Nicol didn’t watch this episode when it was originally broadcast 10 years ago, so she’s agreed to watch it with us tonight.
Me: Why didn’t you watch Doctor Who when it came back in 2005, Nic?
Nicol: Two words: Billie Piper.
Sue: (Mortified) But Billie Piper’s really good!
Nicol: I know that now. But when I was 16, Billie Piper was someone you liked when you were 11. You weren’t allowed to like her when you were 16, because that would have been childish.
Me: That’s fascinating. So it wasn’t because I liked Doctor Who, then?
Nicol: That probably had something to do with it as well. Liking something your parents liked was even worse than liking Billie Piper. And that’s why people my age didn’t watch Doctor Who.
Me: But Rose Tyler could have been the perfect role model for you, Nic. She even wore Punkyfish hoodies, just like you did back then.
Nicol: If I’d known that at the time, I would have stopped wearing them.
The episode begins with the TARDIS chasing a mysterious capsule through space and time.
Sue: I can’t understand what Doctor and Rose are saying here. The music is much too loud.
Nicol: Billie Piper looks like a cut-price Geri Halliwell. And you wonder why I didn’t watch this, Neil.
Sue: I didn’t understand a single word of that. Is there something wrong with our telly?
Sue: Oh no. Steven Moffat wrote this one.
Nicol: I thought you liked the Moff?
Sue: I do. But I told him that we wouldn’t blog his episodes. I sort of promised, actually.
Me: It’s a bit late for that, love. We watched The Name of the Doctor for our book, and we blogged The Day of the Doctor for The Guardian.
Sue: Oh yeah. Sorry about that. That probably explains why he isn’t returning my calls.
The TARDIS arrives in London, 1941. A child can be heard crying, “Mummy? Mummy?” in the distance.
Sue: The Moff loves his catchphrases. “Are you my mummy?”, “Don’t blink”, “Doctor Who?” and that other one I can’t remember right now.
Me: “Stop calling me at work, Susan”?
The Doctor enters a nightclub.
Sue: It’s a shame that River Song isn’t the singer in this scene; that would have been nice for the fans. Or Michael Bublé; that would have been nice for me.
Nicol: You can tell that this episode is 10 years old. It’s dated.
Me: Do you think?
Nicol: Yeah, this looks fake to me.
She’s pointing at Rose, who is currently scrambling across some rooftops in search of a motherless child.
Nicol: Her Union Jack t-shirt doesn’t help. Nobody liked The Spice Girls in 2005.
The Doctor realises that he’s arrived during the Blitz.
Nicol: He’s a bit stupid, isn’t he? I worked that out ages ago.
Sue: It is a bit daft. Doesn’t he have a watch that tells him what year it is?
Rose’s curiosity gets the better of her, and she ends up dangling from a barrage balloon in the middle of a German air raid.
Nicol: Okay, I’ve changed my mind – this is pretty good.
Sue: Pretty good? It’s amazing, Nic.
The Doctor is astonished when the telephone that’s attached to his TARDIS starts ringing.
Sue: Is this the first time his TARDIS has ever done this?
Me: I’m fairly sure it is.
Sue: It seems so obvious. I can’t believe nobody ever thought of doing that before. That’s what I like about the Moff – he takes a simple idea and he turns it into something original and clever. He would have been great on The Twilight Zone.
The phone shouldn’t be ringing because it isn’t connected to anything.
Sue: And he’s really good when it comes to creeping you out, too.
An air raid siren forces the local residents to take shelter.
Nicol: Oh look, it’s Hev from EastEnders.
Sue: She might be Hev’s nana for all we know, Nic. She’s the right age.
Rose’s antics have attracted the attention of some guy called Jack Harkness.
Me: Do you like Captain Jack, Sue?
Sue: I must have done at some point because I let you name a cat after him.
Captain Jack rescues Rose from certain death.
Sue: It’s very funny, this. I like him when he’s pretending to be Han Solo.
Meanwhile, a girl named Nancy has led a group of street urchins to Mrs. Trott’s abandoned home, so they can feast on the contents of her larder.
Sue: I keep expecting them to break into song.
One of the boys was evacuated to a farm, but “there was a man there” so he returned to London.
Nicol: Did I just imagine that, or was that really disturbing?
The Doctor believes that Nancy’s plan to feed London’s starving kids is either Marxism in action or a West End musical.
Me: If this was a musical, it’d be a very bleak one. And now here’s a song about a scary paedophile who lives on a farm. That’s even more depressing than Les Mis.
Nicol: It sounds like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to me.
Before one of the street urchins can beg for more food, glorious food, the Empty Child comes a-knocking.
