Midnight (2008) REVIEW

Midnight (2008) REVIEW

Postby bige » Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:19 am

After submitting a review here yesterday, I thought I should submit one for my all-time favorite NuWho episode. Yes, that's right: Midnight. While The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky just gets a bad name in general, this one I have found to be extremely controversial. And admittedly, yes, the monster isn't really so great an idea. It copies you, then steals your voice. It's the mystery around it that makes it interesting.

Midnight seems to follow the same strategy as Fear Her, a low-budget single episode before the grand finale, other than the spa at the cold open and the very end, the entire episode takes place on one single set. Yet while Fear Her would be a yawnfest if it wasn't for the fact it insults anyone who watches it with the suggestion that it's supposed to be scary, Midnight means more one a single set in a single 45-minute episode than The End of Time or The Stolen Earth / Journey's End do with multi-million dollar SFX and locations and spaceships in their 2 hours running time. The episode first gets interesting with the mystery of Midnight, the planet made of diamonds that nothing can survive on, and this hunger for more never really gets fed. Hell, the planet is so dangerous we can't even look at it.

So the episode goes on a little, getting to know the characters, little hint dropped about the upcoming finale with the mystery of Poosh (with sounds like a plural for posh), then the monster arrives. Then it get's really good. It's not long before the human panic sets in, and we start to see what we can really become like. And it's the characters that make the episode really something, because there are so many subliminal meanings and symbolisms here. The professor profoundly establishes that nothing can survive on Midnight, even when it's right there in front of him he denies it. He has an unwavering opinion of him that he's right, he believes himself superior and therefore firmly believes that the moster cannot exist because he doesn't know of it. I think he represents how humanity believes that they are all-knowing. This monster defies all logic, it doesn't even make sense - so therefore it doesn't exist?

Jethro and Dee Dee are by far the most rational of the humans, and they are also the youngest. Yet in the end, they aren't much better, Jethro ends up going along with the "revolt" of sorts against the Doctor, but if you watch it closely it's because of his parents. His parents are two of the worst people there and pressure him, saying he's being stupid as always. Dee doesn't believe in herself because of the Professor's proclaimed self-superiority, and calls her "average" at best, and helps the "revolt" even though she doesn't agree with them.

The thing is though, the monster barely does anything. All it does is copy, and it is clearly demonstrated that it learns from us talking, and the humans continue in their panic. In the end, they even believe to have seen the alien physically passing into the doctor when they clearly haven't seen anything. When the creature in Sky steals his voice, it is obviously not her, yet they cannot see this through their own panic. What is also so beautiful about this episode is the very very thin line between right and wrong. The humans are the true antagonists, yet they are right, the monster should be thrown outside. When they know nothing about it, anything could happen. It may be able to spread, it could take over the galaxy or do nothing at all. The Doctor still wants to preserve it, but he could cause the destruction of humanity, yet he's the good guy, isn't he supposed to make the right decisions? But if he's saying this, is he the really right man to trust? And if it's the Doctor, are we wrong to think otherwise?

And in the end, it's the most irrational human of them all who saves the day: the hostess. She's the one who suggested that they throw the entity in Sky out, even throw the Doctor out, yet she saw that she had really stolen his voice, and before we found out god what the creature was capable of, she killed it and sacrificed herself. Because the humans weren't evil, it was like Pandora's box, through all the panic, confusion, anger etc. came sense and hope. She saved the day, and the Doctor himself.

In the end, we still know nothing. That creature could still be out there, it could be a species. By our own logic, it can't exist, yet it does. So we presumably leave Midnight and never return, and all of its mysteries with it.
User avatar
bige
 
 
 
Posts: 287
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 7:46 am
Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Thanks to donations from members I've been able to move Planet Mondas to a faster server. But I'm still working on further improvements. Ad Revenue covers the server fees, but not my time, so if you like you can buy me a coffee, which will help fuel me! Thanks in advance! Mat Sadler (matjkd)

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby LizR » Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:43 am

It's been a while since I saw "Midnight", but if my memory serves I had the following problems with it...

