitive VCR about thirty years early.

The Doctor then reunites with Rose, and they walk down Florizel Street, where a street party is taking place in honor of the coronation. (It seems that street parties are common in the UK for events like this). She asks him what he's going to do with The Wire, and he spouts some technobabble solution, which ultimately just means he'll tape over it. They are later joined by Tommy, to whom The Doctor gives the scooter he's been riding throughout the episode. Tommy sees his father leaving the house, clearly thrown out by his mother, and says "Good riddance," as if he had been expecting it. Ultimately, though, with Rose's encouragement, he goes and joins his dad, and they walk off together. Rose and The Doctor stand and watch, sharing a toast of orange squash.

Well...that's it for this episode. Next up, an adventure in deep space with a planet orbiting a black hole, and the introduction of the mysterious Ood -- "The Impossible Planet."


NaBloPoMo Special: 
The Love of the Doctor and Rose Tyler 
Part Twenty-One: No Power on This Earth That Can Stop Me

Since the theme of NaBloPoMo this month is "Love and Sex" (probably because of Valentine's Day), I feel compelled to write something about love in my posts. Hence, since I am exploring Series 1 and 2 in this challenge, I am going to write a little special essay throughout the month about the growing love between the Doctor and Rose. Please note I am in no way an expert on relationships. 

There is a lot of Doctor/Rose love in this episode. The two act like a happy couple throughout the episode, and they clearly play well off of each other.

The real evidence of their love in this episode, though, comes when Rose gets her face stolen by The Wire. The mere thought of her getting her face stolen and getting thrown out into the street is enough to get The Doctor really, really angry, to the point that he tells the Police Inspector that "now...there is no power on this Earth that can stop me." Also, he is overjoyed to reunite with Rose once it's all over:

Clearly, their relationship is moving toward something serious! How will it continue to develop? We shall see!

Pictures from Sonic Biro. Quotes from The Doctor Who Transcripts.

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