Sue: This is a bit scary for the kids, even though there are lots of kids in it. Maybe that’s what makes it so scary.
The children scatter, but the Doctor is intrigued by the visitor who’s searching for his mummy.
Sue: You’d have to let him in, wouldn’t you?
Nicol: Only if you were mental.
Sue: Well, I would.
Nicol bites her tongue, and then Jack mistakes Rose for a Time Agent.
Me: They mention Time Agents in a Tom Baker story, not that you’ll remember, Sue.
Sue: Genesis of the Daleks.
Me: You always say Genesis of the Daleks when you don’t know the answer.
Sue: The Doctor was sent on a mission through time, which means he must have been a Time Agent, which means I’m right. So there.
We end up debating this for quite some time.
Nicol: Will you two stop arguing, please. I’m trying to watch this.
Captain Jack has parked his invisible spaceship next to Big Ben.
Sue: How cool is that? Why wasn’t Captain Jack always this cool? He’s a right dick later on, isn’t he?
Me: It’s probably the same reason we stopped calling our cat ‘Captain’ halfway through the first series of Torchwood.
Jack turns Big Ben on, hoping this will turn Rose on at the same time. And what do you know? It works.
Sue: Now I remember why we named a tom cat after him.
Nicol: Don’t you think he should turn that massive light off before thousands of innocent people are bombed to death?
Jack tells Rose that a Chula warship has crash landed in London.
Me: Chula was the name of the Indian restaurant where the Moff, Rob Shearman, Paul Cornell and Mark Gatiss celebrated the news that they’d been commissioned to write for the new series.
Nicol: It’s a good job they didn’t go to Nando’s.
Sue: (Pointing at Nancy) And another thing: why isn’t she more famous? She’s brilliant.
Nicol: If they made this episode today, she’d be played by Lacey Tuner.
The Doctor’s investigations have led him to Albion hospital.
Me: That’s the same hospital where they performed an autopsy on a pig a few weeks ago. Or where they’ll eventually perform an autopsy on a pig. Oh, you know what I mean.
Nicol: I really don’t!
Sue: I thought I recognised it. Does it become important later on?
Nicol: So why bring it up, then?
Me: Padding, mainly. Because the pair of you aren’t saying anything remotely interesting about this episode.
Sue: That’s because there’s nothing more I can say about it, except that it’s brilliant, of course. I knew blogging the new series was a stupid idea, Neil.
Me: Hang on a minute. You told me – several times, I might add – that you wanted to watch the new series with me again.
Sue: Watch it, yes. I never said anything about blogging it, you idiot. Anyway, this is brilliant. So there.
The Doctor meets Dr Constantine, who is played by the one and only Richard Wilson.
Me: Isn’t anyone going to do the “I don’t believe it!” joke? Anyone? No?
Sue and Nicol ignore me, and for the next five minutes all I get out of them is this:
Sue: The direction is ****ing brilliant.
Nicol: Yeah. Definitely.
Sue: I think I should mark some of the earlier episodes down a bit. This is definitely the best new episode I’ve seen so far, and now I’m worried that I used my 10 out of 10s too soon.
Rose teases the Doctor about his name. “Don’t you ever get tired of Doctor? Doctor Who?”
Sue: One thing’s for certain – the Moff will never get tired of that gag. He must have been terrible when it came to telling ‘Knock-Knock’ jokes at school. I bet he was relentless.
But the biggest laugh of the evening is reserved for this humdinger delivered by an incredulous Captain Jack: “Flag Girl was bad enough, but U-Boat Captain?!”
Sue: (Laughing) I bloody love the Moff.
As the episode hurtles towards its spooky conclusion, I notice that Sue and Nicol are both biting their nails. And Nicol doesn’t even bite her nails.
Me: It’s reminds me of the dreaded lurgy at school. All they have to do is touch you and you’ll turn into them. You can imagine kids imitating these creatures up and down the country after they saw this.
Sue: Yeah, the Moff’s really clever like that.
The episode ends with our heroes surrounded by advancing Empty People, each one chanting a single word: “Mummy”.
Sue: Not to mention sick in the head.
Sue refuses to score this episode because the story isn’t over yet. She hates scoring these episodes at the best of times, so she’ll embrace any excuse not to bother. But I think it’s definitely higher than a six. Yeah, it’s definitely higher than a six.
Sue: What did you think, Nic?
Nicol: It was all right, I suppose.
Me: Hey, if you two want to take over the blog, that’s fine by me.
Sue: Will you watch the next one with us, Nic?
Nicol: Yeah, go on then.
Yeah, it’s definitely higher than a six.
Glen is trapped in the Crossroads Motel right now, but he’ll be back next week. Probably.