Characterisation - I can't remember exactly what went wrong, but I wasn't impressed. The usual suspects, see the one in the desert for more details...

The alien - the prize for the most irritating alien ever....if you have ever taken kids on a long car trip you'll understand.

The resolution - someone sacrifices themselves conveniently for no obvious reason.

The logic - why would sending the alien back outside make things better, when that's where it came from originally?
How come the radiation doesn't seem to harm various people who are exposed to it during the resolution, when we're told how deadly it is?

The Doctor - yet again, Russell disses the Doctor, this time by making him lose that mysterious something that lets him take charge of any situation. Why? Because the plot requires it, or to be exact the point he wants to make about how awful people are requires it, rather than this growing naturally from the situation (as in say "Lord of the Flies"). So he loses the mysterious Doctorly quality on this one occasion...

If I had more than 5 minutes I might be able to make a better case but those were some of the lowlights, for me at least.
“The old maxim rendered true — there is never someone more socialist than a wealthy capitalist in a time of crisis” — Sir Roger Douglas

My crosswords are on my homepage & Android phones - install Alphacross and select "Māyā's Cryptic Puzzles" :D
User avatar
LizR
Senior Member
Senior Member
 
Posts: 20281
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:01 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby markhuk » Sat Jul 21, 2012 1:03 am

a truly awful episode
User avatar
markhuk
Styles Moderator
Styles Moderator
 
Posts: 1087
Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2009 9:21 pm

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby paulhickling » Sat Jul 21, 2012 3:22 pm

Look, this is an actor performance episode. While I agree logic is desirable in any story, and there is a point in marking it down if gaffs are there, we seem to be forgetting the most important thing in this story. The performances by the lead and guest actors. They are STUNNING!

If only the NTV Awards had shown a scene from this for one of Tennant's wins, instead of some comedy moment they always go for, viewers would be able to see that Doctor Who has indeed performances worthy of a best actor award.

The two-hander by Tennant and Lesley Sharp is nothing short of superb, and we do them a diservice by not acknowledging this.

After The Doctor's Wife, I always start viewing Scott and Bailey as that UK version of Cagney and Lacey that just happens to have two of the best ever female guest stars Doctor Who has ever had as it's leads.
paulhickling
Forum Moderator
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 2493
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:53 pm

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby The Nimon » Sat Jul 21, 2012 10:58 pm

All i can say about Midnight is that i found it rather boring. On the plus side Cathrine Tate was hardly in it :D
The Judge Judy of Planet Mondax
User avatar
The Nimon
Senior Member
Senior Member
 
Posts: 8236
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2009 9:24 am

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby chap with wings » Sat Jul 21, 2012 11:57 pm

Truly excellent episode, Tennant and Sharp are astounding, I love the fact we know absolutely nothing about the alien menace, it makes it so much more "alien" than if it were all explained.
"It can become a kind of franchise where it's not a real character at all, but just an amalgam of elements that people think are Doctor Who: a scarf, a bow tie... I wanted to be the actual Doctor Who." - Peter Capaldi

Follow me on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/BlogFinish

My Big Finish Review Archive is here - http://blogfinishplanetmondas.blogspot.co.uk/
User avatar
chap with wings
Senior Member
Senior Member
 
Posts: 3651
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 12:51 am
Location: Colwyn Bay, North Wales

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby LizR » Sun Jul 22, 2012 10:07 am

I can't remember much about the characters except that despite one of the actors being called Troughton I was underwhelmed. There was no one who stuck in my mind, apart from that woman doing the "possessed" thing - unfortunately in a very boring and irritating way. I think we probably got the same sort of RTD rent-a-crowd we had for the one involving the bus in the desert. Snarky teen, some half sketched professor type, lovelorn whatever... But any interesting characters seem to quickly die (or in this case get possessed) in RTD's episodes (see the doctor - small d - in "Smith and Jones" for a good example).

