Gridlock – 14th April
By Russell T. Davies
Review and Commentary by Andrew Panero
Superior RTD ‘year five billion’ story which finally reveals (shock horror) the Face of Boe’s great secret. Heavily prefigured as this was it was of course a surprise to no one; what was a genuine surprise was the appearance of the Macra. Thankfully I’m not familiar with the original story that these creatures were in and so cannot be wound up by their use in this story. They serve their purpose as sufficiently scary monsters, but other than that serve no other purpose other than a pretty bizarre footnote in an already bizarre story.
The Doctor returns to New New York and finds the place a bit of shambles, full of pharmacists peddling ‘moods’ out of makeshift pharmacies on the city bottom. Yes we are in Mega City One it seems as RTD brazenly admits himself that his world is stolen from the pages of 2000 AD, which itself is based on a solid foundation of dark, dystopian British sci-fi. A great deal of the inhabitants of New New York are caught up in a perpetual traffic jam and live, rather like the Mopad owners in ‘Judge Dredd’, for years in their vehicles. There is even a nice old couple of lesbians (this is an RTD story after all) who claim to have been in the traffic jam since it started twenty-five years or so previously. And there is an Irish Cat and his family, complete with human female with a litter of kittens. Down below are ravenous hordes of giant cartoonish looking crabs who are apparently a once powerful race of galaxy dominating monsters become mere brutes. Above all of this the Great Giant Head waits in his steam-powered jar, waiting to tell the ‘lonely god’ his great secret.
The rather lack-lustre story is rescued by some nice character moments, Ardal O’Hanlon makes a great Irish Cat, even if we can’t see him under the mask and David Tennant gives one of his best performances to date as the Doctor. Freema Agyeman has some good moments as well and comes performs convincingly throughout. Her best moments and David Tennant’s are towards the end when Martha confronts the Doctor about the lie he has told her.