Series Four – David Tennant

Voyage of the Damned

This was the 2007 Christmas special, the third such of the Russell T. Davies era (the first was The Christmas Invasion, and the second was The Runaway Bride), and the show plays off of that because when a group visits London on Christmas they find it deserted, and a newsvendor (Bernard Cribbins, who we will see again in the 2008 season) explains that everyone has left London because dangerous alien activity always seems to happen there on Christmas. And of course it will happen again this year. Kylie Minogue is the big name guest star here, and essentially is a one-off companion for the Doctor. The plot is not at all air-tight, but is essentially a sci-fi play off of The Poseidon Adventure.

I think the main take-away here is something that is not exactly emphasized, but is in a way the theme of the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant. If you remember the famous scene at the end of The Doctor Dances, when Eccleston is so full of joy that at last, everyone lives. Well, this episode is the opposite. One by one, most of the likable characters get killed off (except one), and each one demonstrates the inability of the Doctor to control events. Some die by accident, some by sacrificing themselves for the good of all, but there is nothing the Doctor can do. The least likable character, a wealthy, highly-entitled investor, lives. And Copper then foreshadows a lot when he points out that if the Doctor could decide who lives and who dies, that would make him a monster, wouldn’t it?

Tennant’s Doctor is a really a tragic figure. He loses the people he loves. Rose is in another universe, essentially unreachable. Martha chooses to leave him. The only other Time Lord in existence, The Master, chooses to die just to spite the Doctor’s wish for at least one other person of his race to live. This Doctor is still clearly haunted by the Time War, and is a sad and lonely man. I think this is the main theme of the Tenth Doctor.

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Partners in Crime

This is where Donna Noble, played by Catherine Tate, returns. She was first introduced in The Runaway Bride, where she seemed to be a one-off Christmas Special companion, much like Kylie Minogue was last Christmas. But sometimes characters appear in a one-off role, and something sparks more attention. There is an interesting echo here of School Reunion, because again we have the Doctor and a former companion independently investigating the same odd occurence, each unaware of the other. But here it is played for comedy. Bernard Cribbins returns, and this time he is the grandfather of Donna Noble. Originally there was supposed to be a father for Donna who appeared in The Runaway Bride and who would fulfill the functions needed in this story, but that actor took ill and died. Rather than try to cast another actor as Donna’s father, they decided to bring in Bernard Cribbins. Of course, Cribbins not only appeared in Voyage of the Damned, but as a much younger man appeared in the Peter Cushing movie Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. In fact, people we’ve seen before and people we will see again is the theme of the entire season, as we will see. This story is not going on anyone’s list of the classic top stories, but it is a perfectly fine story with a lot of humor. And apparently the Doctor is not the only one with a sonic device. And watch to the very end for the appearance of a previous companion.

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The Fires of Pompeii

Later on in Doctor Who we will see (The Doctor’s Wife) that sometimes the TARDIS takes the Doctor where he is needed, rather than where he wants to go, though it is never made explicit how this is accomplished. Here is the relevant dialogue:

The Doctor: You didn’t always take me where I wanted to go.

Idris (inhabited by the Tardis): No, but I always took you where you needed to go.

The Doctor: You did!

The Doctor’s Wife

This is an example, since the Doctor was trying to go to ancient Rome, and instead is diverted to Pompeii the day before the volcano erupts. And it is up to him to make sure things turn out all right. As I said before, people we have seen before and people we will see again are a theme this season, and we have two examples in this episode. Caecilius is played by Peter Capaldi, who will return as the 12th Doctor, and Karen Gillan plays the soothsayer, and she will be the first companion to the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith. This is a good episode, where the Doctor learns that Donna was right, and in the process learns to temper the rules with a little mercy.

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Planet of the Ood

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The Sontaran Strategem

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The Poison Sky

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The Doctor’s Daughter

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The Unicorn and the Wasp

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Silence in the Library

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Forest of the Dead

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Midnight

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Turn Left

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The Stolen Earth

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Journey’s End

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Review of 2008 Season

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