Thursday, 16 March 2017

Story 177 - Army of Ghosts / Doomsday

In which the Doctor and Rose return to the Powell Estate to visit Jackie. She tells Rose that her maternal grandfather is due to visit shortly - but he has been dead for some years. However, just as Jackie predicted, a shadowy figure materialises in the kitchen. The Doctor discovers that these apparitions are appearing a couple of times a day all over the planet, and are all over the media. People are presuming they are the ghosts of dead loved ones, but the Doctor suspects that something is trying to break through into this world from some other dimension. Returning to the TARDIS, with Jackie in tow, he sets up a device to monitor a ghost when it next materialises so he can trace the source. His actions are noticed by Torchwood, the organisation behind the "ghost shifts". They use CCTV to spot the TARDIS, and boss Yvonne Hartman realises that the Doctor will be on his way to them. A couple of her employees - Adeola and Gareth - sneak off for a romantic tryst in a section of their building which is closed for refurbishment. They are attacked, and return to their posts seemingly devoid of emotion. Adeola lures another colleague - Matt - to the same location, and he too returns changed.

The Doctor allows himself to be captured by Torchwood troops, along with Jackie, who has been brought along by accident. The Doctor pretends that she is Rose, prematurely aged. He sees that Torchwood have a lot of captured alien technology, which Yvonne claims is to be exploited in order to make Britain great again. She explains how the organisation detected a strange anomaly in the sky above East London, and so built a skyscraper around it so that it could be examined. Jackie identifies their location as the tower of Canary Wharf. Something came through the anomaly - a large bronze sphere which is impossible to analyse as it gives no readings whatsoever. Investigating it is Dr Rajesh Singh. At the same time, the ghosts began to appear. Torchwood are manipulating these, making them appear when they open the anomaly. They believe that it will act as a power source. The Doctor identifies the sphere as a Void Ship - designed to exist in the gap between universes. Rose emerges from the TARDIS and dons a lab coat to look around. Spotting a familiar figure, she follows him to the Sphere chamber where Dr Singh captures her. The person she was following is Mickey Smith, who is posing as one of Singh's assistants.

The Doctor convinces Yvonne to cancel the next "ghost shift" as every time the anomaly is opened it is destroying the fabric of this dimension. It is through the cracks forming that the ghosts have arrived. Adeola, Matt and Gareth carry on with the shift, however, under the control of someone else. The Doctor discovers that they have been converted, with alien implants in their skulls. The anomaly opens, and the ghosts start to become corporeal. They are Cybermen. At the same time, the Void Ship suddenly becomes active. Rose and Mickey see it begin to open. Mickey believes that it contains some sort of Cyberman leader, escaped from the parallel Earth he had settled on. However, it actually houses a quartet of Daleks, who have a Dalek-shaped machine with them. These Daleks, one of which has black livery, have names - Sec, Caan, Jast and Thay. They refer to the machine as the Genesis Ark. They demand information, and Singh volunteers to give this. The Daleks drain his mind, killing him in the process.

Meanwhile, the Cybermen have invaded the entire Earth. The Doctor learns of the Daleks' arrival when a pair of Cybermen are despatched to investigate the Sphere chamber. They try to offer an alliance, but the Daleks refuse. Yvonne and Jackie are taken away to be converted. Two figures suddenly materialise in the control room - one of whom is Jake Simmonds. He destroys the Cyber-Leader and its troops, freeing the Doctor. He then uses a transportation device to take the Doctor back to the parallel Earth - arriving in their version of Torchwood. The Doctor is reunited with Pete Tyler. He learns that the Lumic Cybermen were defeated but not destroyed. One day they vanished, and it was realised that they had crossed over to the other universe. The parallel Torchwood had invented devices that could transport people across the dimensions. The Doctor insists that Pete and Jake return with him to help defeat the Cybermen. Pete is resistant, until the Doctor mentions Jackie is there. She, meanwhile, had been able to escape when the Cyber-Leader was destroyed - as her guard was upgraded automatically to become the new Leader. Yvonne was not so lucky, and has been converted.

