As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m going through and watching the new Doctor Who series, starting with the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston). Through a series of fits and starts, I was finally able to watch the two-part Season 4/David Tennant finale. It was utterly compelling, although I felt some bits were over-wrought. Even still, Tennant’s ease in the role made it utterly enjoyable.
I feel that the story with the initial focus was a bit more convuluted then it needed to be, even for a finale. First he’s facing The Master, then a sidestory with the “We’re Not Cactus” salvagers, and a business magnate that wanted his daughter to be immortal each throw wrenches into the storyline, and finally the long-dead Time Lords are fighting to come back into existence smack dab on top of Earth by twisting reality when The Master was eight years old. At least I think he was eight, feel free to correct me on this point. Oh, and now we know how the Weeping Angels were created.
After we get past the big climax against the Time Lords and The Master, The Doctor is celebrating his unexpected survival because the prophecy that has haunted The Doctor the entire episode, “He will knock four times and then you will die,” appears to have been wrong. Suddenly, you hear a quiet *tap*tap*tap*tap*. David Tennant freezes, then beautifully conveys the painful and chilling realization that Wilfred is knocking four times on a glass door. He instantly knows that to save Wilfred’s life he must sacrifice his own, which he does as he can not leave the loyal, courageous and humble man to his death. Mind you, he had a surprisingly human rant, but then he saves Wilfred.
Through an extensive chain of events that The Doctor goes through as his “reward” before dying, he visits the companions and other travelers he’s had since the series re-started. To me, it seems that his reward is taking actions that he normally wouldn’t have to extend or better the lives of those he loves. Martha and Mickey, Rose and her Mum, Captain Jack, and Sarah Jane and her son are all visited and have their futures altered by The Doctor. One of my two favorite encounters was his delivering a lottery ticket to Donna on her wedding day, which was purchased with money he went back in time and borrowed from her own father. (Hello, goose bumps!) My other favorite was when he visited a descendant of Joan, his love interest from my favorite episode, (two-parter) “Human Nature” / “The Family of Blood.” (Forget goose bumps. Hello, tears!)
Was it overlong? Possibly. I harumphed to my husband, saying, “What the what? Eccleston didn’t get this kind of fan fare!” My husband agreed while informing me that not only was it Tennant’s farewell, but it was also Russell T. Davies’ saying farewell to The Doctor. As a well-loved writer for the series, and a major force in the series coming back in the first place, it was closure for all the stories that had been left unfinished. I also remembered that Eccleston only did one season, while Tennant did four seasons. With that in mind it makes sense, until you remember that when he dies he will regenerate. His body will change, but he comes back. I happily forgive this, since I didn’t have to see the Daleks or Cybermen again.
Since finishing Season 4, I’ve also watched:
Doctor Who: The Infinite Quest (2007) – Animated and well done, although I really and truly missed the depth of the human actors. The animators did a great job, but are limited as to what they could convey and it wasn’t nearly as enticing as what The Doctor was able to share with just a lift of his eyebrow and twinkle in his dreamy eyes. (What? He’s sexy!)
It was fantastic to see what they were able to do without the limits of the physical world, and I feel they fully explored the possibilities. The story itself was good, although not mind-bending, and one of my favorite elements was during the opening title sequence, where the now animated TARDIS is bouncing along the time vortex in place of the “real” TARDIS as we’re used to in all the other opening sequences. (Hat tip to Chooch for noticing it.)
My favorite part was in the DVD extras – a behind-the-scenes look at the audio recordings used for the episode. A heap of fun that I highly recommend you take the time to watch.
Doctor Who: The Next Doctor (2008) – A mostly fun and light-hearted story that ends, as is typical, with a touching story. And Cybermen, natch. I’m such a sucker for stories involving kids.
And the TARDIS (Tethered Aerial Release Developed In Style), as opposed to the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension(s) In Space) we know and love? Simply brilliant.
Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars (2009) – Another beautifully enacted story showing The Doctor’s eternal struggle with what he should do (based on the laws of time) and what his conscience screams at him to do. This time, he mixes things up with a heart breaking, yet oddly uplifting ending. Cheers for Captain Brooks calling shenanigans on “The Time Lord Victorious.”
I’ve got Season 5, Disk 1 at the ready for immediate consumption, but I think I’ll let this soak in before I watch it.