The Girl in the Fireplace

TGIF Doctor and Reinette

What’s a horse doing on a spaceship?

Mickey, what’s pre-Revolutionary France doing on a spaceship?  Get a little perspective.

Mickey Smith and the Tenth Doctor

Synopsis

The Doctor, Rose and Mickey arrive onboard a deserted spaceship three thousand years in the future.  What has happened to the crew?  And why has the ship got gateways into the life of Madame de Pompadour, a French lady from the 18th Century?

Review

The Girl in the Fireplace is not only a superb example of what Doctor Who can do but is a fantastic example of television in general.  It is definitely in my top ten episodes of the revival and probably in my top ten episodes of Doctor Who of all time.  I say this as someone who loves Moffat’s work under Russell T Davies and his work whilst showrunner with a very few exceptions, and this has a lot of his tropes perfectly executed – we’ve got a bit of mucking about with time and some sharp, witty, and frankly brilliant dialogue.  I think if I am looking for an episode of Doctor Who to pick me up, this is one of the first I will turn to.

You think I fear you.  But I do not fear you even now.  You are merely the nightmare from my childhood.  And if my childhood nightmare can return to plague me then rest assured, so will yours.

Reinette

One of the strongest parts of this episode is in the casting of Sophia Myles as Reinette, who gives a superb performance as Madame de Pompadour, and she has clear and believable chemistry with David Tennant.  Obviously, I must mention that Tennant and Myles did date for a short time following working together on this episode, breaking up in 2007.  However, when you have a story that hinges on the central premise of two characters falling in love and telling this story in 45 minutes, this chemistry is essential.  On a side note, a large part of my issues with Tennant’s first series as the Doctor and Rose is that Tennant and Billie Piper don’t have that chemistry.  The two obviously get on well as friends, but there’s something lacking that stops me buying into that whole ‘they both love each other romantically’ element of their story.  The chemistry between Reinette and the Doctor also means that you ultimately believe in both the Doctor’s decision to come and save her, knowing that this means being separated from his TARDIS and Rose and Mickey, as well as the final scene, where he comes back for her, only to find that she has passed away.  Sophia Myles’ Reinette also feels like a strong heroine and we fully root for her defeating the Clockwork Droids.  Her speech when she speaks about being resigned to taking the slow path whilst hearing her own future screams is beautifully played, as is the scene when the Doctor manages to fix the link to the ship.

TGIF Doctor and Arthur

Steven Moffat’s writing is also fantastic.  The story itself, despite its obvious links to The Time Traveller’s Wife, is different enough, and the reveal of the twist is really superb.  I love the fact that the Doctor and his companions never solve the mystery of why the Clockwork Droids are stalking Reinette, and the way the episode is directed by Euros Lyn withholds this reveal well.  We see the exterior of S.S. Madame de Pompadour on multiple occasions as a transition shot between scenes, but this never spoils the twist.  Moffat’s script fizzles with what we now see as his trademark wit but packs a lot of emotion into this story.  I love the fact that the Doctor reasoning for wanting to keep Arthur is that he allowed Rose to ‘keep’ Mickey!  The story also has some fantastic pacing and ties up the story beautifully with no loose ends.  One of the most powerful scenes in a story that is full of them is the mind reading scene where the chemistry between the two actors really helps but the writing is fantastic and the twist is very cleverly done.

TGIF Reinette

I feel that this is one of Tennant’s best performances as the Doctor to date, and there are some really great moments here.  Obviously, this story allows Tennant to utilise his Casanova experience, but he has lovely moments like when he sees the clockwork mechanism in the Clockwork Droid’s head which is quintessentially Doctor-y.  Additionally, the scene where the Doctor acts drunk when Rose and Mickey have been captured by the Clockwork Droids is great.  Ultimately, the highlight of this story is how he plays the scene where the King tells him that Reinette has died, he reads the letter and tucks it into his pocket is beautifully played by all involved, and the following scene where he reads the letter in the TARDIS is heartbreaking.

