Army of Ghosts/DoomsdayBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 11 July 2006 - Reviewed by Patrick Leach

For as long as I can remember being a Doctor Who fan I loved the monsters that were widely considered to be the two most popular of the series - the Daleks and the Cybermen. They were both such iconic monsters and I could never decide which race was my personal favourite. They both featured in so many stories throughout the original series’ run, and so one thing always struck me as a little odd. Bearing in mind both species were considered to be probably the deadliest of the Doctor’s foes in the universe how come we never saw them in a story together? You’d think they’d have bumped into one another at some point in time and space, and yet the Daleks never once met or even mentioned the Cybermen in any of their episodes or vice versa. I know “The Ultimate Adventure” stage play in 1989 had them both in it together, but you can’t really count that. Neither can you really count stories like “The War Games” or “The Five Doctors” where the Daleks and Cybermen only appeared as flashback sequences and as enemies in different parts of the Death Zone - but were never actually together or in the same scenes. So as a fan the ultimate Doctor Who story for me was to see the Daleks and the Cybermen face each other, and at long last RTD has provided that story for us!

It all begins very well in voice-over scenes where Rose talks about the story of how she “died”. A great pre-title sequence and a wonderful “hook” to make sure you stay tuned to see how her story pans out.

“Army of Ghosts” mainly serves as a build-up to the episode’s cliff-hanger, but nevertheless it is a very engaging episode. The appearances of the ghosts are well handled and intriguing, and the scene where the ghost of Jackie’s dad appears is wonderful, even if we do know that it can’t really be him.

Murray Gold’s music is particularly good here. I even liked his strange “poppy” soundtrack that accompanied the scenes with David Tennant whilst he’s doing his “Ghostbusters” act! The scenes where we first see the sphere too are wonderful and I think Murray Gold’s score here is one of his best.

Torchwood was very intriguing, but I’m a bit baffled as to why the Doctor has not come across them before. And where was UNIT?

Graeme Harper still proves to us that he can direct some classic stuff! His low-angle shot of the Cyberman breaking through the front door of a suburban house made it seem so menacing, and to top that when the child runs up the stairs another Cyberman appears! Now that scared ME so lord know how the kids will feel about that!! I also loved the scenes where the Cybermen cut their way through the plastic sheeting - definitely a nod to “Tomb of the Cybermen” there!! The ghosts appearing and then revealing themselves as Cybermen was certainly a thrill and I was thinking to myself here “how on earth is the Doctor going to defeat them this time?!” Then of course we had the thrill of the sphere opening to reveal the Daleks! How cool was that?!

And so on to the confrontation between the Cybermen and Daleks….. brilliant! It was such a great scene where they meet each other for the first time! The Daleks exterminated the Cybermen pretty easily and I have to admit that I really wanted to see a Cyberman grab at least one Dalek by its plunger and crush the damned thing!! Oh well it was still good to see them in battle together.

The acting was very good all round in this story too. Tracy Oberman was very scene stealing as the head of Torchwood, and it was a pity that she was dispatched so early on in the second part. Seeing her reappear as a Cyberman was interesting, but bearing in mind she destroyed a few other Cybermen in this scene are we to assume that her “upgrading” wasn’t a success? This wasn't too clear to me as to what happened.

It was good to see Mickey back too. His character has come such a long way since his first appearance, and I always felt sorry for him. I really wanted to slap the Doctor and Rose because I thought they treated him like he was just a big joke, and so it was great to see him here in all his heroic glory so that he could stick two fingers up to them!!

Of course as soon as Pete Tyler turned up it became pretty obvious to me how the story was going to end…….. and I was right!! Rose, Jackie, Pete and Mickey all live happily ever after in the parallel world. I was sorry to see Rose go, but I think they’ve done enough with her character now in the series. Two seasons seems pretty good for Billie Piper and I think she’s been a great companion, even though she did start to irritate me at times during this last season.

I’m in two minds about the ending. I liked it to a certain degree, but for me it was a little too over dramatic and far too long. I could never take to the “soapy” elements of this new Doctor Who as the classic series concentrated more on the story itself and the menace they were facing, and not dwelling on the soap elements. Rose turning to the Doctor and saying “I love you” was just bloody awful. The Doctor has always bonded well with his companions, but I could never get to grips with Rose and the Doctor being “in love”. I just hope that when the series returns for its third year they don’t dwell on soap too much.

I wasn’t overly keen on the way Catherine Tate suddenly turned up like that in the Tardis either!!

Anyway these are minor criticisms as I thoroughly enjoyed the “Army of Ghosts/Doomsday” as a whole, and alongside “Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel” this is my favourite story this season.