Region 1
box set

Region 2
box set
Region 2
3-episode volume
(Doctor Who Story No. 201, starring David Tennant)
  • written by Russell T. Davies
  • directed by Alice Troughton
  • produced by Phil Collinson
  • music by Murray Gold
  • 1 episode @ 44 minutes
Story: The Doctor's excursion to see the sapphire falls on the planet Midnight goes awry when the transport car takes a new route and runs across a force no humanoid has ever encountered before. What form of life can possibly survive outside in the extonic rays of the crystal planet's sun? And why has one passenger started repeating everything that everyone else says?

DVD Extras (box sets only) include:

  • Audio commentary by director Alice Troughton, actor David Tennant (The Doctor), and writer Russell T. Davies.
  • Doctor Who Confidential featurette: Look Who's Talking (13 min.) with Davies, Tennant, David Troughton (Professor Hobbes),
    Lesley Sharp (Sky Silvestry), sound effects editor Paul Jefferies, dubbing mixer Tim Ricketts, sound editor Paul McFadden, and others...
  • Trailers & Promos

Buyers' Guide Review

by Martin Izsak

(A more in-depth analysis, containing "SPOILERS" and intended for those who have already seen the program, can be accessed here.)

I nearly fell off my chair when I saw the opening shot of this story. Not just because it was one of the awesomely beautiful expensive ones crammed into the opening few minutes of the story. And not just because it clearly defined that we were on one of the alien planet settings that I prefer to see outnumbering the Earthly ones. Mostly it was because the production team for the new Millennium were actually giving us the second story in a row that did not take place on Earth. Whoa, that's a huge first for them. Bravo! That makes four stories so far this season outside of Earth orbit. Finally starting to home in on the Graham Williams ideal for the show's settings which I heartily approve of. Well done.

But, we shouldn't get too excited too fast. This show is the budget-crunching cheapie for the season. While at least using the solid backbone of the who-do-you-trust bottle story defense-against-the-unknown plotline, the action becomes a little TOO confined to make the formula work, and lacks the usual healthy degree of proactivity.

If I may draw your attention for a moment to Exhibit "A" - the science fiction series "Space: 1999", which ran for two seasons starting in 1976. In a ranking by TV critics and sci-fi fans for John Javna's 1987 book "The Best of Science Fiction TV", where both Doctor Who and original Star Trek placed within the top 5 sci-fi shows of all time, "Space: 1999" was voted the worst sci-fi show of all time, while its exquisite model work and lavish production design helped keep it on the air and make it noticeable enough to receive as many votes for worst show as it did. The show's chief failing, as I see it, was in its choice for main characters, all thrust week after week into situations that none of them were the slightest bit capable of either understanding or dealing with proactively. They were never the keen explorers skilled at encountering the unknown that sci-fi needs to thrive on. They were desperate every week. As critic David Schow described it: "Nothing made any sense. ... The characters were basically running around like rats in a box, and I got tired of waiting for them to start gnawing on each other."

Now we come to this story where Russell T. Davies basically makes a high ranking series like Doctor Who feel like it's turned into "Space: 1999". The story's bottle is full of characters without real skills to understand or deal with the unknown, and like the rats in a box, they start gnawing on each other before long.

Now to be fair, this is partly a story point, unlike the endless inability of "Space: 1999" to figure out how to rise above it to deliver quality science fiction. This tale is also expertly acted and directed to keep you glued to your screen wanting to see how it all turns out, and what exactly is behind it all. I just don't find this story point to be interesting or noble enough to earn the story a decent ranking within the season.

What is more interesting, and remains one of the story's successes, is the psychological mystery of what the enemy force is, something perhaps intangible enough to survive the deadly extonic rays outside, something that possibly evolved on a world of crystalline life forms.... It's just too bad more time couldn't have been spent properly exploring this idea on screen. It's enough to make one envy the exploration of crystalline life in "The Krotons" (story no. 47 - one of the few complete Patrick Troughton tales, and slightly underrated in my opinion). Seriously.

Murray Gold scores this episode appropriately, and apparently had a lot of fun with it. The music definitely works. It's a bit too much of a one-note experience for me to rave over it, but its unique sound seems to have made it useful enough that bits of it appear in many other late season 30 stories as well.
Music by Murray Gold
"Midnight" (suite of 3:07 duration)
and "Davros" are available on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who:
Original Music from "Series 4" (2008)

More info & buying options

Nicely, this piece of television art leaves spacious room for the ideas of the audience to fill in the blanks. Good show. It's just too bad the exploration of the concepts got pushed so far under the rabid displays of bad character.

Well, this story is good enough to beat "Partners in Crime" (story no. 194) and "The Unicorn and the Wasp" (story no. 199) in the season rankings.... and that's about it. There are reasons why Doctor Who follows certain formulae, and this tale bravely deviated in ways that don't particularly work better.

This story has become available on DVD.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

DVD NTSC Region 1
14-episode boxed set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
14-episode boxed set
for the U.K.
DVD PAL Region 2
3-episode volume
U.K. format only

Note: The full season sets contain commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and other extras. The smaller volumes only feature the plain episodes.

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Read the Buyers' Guide Review for the next story: "Turn Left"

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