Doctor Who in Review: Season Four, Episode #10 – Midnight
The hit BBC series Doctor Who is now in its fourth season on the Sci-Fi Channel, and since we’re all big fans here at ComicMix, we’ve decided to kick off an episode-by-episode analysis of the reinvigorated science-fiction classic.
Every week, I’ll do my best to go through the most recent episode with a fine-tooth comb (or whatever the "sonic screwdriver" equivalent might be) and call out the highlights, low points, continuity checks and storyline hints I can find to keep in mind for future episodes. I’ll post the review each Monday, so you have ample time to check out the episode once it airs each Friday at 9 PM EST on Sci-Fi Channel before I spoil anything.
Missed a week? Check out the "Doctor Who in Review" archive or check out any of the past editions of this column via the links at the end of this article.
Keep in mind, I’m going to assume readers have already watched the episode when I put fingers to keyboard and come up with the roundup of important plot points. In other words, SPOILER ALERT!
Let’s begin now, shall we?
Season Four, Episode #10: "Midnight"
IN BRIEF: Donna Noble heads off on her own for a bit of relaxation, but The Doctor embarks on a tour of Midnight, a largely unexplored crystalline planet whose surface is bathed by deadly (to most creatures, at least) sun rays. When their transport breaks down, The Doctor and the group of tourists trapped in the vehicle discover that they’re not alone on the planet, while one of the tourists, Sky, becomes inhabited by a mysterious entity who begins repeating everyone’s words in what appears to be an attempt to "copy" them. Tensions mount as The Doctor can’t rely on his favorite tool — his words — to resolve the situation, and the tourists eventually set their minds to murder. When the entity finally manages to "copy" The Doctor, the passengers finally rid themselves of the entity when the stewardess sacrifices her own life — and Sky — to save them all.
ONCE AGAIN, NOT A COUPLE: Donna’s relationship with The Doctor gets another little nod this episode, and even though it’s a "companion-lite" story, her conversations with The Doctor in the beginning (That’s a date… Well, not a date… Oh, you know what I mean… Oh, get off!") and end (in which she repeats The Doctor’s phrase and receives a stern response) pack a lot of character development into a pair of short scenes. The former made me laugh, while the latter made me shiver.
IS THERE A "LOST AND FOUND" FOR PLANETS? The mystery of the disappearing planets pops up again in this episode when Dee Dee Blasco mentions the "lost moon of Poosh," and to be honest, it’s starting to seem a little strange that The Doctor hasn’t picked up on it yet. Of course, we’re led to believe that The Doctor and Donna have been traveling around quite a bit in the time between episodes, so the string of "missing planets" might not be as conspicuous for the duo as it is for viewers.
VIDEO STAR: Right around the 16:00 mark in the episode, former companion Rose Tyler makes yet another video-borne cameo similar to what we saw a few episodes ago in "The Poison Sky." Since it’s less of a "blink and you miss it" scenario this time around, the writing appears to be on the wall when it comes to the former companion returning at some point this season… like, for instance, in the next episode (if the preview is to be believed, that is).
WELL, IT’S BETTER THAN PLAYING "PUNCH-BUGGY": After watching this episode, I’m fairly certain that despite the likelihood of mortal danger and/or horrible, life-changing trauma, there aren’t many people I’d want along for a road trip more than The Doctor.
WHAT’S IN A NAME? When the passengers get curious about The Doctor’s identity, his longstanding "John Smith" alias doesn’t seem to cut it, which only adds fuel to the fire of questions surrounding The Doctor’s "real name" this season.
THE CREATURE REPORT: Lesley Sharp provides a great performance as Sky Silvestry, the poor, possessed host of Midnight entity, reminding me of one of the main reasons why I’ve enjoyed Doctor Who for so many years. In the absence of the special-effects budgets that many American science-fiction series rely upon, the actors in Doctor Who often have to let their performances move the story and become the effects — and in this case, Sharp serves that model very, very well.
READER REPORT: Last week, regular reader (and occasional ComicMix contributor) Vinnie Bartilucci really summed up my thoughts on the evolution of Catherine Tate’s character in the current series. Commenting on last week’s "Forest of the Dead" episode, he wrote:
Will all the people who claimed that Catherine Tate was going to ruin the series with her mugging please apologize. Her acting in this episode was spectacular, and the scene with the kids in the bedroom was patently heartbreaking.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE NEXT EPISODE, "Left Turn": Wow. It looks like a pile of plot threads we’ve been discussing this season start to get resolved, and in typical Doctor Who form, everything comes crashing together in the end. But what about The Doctor? He’s… dead?
Thanks to the good people at The Doctor Who Wiki for information related to several of this week’s story notes.
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