Sunday, July 02, 2006

Doctor Who - Army of Ghosts

After a couple of weeks of episodes which were perhaps a little ho hum, Army of Ghosts upped the anti significantly and presented an episode which is perhaps the best to date in the series. I adored the opening pre-title sequence, with Rose narrating and the visuals. The planet with the rocks and flying things was awesome, and then to end with the statement: 'This is the story of how I died' was a very brave move indeed I felt. Of course, this is assuming that Rose means 'died' in the way that perhaps many viewers will take it (more on this later). So the Doctor and Rose return 'home' to see Jackie who snogs the Doctor (great reaction from Tennant to that as well) and then tells them that Grandad Prentis is coming - but he died 10 years ago! Seems there are ghosts appearing all over the world (side step: how can Jackie's TV get all those foreign channels?) for short periods of time, and people feel these are the shades of loved ones. However of course the Doctor is suspicious and so sets out to find out what these things really are. In a lovely moment he 'Ghostbusters' himself up with a TARDIS-themed bit of kit and traces the origin of one of the Ghosts. However, we the viewers know already that they're being controlled from Torchwood, a scientific/military place apparently run by Yvonne Hartmann who has scary teeth and even scarier cleavage. Aside from the ghosts, there's also a large mystery-sphere hanging in another room which seems to not exist. Office romance is blossoming between the cute Adele Oshoodi and Gareth Evans, but when they nip away for a snog, they are captured by Cybermen! Not really what they were expecting, and how on earth did a group of Cybermen set up a secret base in building works in Torchwood Tower in the first place! I'm not impressed with their security arrangements to be honest. These sequences are, however, magnificently directed and the music is awesome. Finally Murray Gold is being held in check. Less is definately more. While the Doctor is messing about trying to track the Ghosts, Jackie and Rose have a chat. Now this might be me, and I may be reading too much into it, but the gist seemed to be that Rose was no longer the Rose that Jackie knew, and that in the future, the person calling herself 'Rose' would be a totally different person, older and not even human any more. Now this could be Russell signalling that 'the story of how I died' is actually of Rose dying as 'Rose' and becoming someone else ... or it could be that she really is going to die ... we shall see next week. Anyway, the Doctor's fiddling alerts Torchwood and they see the TARDIS dematerialise on CCTV footage. The Doctor, having traced the signal, arrives at Torchwood only to be captured by the grinning Yvonne and her clappy happy soldiers. The Doctor drags Jackie from the TARDIS and introduces her as Rose (another instance/clue that Rose isn't Rose any more perhaps?) and they go off on a guided tour of Torchwood Tower in London's Docklands. As a side issue here, where is UNIT? No-one mentions them and yet they were investigating and fighting alien menaces for years before - they even appeared in The Christmas Invasion and yet here there's another organisation apparently doing the same thing that they did. Meanwhile Adele is back seeming a little blank, and she takes another co-worker, Matt, off for snogging. He is maybe expecting some action from Adele, but instead he gets to meet the Cybermen and their cutting machines (seriously ... no-one noticed all this happening in the building works?). So Rose leaves the TARDIS when it has been left in storage and, donning a fetching lab coat, heads off to explore. Of course she finds the Sphere Room where she is promptly captured. However one of the workers there - Samuel - looks familiar. It's Mickey! To be honest, I was actually really pleased to see him, and it raised a smile. We now start to head towards the episode ending. Adele, Matt and Gareth are all Cyber-controlled and start up another Ghost Shift, despite Yvonne ordering it cancelled. The Doctor realises what's happening and tries to find the transmitter controlling them - it's in the building area, and before you can blink, everyone is captured by Cybermen who have cool new guns in their arms. There's also a CyberLeader (with black 'ear' handles) and he orders Ghost Shift to 100%. It seems that all the ghosts are actually Cybermen who are taking over the Earth, coming through the dimensional instability caused by the Sphere's arrival. At the same time, the Sphere activates and starts to gain mass and reality - Rose, Mickey and the technician Rajesh Singh, watch as it starts to open ... but what's in the Sphere? The CyberLeader admits to our horror that the Sphere is nothing to do with the Cybermen, they just followed it ... And then ... And then ... Oh my giddy aunt! The Sphere opens and it's only a bunch of bloomin Daleks that emerge, flying down. Gold ones and a really cool new black one ... and it's 'EXTERMINATE!!!' and crash into the closing credits. Awesome. I was so, so impressed by this episode. Wonderful direction, faultless acting (with the exception perhaps of Adele as she was trying to figure out where Gareth had gone), great lighting, good ideas, brilliant use of music, and the coolest monsters. All in all next week will have to go some to top this. But. But I hope. I so hope. Please Russell ... no deux ex machina - no Rose looking into the heart of the TARDIS again and destroying everyone with a blink - no Doctor pulling some gizmo from his pocket which solves everything - no cop out. For once we seem to have a plot, a real plot. And proper characters. I want to cry next week. I want Rose to go in a blaze of glory. I want Cybermen and Daleks. I want adventure and excitement. Explosions and danger. 6 Days is too long to wait.


Benjamin Adams said...

Hi Davis,

Just a minor correction . . . Mickey's alias was "Samuel," not "Sebastian."


Colin said...

I have to agree.Without a doubt this is the best Doctor Who story so far.
While most of the country was mourning England's departure from the world cup, I suspect all Doctor Who fans were ecstatic at the conclusion of this week’s episode.
At last, ever since I was a kid I wanted to see the Daleks and Cybermen go head to head. I must have died and gone to Doctor Who heaven!!!!

David said...

Whoops ... thanks Ben. I've corrected it.


Ben Adams said...

Imagine my surprise that I've already commented here and today's the first day I'd ever been here!;)

Anyway, I completely agree with you about UNIT, David. Torchwood seems to me a bit superfluous and just another thing for Davies to stick his nose in with his own 'personal' brand.