Now I thoroughly agree that things do not need to be spelled out or even explained, but they do need to hang together. That is, the audience should get the feeling the writer knows what's happening, even if he doesn't explain it. (See "Solaris" for what is probably the best example ever committed to paper and/or celluloid of how this works when done well.)

So, "Midnight" is about a group of people trapped in a situation where they think one of them is a spy/traitor/alien/whatever but don't know which, and the effects this has on them. See "The Thing" or "Lifeboat" for a couple of classic examples of when this is done well. The idea isn't bad - John Steinbeck and John W Campbell Jr weren't short of good ideas, and as the saying goes, if you're going to plagiarise, steal from the best - but it's let down big time in the execution.

So the Doctor has been going on and on for about 3 series about how wonderful human beings are - God knows why, given that he's a citizen of the universe, but that's what RTD has made him do - so now Rusty cleverly subverts our expectations by having the humans turn into a bunch of nasty bayers-for-blood. It's dark, it's gritty, but unfortunately it doesn't actually work. For 45 years the Doctor has been able to command any situation, admittedly he runs into the occasional Nyder, but he still manages to take charge psychologically even at the wrong end of a gun. It is, I suppose, a Time Lord sort of thing, since the Master has it in spades, as does the Meddling Monk. Only Susan lets us down on that front, really, and my guess is she was really just a stupid ape the Doctor adopted.

So where does it all go in Midnight? Answer: it's wiped out by a plot device, just like the way the Doctor spends most of "Bad Wolf" buiding a machine that isn't going to work.

So basically "Midnight" involves the following:

Changing the Doctor's character to make a point, and with no explanation even suggested of why this time it's different.

A bunch of forgettable cardboard characters, depite one of them being a Troughton.

The most irritating alien ever.

And yes lots of logical loopholes, to take a random example: "deadly" light that fails to kill anyone when they're exposed to it.

Oh, and a brilliant performance from David Tennant, I have to say, despite the complete dross he's given. But sadly that alone wasn't enough to turn this into something I'd feel the slightest urge to watch again.
“The old maxim rendered true — there is never someone more socialist than a wealthy capitalist in a time of crisis” — Sir Roger Douglas

My crosswords are on my homepage & Android phones - install Alphacross and select "Māyā's Cryptic Puzzles" :D
User avatar
LizR
Senior Member
Senior Member
 
Posts: 20281
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:01 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby paulhickling » Sun Jul 22, 2012 2:56 pm

Nicely put together Liz, and I can't disagree with much of what you say. Except of course, that I still love it!
paulhickling
Forum Moderator
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 2493
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:53 pm

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby LizR » Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:54 am

We just watched a story about a group of people trapped in situation they can't escape, who gradually come to suspect that one of them is an enemy... a gripping psychological drama which shows the darker side of human nature when people are fighting for survival... it was brilliant!

It was, of course, "Lifeboat", directed by Alfred Hitchcock and based on a story by John Steinbeck. Made in 1944 in black and white. A wonderful film I'd recommend to anyone.

I can't thank the reviewer of "Midnight" who originally made that comparison enough, since as a result we finally got around to watching "Lifeboat" - almost certainly the the best thing RTD has done for us!

I hear "Voyage of the Damned" was an attempt to reproduce "The Poseidon Adventure", so maybe we'll have a look at that next!
“The old maxim rendered true — there is never someone more socialist than a wealthy capitalist in a time of crisis” — Sir Roger Douglas

My crosswords are on my homepage & Android phones - install Alphacross and select "Māyā's Cryptic Puzzles" :D
User avatar
LizR
Senior Member
Senior Member
 
Posts: 20281
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:01 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby bingo99 » Sat Aug 18, 2012 3:13 pm

