The 50th was a great time to be a fan of the show, the anticipation was great and even some of the moaning from the vocal minority who I swear just like to dislike couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm.
I was fortunate to be on a day off and on twitter when the bbc put Night of the Doctor online so I was able to watch it straight away and be completely surprised by Paul McGann’s entrance on the spaceship. The mini episode is wonderful, it’s a lovely script and McGann is excellent, I hope we one day have a two Doctors type story with him getting a good meaty script to sink his teeth into.
Onto Day of the Doctor itself and this is a story that had to deliver and thankfully it does. The use of the Hartnell titles and orginal music is a lovely idea and perfect. We finally learn about the end of the time war as The Doctor contemplates genocide (nothing from End of Time is contradicted despite what some of the moaners say infact EOT mentions The Moment being taken by the Doctor and the high council are mentioned here) John Hurt is wonderful as the War Doctor (though he was clearly meant to be Chris Eccleston whose absence is felt and I’m not quite sure why they couldn’t have used Paul McGann)
The interplay between Matt Smith and David Tennant is wonderful and John Hurt’s reactions to them are great. Billie Piper as The Moment also gives a good performance and it’s right that The Daleks appear to celebrate the 50th. The Zygon subplot feels a bit out of place as it’s never resolved fully but it’s good to see them again and the Kate transforming into Zygon scene is nicely gross!
The conclusion with Clara and the later Doctor’s helping save Gallifrey is a good one, it makes sense that the Doctor would find another way ( and it dosen’t change the past few years worth of story. Only the 11th Doctor at this point in time knows what he did so the guilt and angst felt by the 9th and 10th is still real as they thought they’d killed them)
It was also nice to see all the old Doctor’s in those clips at the end and then we get the mighty Tom Baker turning up as a possible future Doctor. A perfect end to a great story and one I’ve already rewatched plenty of times.
The 50th ends with Time of the Doctor which wraps up the Matt Smith era and after the high of Day this episode feels a bit of a let down. The story is a bit slight, more concerned with explaining daangling plotlines (as welcome as that is) and teasing a possible Gallifrey return while The Doctor stays in one place for hundreds of years to protect it, a very Doctorish thing to do. It’s a shame that being forced to create a new Doctor for the 50th means bar these closing moments we don’t get any time spent on The Doctor facing up to not being able to regenerate again. I always thought that would’ve been a intresting character arc for him (perhaps this was the intention for Peter Capaldi’s Doctor if Chris had done the 50th)
Matt’s last scene however redeems the story, a lovely leaving speech and a Amy cameo that feels right and then bang we meet Capaldi and like Matt before him I immediately warm to him just on the basis of a few lines.
To be honest I’m not quite sure why these specials aren’t counted as a series, theres not much difference in length between this lot and the late 80’s seasons but never mind.
The Next Doctor is up first and it’s another light romp. We get the Cybermen back and there’s some good stuff with them particularly the graveyard massacre and the idea of meeting a possible future amnesiac Doctor is a good one too with the real reason behind it plausible. It’s also nice to have a past Christmas tale.
Planet of the Dead follows and is the 200th story and is another fun romp that rattles along with another good idea at its heart. I’m not very keen on the Christina character, she feels very one dimensional but I do like Lee Evans character of Malcom. The choice of going on foreign location is very effective as it looks so wonderful.
The Waters of Mars is the third story and it’s easily the highlight of the bunch, in some ways it’s a shame it didn’t immediately follow Journeys End as that would feel very natural. The characters are quickly outlined and the threat is a good creepy one. The whole TimeLord Victorious is a great idea, this is where it’s a shame we didn’t get a full series as it may’ve been good to see a bit more of this. (Also on a fannish note with the Moffat renumbering it means The Valeyard was born out of the Tennant-Smith regeneration whoch seems plausible)
End of Time concludes David Tennant’s time and is also the end of Russell T Davues time in charge of the show. The contribution Russell has made to the show mustn’t be underestimated, he took a barely remembered cult show and turned it into a massive and successful family show proving that there was life in the concept. I also think his success will mean that the show will never be gone forever(in the same way that things like Robin Hood and Sherlock Holmes always come back)
As for the story itself it’s a good one, Wilf is a wonderful character and the scenes between him and The Doctor are lovely. Also I should put my cards on the table and say I like John Simms crazy Master and again the scenes with him and The Doctor are great, the superpower thing is a bit crap though.
The Timelords return and they’ve gone mad after years of war. Timothy Dalton is wonderful and imposing as The President.
The regeneration is very self indulgent but I’ll forgive Russell for all the reasons I listed earlier, really he should’ve regenerated when curled up in the booth.
Having said that it was nice to see all the old faces at the end and ofcourse one new face who with those fews lines immediately made me love Matt Smith.
