Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review: Doctor Who - Series Two (2005 Revival)

Today we’ll continue looking that revived Doctor Who series. Because the first episode of series one was so well received the BBC commissioned a second season of the new show. Russell T. Davies’ plan to bring back Doctor Who was a rousing success. This series was extremely important to the revived TV show because it introduced the 10th Doctor who, even today, is pretty much the most popular version of the character in the new series and can make an argument for being one of the most popular version of the character in the entire metaseries. I’ve heard somewhere that David Tennant, the actor who takes over the role from Christopher Eccleston, was actually cast when the first series was in pre-production and was always tagged to come in at the end of the first series but I’ve also heard that Eccleston just wanted leave the show and Tennant was simply his replacement. I have no idea what the real story was but regardless after just one season a new actor has taken over the title role (Tennant actually first appeared in the previous season’s finale).

Anyway this season picks up right where the last one left off and, aside from the addition of Tennant, there’s not much in the way of cast changes.

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: There are a lot of spoilers incoming, especially concerning Rose Tyler. Read at your own risk!]



If we could just get Rose out of there this would be the ultimate team
Following their victory over the Daleks The Doctor (Tennant) and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) return to present day just in time to have to deal with an alien invasion on Christmas. The two continue their journey across time and space, all the while a new power in England continues to gain strength; the mysterious Torchwood Institute.

There’s a new Doctor so we need to talk about him first.

The Tenth Doctor is pretty much everything the Ninth Doctor was not: jovial, overtly eccentric, and personable. Unlike last season here the Doctor invokes more of the basic traits more common with Doctors from the classic series. Where the Ninth Doctor came off like he was broken, due to the events of the Time War and his survivor’s guilt, the Tenth Doctor seems to have conquered his demons. While he clearly does still lament what happened there he doesn’t what let it define him. Rather what truly defines him is his sense of adventure and curiosity.

Like I said this Doctor is more personable. He’s significantly easier on the human race and gets along better with Ricky Mickey Smith (To the point where Mickey affectionately calls him “Boss”) and even Jackie Tyler (Though they still tend to fight whenever they talk). He even realizes that he tends to be rude and actually tries to work on that. He also tends to have these amusing brainstorms that appear as stream of consciousness. One of the best things about Tennant’s performance are the times the Doctor is thinking things out and slowly realizing the answer (“Wait. No. Yes! Noo…YES!”). This is a fun Doctor and thus we have fun watching him.

"I'm casually wearing 3-D glasses! That means I'm wacky and daft!"
As for his faults, well he doesn’t really do the things that I dislike the most about the character this season so you’ll have to wait until the Series Three review.

Anyway moving on to the show itself it is much more even than the last season. Obviously by this point Davies had a grip on what he wanted the show to be. I did not find the show as a whole to be overly silly at inappropriate times. It still got embarrassingly silly from time to time (Such as the Doctor doing the worst reference to Ghostbusters in history and Rose acting like it was the funniest thing ever) but compared to the previous season its fine. This helps the series a lot but it suffers from a another serious issue: there’s just too many awful episodes. There was one two-part episode that I actually thoroughly disliked in Series 1 but here in Series 2 no less than three episodes were so insanely bad that it actively pissed me the hell off. “The Idiot’s Lantern” and “Fear Her” are really annoying for different reasons but “Love & Monsters” is the worst episode of New Who I’ve seen so far (And I mean “As of Series 6”). Basically it represents everything I hate about Davies’ run: it’s unnecessarily dark and cruel to both us and the characters. Davies was inspired by Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and, like Whedon before him, he tends to have a high body count in his stories and plenty of attempts at making us cry. The problem is that he’s not as strong a writer as Whedon so while Joss’ stuff tended to be sad it always came through as an important part the story he’s telling (With the exception of a certain recent work he did. He needs a punch to the gut for that one). Davies just comes off like he’s mean.

And this happens a lot. Don’t get too terribly attached to a character you think is even remotely interesting because there’s a 40% chance they’re not surviving the episode.

Character wise Tennant is awesome as The Doctor, pretty much for all the reasons I said above. But special props to Mickey for actually having a *GASP* character arc! Easily the most developed of the cast this season Mickey gets a ton more to do, is seen as a useful member of the group (Though his usefulness or lack thereof is an important part of his arc) and winds up in a much better state of being by the time everything is done. I thought he was improperly used in the last season but here I thought he was one of the highlights.