The Clockwork Droids are a really good adversary for the Doctor and his companions, with their intentions no doubt honourable but misguided in their attempt to repair their ship.  Before the story even begins, they have murdered the entirety of the crew of the S.S. Madame de Pompadour and their search then turns to Reinette, believing that the ship can only be fixed with her head once she has reached the correct age. The Droids are very creepy, with their wigs and masks and I really like the idea that they would break any working clocks in the room to disguise themselves.

Verdict: I don’t think I can overstate my fondness for The Girl in the Fireplace.  It is one of the finest episodes of Doctor Who since the revival, if not of all time. 10/10

Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler), Noel Clarke (Mickey Smith), Sophia Myles (Reinette), Ben Turner (King Louis), Jessica Atkins (Young Reinette), Angel Coulby (Katherine), Gareth Wyn Griffiths (Manservant), Paul Kasey (Clockwork Man), Ellen Thomas (Clockwork Woman), Jonathan Hart & Emily Joyce (Voices)

Writer: Steven Moffat

Director: Euros Lyn

Behind the Scenes

  • The story follows School Reunion directly, however, when Steven Moffat wrote the story he had not had the chance to read the end of the story, hence the lack of animosity between Rose and Mickey.  There are also no references to Torchwood, as Russell T Davies did not ask Moffat to put any in.
  • This story was originally second in the series order, however, due to the experimental nature of the story, it was moved to fourth.
  • The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger was an inspiration for Moffat whilst writing this story but the finished product is structured differently.
  • Russell T Davies was inspired by the Turk, an 18th Century robot, when devising the Clockwork Droids.
  • The Girl in the Fireplace was nominated for a Nebula Award and won the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

Best Moment

The mind reading scene.

Best Quote

What the hell is going on?

Oh.  This is my lover, the King of France.

Yeah? Well, I’m the Lord of Time.

King Louis, Reinette and the Tenth Doctor

Clockwork Droid

School Reunion

Doctor Sarah K-9

You can spend the rest of your life with me, but I can’t spend the rest of mine with you.  I have to live on.  That’s the curse of the Time Lords.

The Tenth Doctor

Synopsis

The Doctor, Rose and Mickey investigate strange events occurring in Deffry Vale High School, where some children have impossible knowledge.  Whilst the Doctor is undercover as a teacher, he bumps into a former companion, Sarah Jane Smith, who is also investigating incredible results.

Review

School Reunion is quite a major milestone for the revived series, as it finally explicitly confirms its connection to the original series.  This is something that had been previously alluded to in the first series, however, it demonstrates confidence here in the second series that the new followers of the show will accept a previous companion returning to the show.  Bringing back Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane seems like a bit of a no-brainer really, as the character is one of the most easily recognisable companions from the ‘Classic’ era of the show, having served as a companion to both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker.

Hello.

Oh, I should think so!

And you are?

Hm? Ah, Smith.  John Smith.

John Smith.  I used to have sometimes went by that name.

Well, it’s a very common name.

He was a very uncommon man.  Nice to meet you.

Nice to meet you.  Yes, very nice.  More than nice.  Brilliant.

Sarah Jane Smith and The Tenth Doctor

School Reunion sees David Tennant at potentially his best if watching chronologically through his era.  The moment where the Doctor, under the guise of John Smith, spots Sarah Jane for the first time is so well played and Tennant’s enthusiasm at acting alongside Sladen is clear here, equalled only by his reaction when K-9 is unveiled in the back of Sarah’s car.  Tennant and Sladen have some great and easy chemistry which really helps with the idea that this is the same man who travelled with her through time and space.  Sarah does harbour a considerable amount of resentment for how her time with the Doctor ended, with her being left in Aberdeen rather than Croydon.  Equally, there is tension between Rose and Sarah Jane, which I feel is one of the stronger parts of the episode.  This story really brings it home to Rose that there have been other people to travel with the Doctor and almost bursts the smugness that seems to be prevalent in the second series.  The moment where they argue and compare experiences, ultimately realising how silly they are being and mocking the Doctor’s eccentricities is really lovely.  It almost promises an improvement in Rose’s attitude, but it does feel a bit like an immediate step backwards at the conclusion, where Mickey wants to travel with the Doctor.  Noel Clarke continues his upwards trend and Mickey is much more likeable and much more useful as a companion now than he would have been during the first series.  His realisation that he is the equivalent of K-9 is fantastically well played.

