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This episode was first broadcast on 17 June 2006. A brief and somewhat spoiler-ish summary of the plot: a long-time fan finally gets to talk to the Doctor.
This is 'the action seen from the outside' and, like 'parallel universe', this is another kind of story that every science-fiction series will do sooner or later.
For the first 15 minutes or so, this is a rather nice episode. The mix of realism and surrealism works (I thought the chase and the business with the buckets were funny, and the '... not that Elton... ' was a nice touch) and you can't help growing to like the bunch of misfit characters that the episode focuses on. But then the episode's Big Bad arrives, and from there everything starts going downhill in more ways than one.
The problem isn't the monster's design. The design was done by a nine-year-old, and he did a fantastic job for a nine-year-old. The problem is the script. The Big Bad is just plain Boring. When we first meet him there's nothing interesting or appealing about him, and why the other characters instantly trust him and accept him as their leader is anyone's guess. Then we, the audience, see the Big Bad start to pick off the main characters one by one. Since none of them suspects anything, this is about as suspenseful as watching fish in a barrel being shot.
The other problem is the tone. For the first 15 minutes the tone is more or less coherent, but after that everything just starts to fall apart. What works is Elton's discovery of what happened when he first met the Doctor, and this is the highlight of the episode. Elton may be irritating, but at least he comes across as real and sincere. What doesn't work is Jackie's big speech, which seems to come out of the blue and has a telegraphed "here are some deep, final words from a character who may not be with us for much longer" quality to it, and when the monster drops its human mask its "I've got no real reason to be here and I'm just doing this for a laugh" attitude kills any suspense that might have been left at that point. The idea of Elton experiencing a 'happy ending' with a talking paving slab is just ridiculous.
It's nice to see Doctor Who try something different.
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