Midnight (Doctor Who)

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196 – "Midnight"
Doctor Who episode
Midnight (Doctor Who).png
The planet Midnight
Cast
Others
Production
Writer Russell T Davies
Director Alice Troughton
Script editor Helen Raynor
Producer Phil Collinson
Executive producer(s) Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
Incidental music composer Murray Gold
Production code 4.8
Series Series 4
Length 45 minutes
Originally broadcast 14 June 2008
Chronology
← Preceded by Followed by →
"Forest of the Dead" "Turn Left"

"Midnight" is the tenth episode of the fourth series of British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was first broadcast on BBC One on 14 June 2008. The episode placed much more emphasis on the role of David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor than in the rest of the fourth series, with the Doctor's companion, Donna Noble (played by Catherine Tate) playing only a minimal role. For this reason Stephen James Walker has described this episode in his book Monsters Within as being "companion-lite" (in his analysis of this episode's successor, the "Doctor-lite" episode "Turn Left").[1]

Plot[edit]

Synopsis[edit]

The Doctor and Donna visit the resort planet Midnight, the surface of which is bathed in lethal galvanic radiation from its x-tonic star. The Doctor plans to take a shuttle to visit a waterfall made of sapphires, but is unable to convince Donna to leave the comfort of the spa. He decides to take the trip by himself and sets off. Upon departure of the shuttle, the hostess starts a cacophony of on board entertainment which the Doctor disables with his sonic screwdriver. This forces the other passengers to engage each other in conversation as they travel.

The shuttle stops unexpectedly mid-route, and the pilot reassures everyone that they are fine. The Doctor uses his psychic paper to get himself into the cockpit, where the driver and mechanic report that the engines seem to be operating normally but they are not moving. The Doctor encourages them to open the cockpit shields to see out, and before the radiation forces them to close the shields the mechanic swears that he saw something moving towards them. The driver sends out a distress call and a rescue shuttle is dispatched but will take some time to arrive. Soon, a rhythmic knocking starts on the hull of the shuttle. The knocking seems to be mimicking the sounds the passengers make on the walls. The knocking moves around the hull to where a passenger named Sky is cowering, then the shuttle is rocked and the lights fail. The hostess opens the cockpit doors only to find the cockpit has been torn off the shuttle.

Sky begins behaving oddly and the Doctor attempts to talk with her but she simply repeats everything he says. As the passengers huddle and discuss things, the delay in Sky's repetition shortens until she is saying things at exactly the same time as the others say them. The passengers become afraid and believe Sky is possessed, and begin plotting to murder her by shoving her off the shuttle. The Doctor steps in and calms the passengers, taking it upon himself to talk to Sky. The Doctor realises that Sky is now repeating only his words, and gets closer to her while speaking quickly and randomly to see if she keeps up. The other passengers then observe Sky starting her sentences before the Doctor, who repeats them after a short delay. They suspect that whatever had possessed Sky has now moved on to the Doctor.

Sky attempts to convince the others that she's back to normal. She blames the Doctor for what is happening and encourages them to throw him off the shuttle to save themselves. The Doctor is visibly disturbed as he is frozen, tears brimming and struggling for control, but is compelled to keep repeating Sky. The passengers begin hauling the Doctor off the shuttle. The hostess and Dee Dee, another passenger, begin to suspect that Sky is still possessed and that she is attempting to trick them. They become convinced when Sky uses words and phrases the Doctor used at the beginning of the trip. The hostess surprises Sky by grabbing her, and then sacrifices herself to drag them both off the shuttle and into the lethal radiation. With Sky dead, the Doctor returns to normal. The other passengers reflect on how they acted, and the rescue shuttle arrives to collect them. They note that none of them knew the name of the Hostess.

Back at the spa, the Doctor reunites with Donna and gives her a prolonged hug. After they converse about what happened on the bus, Donna prompts the Doctor to tell the Leisure Palace Company to leave Midnight; the entity may still be alive or there may be more than one of them out there. Donna can't fathom what the Doctor would be like without a voice. The Doctor tells her, "Molto bene", in relief. Donna copies him. Disturbed, the Doctor tells Donna not to do that, then looks away, clearly still haunted by these events.

Continuity[edit]

Dee Dee tells the Doctor that she has written a paper on the lost moon of Poosh. The Doctor also mentions the Medusa Cascade, and Rose Tyler appears briefly (but unnoticed by the Doctor) on a television screen. These are all references to the series 4 story arc. Rose appears along with the missing planets, including Poosh, in the series finale "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End".

Production[edit]

This episode is the fiftieth episode filmed for the revived series, and was filmed at the same time as "Turn Left". Donna has a minor role in the episode (appearing in only the pre-credits sequence and the final scene), while the Doctor has a minor role in "Turn Left".[2][3][4]

Russell T Davies has stated that the episode was inspired by the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Darmok".[5]

Cast notes[edit]

David Troughton, cast here as Professor Hobbes, was a late replacement for Sam Kelly, who broke his leg and had to withdraw from the production.[6] Troughton joined the rest of the cast in Cardiff with just two days notice.[6] Now known for his stage work with the RSC as well as television, he is the son of Patrick Troughton, who portrayed the Second Doctor. He has had long association with series since the 1960s, appearing as an (uncredited) extra in the Second Doctor serial The Enemy of the World,[7] as Private Moor in the Second Doctor serial The War Games,[8] and as King Peladon in the Third Doctor serial The Curse of Peladon.[9][10] He has appeared in the Doctor Who audio dramas Cuddlesome, The Judgement of Isskar, The Destroyer of Delights, and The Chaos Pool. He is unrelated to the director of the episode, Alice Troughton.

