Army of Ghosts/DoomsdayBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 11 July 2006 - Reviewed by Rob Littlewood

A War. The Cybermen. The Daleks. An epic season finale. The end of Rose Tyler.

How could these episodes fail?

‘Army of Ghosts’ sets the scene and builds the tension and drama; we’re promised so much by the episode end and left with a cliff hanger to end all cliff hangers, a Dalek and Cybermen war.

‘Doomsday’ has a lot to deliver but besides a really cool sequence on a bridge where a group of humans make a stand against a squadron of Cybermen, most of the action takes place off screen or in the skies above London, where some shaky CGed Daleks take out the earthbound Cybermen.

Like ‘The Parting of the Ways’ last year, the episodes are resolved with a sprinkling of fairy dust…the Doctor flicks a few switches, reverses the polarity of the neutron flow (or whatever) and sends the massive armies of the Daleks and Cybermen to hell. It’s all too easy…it’s lazy…and it’s poor writing. Before the fighting gets going proper and we get to see who really holds the cup for Masters of the Universe, the whole lot are sucked into the void. What a let down.

These new Daleks are once again left over from the Time War, but this time around they hilariously throw a few bitchy taunts at the Cybermen. In a war of words, the Daleks win, hands down.

There’s a nice little scene where Jackie meets Pete but this only really serves to halt the action once more and in all honesty, we’ve only really tuned in to watch the Daleks and the Cybermen kick arse. Jake appears once again from ‘The Age of Steel’ and confirms he certainly wasn’t hired for his acting ability (hey, Russell) and those celebrating cameo’s from ‘Army of Ghosts’, although not as grating as the ones from ‘Badwolf’ are once again intrusive, embarrassing and inappropriate and to top it all Catherine Tate appears in the final seconds as the Runaway Bride. Why Russell, why? Have you forgotten Hale and Pace or Ken Dodd? It takes all the credibility from your show and makes it silly and camp.

After initially loathing David Tennant’s portrayal of the Doctor, I’ve grown to love it and would go as far as to consider him amongst the best actors ever to have gone by the name of Who.

Billie Piper however, was just about to pass her sell-by-date, so maybe it’s just as well she’s left when she has. It’s a fitting end to a great character as Rose has seemed a little awkward and occasionally stilted this season, still; she goes out with style and ultimately saves the day. The final sequence on the beach in Wales (sorry, Norway) is both touching and moving, and here is where Russell is in his element.

The design is what, like last season, let’s the programme down.

‘Welcome to Torchwood…’ cries Yvonne Hartman and flings her arms out to reveal a very drab warehouse in Cardiff with CGed saucer stuck on the ceiling, later the control room/lever room looks more like the interior of my local Halifax Building Society. The whole thing looks and feels mundane and dreary with the only real attention and thought having been lavished on the interior of the Dalek Spaceship last season.

For a Sci-Fi series, cutting edge design this ain’t.

Alien worlds we were promised this season and we got New Earth, a grassy knoll with Playstation flying cars, a barren rock orbiting a black hole and a few seconds of a totally CGed world with flying dinosaurs (quite liked this one), but please can we have somewhere other than London, Cardiff, Cardiff pretending to be London or Cardiff pretending to be somewhere else.

So, season two has come to its conclusion. Rose has departed. Catherine Tate has, hopefully temporarily, joined the Doctor in the Tardis. Am I bothered though…well, yes actually I am.

I fell in love with Doctor Who many years ago, when I was 4. Maybe the show isn’t aimed at me or my generation anymore, maybe I should switch off and enjoy Battlestar Galactica but quite frankly I want to see good, home-grown British Sci-Fi and more importantly the latest adventures of my favourite Time Lord. And they could be so, so much better than this.