The trailer hasn’t officially been released in the UK yet, but it was shown at the San Diego Comicon, and originally put onto YouTube by safia43. Don’t click unless you really want to know who is going to ‘knock four times’ and presumably bring about the death of the Tenth Doctor in the Christmas special two-parter! SPOILER WARNING!
And so the first of the 2009 Tennant specials is with us. And before I say anything else, let me make one thing clear: this is a lot better than the Christmas special! There is some frustrating sentimentality (this was co-written by RTD after all), but quite a strong plot and a resumption of continuity, at least to close. It’s hardly pushing the franchise into original territory (I’m expecting Steven Moffat to make inroads on that next year), but it was quirky, Tennant was on good form and Michelle Ryan was surprisingly effective as Lady Christina de Souza.
Be real for a moment and realise an episode co-written by outgoing showrunner Russell T Davies was never going to have many surprises in store. But the disappearance of a London bus through a wormhole into a long destroyed planet is still highly entertaining. Much of this is down to the chemistry between Tennant and Michelle (‘Bionic Woman’) Ryan, and she’s very watchable. Her lovable thief Lady Christina is more than a match for The Doctor – an intelligent, physical heroine despite herself, and enjoyably immoral in contrast with her more immediate predecessors. Hers and Tennant’s chemistry thankfully papers over some cringingly bad scripting and overcomes some terrible casting. Whoever thought Lee Evans was suitable for any role, let alone the mad professor who figures out how to get The Doctor & co home, should be shot. The romp in getting them home is worth it though, and the threat of the alien swarm is well developed. Is there the edge from ‘Silence in the Library‘ or ‘Forest of the Dead‘? Of course not, but that’s not RTD’s strength. It’s a nicely seasonal heroic rescue story, and the finale where Carmen tells him ‘your song is ending’ is delightfully cryptic. ‘It is returning through the dark’ she says – what exactly? Presumably the threat which leads to Ten’s death, but what? With a companion it would feel less of a worry, but with the character now fully alone it’s alarming. ‘He will knock four times’ eh? The Master? The clock is ticking…
I’ll miss Ten when he leaves. David Tennant and Russell T Davies have between them managed to ingrain this incarnation of the character into the national consciousness, and in this era of minimal audience attention that’s no mean achievement. Ten enjoys exploration and humanity so much, he’s almost a throwback to the utopianism which Star Trek has just allegedly thrown off. His inspirational nature is a wonderful, upbeat counterweight to the darkness regularly on our screens, particularly from America, and this special thankfully had little of the smarminess of the Christmas special. The Doctor’s pleased at his success in saving people, but then finds he’s soon to die. I wonder how much more of that subplot will come out in ‘Waters of Mars’…
I have to admit I’ve been caught by surprise by the excitement I’m feeling around the arrival of Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor. Like Neil Gaiman I’m slightly disappointed Paterson Joseph didn’t get it, but new Executive Producer and Head Writer Steven Moffat says he was an instantaneous fit for how he saw Eleven, and that’s more than good enough for me. He has the chops for serious, the chops for credible, and no baggage to hinder him in becoming an Eleven very different to David Tennant’s Ten. We have a very young man playing 900+, which should be very interesting indeed, particularly if Moffat revisits continuity he’s already introduced, such as Professor River Song…
I strongly believe that David Tennant has chosen to retire Ten about a series (or part of one, think about it) too soon, and I’ll be very sad to see him go. In four years he’s managed to define the role for an entire generation, but the secret of the franchise’s longevity has been its ability to completely reinvent itself from its bad times as well as its good ones. Moffat + Smith in 2010 is now really intriguing.
Some background reading to learn more about Eleven. I must confess enormous disappointment that Paterson Joseph didn’t get the role, but I imagine Steven Moffat must have relished the opportunities which a blank slate like Smith provides.
This should be fun…(he’s cute too *ahem*), and I’m pretty pleased I got him as my 50/50 guess yesterday.
Awful news. But it does prove Russell T Davies’ interview hint that he knew when he was leaving, and it does explain why Davies and incoming executive producer/lead writer Steven Moffat have each expressed their opinion about who should follow him. Tennant took over after Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston shamefully ditched the role after only the initial season of the new run, but swiftly eclipsed his popular predecessor, often being voted the most popular of all the Doctors, and rightly so. I was really hoping for at least one series with Moffat, but it appears not to be, which is a real shame.
But hey the character is about change, and it’s come around again. I know who I think should follow him, but what about you?
I’m sorry, but after a hit & miss first series, could this have been any better? Not only does this opening episode to series 2 have a huge sense of humour about itself (which series 1 lacked), but…James Marsters! And borrowing a key actor who delivered the cool to ‘Buffy’ had exactly the same effect here – the series finally hit its potential! Captain John comes out of nowhere, snogging Captain Jack (an all time gay geek moment) in a meeting of hilarious brutality, and he has stories to tell of Jack and his past. Finally learning from Doctor Who, it’s presented as a conspiracy of sorts, a thread which threatens to run throughout the series – just the touch which was missing from series 1.
A merry chase is had, Jack finally formally goes out with Ianto (yes please), Marsters is far from gone for good, and this series’ inferiority complex seems to have gone. With Martha Jones on the horizon this series can only build on this superb start. RTD’s ‘Buffy’ worship hasn’t always worked – either here or in Doctor Who – this time though it couldn’t be paying off better.
A seasonal gift for you fellow Doctor Who fans – Paul Cornell, the acclaimed screen writer of Father’s Day in season 1 and Human Nature & Family of Blood in series 3 has written a Tenth Doctor short story in the Daily Telegraph.