Daniel Ryan (Biff Kane) had announced in a 2006 interview that he was going to ask Russell T Davies for a role in Doctor Who, as he wanted his children to see him acting on television in a programme that was not inaccessible. Ryan had a supporting role in the Davies created series Bob & Rose (starring Lesley Sharp), and Davies had previously written an episode of Linda Green which Ryan starred in.[11]

Cultural references[edit]

Dee Dee Blasco quotes, and the Doctor references, Christina Rossetti's poem "Goblin Market," excerpting the famous lines:

"We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed

Their hungry thirsty roots?"[12]

The song that plays on the shuttle's entertainment system is "Do It Do It Again", by Raffaella Carrà.[13]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

"Midnight" was watched by 8.05 million viewers, a 38% share of the total television audience, making it the fifth most-watched programme of the week.[14] The episode received an Appreciation Index score of 86 (considered Excellent).[15]

The episode received a number of reviews in British national newspapers. The Guardian '​s TV reviewer Sam Wollaston described the episode as "great... it's tense and claustrophobic, and gnaws away at you." He praised the fact that all the action happened in one confined space with an unseen enemy, saying "this is psychological drama rather than full-blown horror; creepy-unknown scary, not special-effect-monster scary."[16] William Gallagher of Radio Times was generally positive about the episode, but he said he would have "liked just a beat more, just a tiny further step before the resolution; can't even tell you what was missing but I needed one more stage in the journey".[17] The Times '​s reviewer Andrew Billen noted that Davies had chosen to forego special effects and chases in favor of dialogue, but that it "felt too much of a writing exercise to be really scary" and was an example of how the 2008 series "fails as often as it succeeds". Billen praised the episode for its claustrophobic atmosphere and for showing the series was "not afraid of variety," but instead "dead scared of repetition".[18]

IGN's Travis Fickett rated the episode 8.6 out of 10, commenting that it was "a nice change of pace" from the more complex and emotional two-parter that preceded it. He thought the most successful aspect of the episode was the creature and praised the fact that it was "tightly written" and allowed the viewer to get to know the different passengers.[19] In 2010, Matt Wales listed "Midnight" as the second-best Tennant episode of the series in an IGN article.[20] Sam McPherson of Zap2it listed it as the third-best Tenth Doctor episode.[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Walker, Stephen James (17 December 2008). "Chapter 4.11 – Turn Left". Monsters Within: the Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who 2008. Tolworth, London, England: Telos Publishing. pp. 182–194. ISBN 1-84583-027-X. 
  2. ^ "Doctor Who Magazine". Doctor Who Magazine (396). 29 May 2008. 
  3. ^ "Doctor Who – Midnight Ep 10/13". BBC Press Office. 29 May 2008. Retrieved 29 May 2008. 
  4. ^ "The Stars are Coming Out". Radio Times (BBC) (5–11 April 2008): pp 14–24. April 2008. 
  5. ^ SFX (200): 140. 
  6. ^ a b "David Troughton guest-stars". Radio Times. June 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2008. 
  7. ^ The Enemy of the World. Doctor Who. 23 December 1967–27 January 1968. BBC. BBC1.
  8. ^ The War Games. Doctor Who. 19 April 1969–21 June 1969. BBC. BBC1.
  9. ^ The Curse of Peladon. Doctor Who. 29 January 1972–19 February 1972. BBC. BBC1.
  10. ^ "Filmography by TV series for David Troughton". IMDB. 1 April 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2008. 
  11. ^ Green, Kris (23 October 2006). "Daniel Ryan interview". Digital Spy. Retrieved 17 May 2009. 
  12. ^ Ravitch, Diane; Michael Ravitch (2006). The English reader: what every literate person needs to know. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 309. ISBN 0-19-507729-6. 
  13. ^ "Midnight Fact File". BBC. Retrieved 14 June 2008. 
  14. ^ "Weekly Viewing Summary w/e 15 June 2008". BARB. 25 June 2008. Retrieved 25 June 2008. 
  15. ^ Marcus (16 June 2008). "Midnight - AI and Digital Ratings". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 12 June 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2008. 
  16. ^ Wollaston, Sam (16 June 2008). "Doctor Who was absolutely terrifying - and we didn't even get to see the monster". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 June 2008. 
  17. ^ Gallagher, William (14 June 2010). "Doctor Who: Midnight". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 25 August 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  18. ^ Billen, Andrew (16 June 2008). "How the West was Lost; Doctor Who - Weekend TV". The Times. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2008. 
  19. ^ Fickett, Travis (7 July 2008). "Doctor Who: "Midnight" Review". IGN. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  20. ^ Wales, Matt (5 January 2010). "Top 10 Tennant Doctor Who Stories". IGN. Retrieved 25 March 2012. 
  21. ^ McPherson, Sam (2 January 2010). "The Tenth Doctor's Top 5 Doctor Who Episodes". Zap2it. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 

External links[edit]

Reviews[edit]