Doctor Headmaster

The Krillitane are a good villain for this story and the set up of them taking the place of teachers at the school works really well.  I particularly like the callback when Rose talks about how she thought teachers used to sleep at school, only to find that the Krillitane are asleep in the Headmaster’s office.  Anthony Head is another strong element of this episode, as there is something otherworldly about his appearance, with his slicked-back hair and the way he carries himself which makes it utterly believable that he could, in fact, be an alien disguised as a human.  The Krillitanes’ scheme is also quite effective and gives the Doctor, Rose and Sarah Jane pause for thought, offering the Doctor the opportunity to change the outcome of the Time War, and both Sarah and Rose the opportunity to travel with the Doctor forever.  It does seem as though this opportunity might tempt the Doctor enough here, only for Sarah’s speech to Finch to snap him out of it, and it is nice to see the Doctor potentially swayed by an enemy’s plan for once.

sarah jane and the doctor

School Reunion is perhaps unique in demonstrating the impact travelling with the Doctor has on his companions’ lives and their struggles in adapting to life after the Doctor.  It doesn’t even seem to have occurred to Rose that there is any potential event that might mean that the Doctor would leave her behind, despite Jack having been left behind only a few episodes earlier.  In bringing back Sarah Jane, we see a companion who has had time to deal with being left by the Doctor, however, there is still some uncertainty and lingering doubts as to whether it is due to something that she did wrong which meant that the Doctor did not return for her.  It’s a really superb depiction of what losing that way of life means for people and it’s nice to see Doctor Who actually address that.  The scene at the end of the episode where Sarah finally gets a proper goodbye from the Doctor is really touching.

Did I do something wrong?  ‘Cause you never came back for me.  You just dumped me.

I told you.  I was called back home and in those days, humans weren’t allowed.

I waited for you. I missed you.

Oh, you didn’t need me.  You were getting on with your life.

You were my life.

Sarah Jane Smith and Tenth Doctor

Verdict: A really good episode that sees a past companion return.  The central performances are all really good, and it has a good one off villain.  9/10

Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Anthony Head (Mr. Finch), Noel Clarke (Mickey Smith), Rod Arthur (Mr Parsons), Eugene Washington (Mr Wagner), Heather Cameron (Nina), Joe Pickley (Kenny), Benjamin Smith (Luke), Clem Tibber (Milo), Lucinda Dryzek (Melissa), Caroline Berry (Dinner Lady), John Leeson (Voice of K-9)

Writer: Toby Whithouse

Director: James Hawes

Behind the Scenes

  • With the reappearance of Sarah Jane and K-9, the rebooted show confirms explicitly that it is a continuation of the original series.  This story also acted as a backdoor pilot for The Sarah Jane Adventures, which would be launched in January 2007.  This is the first appearance for both Sarah and K-9 since 1983’s The Five Doctors.
  • The Doctor states that he has regenerated “half a dozen times” since he and Sarah last met.  At the time of broadcast, this referred back to The Hand of Fear, Sarah’s last story as a companion, not taking into account The Five Doctors.  However, after the reveal of the War Doctor, a secret incarnation of the Doctor, this line still works, and takes it back to Sarah meeting the Fifth Doctor.

Best Moment

The confrontation between the Doctor and Mr. Finch in the swimming pool is a highlight, as is the meeting between Sarah and the Doctor once she’s seen the TARDIS.

Best Quote

Their lives are so fleeting.  So many goodbyes.  How lonely you must be, Doctor.  Join us.

