Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review: Doctor Who - Series Three (2005 Revival)

Though it has been a long while since the last time today I will continue looking at the revived Doctor Who TV show with Series 3. Originally broadcasted by the BBC in 2007 it’s pretty clear that by this point the writers had gotten a hold of what they wanted the show to be. David Tennant, playing the The Doctor, has a full season under his belt at this point and he’s really gotten into to his groove. Better yet (for me anyway) this season marks the first time in the new updated version of the show that a companion has left and been replaced. So no Rose Tyler, and if you recall from the last two reviews I’m not a fan of the character. At all. So happily get a whole season without her. Or at least that’s what I was hoping going into it (more on that later).

It should be pointed out that  after Series Two ended but before this one began a spin-off from Doctor Who aired called “Torchwood” (yes, the organization from Series Two) which was also created by Russell T Davies and starred John Barrowman reprising his role as Captain Jack Harkness. Now I will talk a tiny bit about that in this blog but as of right now I don’t have any plans review Torchwood here. For simplicity sake I will say that I’m not what you would call a fan. For now just take in mind that there was a spin-off and it featured Captain Jack.

Full review after the jump.

Everything important takes place in Cardiff
The Doctor (Tennant) was able to save Earth from the Daleks and the Cybermen but lost his companion Rose Tyler in the process. Before he has much of a chance to mourn his loss he immediately has to deal with the sudden appearance of a woman in a wedding dress (Catherine Tate) who’s mysteriously appeared on the TARDIS on Christmas. Soon afterwards The Doctor returns to his travels, alone, until he ends up teaming up with a medical student, Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman), all the while unaware that one of his most deadly enemies is about to make a return.

Before to get too into the review let’s talk about Martha Jones. Rather bizarrely Martha is very much disliked by a large portion of the Doctor Who fanbase but as far as I can tell this is mostly due to the fact that she’s “Not Rose”. As much as I despise Rose many fans loved her and were extremely put off when Billie Piper left the show. I believe Martha took the brunt of the hatred. Was Martha flawless? No, of course not but interestingly she shares many of those flaws with Rose except to a lesser degree. Plus I also kind of think Russell T Davies may have purposely put some similarities between the two as he wanted to invoke the idea of loss and whether or not The Doctor was using her as a replacement.

Despite that Martha is a pretty cool character. She’s quick thinking and her medical background is proven to be pretty darn handy on occasion. On the downside she, much like with Rose, is plagued by the fact that her love for The Doctor is an extremely major part of her character. Unlike Rose it managed not to be her defining trait because she has a bit more going for her. And, even if it was her defining trait, Martha has a (*GASP*) character arc where she grows past that. Meaning she starts off being kind of a love struck puppy but ends up in a very different place and even becomes a bit of a badass…a trait that follows her in proceeding seasons. I like Martha; she was a refreshing change of pace.

Plus, let’s face it; it’s good to see women of color in science fiction. There’s still a depressing lack of representation in that genre.

Also she's hot; not a primary point, but appreciated
Moving on I think it’s safe to say that this was the best season yet as not only was it less uneven than the previous seasons in terms of balance of tone but it also lacked any seriously awful episodes. While some episodes were not great (“The Lazarus Experiment”, which had many issues, comes to mind) for the most part there was nothing unwatchable. A lot of fans despise the two-part episode “Daleks in Manhattan”/“The Evolution of the Daleks” but aside from some silliness I don’t think they’re that awful at all. The Human Dalek introduced there was one of the cooler concepts introduced in New Who and it’s a damn shame we never saw it again. It wasn’t like it was the greatest thing ever written and had its share of problems but it wasn’t nearly as bad as fans make it out to be.

Since I’m talking about episodes the three best were the two part “Human Nature”/ “The Family of Blood” (Written by our old friend Paul Cornell) and “Blink” (written by future showrunner Steven Moffat). The two partner is a bittersweet story that not only touched on the social and economic divide in a pre-World War I England but allowed Tennant a rare chance to flex his acting muscle by playing a very, very different role than The Doctor. Should anyone suggest he’s not a good actor they should be directed there. “Blink” is probably the best single episode of Doctor Who since its revival and even now, having recently caught up on the latest episodes, I don’t think anything has topped it. I won’t say too much about it other than it introduced the Weeping Angels which have arguably replaced the Daleks as the show’s most popular villains.

Don't f**king blink!
David Tennent is, of course, awesome as the 10th Doctor. Many, many, fans claim that Tennent is the best Doctor of the whole franchise and this season provides strong evidence for that argument. However one issue I had with the character was his angsty attitude about losing Rose. If I could name one major problem from previous two series it was that both of them were pretty much about Rose, whom I’ve established as really disliking. However even though she’s gone it’s still feels all about her except now it’s The Doctor pining for her! I’m not saying that Doctor can’t be sad that she’s gone but did it have to be such a major part of the story? I’d like to move on and enjoy his new adventures with his new companion, as is tradition with this show, but the writers make it real hard when they make it a plot point (Seriously, how many times did Martha get compared to Rose or otherwise feel heartbreak because The Doctor was thinking about Rose?).

Freema Agyeman is solid as Martha; her acting helps make the concept of the character work when it could easily had been really bad. Hey, did you hear that Agyeman plays a recurring role on the completely unnecessary and almost certainly terrible prequel to Sex and the City called “The Carrie Diaries”? Because she is totally is. You know, because actors need to eat. Anyway John Barrowmen returns for a depressingly short time (just three episodes) as Captain Jack Harkness and I was immediately reminded why the character is awesome. Barrowmen is just as good as he was in Series One, if not better because he’s even more over-the-top with his “F**k Anything That Is Willing” 51st Century Attitude and his brand new super power of being “Death Proof”. As I said Captain Jack got a leading role on the Torchwood spin-off but I really didn’t like him on that show. I think the character is an inherently fun creation and needs to be in a show that will develop that (Torchwood is more about angst, sex, and shock value). He works better here as his flippant and flirty nature combined by his distilled action hero personality contrasting with the more straight-laced and pacifist Doctor. I’m glad they decided to bring him back. I think the current incarnation of The Doctor could use a little Harkness as well.

As far as villains go I really, really, loved Harry Lloyd as Son of Mine from the Family of Blood (from “Human Nature"/“The Family of Blood”). He was the perfect combination of charismatic and evil (and crazy) that speaks to me so well. I would love Lloyd to come back on the show in some capacity. Hell, maybe his name should be floating around for actors that could potentially play a future incarnation of The Doctor (That’s right, I said it!). And of course there’s John Simm who plays…well, he plays a returning character. Simm is amazing in his role and challenges Tennant pound for pound, both in terms of acting and in terms of characters. This was a great season for acting.

Series Three works well because it makes good on the potential of the the first two series promised but weren’t able to achieved. It possesses all of the strengths of those two seasons but none of its faults. The stories are fun, exiting and scary; the characters are well written. That’s all you can really ask for any show. But I must say the last three episodes were FANTASTIC and so much better than the previous series finale from the year before. This series was a huge improvement from the last two seasons.

Out of context this may be the best picture I've ever posted
I give Doctor Who Series Three 4 out 5 Adorable Pandas.


-Great acting

-No (truly) bad episodes

-Good characters


-Too much angst from the Doctor made this season all about Rose Tyler…again


  1. Nice article Beta. I loved series 3 - especially the "Blink" episode, which kind of made me afraid of angel statues!

    Anyway, while I didn't think Rose was terrible I definitely liked Martha much better. And I think that changed helped prepare viewers for changes that happened later on too.

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