Doctor Who
The Idiot's Lantern

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: A | 2 USERS: A+
The Dutch Tilt

The Doctor tries to snatch the portable, but it zaps his hand. "Been burning the candle at both ends? You've overextended yourself, missus. You shouldn't have had a crack at poor old Magpie there." He picks it up; it zaps him in the foot. "Rubber soles! Swear by them!" You have to stay grounded, we said. Those who play in images and stories about stories have to stay grounded in something real. She bounces right off his soul. He plugs something into her, okay, and downstairs the machines spark, and break, and squeal. Nothing at all happens to the Wire, and she laughs at him. "Oh, dear! Has our little plan gone horribly wrong, Doctor?" It was never going to be wires and technology alone, was it? Plug a little something into her, standing at the top of a tower? Downstairs, Tommy sees the thing that broke, and finds a new one. A better one. The flowers in the dustbin. He replaces the broken parts -- just like the Doctor does, like children -- and plugs the whole apparatus back in. The red beams quickly retreat from the pylons, the televisions and the people, back up into the portable. She writhes and wails and hurts. The Connelly family touch their faces for the first time; they are shocked and confused, but unhurt. Downstairs, Tommy smiles. "It's closed down, I'm afraid," the Doctor says angrily, "And no epilogue." Our screen becomes the portable, becomes the Wire, and as he switches her off, we lose all image. Our screens go blank and she screams, and everything is silent. And the Doctor stares down, frustrated and angry, and quiet.

The faceless in the police cells smile at each other, feeling their faces and touching each other. I'm truly sorry, but it sounds like a wonderful thing. Has the world changed, or have you changed? The Wire is dead, boys, and it's so lonely on a limb. When I broke into Elizabeth's bedroom, she said, "I know you, and you cannot sing," and I says, "That's nothing -- you should hear me play piano." (The guards that came running at her call stopped to adjust their neckties -- the image -- when they saw Elizabeth II, calmly sitting in her bed with a psycho, where she'd calmly chatted with him for ten minutes; she told them to get a move on.) When you're tied to your Mother's apron no one talks about castration, so let's talk about precious things: love, law, poverty. The things that kill you. Life is very long when you're lonely. Has the world changed, or have you changed? Life is very long when you're lonely.

Tommy watches the coronation, safe now from the image, when the Doctor returns. "What have I missed?" Tommy's overjoyed to see the Doctor. "What happened?" And he grins down. "Sorted. Electrical creature, TV technology, clever alien life form -- that's me by the way -- I turned the receiver back into a transmitter and I trapped the Wire in here." He holds up a video tape. "I just invented the home video, thirty years earlier. Betamax." Nice. On the tape's label there is Gallifreyan, scratched out and written over, a palimpsest of experience, love and excitement taped over and fading into the memory of an immortal man. He grieves for you when you are gone, but ask in five minutes and hope you've not been taped over. "Oh look!" he says, pointing at the screen. "God save the Queen, eh?" Indeed.

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Doctor Who




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