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Tuesday, 11 July 2006 - Reviewed by Robin Calvert

RTD's single biggest contribution to DR. WHO has been velocity of dramatic impact & pace of storytelling. And in ARMY OF GHOSTS/DOOMSDAY he penned a true epic. Daleks & Cybermen for the first time. The prison ship, the last remaining part of Gallifrey, housing millions of elevating Daleks above central London. In fact, there's a catalogue of iconic moments in every episode, all of which have been comparable to a film. Surely any potential film series shouldn't compete with new stories, but launch a long-running franchise to remake the classic old (eg: INVASION).

The cameos worked because of the ghost context and the fact they weren't dwelt on. But it was quite brave to include Barbara Windsor's Peggy Mitchell making references to Dirty Den, given the wife who turned him into a ghost was present in the shape of the attractive Tracy Ann Oberman. Now if DR. WHO ever becomes a woman, which seems increasingly likely, I hope Tracy Ann is it. Yvonne Hartman's journey concluded when duty led her to open the floodgates to a Cybermen invasion which threatened her very dominance at Torchwood. But even then her strength of character was enough to subvert the Cyber-programming and turn it around. In fact, she was never more human than once turned into a Cyberman (and never more like a Cyberman than when recognisably human). A triumph for the human spirit. The tear from the Cyber-head tear-hole was a lovely touch.

The Cyber-army stomping through suburbia was quintessential DR. WHO wonderfully brought to life by the 21st Century team. Door off hinges from low angle. Cyberman comes marching in. Family cower in terror on the stairs. Young boy runs upstairs for refuge. Too late. The Cyberman wants him too! Pure behind the sofa stuff. Has no one noticed that the 2006 Cybermen sound like the alien ambassadors in THE AMBASSADORS OF DEATH? Pleasingly, I might add.

DOOMSDAY was likely the best episode of Series 2. Certainly the most powerful.

The punchy repartee challenged the presumption that Daleks & Cybermen should remain characterless. Dalek to Cyberman: "You're better at dying". True. Daleks can get out of control a bit too much. Their combined firepower was explosive, but I was surprised the battle was so one-sided, given the Cybermen are the 2nd most awesome aliens of classic WHO and were the main threat of the 2006 series (four episodes). However, given the Nation estate's robust stance, they probably insisted no one Dalek could be exterminated by a Cyberman! It might have been better had Daleks & Cybermen not fought each other, but concentrated their fire-power on the Army (the UN seem to have done UNIT in) and the humans. Even so, I'd hope for an "upgrade" and a rematch.

The look on The Doctor's face as Rose is sucked back into the parallel world. We didn't think Rose & Jackie would be joining Mickey, let alone that Jackie would get back what she'd been missing all these years - Pete. Their "reunion" across universes was moving stuff and Camille Coudouri's put-downs of The Doctor ("I think he makes half of this up", "shut up", etc) were funny and natural. Jackie was the Voice of the Unconvinced Mum of a Fan from the days when women apparently didn't really watch it. Her daughter was instrumental in getting them tuned in. Rose's attempts to stop her normal-universe Pete from being killed in FATHER'S DAY can now be seen to anticipate how it's ended for the Tyler clan. It was also poetic that, in the end, Pete rescued Rose from death and returned the compliment. So, the Ood were wrong about her dying in battle. Their telepathy couldn't read that she went into a parallel universe, it just stopped at ours - that she was on a list of the dead.

The scene with The Doctor & Rose either side of the dividing wall, guitar/vocal mood music playing = heart-wrenching. The unusual framing of Rose's journey for the encounter on the beach, which completely revealed the Bad Wolf subplot. The Doctor warning Rose that their final goodbye might risk two universes colliding, her "so" and his smiling tacit understanding of that mood proves he has got two beating hearts and bagfuls of emotions. He knows what it's like. And of course the final tragedy: that he never did get to say "I love you" and Rose's weeping torment. The single biggest emotional departure for any companion ever. It had more clout than the end of last season and that's saying something - although we knew from the offset Eccleston was leaving and we've only just found out about Billie moving on.

Two traumatic companion goodbyes in one season - and that's before getting to the departure of Jackie, Mickey & Pete. The ending of DOOMSDAY reflected SCHOOL REUNION in that you don't expect The Doctor to meet up with Rose or Sarah again. It makes SCHOOL REUNION all the more poignant, having Sarah and Rose together, signposting Rose's future without him. It had been building up to Rose's departure for awhile with little hints and a good idea to raise expectations with her warning prologue. It's also instructive for new viewers who knew next to nothing about the programme before March 2005. Then again, everyone else came back from the parallel world and Daleks & Cybermen will return because "that's what they do". And when Billie said "for the moment at least", maybe she'll guest in TORCHWOOD. She's working for the parallel organisation after all and I would have thought the Time Rift in Cardiff offered potential...

Now The Doctor's lost his new family, he's back at square 1 again. I reckon we'll be seeing a more sombre Doctor in 2007. I think the characterisation will change to reflect circumstances, as it should.