".. If it's alien, it's ours..."
Present Day London, Earth.
to comes to terms with recent adventures with the Doctor.
Whilst the Doctor, Rose and her mum (Jackie)
investigate Torchwood Tower, their enemies are planning to make the planet a
battleground for a final reckoning.
Old friends thought lost and abandoned come
to their aid but the ultimate sacrifice has too be made, and it is the Doctor
who must make it.
EPISODE TWELVE REVIEW Pending
Graeme Harper: what a long, strange trip it must have been for him and his
fans. The man who brought us episodes of CASUALTY, THE
ROYAL, WYCLIFFE, HEARTBEAT, BOON, STAR
COPS, EASTENDERS, THE BILL, JULIET
BRAVO, BERGERAC, HOWARD'S WAY (pause
while non-UK readers ponder this list, scratch their heads and mutter "Huh?")
and a car load of other stuff, no discernable taste or pattern, just another
chap with a well-paid media job, clocking in and clocking out, cranking out mass-market,
low-brow telly with the disheartening reliability which is apparently viewed
as a sign of achievement in this business called show, where no distinction is
made between competence and innovation.
Oh yes, back in the day (mid-1980s), he also dabbled in Classic DOCTOR
WHO via REVELATION OF THE DALEKS, THE CAVES
OF ANDROZANI and WARRIORS' GATE . And then, pop, he
bobs back into our lives to overseer Modern DOCTOR WHO - Who
to steer RISE OF THE CYBERMEN and THE AGE
OF STEEL onto our screens. And this. Solid gold. But do we have any
reason to believe that this pinnacle in the shows history is due to Graeme or
transpired in spite of him, bearing in mind that while his resume is indicative
of a man who can hold down a job, nothing leapt out to suggest that he might
score such a bulls-eye with this story; nothing marks him out as a distinctive
force whenever he handles anything. THE CAVES OF ANDROZANI was
a DOCTOR WHO standout but I thank Bob Holmes
for that; and I credit RTD for this landmark tale and no one else.
In the previous episode, FEAR HER,
when Rose said to the Doctor, "They keep on trying to split us up but they never,
ever will", he replied, "Never
say never" and I thought 'There's foreshadowing or I'm a Dalek .' And the pre-credits
teaser for the episode itself was a gem: a forlorn Rose and her voice-over, "Planet
Earth. This is where I was born. This is where I died".
The story starts well and keeps on building,
reuniting Rose and her mum (Camille Coduri as indecently adorable as ever) in
a nicely-played exchange culminating with Jackie planting an affectionate smacker
on the Doctors mouth; and Rose's greeting "Loads of washing for you!" is going to resonate with the parents of
students everywhere! Later on, Jackie has the best line in the episode
when she expresses her fears concerning just how time travel will change Rose: "[You]
won't even be human".
The epic set up is bowled at us briskly
but with a distinctly human tone: Jackie tells Rose to expect a visit from her
late grandfather and we are as quizzical as Rose ("She's lost it.") and the Doctor but sure enough a spectral, human figure
manifests itself in the Tyler kitchen; we then find out that this has been going
on for the past few years (scene-setting is supported efficiently and to good
comic effect with some telly channel hopping - note the weather report, "We're
expecting some very strong ghosts") and segue to the Canary Wharf-based Torchwood
(the UNIT of the 21 st Century), run by Yvonne Hartman (Tracy Anne -Oberman looking
great and enjoying herself like crazy - "If it's alien, it's ours!" for
the British Empire , ho-ho!), where the ghost manifestation appears to
be controlled by some kind of machine which is operated by two very large hand-brakes.
As the Doctor tries to work out what's going on (and so eventually attracts
the attention of Torchwood - and when he was triangulating the signal, I so flashed
on the Nerva Beacon transmat but am not sure why!), two Torchwood techs wander
off for a tryst, are pounced on by a Cyberman , converted to cyber-puppets and
then return to their desks: one of the two is the gorgeous Freema Agyeman who
is apparently going to be the next companion (Lord knows how, considering that
she has a serious attack of death in this story). We are also introduced to another mystery:
a large metallic sphere hovering in one of the Torchwood high-security labs that
the Doctor later dubs a Void Ship: it moves between universes and
defies the physical laws of our universe by, erm , not apparently existing and
so this cannot be good news!
The Doctor, tracing the energy activity associated with the ghost shift, arrives
at Torchwood and as usual finds himself (with Jackie posing as his companion,
an opportunity for some good character comedy) surrounded by armed soldiers:
who, on being made aware of who he in fact is by Hartman, burst into spontaneous
applause! This is another laugh-out-out splendid moment because it makes perfect
sense: the Doctor is in effect the father of Torchwood.
While the Doctor determines just how wrong
the Torchwood research may be, Rose wanders around the institute, sneaks into
the lab where the sphere resides, although
the psychic paper does not work this time (because Torchwood staff
are trained in psychic defence , another nice touch) and bumps into Mickey , another great
twist ("Mickey Smith: Defending the Earth").
At this point, an all-ready snowballing plot now streaks into overdrive as
the cyber-puppet techs make their move and open the dimension breach to allow
the ghosts to pour into our universe - and they stand revealed as Cybermen ,
of course. Not a handful. Not a squad. But hundreds, thousands . This
echoes the reinvention of the Daleks last series as a genuine force to be reckoned
with. This time, we see the full scale of the invasion (the CGI Cybermen
appearing outside the Taj Mahal is an iconic shot). As a senior police officer
warns people to stay in their homes, we cut to a sequence where a family find
their home invaded by Cybermen. Talk about making it real!
But RTD is not finished with setting up
the final episode of the series: as the Doctor grimly defines the invasion - "It's a victory" - the sphere opens
and out pour. Daleks !
Perfection. How could anyone watching this episode NOT watch the
10/5 [yes: 10/5 - it's that good as a finale set-up!]