I could save everyone.

Yes.

I could stop the war.

No.  The universe has to move forward.  Pain and loss, they define us as much as happiness or love.  Whether it’s a world or a relationship, everything has its time.  And everything ends.

Mr Finch, The Tenth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith

Mr Finch

Honourable mention for:

You bad dog.

Affirmative.

Mr Finch and K-9

 

Tooth and Claw

victoria

You want weapons?  We’re in a library!  Books! The best weapon in the world.  This room’s the greatest arsenal we could ever have.  Arm yourselves!

Tenth Doctor

Synopsis

Accidentally ending up in 1876, the Doctor and Rose find themselves trying to keep Queen Victoria safe from a mysterious order of monks and a werewolf.

Review

It’s quite rare for a new Doctor to hit the ground running for me – in the complete rankings of their debuts stories so far, only Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Matt Smith have had 10/10 scoring.  Upon rewatching David Tennant’s era, I’ve realised quite how long it takes for him to feel like the Doctor, but happily, Tooth and Claw, for me is the moment he truly inhabits the role.  I must stress that this era was my entry point into watching the show, albeit later in this series – I remember seeing a bit of The Impossible Planet and then nothing until Doomsday – so I do have a lot of fondness for this Doctor.  From here on the quality does (by and large) improve, and while I still have issues with his relationship with Rose, Tennant seems more assured in the role here.

Is that the Koh-i-noor?

Oh yes.  The greatest diamond in the world.

Given to me as the spoils of war.  Perhaps its legend is now coming true.  It is said whoever owns it must surely die.

Well, that’s true of anything if you wait long enough.

Rose Tyler, The Tenth Doctor and Queen Victoria

Speaking of the Tenth Doctor, this is quite a significant episode for this incarnation.  We see his sorrow at his status as the last of the Time Lords during Victoria’s speech about her late husband, Albert, as well as seeing this Doctor’s fondness for 20th Century culture and his propensity for licking object to ascertain their chemical make-up.  I feel that this is a better demonstration of the kind of man that the Tenth Doctor is developing into and Tennant certainly gives a good performance here.  I like his enthusiasm about the telescope and his disappointment when he realises that it is “a bit rubbish”, but my favourite moment of his in this episode is where he first sees the werewolf/Lupin Waveform and states that it is beautiful.  This is one of my favourite things about the Doctor and moments like this are really lovely, and allude to the reason why the Doctor left Gallifrey in the first place.

household staff

This story shows the establishment of the organisation of the Torchwood Institute, the arc for series 2, which we first heard mentioned in Bad Wolf in Series One, but I do feel that the story doesn’t really do enough to justify Queen Victoria’s decision to set up the organisation to counter the Doctor in the closing moments.  The Doctor’s banishment feels really sudden, especially following immediately on the heels of his and Rose’s knighthood.  Otherwise, considering the story was a rushed job, it stands up surprisingly well.  The story is quite scary in places and certainly gripping, aided by the two stars and guest performances such as that of Pauline Collins as Queen Victoria.  I like how real-world elements are worked into the story here, such as the Koh-i-noor diamond and that the plot is based around an assassination attempt on the monarch, as well as elements from fantasy novels about werewolves, such as the full moon, silver bullets and the lesser known element of mistletoe being used as a deterrent for the creature.  I also really like the fact that Sir Robert does get redemption in the end, as he is put into a difficult position by both the Queen and the monks, but dies with honour saving his monarch.

I saw last night that Great Britain has enemies beyond imagination.  And we must defend our borders on all sides.  I propose an institute.  To investigate these strange happenings and to fight them.  I will call it Torchwood.  The Torchwood Institute.  And if this Doctor should return, then he should beware.  Because Torchwood will be waiting.

