Doctor Who, series 2.8: “The Idiot’s Lantern” by Mark Gatiss


The Doctor and Rose intend to arrive in New York to see Elvis; instead, they’ve arrived in London in 1953 to see the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. Mr. Magpie is giving away televisions which seem to have some unforeseen side effects on some of the watchers.

The Wire, an exiled being which feeds on the thoughts of humans, has possessed the airwaves. It strikes a deal–albeit an unwilling one–with Mr. Magpie so that he will distribute televisions to every house he can. The Doctor and Rose enter the Connolly house, where the grandmother’s face and mind have been stolen by the Wire. Shortly after, Rose’s brain has been wiped, and she was left sans visage. This forces the Doctor to take drastic action. Nothing will stop him.

The Wire convinces Magpie to take her to a gigantic transmitter so she can gorge herself on humanity and regain her corporeal form. The Doctor follows Magpie, climbing the tower to stop her at the last moment.

While in the Connolly house, the Doctor and Rose order the loud-mouthed, emotional bully Mr. Connolly about, using Queen and country as an excuse. It’s a really good, funny commentary on and subversion of the stereotypical gender roles of the 1950s. This episode also plays on a lot of the original fears about the television–that it will melt our brains and be the end of us all. In this case, it might just be true!

Memorable Quotes:

Eddie: Don’t mind the wife, she rattles on a bit.
The Doctor: Well maybe she should rattle on a bit more. I’m not convinced you’re doing your patriotic duty. Those flags. Why are they not flying?
Eddie: There we are Rita, I told you. Get them up, Queen and country!
Rita: I’m sorry.
Eddie: Get it done. Do it now.
The Doctor: Hold on a minute.
Eddie: Like the gentleman says.
The Doctor: Hold on a minute. You’ve got hands, Mr Connolly. Two big hands. So why’s that your wifes job?
Eddie: Well it’s housework, isn’t it?
The Doctor: And that’s a womans job?
Eddie: Course it is!
The Doctor: Mr Connolly, what gender is the Queen?
Eddie: She’s a female.
The Doctor: And are you suggesting the Queen does the housework?
Eddie: No! No, not at all.
The Doctor: Then get busy!
Eddie: Right, yes sir. You’ll be proud of us sir. We’ll have Union Jacks left, right, and centre.
Rose: ‘Scuse me Mr Connolly, hang on a minute. Union Jacks?
Eddie: Yes, that’s right, isn’t it?
Rose: That’s the Union Flag. It’s the Union Jack only when it’s flown at sea.
Eddie: Oh. Oh, I’m sorry. I… I do apologise.
Rose: Well, don’t get it wrong again. There’s a good man, now get to it!
The Doctor: Right then! Nice and comfy, at Her Majesty’s Leisure.
[to Rose] Union Flag?
Rose: Mum went out with a sailor.
The Doctor: Oh, I bet she did.

The Doctor: The street. They left her in the street. They took her face, and just chucked her out and left her in the street. And as a result, that makes things… simple. Very very simple. Because now…there is now power on this earth that can stop me!

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One thought on “Doctor Who, series 2.8: “The Idiot’s Lantern” by Mark Gatiss

  1. Pingback: Doctor Who, series 6.9: “Night Terrors” by Mark Gatiss « Elementary, My Dear Reader

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