However in the case of this episodes approximation to a format equivalent to that typical in the original series, the episode was fantastic, and it needed very little of the "Davies crutches" to achieve epic status. Of course this is not surprising for me, since it was written by Mark Gatiss, who wrote "The Unquiet Dead," which scored extremely high on the Whoscale.
Once again, the positives in this episode greatly outweighed the negatives. Everything seem to be spot on. The chemistry between The Doctor and Rose was not eliminated altogether, but it was minimized enough that the developing relationship between them didn't overstep the initial plot line. The incidental music in this episode was also used sparingly, usually only accompanying scenes with no dialogue. I especially liked the music during the scenes in which The Doctor was attempting to break into the warehouse where all of The Wire's victims were kept - it virtually sounded like something plucked out of Dudley Simpson's playlist. For those of you who don't know the name, Simpson was responsible for the incidental music on alot of Tom Baker's early episodes, and also provided all of the music for Terry Nation's "Blake's 7."
Yet another positive that significantly lent to the episode's 8 on the Whoscale was the pacing of the episode. The story was not rushed, nor was it so slow that we were falling asleep. The plot unfolded naturally and in true Doctor Who form - with the Doctor investigating and picking up clues and information here and there until 35 minutes in, he's about worked out what's going on.
Also, the setting was London, but not the kind of London that Davies usually writes. Like traditional classic Doctor Who episodes, we were confined to the streets and buildings of a small town, and not a bustling metropolis. Additionally, the alien takeover in this case wasn't the sky filled with millions of CGI ships, or the streets full of thousands of CGI aliens marching with nameless panicky people running and screaming. In fact, about the only CGI used was the electrical currents caused by The Wire.
There was some terrific dialogue in this episode from The Doctor that certainly reminded me of his past incarnations, such as during The Doctor and Rose's visit to the Connolly's house, Mr. Connolly apologizes for his wife speaking, and notes that "Rita does tend to rattle on," The Doctor then replies, "Well, maybe she should rattle on a bit more."
Clearly, for me the most chilling scene had to be when The Doctor activates all of the televisions in Magpie's store, and each of the screens contain nothing more than a face stolen by The Wire, each of them desperately calling out for help, but yet silent.
Overall, what made this episode so great for me is that the full length of the episode was devoted to the revelation and solution to the problem at hand, which was The Wire's unusual method of Earthly takeover. There were no side plots running parallel to the episode chief story that was completely Doctor Who unrelated, such as in "Father's Day," where the bulk of the episode was chiefly about Rose talking with her father, with the problem of correcting the time lines seemlingly just being put off until the last minute.
Rose is depicted in this episode as a companion more than a love-sick puppy for The Doctor, illustrated clearly by her no hestitation to be left behind by The Doctor as he chases after a fleeing car in his scooter, at which point Rose starts her own investigation, confronting Mr. Magpie at his store and refusing to leave until Magpie spills the beans.
I could find very little that I disliked about this episode. While watching it, to me it felt like I was watching a genuine episode of Doctor Who. However, the few things that did trouble were minor, but detracted from the episode receiving a perfect score nonetheless. One thing I wasn't too fond of was the use of "tilted" camera angles, in much the way classic Twilight Zone used tilted angles to add to the fear factor. No doubt they were used in this episode for the same reason, but also as homage to the period in which The Doctor and Rose were visiting - the 1950s. About the only other complaint I could find was the usual family domestic dispute that seemed to be the norm for an episode during the Russell T Davies era. Needless to say, both of these were minor and were kept to a minimum. So they didn't do too much damage. The one other momentary lapse was just after The Doctor discovers that Rose's face has been taken, at which point his dialogue and tone of voice would seem to depict him as more of a god - "no power on this Earth can stop me."
Once again, in my opinion a fantastic episode. For me it certainly had the flavor of traditional Doctor Who, all the way up to the scene in which The Doctor scales the transmission tower.