Doctor Who Review
Apologies if I have a quick fanboy-esque rant here, but this is NOT the first series or season. There's been over 150 Who stories before this! Ok, slight rant over.
This series features 13 episodes, containing a total of 10 stories. We meet a new Doctor (Ecclestone), a new companion (Piper), some new villains (Slitheen) and some old favourites (Autons, Daleks). Here's a quick rundown of the series, courtesy of the booklet in the box.
Rose When Rose Tyler meets a mysterious stranger called the Doctor, her life will never be the same again. Soon, she realises that her mum, her boyfriend and the whole of planet Earth are in danger. The only hope for salvation lies inside a strange blue box...
The End Of The World The Doctor takes Rose on her first voyage through time, to the year 5 billion. The Sun is about to expand and swallow the Earth. But amongst the alien races gathering to watch on Platform One, a murderer is at work. Who is controlling the mysterious and deadly spiders?
The Unquiet Dead The Doctor take Rose back through time to 1869. But in Victorian Cardiff, the dead are walking and creatures made of gas are on the loose. The time-travellers team up with Charles Dickens to investigate Me Sneed, the local undertaker. Can they halt the plans of the ethereal Gelth?
Aliens Of London The Doctor takes Rose home. But when a spaceship crash lands in the Thames, London is closed off and the whole world is on Red Alert. While the Doctor investigates the alien survivor, Rose discovers that her home is no longer a safe haven. Who are the Slitheen?
World War Three Downing Street announces mankind's first interplanetary war. But the real danger is much closer to home. The Doctor, Rose and Harriet Jones race against time to unmask the villainous Slitheen, but only Rose's boyfriend and mum hold the key to salvation. Can the missiles be stopped?
Dalek Beneath the Salt Plains of Utah, the billionaire collector Harry Van Stratten holds the last relic of an alien race. When the Doctor and Rose investigate, they discover that the Doctor's oldest and most deadly enemy is about to break free. It's a fight to the death, with Rose caught in the middle.
The Long Game In the far future, Satellite 5 broadcasts to the entire Earth empire. Nothing escapes the eye of the sinister Editor and the Doctor suspects mankind is being manipulated. But just who is the Editor working for? And does Adam have what it takes to become the Time Lord's companion?
Father's Day The Doctor and Rose return to 1987 and the scene of her father's tragic accident. But when she interferes in the course of events, the monstrous Reapers are unleashed upon the world and a wedding day turns into a massacre. Even the Doctor is powerless as the human race is devoured.
The Empty Child London, 1941, at the height of the blitz. The army guards a mysterious cylinder and homeless children, living on bombsites, are terrorised by an unearthly child. Rose meets the dashing Jack Harkness and wonders if she has found a hero even better than the Doctor?
The Doctor Dances In the second part of The Empty Child story, the Child's plague spreads throughout Wartime London with its zombie army on the march. The Doctor and Rose form an alliance with Captain Jack, but find themselves trapped in the abandoned hospital. The answer lies at the bombsite, but time is running out....
Boom Town The TARDIS crew take a holiday, but the Doctor encounters an enemy he though long since dead. A plan to build a nuclear power station in Cardiff City disguises an alien plot to rip the world apart. And when the Doctor dines with monsters, he discovers traps within traps.
Bad Wolf The Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack have to fight for their lives on board the Game Station. But a far more dangerous threat is lurking, just out of sight. The Doctor realises that the entire human race has been blinded to the threat on its doorstep and Armageddon is fast approaching.
Parting Of The Ways Rose Tyler has seen danger and wonders alongside the Doctor, but now their friendship is put to the test as Earth plunges into an epic war. With the human race being slaughtered, the Doctor is forced into terrible action. Will the time-travellers ever be reunited?
As you may have guessed from my opening, I was a huge fan as a kid. I grew up on the tail end of Pertwee and into Baker, from Robot and Planet of Death to the bitter end. I hated McCoy although not as much as I hated the stories and having to deal with celebrity guests took the icing of the cake. But, as much a fan as I was as a kid (when, at the age of 6, I dragged my 8 months pregnant mother to the local mall, to queue for a few hours JUST so I could meet Tom Baker - I have another Who story, but I'll save that for another day.), I've grown up. Hence, when people ask me what I think of Star Wars, my answer is always “It was great when I was 7. But I'm not 7 anymore.” That way I escape giving a direct answer and they leave vaguely satisfied. However, I do occasionally watch the original show, to bask in the nostalgia and to have a good laugh at the special effect - C'mon “Ark In Space” used bubble wrap painted green! It's just one of those shows, like the Muppets, that so much a part of my youth and still appeals to the inner child in me (although he's very well hidden). Of course, with such memories, one was always going to approach the new show with trepidation.
So, where to start? Well, the critics seemed to love the show, so it should be good, right? Well, yes and no is my view and I'm sure some will agree and disagree over my points. First off, the negatives starting with Russell T Davies. Not a surprise, as he wrote some of the worst episodes, particularly the Slitheen 2-parter. I mean flatulent aliens? Belching dustbins? What was he thinking? We're talking lowest common denominator here at best. Heck, I'd rather have seen the Bertie Bassett alien again. I'm sorry, but that is just toilet humour (literally) for the sake of it. Secondly, Billie Piper. Not only can she not act, but is it just me or is her smile unsettling? Ok, I can forgive the smile, even if it creeps me out, but I can't forgive her lack of talent. I know it's not Shakespeare, but at least she could make a visible effort - I'm not having a go because I want to, she seriously makes me cringe. Third negative has to be continuity - they seem to pick and choose from the shows history from showing a Cyberman's head, but not once referring to his prior regeneration in the opening episode. Ok, it still sounds like a fan boy rant, but either embrace your past or do a complete Etch-a-Sketch start, not pick and choose.
But on the other side, it has some good side. Starting off with the 2-parter written by Stephen Moffatt, suitably moody and chilling, it hailed back to the more Gothic episodes from the Baker years, such as Fang Rock or Morbius. This particular story was certainly the highlight of the season for me. Even the Davies written finale showed he could write decent Who, if he wanted to, with a social commentary on the state of TV, great villains and a regeneration too, although the Bad Wolf resolution was poor, but I'll let that slide. Ecclestone is another positive, sort of. When the episodes were well written, he was a good Doctor, but when the material was bad, he just looked like a grinning idiot, struggling embarrassingly.
Of course, one can argue it needed to find its feet, being a 'first season', but that's the point, it wasn't the first - they knew what worked and what didn't to a degree, but they didn't pay complete heed. I guess, this opinion could be jaded due to my fond memories, but can you imagine if Star Trek: The Next Generation never mentioned or referenced Kirk, Spock and Bones? My dear god, they're more rabid than Who fans, with much bigger anoraks to boot! Still, it got considerably better towards the end, here's hoping that next season will be less hap-hazard than this.