Does TV rot your brains? Well, maybe not. But on this episode, it apparently can steal your face.
The year is 1953, and the Doctor and Rose exit the TARDIS in what he says is to see Elvis perform on the Ed Sullivan show. Surely they’re in New York and no, really, they’re in London. Oh, but they are in time to see Queen Elizbeth II’s coronation. TV is a new thing. Lots of people in the neighborhood getting new TVs.
Well, that’s not the first time the TARDIS landed somewhere else. The Doctor and Rose see men in a black car hustle someone with a blanket over his head away. Somehow, the men disappear behind some cleverly hidden doors that the Doctor misses even as he and Rose give chase on a sporty scooter.
Well, only one thing to do: interrogate a neighbor. That would be the Connollies. Father Eddie is kind of a jerk, a very traditionalist sort, but the Doctor can bull past him with his psychic paper and then look around, Rose enjoys telling him what to do with his half-assed patriotism. Wife Rita is concerned about…something. Son Tommy seems like a good egg with an interest in electronics.
Oh, and then there’s grandma upstairs. The Doctor finally gets into her room. She has no face, and apparently no mind.
Oh, and then the cops come to take her away, and this time the Doctor follows. Rose stays behind until Eddie kicks her out, but there’s something weird about the TV. Rose decides to talk to Mr. Magpie, the guy who sold new TVs all over the neighborhood.
The Doctor, meanwhile, finds a lot of people shuffling around in a small pen…all of them without a face. The cops have been rounding them up because…well, they don’t know what else to do. That’s actually reasonable.
But who was calling them? Oh, Eddie was. Rita and Tommy were not happy he sent Rita’s mother away.
Oh, and Rose was right. Mr. Magpie is under the thumb of an energy-based alien life form living in the TV, stealing faces, and yes, it grabs Rose’s.
That was the Wire’s biggest mistake!
The Doctor gets word when Rose is found on the street with no face.
Now the Wire made the Doctor mad.
Oh, the alien calls herself the Wire.
Can the Doctor stop her? Especially since she’s going to steal faces from everyone watching the Queen’s coronation. I mean, she’s a criminal to her own people and stealing faces will give her a body. She demands Magpie, scared he’ll have his own face stolen again, FEED HER!
Man, she’s demanding.
But her attempts to steal the Doctor’s and Tommy’s faces don’t work, so it comes down to them. That requires the Doctor to get to the portable TV the doomed Magpie built while Tommy keeps a gadget of some kind working. It works. No one loses their faces. Heck, everyone that did lose one gets it back. And the Wire is trapped on a betamax tape.
And then Rita kicks Eddie out. Good for her.
Now, the Doctor and Rose do stick around to enjoy time with the locals celebrating a new queen rather than go down to London for the big pageants because these smaller events are, in the Doctor’s view, the real history. For his help, the Doctor gives Tommy the scooter and Rose gives him advice to not give up on his dad, even though Tommy is mad at the guy. Rose does know a thing or two about missing a father, so that makes a lot of sense.
You know, the removed face effect actually worked pretty well. And the Doctor said he was going to tape over the Wire, so that sounds like a perfectly nasty punishment. What’s next?