Doctor Who
The Idiot's Lantern

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

Inside the Connelly household, Tommy and his mother Rita are watching their new television set. "We want Muffin, Muffin the mule/ Dear old Muffin, playing the fool/ We want Muffin, everybody sing/ We want Muffin the Mule!" But they're not enjoying themselves; they're sitting sad and quiet, paranoid, hands in laps. Sitting uncomfortably, as Eddie screams, making his little nowhere plans, adding extra posh 'h' to everything. "Smashing! Smashing, ennit? You'd hhave thought they was in the room with ya, eh? Fair do's Tommy, you hhad a point! New television! There, that should cheer you up a bit, Rita. Give us a smile, then, eh?" But Rita can't, not with her mother the way she is. "Not with Gran..." Eddie interrupts and tells her to be quiet, to stop going on about it. "But her face, Eddie! What happened to her? That awful face..." Eddie begins to shout, but just as quickly falls silent, as a hollow, deep tapping begins to slowly sound out through the house. "She's awake," whispers Rita, and turns to her son Tommy. "I think she's hungry." Something about the face, about television rotting your mind out your ears, about a Dutch tilt on a dishonest image. Something about denying who you are: Just hungry eyes without a face.

Out in the street, Magpie throws open his van doors and two youngsters carry a television up into a house. "There you go, sir, all wired up for the great occasion," patters Magpie, and the Doctor and Rose, now walking past, overhear. "The great occasion?" Magpie asks, as if he's been "living out in the Colonies," and clarifies. "Coronation, of course." The Doctor, having misplaced his brain for a second, wonders what coronation could possibly be taking place in London in the early '50s. Magpie and Rose both look at him like he's an idiot. "The Queen's? Queen Elizabeth?" And it clicks for the Doctor: it's 1953. Elizabeth was already standing in for her father as early as 1951, as his health slowly declined. He finally died February 6, 1952, while she and Philip were in Kenya on a goodwill tour. She was the first British monarch since George I to be outside the country at the moment of succession, and because her father died in his sleep at an unknown time, the only one not to know precisely when that was. The Treetops Hotel is still known as the site where she "went up a Princess and came down a Queen." The ramp up and the ramp down. Elizabeth II's Proclamation of Accession was read at St. James's Palace on the seventh, Elizabeth's grandmother Queen Mary died of lung cancer on March 24th, 1953, and her dying wish was that Elizabeth's coronation not be postponed, so now it's going to be held the second of June: tomorrow. (Grandmas are good.) Among the Yaohnanen tribe of Tanna, Vanuatu, Prince Philip is considered a God. Actual. According to the legends, he's the human face of an ancestral spirit for whose return they continue to wait. I mean to say that Queen Elizabeth II married a God, at Westminster Abbey, on November 20th, 1947. On the BBC. "Time for a lovely bit of pomp and circumstance," says Magpie: "What we do best." Rose stares up at all the antennas, atop every home and building. "All the TV aerials...looks like everyone's got one!" She notes that this is weird, remembers her Nan saying everybody had to pile into one house to watch the coronation of the Queen. "Not round here, love. Magpie's Marvellous Tellies, only five quid a box." (Whereas the going rate, including installation, would have been about £70.) The Doctor takes this opportunity to go nuts: "Oh! But this is a brilliant year! Classic! Technicolor! Everest climbed, everything off the ration!" He puts on a BBC accent: "The nation throwing off the shadows of war and looking forward to a happier, brighter future!" Rose laughs; it's cute.

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