However the same cannot be said about Rose Tyler. Nothing against Billie Piper; she was good playing the character. But the character herself is f**king terrible. [WARNING: Spoilers Abound. Skip ahead to avoid them] If you are new to Doctor Who you’ll hear a lot of people saying how much they like Rose but I’m telling you right now: she’s the worst part of this show. First of all while she is the companion the show is pretty much all about her, and since the show actually about The Doctor this bugged me a bit. She’s also a total bitch. Don’t believe me? Note how badly she treats her mother and Mickey in favor of the Doctor pretty much every time we see them. She also gets super clingy and jealous towards the Doctor whenever a girl so much as looks at him while she herself flirts with other dudes quite a bit. She is dangerously devoted to the Doctor, once actually threatening a ship’s crew into literally flying to their death so she could rejoin him (And also die). She tries to leaves her mother alone in an alternate reality despite The Doctor being the one to send her away for her own protection (And then nearly dies). And worst of all, as you can probably guess, her whole personality is defined by her love for The Doctor which means she’s only a half character anyway. There’s no arc, no journey, simply “I LOVE THE DOCTOR, TEE-HEE”. It really bothers me. And if you can believe it this ACTUALLY GETS EVEN WORSE IN LATER SEASONS but for now I’ll just leave it at this.

I'm the one who should be crying!
I had to watch your punk ass for two damn seasons!
This segues into my next big issue with the show: there is simply too much of this romantic subplot nonsense. I’ll try avoiding being a fan boy here but it’s really bizarre to see The Doctor so clearly in love with his companion. I suppose the issue is…why Rose? It seems a bit…implausible that this one nineteen year old f**k-up is the companion to finally win the Doctor’s heart(s). The real reason The Doctor loves Rose is so Davies could use the incredibly tired “Will They Or Won’t They” subplot and if you’ve been on this blog for any decent amount of time will know that there is no cliché I hate more. So thanks, Davies; thanks for dangling that in my face for the series and not have a satisfying end to it.

One last thing before I wrap this up: this series reintroduces the Cybermen, one of the Doctor’s most regularly appearing foes. They’ve been pretty much re-imagined here, unlike the Daleks who stayed mostly the same, but seeing how terrible they look in pretty much every classic Who story they appear in it’s probably for the best. When I first saw this last year I thought “Man, Doctor Who is just ripping off the Borg here” but now that I’m older and wiser I know the truth is that Stark Trek ripped off the Cybermen! This kind of destroys my childhood in a way because the Borg were the monsters I hid behind the couch from and were one of the key reason why Star Trek: The Next Generation started actually being good. But the fact is that even their damn catchphrases were pulled from the old Cybermen stories. That all said you have to admit that basically turning Cybermen into zombies made for very compiling television.

"Resistance is futile."

"What he said."

This season should have been really good but it does have very high points. Sadly the low points make it another average series for me. My hatred for Rose as well as those terrible episodes just affected me to much to score it higher. Thankfully David Tennant’s portrayal of The Doctor easily balances out most of the negatives. He is extraordinarily good in this role; too good actually. I’m not sure how much non-Doctor Who, non-theater-work he’s gotten lately (But he married his favorite Doctor’s daughter so I suspect he’s not complaining too much). The best episode was the heartbreaking “The Girl in the Fireplace”, which features a much, much more maturely executed bittersweet ending than my least favorite episode “Love & Monsters” (Also Stephen Moffat wrote “The Girl in the Fireplace”. I’m sensing a pattern). This season was good in the end but I’m still waiting to be blown away. 

I’m giving Doctor Who Series Two 3 out of Adorable Pandas out 5. 



Pros 

-A fantastic performance of the Doctor from David Tennant 

-Overall tone significantly more stable than the previous stable 

-Mickey Smith has been fixed 

-The TARDIS continues to be an amazing plot device to give writers a chance to write very different stories 

Cons 

-Way too many crappy episodes, including my vote for the worst one ever

-Rose Tyler is pretty much the worst character in all of Doctor Who

-Possesses a stupid "Will They Or Won't They" romantic subplot


Next time we revisit Doctor Who we’ll see the debut of a new companion.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this Season I like it I am a Biggest fan of Dr Who , DWW2 German Dr Christopher Eccleston Black Doctor Who Leather Jacket r Who in looking Very Handsome and Stylish and he is awesome actor I really like him

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