Torchwood! Cybermen! Mickey Smith! A cliffhanger and a spoilerific opening narration! Yes folks, this episode has it all.

Cast and Crew

David Tennant as the Doctor
Billie Piper as Rose Tyler
Camille Coduri as Jackie Tyler
Noel Clarke as Mickey Smith
Adam Shaw as Morris
Derek Acorah played himself
Raji James as Doctor Singh
Nicholas Briggs was the voice of the Cybermen
Oliver Mellow as Matt
David Warwick as Police Commissioner
Rachel Webster as Eileen
Tracy-Ann Oberman as Yvonne Hartman
Alistair Appleton played himself
Barbara Windsor played herself
Rochelle Gadd as Sally
Hadley Fraser as Gareth

Written by Russell T. Davies

Directed by Graeme Harper

Originally aired on the 1st of July 2006 on BBC One in the United Kingdom.

Synopsis

Returning home for a visit, Rose and the Doctor are rather surprised when a ghost arrives in Jackie’s kitchen. Tracking down the source of this manifestation leads them to the Torchwood Institute, an army of Cybermen… and something worse.

High Points

  • Rose taking action by herself again. Okay so it didn’t work out, but it’s good to see her trying.
  • ‘Umm… my mum’s still on board.’
  • How the Doctor persuades Yvonne not to run the machine on schedule.
  • The final scene raises the tension and the potential for death and destruction rather higher than I was expecting.

Low Points

  • Surely somebody noticed people suddenly wearing two earpieces when one sufficed before? Especially when those two earpieces have flashing lights on and make beeping noises.
  • The final scene is, in hindsight, just the sort of thing we should have expected from Russell T. Davies. There’s some justification for it, but we’ll have to wait until next week to see if it’s been mishandled as badly as it could be.

The Scores

Investigating an anomaly you know nothing about makes it worse and plays right into the hands of your enemies. Not hugely original, but fortunately it doesn’t feel like a tired retread of old ground. Four out of six.

Good effects. The ghosts looked exactly like they should given what the story explains them as, and I still really like the TARDIS de/materialisation they’re using. The mysterious sphere looks good too; although one thinks perhaps it’s painted on, and maybe it is, this seems entirely compatible with it being something that doesn’t appear to exist by most measurements. Six out of six.

The story offers up copious amounts of peril, potential disaster and possibly an enormous body count, with momentous events promised. As it’s the end of the series this is good stuff, as we have rather got used to a series ending with a bit of a spectacle. The biggest criticism I would have is that most of the Torchwood people are, as my sister puts it, exactly the same as everyone else we’ve seen. I might not go quite that far, but they’re certainly not revealing themselves as new and interesting characters. Also as mentioned in the low points, the final scene could turn out to be what ruins it, but we won’t know until next week. Five out of six.

The acting was good, particularly Oberman’s portrayal of her character, who isn’t the most interesting of people but does come across exactly as she needs to. Five out of six.

My emotional response was mixed in the final reckoning, as I’m still dubious about the events of the last minute or so. Before that, things were getting nicely tense and there’s a definite knowledge that things are going to go horribly, horribly wrong. Perhaps if Rose hadn’t said she was going to die right at the start of the episode in her narration, we’d get more emotional response out of things next week. Four out of six.

Much credit to the production team. The Cybermen have been improved, and now appear to be using three LEDs to talk with, as one would have hoped they would from the start. Torchwood looked much like it should, a cross between a high-tech office space and Q Branch in a James Bond film, with added alien technology. Six out of six.

Overall it’s good, but there are some misgivings about where it’s going. Still have to give it six out of six as those misgivings showed up in some of the other scores.

Army of Ghosts receives a grand total of thirty-six out of forty-two. Par for the course recently, and it’s nice to see a consistent standard.