TARDIS File 04-10: Midnight

TARDIS File 04-10: Midnight

The Big Idea: With Donna off sun-bathing, the Doctor takes a space bus ride with a group of strangers to an area on the planet Midnight where nothing can live. Despite this, when they enter uncharted territory, something enters the ship…

What’s So Great… 

  • The throwback nature of the script proving that “old school” can work just as well today — the story predominantly takes place on one set, small cast and no great demands for special effects. It proves once again that what is needed most for Doctor Who to work is imagination, rather than tons of money (though the latter wouldn’t hurt!)
  • Lesley Sharp’s performance as Sky Silvestri, particularly when taken over by the never-identified alien entity. Simply phenomenal, Sharpe is able to portray a monster more convincingly than any amount of make-up or CGI could do. Give her a BAFTA already.
  • The moment when Sky Silvestri starts speaking ahead of the Doctor is just chilling — especially with the realization that there are no companions around to help the Doctor out of this predicament.
  • There is no happy “make-up” scene at the end where everybody forgets their differences and unifies after the alien threat is vanquished. There is great irony from the Doctor initially encouraging everyone to talk to each other by sabotaging the awful on-flight entertainment system, as by the end of the episode nobody is talking to anyone, barring the Doctor asking what the Hostess’ name was.

Quick Bits of Trivia: The character of Professor Hobbes is played by David Troughton, son of the Second Doctor himself, the late Patrick Troughton. It’s this third role in the series, following his appearance as Private Moor in his father’s epic swansong The War Games in 1969 and as King Peladon in Jon Pertwee’s The Curse of Peladon in 1972. Troughton ties Pauline Collins for longest period of time between first and most recent appearance — 39 years. The character of Sky Silvestri was written specifically for actress Lesley Sharp, who had worked twice previously with Russell T. Davies, including alongside Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston in The Second Coming and as the “original” Rose in Bob and Rose. The music video featured on the Crusader 50 screens is “Do It, Do It Again”, an English-language version of the international hit “A far l’amore comincia tu” (which actually translates into “Start Making Love to Each Other”) from 1977 by Italian singer Raffaella Carra If you want to see the original Italian version of the song in all it’s late 70’s disco glory, it can be found here.

Things to Geek Out About…

  • Another brief glimpse of Rose trying to get the Doctor’s attention. Not long now…
  • There is another mention of a lost planet (this time, the Lost Moon of Poosh)
  • This is the first story since Genesis of the Daleks in 1975 that the TARDIS does not appear in!

Not to Complain But… The complete trivialness of this complaint is an indication of how flawless this story was — but why is Donna “sun-bathing” with practically her entire body covered up?

All Things Considered… This is the type of script that will make the viewer miss Russell T. Davies once he leaves the series by 2010. It seems like such a simple idea using familiar basic concepts - it’s a “base under siege story”-type story, as well as an “alien possession of a human” story, using a just a small set or two for the action. Those basic premises have featured in Doctor Who many times before — but never quite like this.

Even the concept of the alien threat seems so childishly simple — an alien repeats everything it hears, then says things simultaneously as the humans, then says things ahead of time, taking control in the process. Yet the simplicity of the concept is genius of the script — it makes it very easy for the audience to follow along, while the execution of the concept is what is complex. Repeating all those lines was no easy task for actress Lesley Sharp, especially when one of the people she has repeat (or speak simultaneously to) is David Tennant, who can seemingly sometimes speak faster than the speed of light.

Further, it allows Doctor Who to do one of the things it does best (and arguably not often enough) — provide a psychological horror thriller, devoid of the need of intensive special effects. It’s a rare occasion where the monster is within and never physically seen — and there isn’t any make-up thrown on Lesley Sharp to physically indicate the alien possession. It’s all in the performance, and the imagination of the writer — and the viewer. Stories like this would lose their unique status if Doctor Who did this type of thing all the time, but it’s the fact that the show is capable of doing this sort of thing occasionally which is cause for rejoice. This is one to cherish and savour.

Line of the Week: “Oh look! Now I’m ahead!” (“Oh look! Now I’m ahead!”)

Index of TARDIS Files

TARDIS File prepared by Gian-Luca Di Rocco

Read our review of Series Four in two special issues of Enlightenment

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Who Party Toronto Presents:
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On Sunday June 9th, 2013 join The Doctor Who Information Network and Who Party Toronto for An Afternoon With Gary Russell on the second floor of Paupers Pub at 539 Bloor Street West.

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Issue 169

The Snowmen Cometh (Christmas Special Reviewed!) : The 2012 Christmas special gets a look-over! Plus…

  • Can good Doctor Who be bad television, and vice versa?
  • Robots with human souls
  • News and reviews

Doctor Who returns in UK, Canada and US on March 30th!

It has been announced that the final eight episodes of Series Seven of Doctor Who will be airing on BBC1, SPACE and BBC America starting on Saturday March 30th, 2013.

Issue 168

Archaeology Tomorrow (Season Reviews and Benny’s 20th!) : The 2012 season review issue, and the importance of being Bernice Surprise Summerfield! Plus…

  • Why Doctor Who is Steampunk
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