Queen Victoria

The villains of the piece also really stand out here.  The opening sequence with the monks fighting against Sir Robert’s household staff is really well choreographed and visually striking, making them seem like an effective foe.  The performance of Tom Smith as the Host is particularly unnerving and particularly memorable, although it is brief.  The delivery of the lines is very creepy and the transformation effects are particularly effective moments of body horror.  When it comes to the werewolf, the CGI really stands up and helps it feel like a real and believable threat, which does help the story.

the host

Verdict: A solid episode if not exceptional, Tooth and Claw is an important episode in terms of the second series and Tennant’s era in general.  7/10

Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler), Pauline Collins (Queen Victoria), Ian Hanmore (Father Angelo), Michelle Duncan (Lady Isobel), Derek Riddell (Sir Robert), Jamie Sives (Captain Reynolds), Ron Donachie (Steward), Tom Smith (The Host), Ruth Milne (Flora)

Writer: Russell T Davies

Director: Euros Lyn

Behind the Scenes

  • This story was written in a rush by Russell T Davies.
  • Due to the difficulties in realistically creating the werewolf using CGI, the Mill imported a CGI hair specialist for this story.
  • The Doctor identifies himself as “Doctor James McCrimmon from the township of Balamory” – Balamory was the fictional setting of a CBeebies programme but also is a reference to the royal palace at Balmoral, whilst the name is a reference to Second Doctor companion, Jamie McCrimmon.
  • In the same conversation, the Doctor states that he studied under Doctor Joseph Bell, who was a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle served as Dr. Bell’s clerk and Sherlock Holmes is thought to be loosely based on him.

Best Moment

When the Doctor sees the werewolf for the first time.

Best Quote

I’m sorry Ma’am.  It’s all my fault.  I should’ve sent you away.  I tried to suggest something was wrong.  I thought you might notice.  Did you think there was nothing strange about my household staff?

Well, they were bald, athletic – your wife’s away, I just thought you were happy.

Sir Robert and the Tenth Doctor

werewolf

New Earth

So in the year Five Billion, the sun expands and the Earth gets roasted.

That was our first date.

We had chips.

The Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler

Synopsis

The Tenth Doctor and Rose travel to the distant future, where an order of cat nuns are able to cure all illnesses.  The Doctor must investigate their shady operations in the hospital and save Rose from his old enemy, Lady Cassandra.

Review

New Earth zombies

David Tennant’s first fully conscious episode of Doctor Who is a mixed bag and is a bit bizarre as a series opener here.  I am going to talk about the positives as I see them before moving onto the weaker sides of the episode.

The main positive of this story is the prosthetics and make-up, especially on the cat nuns, which looks fantastic.  There are fantastic effects used here, such as on the Duke of Manhattan with Petrifold Regression, but all of the practical effects used on the patients and the infected are fantastic.  I also feel that, by and large, David Tennant’s performance in this episode is strong, especially in the scene where he finds out the truth of the hospital.  He absolutely bristles with righteous anger and rage and it is the undoubted highlight of the episode for me.  I do have a minor qualm about an element of his performance, but I’ll come onto that later.  Additionally, I feel that the story is quite well balanced, as we seem to spend an appropriate amount of time on the two elements of the plot: Cassandra and the hospital.

This is quite a flawed story, however, and really stands out as quite a bonkers plot for a first episode of the series, due to the body swapping element. Usually, a series debut will re-establish the returning characters in order to aid new viewers into the programme.  On the other hand, this story seems to assume a certain amount of knowledge of the characters. There is also a plot hole in the fact that the jumping of bodies by Cassandra seems to initially require a device, but then can just happen spontaneously.  This body swapping also contributes to another of my problems with this episode – Tennant’s acting when he’s being possessed by Cassandra.  He really hams it up and it absolutely undermines his first performance as the Doctor.  He looks really uncomfortable performing this aspect of the character and this really magnifies the issues in this story.