So we’ve reached the wonderful 4th series and as I explained in my last blog I didn’t watch the last half properly on orginal transmission and it would be the dvd boxset later in the year before I gave it my full attention and it’s a cracker of a series.
Voyage of the Damned is the prelude and we get Kylie as the companion and she isn’t too bad. The story is also a good romp, a nice homage to disaster movies and the Host are a nice nod to the Voc Robots.
I should also mention Time Crash with the lovely meeting between Tennant and Peter Davison, nice to see him getting a bit of love.
The series starts properly with Partners in Crime, another light hearted romp that brings back the wonderful Donna. It’s nice to have a companion that isn’t in love with The Doctor. Donna feels like a breath of fresh air.
Fires of Pompeii is next and this is a wonderful story full of great characters and a cracking story with some great moral dilemmas. Donna’s reactions are completely believable and her insistence to save the family is also very real.
Planet of the Ood follows and gives us some depth to the Ood. Again Donna’s reactions feel real as we learn about the Ood. The scene with the Ood transformation is suitably creepy too.
The Sontaran Stratagem 2 parter sees the return of Martha and The Sontarans and it’s a lovely romp. The Sontarans are suitably menacing and it’s nice to have UNIT back for a story and it’s a shame they couldn’t have squeezed at least a cameo from The Brigadier into it.
The Doctor’s Daughter comes next and while it’s not the best of the series it’s not terrible. Jenny isn’t that good a character and it’s a wasted opportunity not to have more of The Doctor dealing with a family, the few scenes where he talks about his family are easily the best bits.
The Unicorn and the Wasp is another fun romp of a story and again it’s very enjoyable. Marple gets added to the list of homages the show has done and the episode is a good counterpoint to the darker stories.
Silence in the Library 2 parter sees the debut of River Song in a fantastic and creepy story. Having made us fear statues Steven Moffat wants to scare us of the dark. The idea of the library being infested from creatures who come from tree spores is a brilliant one. River is a character I like in this and the idea that The Doctor’s first meeting with someone so important to him is their last day is a bittersweet one and it seems a pity it’s never really touched on properly in Matt’s time.
Midnight follows and this is one of my favourites, such a simple concept but done so well. All the actors give great performances.
Turn Left gives us a parallel universe with Donna never meeting The Doctor who ends up dead meaning everything from s3 onwards happened differently(though I wonder who stopped the Carronites from using Shakespeare! ) The story itself is another good one and scarily rings true in the latter scenes with the forced relocations. We get Rose back too and she’s a lot less annoying now.
Thinks conclude with Stolen Earth 2 parter and it’s a wonderful action story with everyone coming back to fight The Daleks. The story rattles along so fast you just get caught up in it and before you realise it’s over. It’s lovely to see all the companions again and whilst the idea of the TARDIS flying the Earth home is silly I do like the scenes of everyone inside, as Sarah says to him he has a big family!
We get some good resolutions for Mickey and Martha, I wonder if they were planned to move over to Torchwood if there’d been a full third series.
Rose’s story ends with her getting her own human doctor (I did read a fan theory that he grows old and becomes the Peter Cushing human inventor Doctor from the sixties movies which is a fun concept that made me chuckle)
The end of Donna’s time as a companion is far more emotional than anything involving Rose. She was his perfect companion in many ways and her “death” is so sad as we see her forget everything that made her great. A fate worse than death in many ways and a sombre bit fitting end to the series.
So after a weaker second series we head into a much improved third series and I know this isn’t a popular view but Martha is my favourite new series companion, I just wish they didn’t saddle her with a “being in love with the Doctor” subplot as all that does is invite (negative) comparisons with Rose.
Before that though we get The Runaway Bride with the wonderful Donna. It’s a good story and Donna feels very believable as a character who’s too wrapped up in herself to notice what’s happening around her. The Racnoss looks great too and the plot is a good one.
The series kicks off properly with Smith and Jones, a nice light and frothy story that lets us meet Martha and her family. It’s good to see The Doctor just nosing around like the old days. The Judoon are a great addition too.
The Shakespeare Code follows and is a story I love, the Carronites are realised well and in typical Who style we get a explanation of what witches are. Shakespeare is the star of this and is realised very well, shame he didn’t show up again. It was great to see Martha’s wonder and joy at being in the past. A good reason to change the companion regularly I suppose.
Gridlock is next and is one I watched a lot as it was one of my daughter’s favourites and fortunately I quite liked it, a good end to the New Earth trilogy and yet again a lovely central idea and we even get some macra thrown in for good measure. The end scene with The Doctor confessing he lied so he could pretend the timelords weren’t dead is also a lovely moment as the freed motorists sing.
Evolution of the Daleks 2 parter comes next and this one is generally looked down on by a lot of fans but I think it’s enjoyable and it’s refreshing to have a Dalek story that’s not a big finale. The human Dalek hybrid looks a bit silly but is a intresting concept and is at least trying to do something a bit different with the Daleks.
