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Monday, 26 June 2006 - Reviewed by Adam Leslie

The Doctor Who team have a second stab at The Idiot Lantern – on the eve of a huge public spectacle, people are disappearing from a suburban London street while a shady family member covers up the truth; meanwhile a disembodied alien visitor plans to use the television broadcast of the spectacle for their nefarious ends, and the Doctor and Rose enjoy a tea party and lay down the law in other peoples’ homes – and pull it off a little more memorably and with more confidence.

And like the Impossible Planet two-parter, this is a mish mash of imported ideas: Twilight Zone episodes ‘The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street’ and ‘It’s A Good Life’, The Shining (“Danny’s not here, Mrs. Torrance”), and, probably most blatantly, Bernard Rose’s underrated 1988 chiller Paperhouse, in which a bedridden 10-year-old girl’s drawings come to life in her dreams, providing her with a real-life playmate and a demonic absent father figure who stalks her through her surreal nightmares.

As with The Idiot Lantern, the running time meant that the end was rushed and somewhat trite. There was an appalling howler in the shape of the BBC News 24 commentary, which was stammering over the disappearance of 80,000 spectators one moment, then narrating the progress of the Olympic torch the next. I really think that the Olympic torch might be a little irrelevant at that point. Some of the humour was a bit silly, and I’m really not sure about Doctor 10’s enthusiasm for the Olympics in general (try picturing Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker or… anyone else running with the torch with such gusto).

Having said all that, the programme did actually work for me. The themes were scary and well-handled, David Tennant was very confident and had some great presence, and two of the early gags were genuinely laugh-out-loud funny (the TARDIS door joke, and the line about the Earth being the only place in the galaxy that bothered to invent edible ball bearings) By and large, even though The Idiot Lantern was terrifying in parts, I would have preferred to have seen this show take precedence over the earlier adventure with something a little more original in TIL’s place.

FILTER: - Television - Series 2/28 - Tenth Doctor