This is my favourite RTD script by a mile. Mainly because he appears to have thought while writing it "let me do the opposite of every opinion and instinct I've ever had about this show". So the tenth doc is treated like the uncharismatic egotistical adolescent he is and humans turn out to be complete dicks, and not wonderful after all. If only David Cameron and George Osborne could follow RTD's rebel against your silly self lead like this, the country would be in so much better shape.
"Scriptwriters are confident they'll make a huge impact. Everyone remembers the Daleks and the Cyberman, but not a lot else if they're honest. The Tritovore will change that. They will last long in the memory" - New Who PR, 2009
User avatar
bingo99
 
 
 
Posts: 986
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:17 pm

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby chap with wings » Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:37 pm

LizR wrote:We just watched a story about a group of people trapped in situation they can't escape, who gradually come to suspect that one of them is an enemy... a gripping psychological drama which shows the darker side of human nature when people are fighting for survival... it was brilliant!

It was, of course, "Lifeboat", directed by Alfred Hitchcock and based on a story by John Steinbeck. Made in 1944 in black and white. A wonderful film I'd recommend to anyone.

I can't thank the reviewer of "Midnight" who originally made that comparison enough, since as a result we finally got around to watching "Lifeboat" - almost certainly the the best thing RTD has done for us!

I hear "Voyage of the Damned" was an attempt to reproduce "The Poseidon Adventure", so maybe we'll have a look at that next!


Liz, I am not one usually to knock RTD, but Voyage of the Damned is dire, one of the worst of all time.
"It can become a kind of franchise where it's not a real character at all, but just an amalgam of elements that people think are Doctor Who: a scarf, a bow tie... I wanted to be the actual Doctor Who." - Peter Capaldi

Follow me on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/BlogFinish

My Big Finish Review Archive is here - http://blogfinishplanetmondas.blogspot.co.uk/
User avatar
chap with wings
Senior Member
Senior Member
 
Posts: 3651
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 12:51 am
Location: Colwyn Bay, North Wales

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby image45 » Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:27 pm

markhuk wrote:a truly awful episode


Yes I agree, I recall me and Ed having a strong disagreement about liking not liking this episode when it was first broadcast. I find the absence of knowing who or what the alien menace was too vague and open for a normal Doctor Who episode. It also felt like it did not have a true beginning and end with the lack of structure in my view too.

If bad men tied me to a chair and wanted to torcher/punish me, then been made to watch this episode again would be up there in the top 5 bad things to do to me list.

The Nimon wrote:All i can say about Midnight is that i found it rather boring.


Yes I agree, I found the lack of structure did lead to it feeling rather a boring watch.
O-Ren Ishii: You didn't think it was gonna be that easy, did you?
The Bride: You know, for a second there, yeah, I kinda did.
O-Ren Ishii: Silly rabbit.
User avatar
image45
Former Team Member
Former Team Member
 
Posts: 1037
Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2009 12:07 am
Location: Yorkshire

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby chap with wings » Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:32 pm

it reminded me very much of the Twilight Zone episode "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street", its a great examination of just how close human beings are to savagery beneath the civilized veneer, & I think Midnight echoes this perfectly.
To me the fact that the alien threat was not explained does not matter one jot, does everything really ahve to be explained? a real acting tour de force from all concerned and a very un-RTD script from RTD.
"It can become a kind of franchise where it's not a real character at all, but just an amalgam of elements that people think are Doctor Who: a scarf, a bow tie... I wanted to be the actual Doctor Who." - Peter Capaldi

Follow me on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/BlogFinish

My Big Finish Review Archive is here - http://blogfinishplanetmondas.blogspot.co.uk/
User avatar
chap with wings
Senior Member
Senior Member
 
Posts: 3651
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 12:51 am
Location: Colwyn Bay, North Wales

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby The Nimon » Sat Aug 18, 2012 8:41 pm

chap with wings wrote:it reminded me very much of the Twilight Zone episode "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street", its a great examination of just how close human beings are to savagery beneath the civilized veneer, & I think Midnight echoes this perfectly.
To me the fact that the alien threat was not explained does not matter one jot, does everything really ahve to be explained? a real acting tour de force from all concerned and a very un-RTD script from RTD.


