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Tuesday, 16 August 2005 - Reviewed by James Main

What was that? I'll apologise in advance - this is going to be a rant. There have been some great stories in this series and some awful ones (all written by Russell T Davies unfortunately - big shame) but how could you put something like this in alongside the contributions of the guest writers?!

RTD has said in an interview that he submitted this story line before at the start of his television career and received a polite letter suggesting he write about a man and his mortgage. Why then did he use this so much later in his career when he has presumably learnt alot and gained manifold insights into what makes good drama and what is boring and overdone?

The premise that an alien intelligence is holding back the technological progress of the human race is pretty old to start with, but could be woven into some really quite interesting and mysterious narratives. But instead we get a horribly unsubtle satire on the media that has been done to death elsewhere (including the 'classic' series). The Doctor has been brought back as a much more realistic and believable character - if one that is very unpleasant at times - as the previous portrayals are too camp. Fine. No problem. So why is it suddenly OK to have Simon Pegg playing one of the campest characters since the hight of the Carry On franchise (sorry - I mean since the Slitheen)? The script was dire and the guest stars (excepting Pegg who did the best he could with a difficult part) occasionally performed like amateurs.

The set design was lazy - it looked more like a parody of 1980s sci-fi than an effort at what a space station might look like far in the futue. And the costumes were very confusing - if the 1980s had come back into fasion in some bizarre retro statement in this time period shouldn't that have been commented on in the script- or do the production staff really think someone would wear that terrible floral dress in the future. If it was to add to the illusion that the freedom fighter was a quiet and demure employee, it was a little unsubtle...

Finally the ending. The Doctor's leaving Adam at home in the 21st century with a head that opens on clicking is excessively cruel. I get the impression that RTD thought this was a rather clever or ingenious punishment for the character and couldn't resist the clicking gag with Adam's mother at the end. Unfortunately it's not funny, and would be a rather interesting just-deserts for a deeply evil character, but with Adam it just makes the Doctor look childish and malicious. Whici is unfortunatley what he has become in the hand of RTD and Christopher Ecclestone. Ecclestone has put a huge amount of effort into his performance as the Doctor which comes across on screen and is commendable. But the efforts to make him a bit blokier, less camp, more 'northern' (would a Scots accent have detracted from McCoy's performance? I don't think so), and to have some kind of semi-sexual tension with the companion have pushed him too far. As I've said before there are alot of likeble touches in Ecclestone's performance, but over-all he looks too much like he has to TRY to be happy, and otherwise just doesn't present a character whom I feel any respect for.

Rose is a different matter. Billy Piper is so good, I think perhaps she should ditch the Doctor and the series should be renamed. Or maybe she could come across another northern Timelord who has some charisma, wit and doesn't tell everyone to shut up.

And we've got to go back to 'Satellite 5' for the series finale. It had better have changed!