One of the criticisms levelled at David Tennant’s first series as the Doctor lay in how overly chummy he was with Rose. Given that this Doctor tilted way over on the ‘human’ side of the spectrum this was perhaps to be expected, but even the more ardent shippers might agree that at times this ‘all-in-for-the-adventure’ vibe was too cloying at times. This was certainly true in parts of The Impossible Planet and especially Fear Her.
The story taken up in Modern Recap-itulation this time around could be accused of being the sister story to Fear Her, but The Idiot’s Lantern at just that much better at execution than that other story would prove to be. Like last time around with The Girl in the Fireplace, The Idiot’s Lantern was the second time around for a nu-Who stalwart, in this case, Mark Gatiss. And The Idiot’s Lantern feels much like what we would come to expect a Gatiss story to be, a pseudo-historical with touches of horror just as in The Unquiet Dead or much of the Hinchcliffe/Holmes era of the classic series.
The taking of the faces (or mugs to use a pejorative) of the telly viewers is more than a little bit of a conceit, but it does produce that lovely visual of having those same faces silently mouthing out of the TV’s in Magpie’s store. One mug who really got a workout in this story was Tennant himself. It was hard to stay away from all the gurning he was doing throughout The Idiot’s Lantern.
It wasn’t just his hair that was all puffed out.