The tenth episode of the new season of the hit BBC television program, Doctor Who, gives us a glimpse of what the Doctor does when he takes time off being a Time Lord. This time around he and his companion, Donna Noble (played by Catherine Tate), are taking a little leisure time on the planet Midnight. He has decided to take a scenic trip to see the Sapphire Waterfall and Donna has decided to stay at the spa. This is a solo Doctor adventure. Written by executive producer Russell T. Davies and produced by Phil Collinson, this adventure features the Doctor, played by David Tennant, all alone. The scenic trip is to take four hours and another four hours back, however with The Doctor nothing is ever straightforward.
Joining The Doctor on the trip is fellow passengers Sky Silvestry (Lesley Sharp), Biff and Val Cane (Daniel Ryan and Lindsey Coulson) and their son Jethro, played by Colin Morgan. Also along for the trip is Professor Hobbes and his assistant Dee Dee Blasco, played by Ayesha Antoine. Professor Hobbes is played by David Troughton, which is a treat for all true blue Doctor Who fans, as David is the son of former Doctor Who actor Patrick Troughton, who played The Doctor in the 1960s. Patrick Troughton portrayed the second incarnation of The Doctor, taking up the role after William Hartnell and before Jon Pertwee. David Tennant, who plays the 10th incarnation of The Doctor, does a fantastic job in the role and to see the second child of a former Doctor Who star appear as a guest this season is just marvelous. Previously, Georgia Moffett played Jenny, The Doctor’s Daughter in the sixth episode this season, Georgia being the real life daughter of 5th Doctor Peter Davison.
The ship that all the tourists are on runs an automatic path to the Waterfall and all seems well and good until an unforeseen malfunction strands the driver, mechanic, hostess and all their passengers on the inhospitable surface of the planet Midnight. It is explained that the surface of the world is deadly for anyone to set foot on, and nothing can live on the planet. Nothing can live if you count the life forms they are all familiar with but something is on the surface and soon it is knocking to get into the ship.
The knocking is followed by a rip and a tear and soon the driver’s cabin is gone, along with the driver and mechanic. The passengers are stranded, unable to leave and unable to signal for help. They are all alone on the surface of the planet. The knocking continues and one of the passengers seems to have been possessed by whatever was knocking outside. Sky Silvestry seems to be in a catatonic state but begins to repeat the words being said to her by all the passengers. The paranoia mounts as the passengers begin to turn on each other.
The Doctor, trying to be the voice of reason, is faced with a mob that is bent on the destruction of Ms. Silvestry. They want to boot her out of the touring vehicle and let the surface of the planet take her, however The Doctor tries to calm them down. It seems whatever life form has taken over Sky is learning. It begins by mimicking the words the passengers are saying and before long she tries to become fully functional. The Doctor works at trying to calm everyone down, but by now the paranoia has struck everyone. At first, Professor Hobbes’ assistant Dee Dee is on The Doctor’s side, as is the son of the Cane family, Jethro, but eventually they too give in to the paranoia.
Sky begins to steal The Doctor’s voice, and it is he that is repeating everything that is said and she is “free” from the life form. She convinces the passengers to boot The Doctor out of the vehicle, and the mob is just that, a mob bent on destruction. They want to destroy anything that is not like them and The Doctor seems to be taken over by whatever took over Sky Silvestry. She relentlessly pleads for them to dump him out and the people are ready to, Hostess included (the last member of staff aboard) until she realizes the exact opposite. The Hostess realizes that Sky has taken the voice of The Doctor and it is she and not him that is the danger to all the passengers. Sacrificing her life, The Hostess grabs Sky and opens the door, which sucks both of them to the planet surface, killing them both instantaneously.
The trouble is over. The tourism company saves the Doctor and passengers and they return to the retreat where Donna and The Doctor are reunited. It was easy for them to give in to paranoia, but none of them would’ve tried to save anyone else, except himself or herself. Humans always seem to be looking out for themselves and not others, especially not life forms they do not understand.
It was a wonderful episode and the fear and paranoia was palpable when watching it. The cast did a fantastic job. David Tennant again turned in a top-notch performance. The episode, which is a stand-alone and could be viewed out of order and out of context, shows how The Doctor operates when he does not have to look out for a companion. It is nice, but The Doctor works best when he has at least one friend along. The rumors are that Catherine Tate, who only appeared at the very beginning and very ending of the episode, was filming the next episode, Turn Left, which is a Doctor-lite episode, when this episode was being filmed. Three of the past four seasons have all seen their Doctor-lite episodes; Love & Monsters, Blink, and now Turn Left. These episodes may see the Doctor at the beginning or ending but throughout the episode we do not see much of The Doctor and the action is usually driven by some other character; but not his companion whereas this season Donna Noble will be the star of the next episode. So join Donna Noble and a returning Billie Piper as Rose Tyler (who appears on a television screen inside the tourist vehicle over The Doctor’s shoulder and can be seen calling out for him, even though he is unaware) for the next episode.