Lazarus Experiment is another one that feels slight but rattles along with a good performance from Mark Gattis and it’s good to get to know Martha’s family a bit more.
42 is probably the weakest of the series and certainly one I haven’t revisited much since. There’s not much substance to the characters or story to be honest and it starts to bore me (which as I’ve mentioned before is the worst thing a story can do)
Human Nature 2 parter is far from boring, easily one of the show’s high points from its whole 50+ years. Tennant shows what a good actor he is by giving a completely distinct performance as John Smith. The Family are great villans and the scarecrows are good monsters. Theres not one thing wrong with this story and it’s one that will never feel old when being rewatched.
Blink continues the high quality trend with a fascinating story where you never notice The Doctor’s absence as he still seems integral to the story. Sally Sparrow makes a great lead character and like Donna and Martha before her has beliveable reactions to what’s happening. The Weeping Angels look suitably scary and their way of killing is certainly unique. (Their second best apperance is in the recent 10th Doctor comic)
The series concludes with the first 3 parter of the new series and it’s a corker. Derek Jacobi gives a great performance as Yana and The Master. The last 15 minutes of Utopia is just wonderful and back in 2007 had me completely entranced. We then get John Simms wonderful interpretation of The Master who’s clearly gone insane but is a complete joy to watch, he steals every scene he’s in as he uses the last of future humanity to destroy the present.
The final episode is a bit of a letdown with the silly Dobby Doctor and the power of prayer rejuvenating the Doctor ending but theres some good Dr/Master scenes and Martha is great as she carries most of the episode. It’s such a shame she’s written out at the end but it’s a very Martha thing to do to leave to care for her family.
Overall I enjoyed rewatching this series much more than the last one.
So after the too brief Ninth Doctor era we reach the era that has probably brought the most new fans into the show. I must confess that back in 2006 I didn’t feel this series measured up to the previous one and have only rewatched a few of the stories in isolation. Don’t get me wrong I liked David Tennant’s Doctor but did find Rose more annoying so I was very intrested to rewatch them all.
My daughter was 6 when they aired and she actively wanted to watch them. She made me rewatch Tooth & Claw and Fireplace a lot, so much that I realise how my Dad must’ve felt back when I made him constantly rehire Pyramids of Mars!
Christmas Invasion kicks things off and this is wonderful, great to see the effects of regeneration on the companion dealt with and the hand/regeneration energy scene even explains Romana trying her bodies on!
The Sycrorax are a good monster and the build up to Tennant’s entrance is handled very well.
Into the series properly and New Earth is enjoyable enough but nothing special and ultimately forgettable though the idea of the disease cure is a good one.
Tooth and Claw is a good story, it’s fast paced with a good monster and a fine supporting cast, lots of good imagery. At least my daughter chose a good one to keep watching!
School Reunion isn’t the best story but it’s great to see Sarah Jane back and her scenes are the highlights, again nice to see the show exploring the aftermath of meeting The Doctor and K9 is always fun.
Girl in the Fireplace is wonderful. The idea of the robots mending the ship with human body parts is a great macabre Who idea that feels very Robert Holmes. The relationship between The Doctor and Madame de Pompador seems so much more real and touching than of that with Rose.
Rise of the Cybermen two parter is another story that just stays on the good side of average. That said updating the origin to a society ruled by technology and taking it over is good.
Idiots Lantern is the second Gattis script and sadly dosen’t match his first. Again it’s not a bad story but it never rises aboce average.
Fortunately we get The Satan Pit two parter next and this is one that I love. A great base under siege story with great characters and a credible threat with a properly thought out resolution. The Ood look great too. All the actors give good performances too. Easily the highlight of the series.
Now Love & Monsters is next and this is one most fans despise and I’ll admit to not thinking much of it on first viewing but it has some good points. The group coming together and beconing friends is sweet and the scenes with Jackie are wonderful, again showing the flipside of The Doctor taking a companion away. As for Victor taking the group over well I watched it thinking of a fair few so called fans on twitter! 🙂 A lot of fans also take issue with the paving slab ending saying The Doctor wouldn’t be that cruel but we only see the back on Elton’s tape so I think he’s imagining it, probably suffering a nervous breakdown after losing his friends.
Fear Her is next and sadly it’s a bit boring though again there’s a good idea there and some nice interplay between the characters.
Doomsday rounds things off and it’s another enjoyable story but a bit of a continuity fest. The Cyber-Dalek battle idea is pure fan fic though I’m surprised they never done it before. Rose’s story ends the only way it could short of death but I’m more sorry to see Jackie go, I liked the Part 1 scenes with her and The Doctor.
So on rewatch I enjoyed it more than I thought I would but still feel it’s a very average series but least this time I know there’s better to come…