- Three slight disappointments to begin my viewing experience this week. Firstly, it soon dawned that this week's episode wasn't NEXT week's episode, which is what I'd been dimly but erroneously expecting. (I blame my VERY vague knowledge of future spoilers, and my own inability to count episodes. Ooops.) Secondly, I was sad to see that this was a Donna-lite episode. (But Donna has a cocktail and a fluffy bathrobe, so she doesn't care if I'm peeved. And who could blame her?) And thirdly, there was the prospect of another disaster movie plot, so soon after Voyage of the Damned (which was, errr, a bit rubbish).
- Nice to see Lesley Sharp. Since she is a former RTD stalwart (Bob and Rose, The Second Coming), I'd always wondered whether she'd pop up in Who.
(Speaking of RTD alumni, I have only just realized that Vince Tyler from Queer As Folk and Shakespeare are brothers. Sometimes I can be VERY slow on the uptake.)
- Blimey, I didn't recognize David Troughton without his Spandex-clad thighs from The Curse of Peladon. But among the other passengers, hooray for unexpected Carol Jackson off EastEnders! Plus her emo pretty-boy son, who is NOT Nicholas Hoult from Skins, but looks very like him.
- Fans of cheesy Europop of the 1970s, feast your ears on Do It Do It Again by Raffaella Carrà! During the year I spent living in Spain as a student (1992-93), Raffaella was ubiquitous on TV (think Cilla Black with an Italian accent). I must say, she was probably the last celebrity I'd have ever expected to get a gratuitous Who cameo.
- Oh my god, totally unexpected Timelord pelvic thrust chair-sexing!
Crikey, that seat is getting more on-screen action than any human love interest has ever managed in this series. Dear me, Doctor! When Donna said "Get off!" to you on the phone, this isn't what she meant...
- Unexpected banging noises! And no, it's not the Doctor having another go at the furniture. My first thought was "...is Captain Jack in the morgue??"
- Slightly expected silent Rose!
- The double-tracked voices were rather unsettling to listen to. I wonder whether they got Lesley Sharp to overdub the whole script, or whether there was electronic trickery to help?
- "That's how he does it. He makes you fight. Creeps into your head, and whispers." A bit of my brain couldn't help interpreting this as an explanation for four years of New Who fandom wank...
- Surprisingly good acting from Mr Tennant this week. I think he was raising his game to match Lesley Sharp's very scary stare.
- At the end, I suddenly remembered where I'd seen this story before. It was the corny old TV movie The Horror at 37,000 Feet (starring William Shatner, among others), which I remember seeing as an impressionable youngster. In this umpteenth variation on the Airport-style disaster flick, there's an invisible demon thing on board a jumbo jet, and the passengers all gang up and decide they are going to appease it by throwing a little girl out of the plane. (Eventually, they don't - they throw a doll instead, which is spookily made up to look like the little girl.) Perhaps RTD was as traumatized by this crappy film as I was?
- Still on the theme of disaster movies of the past, I'd have liked to have seen a reference to Father Ted's Flight Into Terror. For example, how about deciding who gets thrown out of the Crusader based on an essay competition?
- Overall: Slow to start, it got mildly annoying whenever everyone started panicking and talking over the top of each other, and the ending was rather abrupt. But the atmosphere of paranoia was nicely built up, the verbal tricks were well-used and spooky, and the suggestion of what horrible things normal people are capable of in extreme circumstances was fairly chilling. So chalk this one up to "much better than I was expecting".
As usual, the trailer for next week remains unviewed by me, and the very little that I DO know about it shall remain unmentioned, until we all Turn Left together...