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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

DOCTOR WHO: THE END OF THE DAVID TENNANT ERA

I finally got my hands on the last year and a half's worth of DOCTOR WHO and after all that waiting I've gotten a chance to watch all of it. Given the choice when it comes to my favorite TV shows, I prefer to get several of them and just spend a weekend watching as much of it in sequence as possible, thus fully immersing myself in outright geekery. Anyway...

And so David Tennant's run as the tenth Doctor came to an end and ushered in an eleventh in the form of Matt Smith, so here's a roundup of the specials leading up to Smith's arrival.

Special #1-The Next Doctor

Picking up where the previous series left off and finding the Doctor greatly saddened by what he had to do to save companion Donna Noble's life, our hero's cosmic/temporal vagabonding brings the last Time Lord to Christmas Eve in Victorian England, 1851, where he finds some seemingly random dude running around with a sonic screwdriver and a hot companion who also calls himself the Doctor? Needless to say, what's up with that? We find out the answer to that question along with the real Doctor and the results are tepid at best, featuring a squirm-nducingly trite ending. Moving on...

Special #2-Planet of the Dead

Returning to the U.K. in the early 21st century, the Doctor ends up on a London bus that gets transported to a barren desert world where he and the bus' passengers must figure out a way to return home before they are horribly eaten alive by the millions of flying stingray-like creatures that destroyed the place. This is a nice little self-contained story that is notable for Lady Christina de Souza (Michelle Ryan from EASTENDERS and the BIONIC WOMAN reboot attempt), an aristocratic thief who is every inch the Doctor's equal and a great foil for him. de Souza is something of a thrill-junkie and she's introduced while making like Tom Cruise in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE as she steals a priceless artifact from a museum while suspended from a retractable wire array. However, it is her skilled larcenous capabilities that cause the Doctor to reject her as a companion, without even letting her set one foot inside the TARDIS, but I hope she returns at some point, however briefly. Also among the unwittingly transported is Carmen (Ellen Thomas), a woman possessed of psychic abilities who enigmatically warns the Doctor of ominous things to come...

Special #3-The Waters of Mars

A strong contender for the title of bleakest DOCTOR WHO story ever, this one finds our cosmic vagabond turning up on Mars in the year 2059 and encountering the first manned scientific base on the red planet. A fully-functioning bio-dome system, the base runs into grave problems when they use water tapped from a buried deposit of ice that appears to have been sealed off for a reason by a race indigenous to Mars (presumably the Ice Warriors), and it soon becomes apparent that no one is getting out of there alive. The Doctor knows for a fact that this is indeed the case because the entire crew have gone down in history for dying in an unexplained thermo-nuclear blast, and he is torn between simply leaving the scientists to their historic fate, stating that their deaths are one of the events that is permanently fixed in time, or ignoring what has been written and allowing them to escape the horror they unintentionally set free, a horror with its eye set on the Earth. I won't give away what happens, but the Doctor learns a very hard lesson about fucking with what was/is to be, a lesson taught to him in a way I was genuinely shocked to see on what is still considered by many to be a kid's show...

Special #4-The End of Time Part 1

It's back to present day Earth on Christmas Eve of 2009 after an extended holiday before his prophesied demise, and the Doctor has to contend with the Master's (John Simm) umpteenth resurrection while also re-encountering Wilfred (the excellent Bernard Cribbins), Donna Noble's grand-dad, who wants the Doctor to restore his daughter's memories of her time with the Doctor and once more set her free from her mundane go-nowhere life for adventures in time and space. Donna herself (a returning Catherine Tate) is about to get married, but she's beginning to have visions of her supposedly suppressed experiences with the Doctor. Also, once back in action, the Master enacts a plan of such villainously brilliant magnitude that I had to admire what he accomplished. Oh, and there's also a biiiiiiiig development involving the status of the Doctor and the Master's status as the presumed last of the Time Lords...

Special #5-The End of Time Part 2

I can't really discuss this episode without giving away its many twists, but let it suffice to say that it is a satisfying coda to David Tennant's run as the Doctor. And longtime DOCTOR WHO fans only need to look at the accompanying photo to know what's in this one, and yes, that is former-007 Timothy Dalton as, well...Watch it for yourself.

Though skeptical at first, I soon came to enjoy David Tennant's take on the Doctor — though he could be at times questionably unstable and out of character compared to what we know of the vagabond Time Lord — and I admit that I'm sad to see him go. His infectious sense of wonder at the universe around him, even after ages of traipsing all over creation, was a terrific character touch and breathed fresh life into what had become something of a moribund series (which is not to slag off Christopher Eccleston's work during the first year of the show's reboot, not by any means). Now we have Matt Smith, who looks to me like the unintended results of a matter transporter accident involving Daryl Hall and Neil Patrick Harris, and I'm curious to see what he brings to the table.

TO BE CONTINUED

2 comments:

dls said...

I grew to like Tennent a lot over the time he inhabited the role but there was something about Eccleston's ability to be wacky and serious that still makes me prefer him. When he got angry I felt the menace more. Matt Smith isn't bad but I think it'll take a few series to get used to him.

Also Wilfred Mott is Donna's Grandfather.

Bunche said...

Thanks for the correction! (I knew Wilfred was Donna's grand-dad but I wasn't paying attention while typing.)