The test subject zombies are also a bizarre choice of villain for a Doctor Who story.  As mentioned above, the prosthetics are fantastic and the idea of getting infected by just one touch is really effective, but they don’t really fit in here.  The technique of transferring an infection through one touch is used far more effectively in a later episode, The Waters of Mars, ironically, the Tenth Doctor’s penultimate story.  Speaking of the main issue with the infected patients, I feel that one of the story’s biggest issues is the resolution.  THe magic cocktail of remedies that the Doctor and Rose/Cassandra make is a bit of a rushed job, and you can certainly tell that this wasn’t the original direction that Davies wanted the story to go in.  Although I don’t necessarily believe that Doctor Who needs to include a whole load of death, it is ultimately necessary for the stakes to remain high and for there to be any real sense of dramatic tension and believe in that week’s threat.

Verdict: A flawed second episode for David Tennant, which includes a good premise, but is let down by its execution.  Tennant’s performance is largely good, except when the body swap happens, and his charisma makes this a watchable if not entirely memorable episode. 4/10

Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler), Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler), Noel Clarke (Mickey Smith), Zoe Wanamaker (Cassandra), Sean Gallagher (Chip), Dona Croll (Matron Casp), Michael Fitzgerald (Duke of Manhattan), Lucy Robinson (Fran Clovis), Andjoa Andoh (Sister Jatt), Anna Hope (Novice Hame), Struan Rodger (Face of Boe)

Writer: Russell T Davies

Director: James Hawes

Behind the Scenes

  • This story is the first of the revived series to not be set on Earth or in its atmosphere. It is a debut for New Earth, which features again in Gridlock. This story is set 23 years after The End of the World and 30 years before Gridlock.
  • Billie Piper asked Russell T Davies for an episode in which she could be funny.
  • It was originally intended for the Face of Boe to deliver his final message in this story, however, when the production team learned that a third series had been commissioned, Davies decided to hold this plot point over to the following series.
  • Originally, the infected patients would have been killed off at the end of the story, however, this was changed after a good natured comment by Steven Moffat in The Shooting Scripts which mocked him for “(creating) interesting characters and (melting) them.”
  • There does seem to be a passage of time following from the end of The Christmas Invasion as the seasons have obviously changed when the Doctor and Rose depart at the beginning of the story and the TARDIS has moved.

Cast Notes

  • Andjoh Andoh would go on to play Francine Jones in Series 3.

Best Moment

The Doctor’s rage when he discovers the truth of the hospital.

Best Quote

You were supposed to be dying.

There are better things to do today.  Dying can wait.

The Tenth Doctor and the Face of Boe

What do you think?  Let me know in the comments below!

The Christmas Invasion

Did you miss me?

The Tenth Doctor

Synopsis

It’s Christmas Eve and high above London, the alien Sycorax are holding the Earth for ranson.  The newly regenerated Doctor must recover in time to save the human race from slavery.

Review

The first Doctor Who Christmas special is a fairly uneven affair, although it does serve as a good introduction for the Tenth Doctor.  The newly regenerated Doctor and his companion Rose crash back to Earth following the events of The Parting of the Ways, but any chance for rest and recovery is short-lived, as a human probe, Guinevere One, is intercepted by the villainous Sycorax, who head to Earth with their vial of A+ blood…

Firstly, the positives.  The episode is at it’s best when Tennant’s Doctor is conscious, and he certainly occupies the role with gusto, charm and with a glimpse of darkness that will be explored in later series.  It is also good to see Penelope Wilton return to the role of Harriet Jones, even if the “Harriet Jones, Prime Minister” joke wears a bit thin after a while.  The sword fight for the planet is really nicely choreographed and I like the bit with the hand.

Unfortunately, for the majority of the episode, Tennant is recovering from his regeneration, so the focus is squarely on the trio of Rose, Jackie and Mickey.  This is where Rose as a character really appears to grate on me.  At the beginning of the episode, she isn’t certain at all about the new man with the TARDIS key, which is an understandable reaction – if my best friend who I had been travelling with suddenly changed their face, I’d be a little concerned, to say the least.  However, once the Doctor is awake, Rose is suddenly fawning all over him.  This does mark a change in the Doctor-companion relationship that I’m not a big fan of, and also is the start of the Doctor and Rose smug fest that is series 2.  So stay tuned for that!  Rose is also given the opportunity to show what she’s learnt from her time with the Doctor when they are teleported but doesn’t seem to have learnt anything at all.