The Doctor offers to help the Cybermen deal with the Daleks. He goes alone to the Sphere chamber and is reunited with Rose and Mickey. The Daleks are identified as the Cult of Skaro - a clique created by the Emperor during the Time War to think beyond normal Dalek logic and so defeat the Time Lords. They reveal that the Genesis Ark is not of their making. It is captured Time Lord technology, and needs a time traveller to activate it. The Cybermen attack, and in the confusion Mickey touches the machine - bringing it to life. The Daleks take it to the main storage room, whose roof opens. The Genesis Ark floats up into the sky. The Doctor and his friends rush upstairs to see what happens, and on the way Jackie gets to meet Pete when he saves her from some Cybermen. The Cybermen follow, but one of their number rebels and stops them - the converted Yvonne Hartman.

The Ark opens, and thousands of Daleks emerge. It was a Time Lord prison capsule, bigger on the inside. The Daleks and Cybermen begin fighting each other, massacring the humans who get in their way. The Doctor has been observing events using 3D spectacles, and finally has his friends ask him why. He has noticed that everyone who has passed through the Void has been soaked in a form of radiation. If he opens the anomaly fully, everything tainted will be sucked in - but that will include all of them. Everyone must retreat to Pete's World - including Rose. She refuses to leave the Doctor.
Once everyone has left - including Jackie - the Doctor and Rose open the Void. Daleks and Cybermen are all sucked in, along with the Ark. The Cult of Skaro escape by triggering an emergency temporal shift, transporting themselves through time. Rose loses her handhold and is pulled towards the breach, but at the last moment Pete appears and transports her to his world. The Void closes forever - trapping Rose on the parallel Earth.
Some weeks later, she starts to get dreams which call her to a beach in Norway. She travels there with her father, mother and Mickey. The Doctor appears - sending an image of himself through the last hole in the breach before it closes. It transpires that the location is known as Bad Wolf Bay. The Doctor is about to tell Rose how he feels about her when the connection is broken. He has little time to grieve, however, as a woman in a wedding dress has suddenly appeared in his TARDIS...

The two part finale to Series 2 was written by Russell T Davies, and was broadcast on the evenings of 1st and 8th July, 2006.
The Torchwood story arc finally plays out - though we already knew very early on that it was an organisation devoted to using alien technology in defence of Britain, and was antithetical to the Doctor. It is a direct sequel to the earlier two part Cyberman origins story, reintroducing the parallel Pete and Jake Simmonds. Graeme Harper directed all four episodes as one big recording block - so the finale was in the can long before earlier episodes.
Davies had to find a way of separating Rose from the Doctor without killing her, and so trapping her forever in a parallel universe seemed like a good option. Killing her off was out of the question, as too many young viewers identified with her and travelling in the TARDIS had to remain a positive experience. Davies makes sure that her mother is with her, and both her parents are reunited in a sense. The nice, down to earth Jackie gets to have a rich, successful Pete, and Rose has potential boyfriend material in Mickey.
This time round, the Cybermen have a Cyber-Leader - with black markings on the handle bars. We discover that when one is destroyed, leadership downloads into another unit. The Cybermen now have guns built into their forearms. When it comes to fighting against Daleks, they come off second best.
Terry nation had always fought against any kind of Dalek- Cyberman team up. It had been suggested back in 1968, but got vetoed, and we got The Wheel In Space instead. It came close in 1973, when the Cybermen were to have had the Ogron role in Frontier in Space.

