Attack of the Graske.



TV About half an hour after Attack of the Graske was first broadcast, an online discussion board was already fired up trying to decide whether it was canon, giving explanations as to why The Doctor would be talking to the camera. The point that they and others appear to have missed is that some of us had the opportunity to see the new model in action for the third time this year, and to witness the genius of actually how well defined the character is this early in the game.

I've no idea how far into the new shooting schedule this was filmed but the timelord's personality is already perfectly refined. David Tennant is funny, exciting and authoritative, even when he's asking the audience to make selections with their remote. Here, even more than in the preceding dramas we see that capacity of the man to spin comedy on a dime -- witness the moment when he dashes around the console explaining what the game is about then dropping that hilarious incredulity of 'Including you mate ... how'd you get the energy?' We haven't seen anything this manically brilliant (in the television version of the series at least) since Tom Baker.

It was an excellent piece of scripting from the always underrated Gareth Roberts in his first tv work, filled with cherishable moments which play to the same strength we've seen in his previous work of adding detail to minor characters. Witness the tragedy of the patronised grandfather in the family scenes being ordered around by his madam of a granddaughter, bemoaning the lack of inspiration in his Christmas present ('Another year I've got vouchers. Vouchers. Anyone would think I don't have a personality. I quite wanted a foot spa. I do have a personality.') and told off by his daughter ('Put the wrappers in the bin not in a box. It causes confusion and disappointment. People think they're reaching for their favourite and realise it's only an empty wrapper.') This is a depth of character much greater than the average interactive game.

The costume design of the Graske was very good, presenting a plausible menacing alien. The plot, grabbing people from throughout history and replacing them with zombies might not have had the greatest depth in terms of storyline, but was perfectly fine for such a short adventure. Not to forget that this is actually the first time the new series has traveled to a new alien world, which is an innovation even if we didn't see too much of it.

Other mini pleasures included the cohesive use of onscreen graphics, particularly the Gallifreyan script, which I'm really beginning to warm to after some initial cynicism; seeing the TARDIS console up close; the Victorian Christmas; seeing what looked like a new form of Zygon or even an Ice Warrior in one of the storage containers on the planet; the new Slitheen animation which seemed more plausible and integrated than anything that appeared in Aliens in London; the revelation that this might not be the last we me not have seen the last of the Graske.

The only weakness was really the 'interactive' element of the show, although this was largely due to the technology available. On Freeview at least, this was a sequence which ran from start to finish, the only variations being whether the player selected the correct answer, the box moving between the two interactive channels. But hey, this was an experiment and fun to play.

And at the end of it all, we had The Doctor wishing us a Merry Christmas through the tv. Just like the old days ...

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