Takeover Ad
Takeover Ad
21 January 2015

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 751: The Idiot’s Lantern

Dear diary,

Over the last week, I’ve banged on repeatedly about the fact that I simply couldn’t get in to this second series of the revived programme, and that I didn’t like this about it, or that about it… So it’s nice that today I get to share a happier memory with you all about the watching of this particular story. A friend was staying with me the week this one aired, and although he was vaguely aware of Doctor Who, he’d never really latched on to it. I seem to recall that in the summer of 2005, when I was raving about Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper, he’d been bitten by the Star Wars bug, instead. I was also working in a shop at the time, and we sold the Doctor Who sticker book. I can’t remember the exact sequence of events, but somehow I was able to buy an entire box of stickers (40-something packs) for a real knock-down price, and we while away the summer evening opening each pack, laying the stickers out on the floor, and building up to a complete collection (although, actually, after all that - literally hundreds of stickers, I was still two or three short!). The only time we broke was to watch this episode as it went out, and it really is one of my happiest Who memories.

There’s just something about the bright colours and the sunny skies of this story that really connects with you on a warm summer evening, and I have to admit that - even on this watch-through for the marathon - the Tenth Doctor and Rose pairing has completely won me over. How brilliant is is, when they arrive in the 1950s, simply larking about? They laugh, and they joke, and yes I know there’s a few moments that really do make you want to cringe ridiculously hard (I’m thinking of the ‘Hiiiiiiiiiii!’ moment in particular), but somehow, magically, impossibly… they simply work. If I were to travel around in time and space, this is the life I’d want. A best friend by my side, and an inexhaustible sense of sheer adventure.

But, actually, I’m getting more from this story now than I have on any previous watches, because over the years my interests have changed. Specifically, they’ve changed in regards to archive television, which means that there’s a number of levels here which really speak to me in a way they simply couldn’t have before. I didn’t know it at the time, but the setting of Alexandra Palace means so much in the history of British broadcasting of course, but then there’s loads of little easter eggs woven in to the script.

Perhaps most obviously, there’s The Quatermass Experiment, with the hand clenching movements made by the faceless crowd, but then you’ve got a snippet of Muffin the Mule, strong overtones of Watch With Mother, and even the street name (‘Florizel Street’ was the original name given to the cobbles known better as Coronation Street). All of these thing went more-or-less over my head before, whereas they’re now references to things sat on my DVD shelves. This is one of the things I’m most enjoying about this phase of the marathon - seeing how my reaction to (and relationship with) these stories has been changed by the intervening years. It’s not something I’ve ever been able to really do before (even with the stories from the ‘classic’ series that I’d seen before) because I’d not seen any of those in context before, with the nostalgia and memories that revisiting them comes with.

Something else which has, I think, always gone over my head with this story is the direction. It’s Euros Lyn in the chair this week, and although I’m used to his direction from so many stories in this period of the programme, this one really stands out as unique in a way that I can’t recall of others off the top of my head. Specifically, it’s the use of the extreme angles for several shots that give the story a visual identity that really stands out, and I’m finding myself constantly impressed by this throughout! These individual tales in the middle of seasons can occasionally become a bit overlooked when you think back over a series, so it’s always nice to find that they’ve got their own hidden depths on a re-watch. 

RSS Feed
News Key
News Home
General
The New Series
The Classic Series
Spinoffs
Merchandise
Site
Blog Entries
Reviews Key
Reviews Home
Books / Magazines
DVD / Blu-ray
Audio
Toys / Other
TV Episodes
Search