As all of the Daleks had been wiped out in the previous series finale, we are introduced to the Cult of Skaro. They escaped destruction in the Time War by hiding in the Void Ship. Dalek Sec is the black one. Davies makes sure he doesn't paint himself into the corner this time round by having them transport themselves away through time - so available for a rematch.
As well as linking to previous stories, these two episodes set up a lot of what is going happen over the next two series.
Davies also elects to link the closing seconds into the forthcoming Christmas Special - rather than dwell on the grieving Doctor and Rose. This was intentional - to show that the adventure always continues.
A relatively small guest cast for a big two part finale, as most of the characters are returnees. Dr Singh is played by Raji James, and Yvonne Hartman is Tracy-Ann Oberman - best known for an Eastenders role, which gets referenced in Army of Ghosts.
Of note amongst the junior cast is Freema Agyeman as Adeole, since we are going to see a lot more of her soon. Matt is Oliver Mellor, who was in Coronation Street for a number of years, and Gareth is Hadley Fraser. There is another rare, at this stage, appearance by an actor who had appeared in the Classic Series. The chief of police is David Warwick, who had been Kimus in The Pirate Planet.
We have a number of "celebrity" cameos - I use the term loosely - in the sequence where the Doctor channel hops to learn more about the ghosts. There's Barbara Windsor banning the spectre of Den Watts from the Queen Vic pub, and medium Derek Acorah claims they are putting him out of business. The "Ghostwatch" programme is hosted by real TV presenter Alistair Appleton. We also have Trisha, with someone on her talk show claiming to be in love with a ghost. Note the explosion at the Burberry factory in her audience. Chav-tastic.
And introducing Catherine Tate as the bride...

Episode endings:
  1. The ghosts start to move into formation and are revealed to be Cybermen, whilst Rose and Mickey watch as the Sphere opens and a group of Daleks emerge and float down towards them...
  2. The breach has been closed. The Doctor stands alone in the TARDIS, tears in his eyes. As he prepares to move on, he suddenly sees a figure standing in the ship, wearing a wedding dress. Cue "What?", "What?" "WHAT!?"
  1. A newspaper reporter tries to sell his editor a story about an organisation named Torchwood. The editor asks him to bring in some evidence . He does so some time later - such as Queen Victoria's involvement and the destruction of the Sycorax spaceship. The reporter is dragged away by a pair of mysterious men, and the story spiked. We then see the reporter in a strait-jacket, shouting that Torchwood exists, and that he knows about the ghosts...
  2. A news reader announces a state of emergency. Footage is shown of troops battling Cybermen. The newsreader then calls on people to flee for their lives, including her own family if they are watching. The studio comes under attack by Daleks...

Overall... It's a Russell T Davies series finale, so there's lots to love as well as a great big Deus ex Machina to sort things out at the end. Personally I think it is one of the better series finales. A fantastic cliffhanger to episode one, and pieces fit together as Rose and her family are sent off into a new life, with resolutions for Jackie and Pete - and potentially Rose and Mickey. It rates in the top 50 of the DWM 50th Anniversary poll, and the ending to Rose and the Doctor was judged the most emotional romantic farewell ever in a Channel 4 programme. Such a pity RTD went and spoiled the ending - though plans for Rose's return in Series 4 were already underway when this was first broadcast.
Things you might like to know:

