Tom Pheby revisits the two-part Doctor Who series 2 finale, Army of Ghosts and Doomsday.
Army of Ghosts starts rather gloomily, with Rose Tyler's narrative on her intergalactic journey with the Doctor and her impending demise. This two part adventure would become memorable and sad in equal measure, but it would also provide an opportunity for the Doctor to follow a different path with a brand new, less loved up companion.
Rose comes home to her Mum Jackie (played by the wonderful Camille Coduri) clutching a bag full of washing, only to find that an apparition of 'her Grandfather' visits daily. In fact spirits now walk alongside the living the world over, but only at certain times of the day, very convenient.
Meanwhile Torchwood, under the command of Yvonne Hartman, appear extremely keen to monitor the influx of ghosts, which seems slightly pointless. One of the assistants keeps a close eye on a giant sphere - even more pointless. (This type of behavior would be repeated in 'The Power Of Three' where everyone stares at little black cubes, with Rory's Dad even establishing 'Brian's Log' - although that I loved!).
The Doctor views all this with his usual skeptical scientific eye and knows that these grey fuzzy images may be more sinister than they appear. So with Rose and Jackie in tow he goes all Ghostbusters and sets out to determine what they are and where they are coming from. Only the Doctor could do this by using three odd yellow traffic cones, a series of wires and a small transistor type device. Nether the less he deduces that something is forcing its way into our universe.
The Doctor receives a hero's welcome after he triangulates the point of the sources origin and ends up at Torchwood HQ. Everyone seems a bit clap happy but after the smiles fade and the adulation subsides Hartman reveals that the Doctor is an enemy of the state and the TARDIS, containing Rose, has been confiscated. Torchwood are keen to exploit any potential gain from the opening breach and possible energy supplies, but they are about to get more than they bargained for, much more.
Hartman is brilliantly portrayed by the rather sexy Tracy Ann Oberman, who apparently played a fish wife in Eastenders! She turns in a great performance as the conniving Director of Operations, but at one point I did find it hard to concentrate on what she was saying with her wearing that little black number.
Watching this episode now it's slightly weird to see Freema Agyeman (aka Martha Jones) as Adeola Oshodi, although seeing Barbara Windsor as
Peggy Mitchell screeching in the Queen Vic about Den Watts ghost being
barred from her pub was even more disconcerting!
Anyway, back to the story. Rose grabs a lab coat and the Doctors psychic paper and manages to work her way around the building whilst the Doctor inspects the sphere (the void ship) which exists between dimensions. The Torchwood boss wants it open, the Time Lord wants it fired into the far reaches of space.
The void arrived via a hole in the world, a spacial disturbance or tear in the fabric of reality. It's all wonderfully baffling, and with a deliberate dash of mumbo jumbo. Tennant is on top form trying to firefight the consequences of a splintered universe, the self centered desires of a band of covert government alien hunters and a mass of unwelcome guests. He manages to stumble across Cybermen hidden inside the Torchwood Tower and is forced to witness as millions of them cross the breach in dimensions. The Tenth Doctor then learns that the sphere, or void ship, was instrumental in opening the breach, but the Cybermen admit that the technology is not theirs.
Rose is floors below gawping at the giant ball, but she's not alone in this tedious duty, there's Dr Rajesh Singh who's about as sciency as my Nan, and surprise ...... old flame Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke) pops up defending the universe with a very large gun. All three await the arrival of the Cybermen only to find that the Daleks emerge. This can only mean one thing....."To Be Continued" (don't you just love cliffhangers?)
Doomsday opens with Rose confronting the Daleks who are preparing something called the Genesis Arc. Poor Dr Singh has his knowledge extracted via his head and a Dalek plunger! After they've got what they want there's not a whole lot of Dr Singh left.
But hold on, here's the twist. The Genesis Arc is not even the Dalek's, it's the possession of the Time Lords, but they are going to use it to multiply by the thousands and take over the Universe.
The Daleks are then challenged by the Cybermen and offered an ultimate upgrade, which they naturally refuse. Now that's the problem with having the Doctor's two oldest foes in the same show - the Daleks just kick Cyber butt far too easily, even when the metal warriors are superior in numbers. This makes them a bit valueless, like a tiger with no teeth or claws. Despite this grumble Doomsday is still an enjoyable exercise, who hasn't wanted to see these two face off eh?
Not only did the void allow both Daleks and Cybermen to cross the dimensions, but it also allowed a group of Alt-Earth vigilantes through too, and they are headed by Rose's Dad, Pete (Shaun Dingwall). Pete had the temerity to die in a previous episode, but also the good fortune of popping up no worse for wear in another dimension - how very Who! But it's not as baffling as Mickey Smith. He was once a quivering shambles, too scared to open a bag of crisps without crying about the noise the packet made. Now he's so full of the hero virus that he probably eats razor blades for breakfast and shaves six times a day. Quite the changed man.
Anyway the Doctor manages to work out how to open the hole which can send both Cybermen and Daleks packing, saving the planet in the process. Now all he has to do is persuade Rose to go with her Mum, Dad and ex-boyfriend to an alternate dimension. He fails miserably because once Rose teleports through, she teleports straight back again twice as quickly, and so the Doctor grudgingly allows her to assist with his cunning plan.
As the levers are pushed to re-open the breach both the Doctor and his bug eyed assistant hang on massive magnetized clamps from the wall. Before you can say TARDIS, a procession of alien life forms whizz into the back of beyond. But in true Who fashion the lever nearest Rose slips, she struggles to re-engage it but loses her grip and flies towards the opening.
We needn't have worried, Dad Pete reappears, grabs her and disappears away from harm. This obviously leaves her and the Doctor separated in space and time, perfectly illustrated by a large white wall with both hugging it whilst lamenting the other. If I sound a bit uninspired by this, it's because I am! I guess you wither love the gushy stuff from this era or you don't. Unfortunately, there is more to come.
Rose hears a voice in a dream. She then manages to convince her parents and doormat boyfriend Mickey to traipse all the way to Scandinavia, or somewhere, so she can speak to a hologram of the good Doctor, and have the chance to say a tender goodbye. While it lasted the relationship between Rose and the Doctor was fun (in part) but the obvious love element felt a bit uncomfortable, I'm not sure how us long term Who fans were supposed to approach it.
With her mascara flowing down her cheeks, like a wet day in Pontypridd, Rose finally declares her undying love. Then at the crucial point when we suspect the Doctor will say something cringe worthy in return, he's thankfully disconnected.
This double Episode had a lot of good things about it, it's not the best of the Russell T Davies era but it's very solid and well executed. I felt both Davies and Tennant simply got better as the show went on, and looking back on this adventure now was a pleasure. Although it does make you realise just how much Doctor Who has changed over the last decade. Watching these two episodes back to back made me feel all nostalgic, warm and fuzzy (but don't tell anyone).
Script Writer, Poet, Blogger and junk television specialist. Half
English, half Irish and half Alsatian, Tom is well known for insisting
on being called Demetri for reasons best known to himself. A former film
abuser and telly addict who shamefully skulks around his home town
of Canterbury after dark dressed as Julie Andrews. Follow Tom on Twitter