Sunday, January 3, 2010

Doctor Who - The 2009 Specials

Instead of having a normal televised season last year, executive producer Russel T. Davies and current (now former) Doctor David Tennant elected to say goodbye to the show with a series of hour long specials, including a two-part version of the normal Christmas episode to transition to the new regime. It wasn't the most consistent material we've seen, but it was a nice way to say goodbye to the man who brought the show back from the dead and one of the most beloved owners of the role.

The Next Doctor

2008's Christmas episode (which didn't air in America until June the next year) was a fairly average one. The story of a man deluded into believing he's the Doctor, if the Doctor was human and relied on 1800s Earth technology, is fairly interesting, but the actual conflict of the episode is somewhat tired at this point. Ooh, Cybermen again! And a villain who wants to take over the world and refuses the Doctor's offer of help and peace! Not terrible, just nothing new.

Planet of the Dead

This was another pretty boring one. If I was a big Who fan in England when this aired last April and knew it would be the only content I'd be getting in about a ten month span, I'd be pretty upset. The way the Doctor and a bus of Londoners end up on the titular planet is neat, but they get about as much excitement out of being marooned on a deserted wasteland as you'd expect. The girl was cute, though.

The Waters of Mars

Now here's what I like to see. Once in a while they'll just stick the Doctor on a semi-advanced Earth space vessel (in this case a base on Mars) where something is about to go horribly wrong, and just about every time it works out amazingly well. Doctor Who is a show that likes to be fun, but once in a while they'll be dark and emotional and dramatic like this, and it totally works. The resolution is as flawed logically as they come, but overall a very good episode.

The End of Time

This is the tale of two specials. Part one, which aired this Christmas, had a few moments, but was ultimately a failure. It's all set-up for the second part and not a whole lot of particular consequence happens, and watching it is barely a pleasure in itself. It's hard to call anything Who does outright bad, but it just felt like a waste of an hour. Part two though was pretty great, airing a week later on New Year's. It was probably too long, as the resolution of the main conflict happens with plenty of time to spare for a heartfelt sendoff for Tennant in the last 15 minutes of an hour, but instead we have to watch another 30. And the actual core of the plot had some interesting ideas, but didn't really make sense. The return of the Time Lords and the explanation for how the war really ended were neat revelations, and I sort of enjoyed Timothy Dalton's role as their leader even if not a whole lot was done with it. And they actually made the Master more interesting than he seemed to have been previously. They definitely tied up a bunch of loose ends without leaving nothing for Steven Moffat and Matt Smith, the new head writer and Doctor respectively, to tackle. While it might have dragged a bit, the Doctor's latest regeneration was very well handled, and I'm definitely going to miss Tennant in the role.

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