It has been a while since the Doctor was last on our TV screens in episodic form.
As it gets ever closer to the time of celebrating the 50th anniversary, there has undoubtedly been growing hype and gossip around what will happen. The timing of the filming of the anniversary special is interesting. Will the former Doctors take part? Will there be former companions?
There was also some healthy tittle-tattle around the future of Matt Smith in the role. Some newspapers were happy to report that Smith was going to leave in the Christmas special, while soundings have come from elsewhere suggesting that Smith has committed to 2014 as well as this year.
All interesting stuff. As well as that, there has been the BBC putting on the Matt Smith Doctor episodes, and there has also been the ability to catch up on the first 5 series of the new era of the television show via Netflix. Having done so I came to the following conclusions –
Christopher Eccleston was a decent Doctor without being a great one. You can argue he only had one series, but there was still enough in that to make an impression on the role. He was good to get things started again, but not an outright excellent Doctor. I’d probably still prefer the likes of Sylvester McCoy and Colin Baker over him.
Series Two is arguably the weakest series of the new era, but still has some strong stories and Tennant already establishes himself as a proper strong Doctor capable of handling the mantle. I was never a fan of the Doctor-Rose love story and the way that Rose over-shadowed a great deal of the Tennant era was a bit of disappointment. The end stories typify my frustration with the series. Daleks and Cybermen fighting each other should be a big deal for the Doctor, but the thing that takes up the attention is Rose. What’s up with that? I acknowledge those who love it and think it’s great storytelling, it’s just not what the Doctor’s all about to me.
This makes the whole unrequited love schtick of Series Three all the more annoying. The theme of the Doctor still missing Rose and Martha Jones falling in love with this mysterious time traveller, was a distraction. Martha is not the best companion in the series, but that is not detracting from the effort that is put in to make her worthy of our sympathy. Yet in this season there are some brilliant Doctor stories, and the introduction of the Master over the last three stories is good television. Indeed from Human Nature to Last Of the Time Lords it is all good stuff with no sense of frustration.
David Tennant’s best season is undoubtedly his last (I am not counting the year full of specials as a season or part of this season). The banter and friendship between the Doctor and Donna Noble is the best companion relationship of the series so far. Not just for the humour value, but the real times of pathos and tragedy, especially at the end. The quality of stories in this series are just superb, whether it’s re-introducing the Sontarans or a murder mystery with Agatha Christie. There are probably only two weak stories in the whole season, and even in these either Tennant or Tate or both put in a good shift to make it passable.
The season of specials comes across like a bit of a dud. The Next Doctor is just about passable Christmas fare. Planet of the Dead has a hilarious cameo from Lee Evans, but other than that is fairly forgettable. Waters of Mars, though, is a tour de force. One of the best episodes of Doctor Who ever put together with only one weak link being th second main character of the story, but more than saved by the excellence of the storyline and Tennant putting in a convincing performance as a Doctor on the brink of turning … As for The End of Time – well it was very self-indulgent of them to give Tennant such an extended farewell, but the story itself was well told.
As time allows I hope to pick up the individual episodes reviews again. You’ll note that I’ve not touched Series 5, and that’s because I want to treat the Smith era to date once this season is over, but it won’t hurt you knowing I am a big fan of Smith as the Doctor, and at present I enjoy his portrayal slightly more than Tennant’s, but that is high praise for Smith, rather than any intended disrespect to Tennant.
I have not been a fan of the split series idea that is being used again for this series as it was for series 6. Breaking it up the way it does is a nuisance, and especially with a new companion starting after the Christmas deal, you might as well call it a separate series in itself. No biggie, it’s back tomorrow and I look forward to seeing what hi-jinks crack off in The Bells of St. John.
C. L. J. Dryden