Jackie continues to be irritating, and the only one of this trio to escape from this episode with any credit is Noel Clarke.  Clarke himself has spoken about his change in attitude towards the role following a serious car accident that he was fortunate to walk away from relatively unscathed, and The Christmas Invasion shows just how far his character has come since Rose, and sets him up nicely for joining the TARDIS, albeit temporarily for series 2.

I am ready for my close-up.

The Sycorax are also a pretty forgettable opening adversary.  Although they look intimidating, at no point do you feel that they are going to follow through on their threat to kill all the people with type O+ blood on the planet.  I appreciate that it’s supposed to be a Christmas episode, a bit more of a light-hearted romp, but a good villain in a Doctor Who story is something that I believe really lets down the story, in a way that someone like Kazran Sardick in A Christmas Carol makes a story compelling.  I’ll come to look at the other Russell T Davies Christmas episodes in more depth later on, but this is something that is lacking in most if not all of his era’s Christmas specials.

It really pains me to criticise the Doctor’s actions as well, but I feel his treatment of Harriet Jones, following her decision to destroy the Sycorax spaceship after they are running away is a poor one.  The Doctor had previously highlighted her fledgeling political career as leading to Britain’s Golden Age; yet here he is shown to be willing to throw that all away.  The Tenth Doctor here can be shown to be meddling in time, and the effect of this decision to bring down Harriet Jones’s government can be seen to lead to the opportunity that the Master will later exploit in series 3, and ultimately leading to his ultimate end.

2x00-The-Christmas-Invasion-Screencaps-Doctor-Rose-badwolf-tenth-rose-3530353-640-368

I accept that as the first Christmas special, it is attempting to appeal to a wide audience and I feel it does that well, and I understand the need for the Christmas references, like the killer Christmas tree.  However, things like the Pilot Fish are potentially using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut.  That being said, I enjoy Harriet Jones’ televised speech in replacement of the Queen’s Speech – “Did we ask about the Royal Family? Oh.  They’re on the roof” is a fantastic bit of a dark humour, in what is a good, if flawed, first episode for the new Doctor.

Verdict: The Tenth Doctor’s introduction is much better when he is conscious but is let down by weak villains. 6/10.

Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler), Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler), Noel Clarke (Mickey Smith), Penelope Wilton (Harriet Jones), Daniel Evans (Danny Llewelyn), Adam Garcia (Alex), Sean Gilder (Sycorax Leader).

Writer: Russell T Davies

Director: James Hawes

Behind the Scenes

  • The second episode of Doctor Who to be broadcast on Christmas Day after Part 7 of The Dalek’s Masterplan (The Feast of Stephen) and the first episode to be commissioned specifically as a Christmas special.
  • The first time in revived series that another area of the TARDIS is seen other than the console room, and the only time in the Russell T Davies era that any other area of the TARDIS is seen.
  • The first episode since Survival to credit the leading actor as The Doctor, at the behest of David Tennant.  The initial change in the classic series was requested by Peter Davison ahead of the broadcast of Castrovalva.
  • The first drama production to be permitted to film on the roof of the Tower of London.
  • The first episode to use music performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
  • “Song for Ten”, written by Murray Gold and sung by Neil Hannon, is the first original song commissioned for Doctor Who since the untitled rap in The Greatest Show in the Galaxy.

Best Moment 

The swordfight for the planet Earth.

Best Quote

Look at these people, these human beings, consider their potential. From the day they arrive on this planet and blinking, step into the sun, there is more to see than can ever be seen, more to do… no, hold on… sorry, that’s the Lion King… but the point still stands! Leave them alone!

The Tenth Doctor