I think this episode may be the most forgettable of the modern Doctor Who. Certainly not worst, in fact it isn’t really bad, but one that barely dented my conciousness at the time.
Indeed, I’ve frequently been unable to recall the actual tite. The Empty Faces? The Hungry Televisions? In actuality The Idiot’s Lantern is a great title.
And all of the parts are impressive but I don’t think they gel – and the pacing is very leisurely for the first two thirds (and benefits as a result) but then everything is resolved in a flash, leaving the valedictory ‘gay son gains self-esteem’ epilogue.
It’s less than the sum, but it’s better than Gatiss’ next two efforts. After The Unquiet Dead it seems not unreasonable to ask what went wrong.
Some excellent little flourishes from Euros Lyn, using unusual angles and close-ups to good effect.
The encounters with faceless people are all spooky and odd.
The conceit of the Wire is quite nice and sometimes well-realised
I quite like all the 50s nonsense that the Doctor and Rose do and their interactions feel rather more Whoish here, rather than the horrid mutual admiration codependence displayed elsewhere in series two.
All the performances are good, even if Maureen Lipman overdoes it somewhat.
The BBC shows how well it can do period dressing and ambiance again.
I can’t make head nor tail of the way the plot is resolved. Admittedly I wasn’t glued to the set while it was on, but the Doctor pushes some buttons and something happens and everything is OK? (See also: Daleks In Manhattan).
The whole abusive father / gay son subplot never feels anything less than awkward.
Tennant being angry. I remember reading with disbelief that Ian Briggs thought Sylvester McCoy played ‘angry’ very well. I wonder if the same thought occurred to virtually everyone who wrote for Tennant. They’re about as right as Briggs was.