The alien not being explained didn't really bother me, and the Acting as you say was brillaint, it can't have been easy for them all to synk up like that. The problem for me is that nothing really happened, my mind started to wonder a bit and i lost a bit of interest in it.
The Judge Judy of Planet Mondax
User avatar
The Nimon
Senior Member
Senior Member
 
Posts: 8236
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2009 9:24 am

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby LizR » Sun Aug 19, 2012 3:23 am

chap with wings wrote:Liz, I am not one usually to knock RTD, but Voyage of the Damned is dire, one of the worst of all time.

I'm hoping that, like "Midnight", it was a poor imitation of something infinitely better.

Sorry, I may not have made myself clear in my previous post. I didn't mean that "Midnight" was the best thing RTD has done per se, I meant that the best thing he's done was to write "Midnight" and thereby cause a reviewer to compare it to something far superior, thus bringing "Lifeboat" to my attention (I've seen a lot of good Hitchcock films, but not that one).
“The old maxim rendered true — there is never someone more socialist than a wealthy capitalist in a time of crisis” — Sir Roger Douglas

My crosswords are on my homepage & Android phones - install Alphacross and select "Māyā's Cryptic Puzzles" :D
User avatar
LizR
Senior Member
Senior Member
 
Posts: 20281
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:01 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby solarsystem » Sun Aug 19, 2012 4:30 am

Well I have only seen this episode once, I found it very dull indeed.
User avatar
solarsystem
 
 
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 6:01 pm
Location: Nelson, Lancs

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby Minx » Sun Aug 19, 2012 4:35 am

The Nimon wrote: The problem for me is that nothing really happened, my mind started to wonder a bit and i lost a bit of interest in it.


Nothing really happened is all I really remember too, however I have only seen this one once. Since it felt dull I guess thats why then. :(
User avatar
Minx
 
 
 
Posts: 73
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2009 11:21 pm

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby The Nimon » Sun Aug 19, 2012 8:59 am

Minx wrote:
The Nimon wrote: The problem for me is that nothing really happened, my mind started to wonder a bit and i lost a bit of interest in it.


Nothing really happened is all I really remember too, however I have only seen this one once. Since it felt dull I guess thats why then. :(


Yes same here, its only of only a few i only watched on Transmission and haven't gone back too
The Judge Judy of Planet Mondax
User avatar
The Nimon
Senior Member
Senior Member
 
Posts: 8236
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2009 9:24 am

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby LizR » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:24 am

You are not alone. The reviewer who put me on to "Lifeboat" had this to say about "Midnight", amongst other things...

If you haven't seen Lifeboat, we're betting Midnight looks very different to you than it does to us. In other words, it must have a million times the impact. These are powerful ideas (it's not for nothing the story got an Academy Award nomination). But if you've seen them before? Not so much.

Especially when it's not done, shall we say, quite so well. Davies is no Steinbeck. And it's not just because we've seen the story before that we think this lifeboat is marooned in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

In the new series, we've seen bad Doctor Who. We’ve seen dull Doctor Who. But we've never before experienced Doctor Who so mind-numbingly tedious that we had to struggle even to watch till the end. Normally, we watch all episodes twice before reviewing them, because it gives us more of a balanced perspective than our first impression supplies. But we can't watch this again. Not for you. Not for anybody.
“The old maxim rendered true — there is never someone more socialist than a wealthy capitalist in a time of crisis” — Sir Roger Douglas

My crosswords are on my homepage & Android phones - install Alphacross and select "Māyā's Cryptic Puzzles" :D
User avatar
LizR
Senior Member
Senior Member
 
Posts: 20281
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:01 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: Midnight REVIEW

Postby markhuk » Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:26 pm

forced myself to watch this again to make sure I was giving it a fair viewing - wish to god I hadnt, its even worse than I remembered

Dreadful
User avatar
markhuk
Styles Moderator
Styles Moderator
 
Posts: 1087
Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2009 9:21 pm

Next

Return to SERIES 4

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest