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Dr Who

Up to date as of January 31, 2010

From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

Midnight
Series: Doctor Who - TV Stories
Series Number: Series 4
Story Number: 196
Doctor: Tenth Doctor
Companions: Donna Noble (cameo)
Enemy: Midnight Entity
Setting: Midnight
Writer: Russell T Davies
Director: Alice Troughton
Producer: Phil Collinson
Broadcast: 14th June 2008
Format: 1 x 45 minute episode
Prod. Code: 200
Previous Story: Forest of the Dead
Following Story: Turn Left
"Taking a big space truck with a bunch of strangers across a diamond planet called Midnight... What could possibly go wrong?"
The Doctor

Mignight was the tenth episode of the fourth series of the BBC Wales version of Doctor Who. It was notable for being the first "companion-lite" episode of televised Doctor Who.

In production terms, it was novel for being the first episode of Doctor Who to be filmed primarily in narrative order since the practice was abandoned around the time Jon Pertwee began portraying the Doctor. It was the only story in which the antagonist was never even partially glimpsed, thereby leaving the threat to be realized mostly by the actors and the sound editors. It was also the second episode of 2008 to guest star the child of an actor who had previously played the Doctor.

Contents

Synopsis

The Doctor is trapped, alone, powerless and terrified, on the planet Midnight. Soon, the knocking on the wall begins. Only a woman called Sky seems to know the truth – but as paranoia turns into a witch-hunt, Sky turns the Doctor's greatest strengths against him, and a sacrifice must be made...

Plot

The Doctor and Donna spend some leisure time on the crystalline planet Midnight, which orbits close enough to its sun that the Xtonic radiation exposure would vaporise any living thing to walk unprotected on its surface. Donna opts to relax at a spa while the Doctor takes a four-hour shuttle bus ride to the Sapphire Waterfall. Other passengers include the Cane family (Val, Biff, and their teenage son Jethro); Professor Hobbes, who is investigating the waterfall; his assistant Dee Dee Blasco; and recently-divorced businesswoman Sky Silvestry.

There is a long wait until they reach their destination, and the entertainment provided for passengers consists of several annoying television programs, so the Doctor discreetly disables them with his sonic screwdriver, forcing all of the passengers to interact and get to know each other better. Prof. Hobbes has been studying the planet and considers himself an expert on it, so he presents a slide-show he has with him about Midnight. Hobbes explains that while he considers himself more of an expert on Midnight and Xtonic radiation than anyone else, that's really because no one has ever researched Midnight before, and he emphasizes that essentially nothing is known about the planet. Xtonic radiation would vaporize any known form of life in seconds, so Midnight has been totally undisturbed for millions of years: there are entire landscapes which living eyes have never seen since the universe began. Hobbes notes that even the leisure palace was pre-fabricated and dropped in from orbit. Jethro points out, to the disapproval of his parents, that no one can really know anything about the planet, or whether or not life resided there, but even with his parents' scolding, Hobbes agrees that that is his entire point: no one has ever really set foot on Midnight, and no one has any real idea what is on or underneath the surface.

The trip initially goes smoothly despite the shuttle being rerouted to a new course, but suddenly the shuttle stops. The Doctor checks with the shuttle's driver and mechanic, confirming that there's nothing wrong with the vehicle. He convinces them to open the shutter to look outside, and the mechanic believes he sees a shadow moving towards the bus. The crew--driver Joe, mechanic Claude, and a hostess--calls for a rescue vehicle while the Doctor returns to the main cabin.

A few moments later, something begins knocking on the shuttle's hull, copying the passengers when they knock back. The knocking moves around the shuttle, making its way towards Sky Silvestry, apparently the most frightened of the lot, and dents the door she is standing by. The lights then temporarily fail and the shuttle is violently rocked. When the lights are restored, the seats near Sky have been ripped off the floor and she is cowering in the corner. An attempt to speak to the crew reveals that their cabin has also been ripped away, vaporising driver Joe and mechanic Claude.

The Hostess dragging Sky out the cabin door

Sky initially remains motionless, but is coaxed into turning around by the Doctor. Attempts to get her to speak only cause her to repeat what she is told, making it clear that Sky is no longer in control. The delay between Sky's repetitions becomes shorter, until eventually she is repeating everyone instantly. Cabin fever sets in, and the passengers contemplate throwing her outside. The Doctor's attempts to calm the situation fail when the passengers become suspicious of him, especially when he proves unwilling to reveal his name. This is only amplified when Sky focuses solely on repeating the Doctor's words.

As the Doctor tries to reason with Sky, he suddenly starts repeating her. Most of the passengers reason that the Doctor must be possessed, while the hostess and Dee Dee reason that this is just the next step: stealing the voice of another. The other passengers refuse to listen and begin to drag the Doctor towards the nearest door, all the while being goaded on by Sky. However, the hostess realises that Sky is not talking in her own voice when she uses two phrases the Doctor had used earlier. Before the other passengers can throw the Doctor out, she sacrifices herself by dragging Sky out of another door. The Doctor slowly recovers, and as the passengers wait for the rescue shuttle, he realises that no one knew the hostess' name. At the spa, the Doctor mournfully reunites with Donna. When Donna attempts to copy one of the Doctors phrases, he tells her not to do that.

Cast

Production crew

to be added

References

  • When The Doctor is talking to Sky, she tells the Doctor about her ex wanting more space. The Doctor mentions having a friend that went to a different universe. This reference's Rose Tyler's "exile" to Pete's World (DW: Doomsday) - foreshadowing her return in the next episode. It could also be considered a subtle reference to Romana staying behind in E-Space (DW: Warriors' Gate).
  • During Sky's constant copying of the Doctor, he mentions such things as Rose Tyler, Donna Noble, Martha Jones, TARDIS, Bananas and the Medusa Cascade. This is the second reference to Rose in the episode, as she also appears briefly on a monitor, and the Medusa Cascade would soon play a major role (DW: The Stolen Earth)
  • Reportedly, Davies (knowing that the next 3 episodes would heavily feature Rose) intentionally wrote in passing references to Rose as a type of dramatic irony as, in previous allusions to Rose, The Doctor becomes sad and mournful, showing how (in a sense) he is beginning to get over the pain of her departure before he encounters her again.
  • The Lost Moon of Poosh is mentioned. Its later found by the Doctor and Donna who discover that the Daleks have stolen it as part of their Reality Bomb weapon. It is later returned to its rightful place by Donna.
  • When Donna impersonates the Doctor's Italian accent at the end, the Doctor says, "Don't do that," similarly to how he addressed Martha Jones and Rose Tyler's earlier attempts at accents; however on this occasion it is with serious intent and more directly referencing the fact that he is uncomfortable with her repeating the words. Since this episode, The Doctor has not said this phrase on screen, suggesting he relates the phrase too strongly to the tragic events of this episode, though he has frequently said "allons-y" which was also used by Sky to give herself away.
  • A Betty Boop cartoon and Italian soubrette Raffaella Carrà are briefly shown on a screen during the voyage as part of the animation archives.
  • Jethro Cane causes the Midnight Entity to repeat the number 666, the number of the Beast.

Story notes

  • Working titles included Crusader Five and Crusader 50.
  • This is the first episode in Series 4 in which the Doctor was present when Rose Tyler appeared on screen, although he did not see her.
  • Donna was largely absent from this episode, as Catherine Tate was filming Turn Left. While the previous two series included one episode each referred to as "Doctor-lite" for including only brief appearances by the Doctor and, by extension, his companion, this was the first time a "companion-lite" episode focusing on the Doctor by himself has been attempted in the revived series.
  • Dee Dee mentions the lost moon of Poosh, continuing the theme of disappearing planetary bodies featured throughout series 4.
  • This episode was originally intended to be episode 8, before Steven Moffat's two-parter, but was pushed back to episode 10. The name of the shuttle bus, Crusader 50, was a reference to it originally being in the 50th episode of the new series to be screened. It was however the 50th episode of the 'New Series' to be filmed.
  • This is the first televised story since Genesis of the Daleks not to feature the TARDIS.
  • This is the second episode in which the Doctor has not had a companion to assist him. The first episode without a companion was The Deadly Assassin, although the earlier story remains the only one in which no companion appears at all (as opposed to Donna's appearances at the beginning and end of this episode).
  • For the first time ever in Doctor Who history, the villain in this episode is never actually revealed.
  • David Troughton, who plays the professor, is the son of Patrick Troughton, who played the Second Doctor. Episode director Alice Troughton is not directly related. David Troughton appeared in his father's final story The War Games, and also in the Third Doctor story The Curse of Peladon and is a veteran contributor to the Big Finish audio dramas.
  • Sky Silvestry mentions to the Doctor that 'I found myself single recently, not by choice... she needed her own space', implying that she was in a lesbian relationship.
  • Although rumoured to have originated from an earlier episode, the brief cameo of Rose was scripted for this episode and was filmed especially for this episode by director Alice Troughton during production of Turn Left. According to the DVD commentary for this episode, Russell T Davies decided to also include the clip in The Poison Sky, too, a fact Troughton -- and David Tennant -- were not made aware of until during the commentary recording for Midnight.
  • Months after the episode aired, the story element of having two characters speaking the same words at the same time, and one character trying to throw the other off by spouting random references, would be duplicated in "The Arrival", an episode of the American series Fringe.
  • This story was written, at short notice, to replace a script called Century House by Tom MacRae which Russell T Davies felt was too similar, in terms of plot, to The Unicorn and the Wasp.[1]
  • Colin Morgan who plays Jethro, appeared along side Catherine Tate in The Catherine Tate Christmas Show as a guest star; however, Morgan did not have any scenes with Tate in this episode.
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Rating

  • Official BARB ratings - 8.05 million viewers

Myths and rumours

  • Billie Piper's brief cameo was taken from an earlier episode, most likely The Idiot's Lantern in which she was also shown shouting silently from a TV screen, and was a last-minute addition. It was filmed during the fourth series, during Turn Left/The Stolen Earth/Journey's End episodes.

