Series Two – David Tennant

The Christmas Invasion

This is the debut of a new Doctor, David Tennant, and it is a strong start, despite the Doctor missing much of the first half. Rose in particular has a strong outing here, standing up to the alien invaders, the Sycorax, even if she doesn’t accomplish a whole lot. A theme throughout this season is that Rose is getting stronger and more like the Doctor in interesting ways. This also is the first of what would be a series of Christmas or New Year’s specials throughout the run of New Doctor Who. Another planted seed here is the reference to Torchwood. This agency was set up by Queen Victoria (see Tooth and Claw, Episode Three) to defend England against alien threats. The name Torchwood is in fact an anagram of Doctor Who, and was initially used to disguise film cans from the curious snoops. And we got to see U.N.I.T. once again. And finally, we see what happened to Harriet Jones. So a lot was accomplished in this episode.

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New Earth

OK, the ending is a bit dicey. I am pretty sure that drenching yourself in cure liquids and hugging diseased people is not true medicine, but sometimes you have to willingly suspend your disbelief. And this episode gives you reasons to. It is set on a world settled by humanity following the destruction of the original (see End of the World in season one), and is the not the last time we’ll see this planet, since it is also the setting for Gridlock in season three. And another tie to End of the World are the returns of Cassandra and The Face of Boe, and The Face of Boe also returns in Gridlock. So you can see story arcs flowing all around here. The real treat here is the acting by both David Tennant and Billie Piper. In the show, Cassandra is able to leap into other people’s bodies and take them over, and Billie Piper in particular shines in portraying Cassandra when her body is taken over.

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Tooth and Claw

It starts off with an odd combination of a martial arts film and the “bullet time” made famous by The Matrix. And this is a good time to note the need to suspend disbelief. Martial Arts monks in Scotland makes no sense at all, nor does why they need to bring a Werewolf to life by starlight. A running gag is Rose’s attempts to get Queen Victoria to say “We are not amused.” She does finally say that, but in circumstances that make it clear she is really not amused at all. The story takes place at the Torchwood Estate. The monks duly create the werewolf, But the Doctor succeeds in killing it using the Koh-i-noor diamond. The story is fun, but not the really important thing here. As a result of all of this nonsense with the Doctor and the Werewolf, the Queen decides that aliens are a threat to be guarded against, so she establishes the Torchwood Institute, named after the estate on which this all happens, and gives it a mandate to work in secret to prepare defense against aliens. We saw the result in The Christmas Invasion, and we’ll see it again later. And of course a spin-off series starring Captain Jack was created and ran for 4 seasons. Torchwood gets at least a mention in nearly every story this season, so it is the “Bad Wolf” of Season Two

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School Reunion

This is about the return of Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen), a beloved companion for both the Third (Jon Pertwee) and Fourth (Tom Baker) Doctors. This story brings up something that was never really addressed in the original series, which is how the Doctor affects the people who travel with him. Sarah Jane got left behind and now it seems has been waiting for the Doctor to return. And she starts to clash with Rose, leading to Mickey’s best line of all when he points out that every man’s worst nightmare is when the Mrs. and the Ex get together. Mickey is also starting to grow, something that will continue in the future. The rest of the story is a bit thin, to be honest, but it does give Tennant a chance to show his dark side. He is, as he said in The Christmas Invasion, a “No second chances” Doctor.

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The Girl in the Fireplace

This is a fun love story that shows the problems of time travel. The Fireplace in question is somehow linked to a spaceship and is a portal between the ship and a room in France. When the Doctor goes through the portal the first time, he finds himself in the bedroom of a young girl, and scares away the monsters. He returns to the ship briefly, but when he comes back she is now a grown woman. She ends up being Madame de Pompadour, mistress to the King. It turns out that the link from the spaceship was created by clockwork androids, who were the monsters from her childhood bedroom. After saving the day, the Doctor makes a quick trip back to the spaceship, but when he returns she has died. So this is basically a tragic love story with wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff going on. Best line is when the Doctor says it is only a nightmare. When Reinette (the girl) asks what the nightmares have as their nightmare, the Doctor says “Me!”

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Rise of the Cybermen

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The Age of Steel

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The Idiot’s Lantern

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The Impossible Planet

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The Satan Pit

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Love and Monsters

This is a good story in many ways. It is a look at fandom that focuses on people who are obsessed with finding out more about the Doctor. Of course, for the purposes of this program the Doctor is a real, not a fictional TV program. The monster of the title was based on a submission from a young fan in a contest sponsored by Blue Peter, a children’s TV program that has been broadcast since 1958 and is now the longest running children’s program in the world. And of course Doctor Who was intended from the beginning to be a children’s program, even if the kids might be viewing it from “behind the sofa”. To an adult the monster is more hokey than scary, but then that is often the case.

This particular episode has almost no presence by the Doctor and Rose, who were busy filming other episodes, but Jackie has a nice appearance. The ending is a bit weird, and I suspect is the reason why in hindsight this is rated fairly low. But much of it is worth the watching, so give it a chance.

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Fear Her

With the expense of three big two-parters this season, the BBC needed an episode that was inexpensive and could be done quickly, and that was how this happened. It is definitely the low point of the season. Most of the people act in ways that make no sense, and much of it looks like a commercial for the London Olympics of 2012, which technically wasn’t even a thing yet since London had not been officially awarded those games. Is the bad guy the alien, or is it Chloe’s father? You be the judge, but if you skip this I wouldn’t blame you

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Army of Ghosts

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Doomsday

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