Doctor Who: Army of Ghosts

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.

18 replies on “Doctor Who: Army of Ghosts”

  1. Chillum says:

    Hmm..
    Bit patchy this one. The ghosts were nicely done, and I liked the Eastenders scene. The Doctor’s explanation of why the Ghost Shifts were a bad idea was really good too. Some of the stuff with the excellent Jackie made me smile.

    Minor quibble: when Rose used the psychic paper to open the door, whose mind was it reading?

    I agree the ending was the worst part of this episode; without saying too much, it just seemed like Russell T. etc. were taking the easy option, a bit lazy and predictable I thought.

    Still looking forward to next week’s finale, but not quite as much as I’d like to be.

    • y42 says:

      Re: Hmm..

      Minor quibble: when Rose used the psychic paper to open the door, whose mind was it reading?

      It wasn’t reading, it was projecting what the computer controlling the card reader wanted to read, just like it projects whatever the people reading it want to read (if you’re having a problem with psychic effects on computers, remember that the chinese characters for "computer" mean "electric brain", and that you’re watching Docotr Who :)

      • Alexius says:

        Re: Hmm..

        Minor quibble: when Rose used the psychic paper to open the door, whose mind was it reading?

        It wasn’t reading, it was projecting what the computer controlling the card reader wanted to read, just like it projects whatever the people reading it want to read (if you’re having a problem with psychic effects on computers, remember that the chinese characters for "computer" mean "electric brain", and that you’re watching Docotr Who :)

        Or: The Paper Was Reading Rose’s Mind, And Displaying What She Wanted It To Display, In This Case, An Access Card.

        I Thought It Was What The Holder Wanted The Receiver To See. Which Is Why Captain Jack’s Showed That He Worked Out To Rose. It Was What He Wanted, Now What She Wanted To See.

        • y42 says:

          Re: Hmm..

          Or: The Paper Was Reading Rose’s Mind, And Displaying What She Wanted It To Display, In This Case, An Access Card.

          I Thought It Was What The Holder Wanted The Receiver To See.

          Can’t be, the Doctor doesn’t know what the people he shows it to will see. That was quite clear in the Queen Victoria VS Werewolf episode.
          The Doctor often suggests what the paper says, and the reader will expect that, and therefore see it. But if he just flashes the paper, it’s all up to the recipient to see what he needs to see.

          • Alexius says:

            Re: Hmm..

            Can’t be, the Doctor doesn’t know what the people he shows it to will see. That was quite clear in the Queen Victoria VS Werewolf episode.

            I Took That As The Doctor Was Thinking Of How He Was Standing As Earth’s Champion, And The Paper Added That, Again, Like How Captain Jack’s Added The Detail That He Worked Out.

        • Chillum says:

          Re: Hmm..

          Or: The Paper Was Reading Rose’s Mind, And Displaying What She Wanted It To Display, In This Case, An Access Card.

          For that to work, wouldn’t she need to know what a genuine access card looked like?

      • Chillum says:

        Re: Hmm..

        (if you’re having a problem with psychic effects on computers, remember that the chinese characters for "computer" mean "electric brain", and that you’re watching Docotr Who :)

        Yeah, that’s the problem I’m having :) nice shot at an explanation there.. but.. why not just have her find an access card in the lab coat or something? Even I couldn’t quibble about that!

        • y42 says:

          Re: Hmm..

          (if you’re having a problem with psychic effects on computers, remember that the chinese characters for "computer" mean "electric brain", and that you’re watching Docotr Who :)

          Yeah, that’s the problem I’m having :) nice shot at an explanation there.. but.. why not just have her find an access card in the lab coat or something? Even I couldn’t quibble about that!

          It’s bad enough they have lab coats her size lying around, if there were an acess card with the right authorisation in it, I’d have a fit :-P

          The lesson is: Slightly psychic paper works on non-sentient thinking machines. Now we know.

          • babasyzygy says:

            Re: Hmm..

            The lesson is: Slightly psychic paper works on non-sentient thinking machines. Now we know.