Filming Locations

To be added

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • The hostess twice opens the doors in the shuttle to the outside and lives, despite the Professor saying that the X-Tonic light would vaporise them in a split-second. There is an air buffer that lasts for six seconds, the glass between the Crusader and the outside world lasts for a few minutes.
  • When Rose appears on screen, didn't the others notice? (No-one would realise the significance of it except the Doctor - they may have assumed that the screen was faulty if they even noticed it at all.)
  • Why, after the Doctor shut down all the entertainment systems, was the screen working on which Rose appeared? Her image is not constructed by the electronics in the screen, rather it is a projection from the alternate universe. Also, later on a monitor screen is clearly active - but showing a blank blue screen - on the wall behind Sky while the Doctor argues with the passengers over who he is.
  • As noted, the episode takes place in the future, however the EXIT signs are standard 20th century style signs, and Donna's cordless phone clearly shows a modern-day plug-in jack for a cord. The use of retro items have become useful again in the future, just like in Genesis of the Daleks, where a tape recording was used when Davros interrogated the Doctor.
  • At the very end of the teaser, just before the credit sequence, part of the green screen can be seen on the right, behind the Doctor as he finishes his phone call to Donna.
  • When the lights come back on, Sky stops repeating for a few seconds. The moment the lights come back on was also the moment at which Sky started speaking in perfect time with everyone else, so she is speaking but it's difficult to hear her over the person she is copying.
  • Why doesn't the Hostess just push Sky out with no need for self-sacrifice? The Hostess probably panicked and did not try to coax the other passengers into helping her get rid of Sky as they were bent on removing the Doctor. Otherwise, she was probably afraid of not being able to overpower her.

Continuity

  • The entity seems almost identical to the species in (DWU: A Storm of Angels), which taking place in an alternate universe with a different Doctor showed what "might have happened".
  • Rose Tyler is seen again this time in one of the shuttle bus's screens. This is the same clip that appeared for a second in (DW: The Poison Sky) except this time it was slightly longer, and Rose seemed to mouth "Doctor!" twice rather than the once in The Poison Sky.
  • 'Molto Bene' is Italian for 'Very Well.' The Doctor first uttered this in a deleted scene from (DW: The Christmas Invasion), when the Doctor is thinking of a word to say instead of "Fantastic." In broadcast continuity, he first said it in (DW: The Runaway Bride). The Doctor's other favourite catchphrase "Allons-y" is also present and significant. He used it for the first time in (DW: Army of Ghosts). For the benefit of those who do not speak French, this is the first episode in which the phrase is actually translated as "Let's go!"
  • The Lost Moon of Poosh is first introduced in this episode as another lost planet alongside Adipose 3 and Pyrovillia continuing this series trend of their having lost planets like the first series had Bad Wolf, the second had Torchwood and the third had Mr. Saxon. These planets are ultimately revealed to have been stolen by the Daleks and are found by the Doctor and Donna. The Lost Moon of Poosh is returned home by Donna in Journey's End is thus later no longer lost.
  • This story takes place in the 27th century according to REF: The Time Traveller's Almanac, although the book does not explain how this date was arrived at.
  • The last time a shuttle bus was featured on screen was in DW: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy.

DVD and other releases

Series 4 Volume 3 DVD Cover

External links

  • BBC Website - Episode Guide: Midnight
  • Original script, posted online by Russell T Davies in conjunction with the release of his book REF: Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale.
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide - Detailed Synopsis - Midnight
  • Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel) - A Brief History of Time (Travel): Midnight
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures: Story Locations - Midnight

Footnotes

  1. Doctor Who Magazine Issue 400, article: In The Midnight Hour
Series 4
Mini-episode: Time Crash  • Christmas Special: Voyage of the Damned

Partners in Crime  • The Fires of Pompeii  • Planet of the Ood  • The Sontaran Stratagem  • The Poison Sky  • The Doctor's Daughter  • The Unicorn and the Wasp  • Silence in the Library  • Forest of the Dead  • Midnight  • Turn Left  • The Stolen Earth  • Journey's End

Christmas Special: The Next Doctor  • Mini-episode: Music of the Spheres


This article uses material from the "Midnight (TV story)" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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