  • Episode titles were initially considered as "Torchwood Rises", and "Torchwood Falls". 
  • The "Tardisodes" get discontinued after this, which is a shame. We will later get the odd prequel once Steven Moffat takes over.
  • We will see some of the aftermath of the Battle of Canary Wharf in Torchwood Series 1, when it is revealed that Ianto Jones was present and tried to save his partially converted girlfriend Lisa.
  • Harriet Jones is the President of the UK in Pete's World. She clearly doesn't get a chance to usher in a golden age in our universe, so perhaps the Doctor has experienced more of Pete's World than we have seen.
  • Producer Phil Collinson wanted it to be Mickey who saved Rose from being sucked into the Void at the conclusion - showing that he still loved her even if she no longer loved him. Exec-Producer Julie Gardner argued for it to be Pete, to show that he had accepted her as his daughter.
  • As mentioned, Tracy-Ann Oberman was well known for Eastenders. She had played the wife of "Dirty Den" Watts, and had been responsible for murdering him - hence the in-joke of his appearance in the Queen Vic as a ghost. What the Cyberman would have thought about being confronted by Barbara Windsor, lord only knows.
  • And yes, dialogue had already shown that Eastenders was a TV programme in the Doctor Who universe, but this puts the top hat on it. Dimensions In Time can definitely be written off from the canon. Hooray!
  • A few BBC spoilers before this was broadcast. The Radio Times had featured an article about Neil Gorton's team several weeks before - and in the background to a photo of him was a Cyberman head with black Cyber-Leader handle-bars - though none had appeared in the Rise of the Cybermen two-parter. A trailer for the second half of the season had also shown a clip of a Cyberman bursting through plastic sheeting - again absent from the earlier story. These let us know that the ghosts were going to be Cybermen, and not the Gelth as some fans had speculated.
  • The BAFTA ceremony that Spring had also featured an appearance by a Dalek on the red carpet - and it was a black one. The same trailer that had shown us the Cybermen were coming back also showed people being killed with the Dalek extermination effect.
  • It was widely believed that the Genesis Ark was going to contain Davros - partly because of its design but also due to that name.
  • Broadcast coincided with the World Cup latter stages, so the Radio Times had two cover variants to collect - a Cyber one and a Dalek one, with the monsters holding footballs.
  • The Ghostbusters bit is quite naff - but that was a thing you already knew.
  • The Eternals, from Enlightenment, get a mention. They have a name for the Void - the Howling.
  • The Doctor informs us of his liking for "Allons-y" for the first time. It will become a crucial plot point in a later story, and he will also get to meet an Alonso to say it to soon.
  • Watch out for the guy who gets on the bus behind Rose in the opening medley. The camera set up inside sees him sit immediately behind her, but the next shot from out on the street shows him seated further back.
  • And the alien planet with the manta rays was filmed on Bad Wolf Bay - that rock formation is going to become incredibly familiar - using stock CGI elements already created by The Mill.
  • The Egyptian sarcophagus at Torchwood is indeed supposed to be a reference to Pyramids of Mars
  • The spaceship found at the base of Mount Snowden will get another mention in David Tennant's final story, as it was from this that the Immortality Gate was salvaged. In the SJA story featuring Matt Smith's Doctor, UNIT have a base at the foot of the mountain.
  • The Fall of Arcadia is mentioned. We will later get to see that this is actually the second city of the Time Lords on Gallifrey, and we will get to witness it as well.
  • As mentioned above, this finale was filmed along with the other Cyberman story, so the last story filmed for Series 2 was the Impossible Planet two-parter. David Tennant had to be sneaked out of the wrap party to film the concluding sequence with Catherine Tate, who had been smuggled to the studio in Cardiff.


  1. This may sound sacrilegious, but I never cared for the Daleks. Being too young for Hartnell/Troughton, my first taste of the Daleks was Day of the Daleks. This was followed by more Pertwee Dalek stories, and the Peter Cushing movies on the television.

    Meanwhile, someone introduced me to some audios of Troughton Cybermen stories, and I was hooked. While Revenge wasn't that great, Earthshock was. Thus, the "dreamed of" Daleks vs Cybermen never appealed to me.

    When the small number of Daleks destroy the many many Cybermen in this story, it just so very wrong to me on various levels. I've seen other people say it was "completely right", but for me it's another "Love & Monsters" moment, of RTD telling the viewers: "MY preference is right! If you feel differently, then you are WRONG!!"

    In fact, as a two-parter this is a disappointment. The first half(Army of Ghosts) is actually really really good. but when the Daleks are the reveal at the end of Part 1(having been the big Series 1 reveal as well...) it all starts to fall apart. Doomsday is just a mess. I understand we were all young Doctor Who fans who played at Doctor Who when we were kids, but that doesn't mean that that childhood fantasy Doctor Who needs to be made as an actual television series finale. Thus, Army of Ghosts= excellent, Doomsday = s**t. The whole story = disappointing.

    1. Nothing sacrilegious about disliking Daleks. I have always favoured the Cybermen, though they are often badly served by the writers. I certainly think that they and the Daleks should have been more evenly matched. As for two part finales... It will become a running theme with my reviews that the first half far outshines the concluding part. It's all about getting that end of part one cliffhanger, then not quite knowing where to go with it. RTD has his Deus ex Machina, whilst Moffat crams everything into a single episode finale, or takes things off on a tangent.