            Alternatively, Rose lucked out and Torchwood is using sentient computers for access control, or has a wetware brain wired into the network, or who knows what? This is Torchwood, they potentially have access to anything alien predating the 21st century.

            "Oh yes, we use Silurian biotech for all our security – we were having too many problems getting locked in whenever the Terileptil gun generated an EMP."

  2. codejnki says:

    Rose
    I think the revelation in the voice over that Rose dies means she will die early in the episode, causing just the right amount of rage in The Doctor to save the day.

  3. Cerberus7 says:

    PULL THE F%$#&*@ TRIGGER!
    There seem to be a lot of somewhat awkward and unnecessary pauses in this show. I was just about ready to jump up and yell "Mickey! Pull the F%$#&*@ trigger already!" I will now make it my mission in life to do so every time a similar incident occurs. Now I have to go and watch all the other episodes again to begin my catalogue.

    • Eldhrin says:

      Re: PULL THE F%$#&*@ TRIGGER!

      There seem to be a lot of somewhat awkward and unnecessary pauses in this show. I was just about ready to jump up and yell "Mickey! Pull the F%$#&*@ trigger already!" I will now make it my mission in life to do so every time a similar incident occurs. Now I have to go and watch all the other episodes again to begin my catalogue.

      Good move, although if it’s a weapon that works on the Cybermen, perhaps based on Cybertechnology, will it work on Daleks? We’ve already seen that the Daleks in this series are a heck of a lot tougher than the Cybermen we’ve seen.

      Still, criticising Mickey has been one of my favourite things to do, and the moment I realised where the Cybermen were coming from I started praying for Mickey not to show up.

      Alas, I was disappointed.

      • Alexius says:

        Re: PULL THE F%$#&*@ TRIGGER!
        Good move, although if it’s a weapon that works on the Cybermen, perhaps based on Cybertechnology, will it work on Daleks? We’ve already seen that the Daleks in this series are a heck of a lot tougher than the Cybermen we’ve seen.

        Mickey’s Never Seen A Dalek Before. Rose Knows What They Are, But Not Mickey.

  4. joe__gee says:

    Genre references …
    Is that a Vipyr the TARDIS is in front of when Rose goes out to investigate Canary Wharf/Torchwood? And is there any chance that sarcophagus might be from "Pyramids of Mars"? The "Jaffa sun glider" (death glider?) from Stargate SG-1. :) Excellent. :)

    -Joe

    • fsphil says:

      Re: Genre references …

      Is that a Vipyr the TARDIS is in front of when Rose goes out to investigate Canary Wharf/Torchwood?

      Well spotted! It looks like the flattened front of a Viper, but the wing (where the lab coat was) was too big — if that was even a part of it. Hard to tell. I was able to take a few screen grabs to have a closer look:

      http://www.firestorm.cx/files/

      (The images are called army_of_ghosts-*.jpeg)

      • y42 says:

        Re: Genre references …

        It looks like the flattened front of a Viper, but the wing (where the lab coat was) was too big — if that was even a part of it. Hard to tell.

        Good job on the screenshots.

        Yah, that wing is part of the craft, and is too big to be a Galactica prop. Generic space fighter plane I’m affraid.

  5. joe__gee says:

    Wow.
    I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t yet watched their dvr, or grabbed the episode by Bittorrent, other than to say that the payoff from this two-parter is absolutely extraordinary. This ep might have been mediocre. The next, at least for me, was anything but.

    PLEASE HURRY UP WITH THE NEXT REVIEW ELDHRIN. :)

    -Joe

    • hans says:

      Re: Wow.

      I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t yet watched their dvr, or grabbed the episode by Bittorrent, other than to say that the payoff from this two-parter is absolutely extraordinary. This ep might have been mediocre. The next, at least for me, was anything but.

      I thought the first half was better than the second half, overall, but there’s some very good moments in the second half and it wraps things up nicely and still leaves you with something to look forward to in the Christmas episode (I hate cliffhangers).

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