Well look on the bright side: we didn’t make you wait as long as the show itself after that interminable hiatus between 1989 and 2005!
2005 was when Doctor Who did the decent thing and came back to our screens. Welcome back to The View from the Junkyard’s Top of the Docs!
RP: 9 – It’s not exaggerating too much to say that we owe the last 15 years of Doctor Who to the success of this episode. If this hadn’t done the business, we could have had a second failed revival of Doctor Who in ten years, and that would probably have been that. Instead, RTD skillfully stripped away all the extraneous baggage that had been weighing down Doctor Who, and got back to basics with a mysterious traveler in a blue box, a great companion, and both of them perfectly cast, and the same monster that successfully relaunched the series in 1970. Lightening did strike twice. It’s not perfect, but as a relaunch it did exactly what was needed.
ML: 7 – Definitely an enjoyable return that captured the magic of the classic series including using a classic monster but still had some issues to overcome, like burping garbage bins and other “lowest common denominator” stuff. Needed a bit of work but was a welcome return to the world of Doctor Who.
RP: 7 – Going straight in with a bunch of weird aliens was brave to say the least but it’s all tied in with the fate of the Earth, which makes us care. The psychic paper debuts here, which is a moment of genius, cutting out all the tedious scenes of the Doctor explaining himself that used to plague the classic series.
ML: 8 – A visual treat and a good story to boot. Also an improvement over the last story and we get the feel of proper Doctor Who with all the aliens and strangeness to show Rose what it’s like out there. Rose’s first trip to the future was definitely memorable! Plus the first hints of a season-spanning mystery, if you’re paying attention!
RP: 9 – A significant episode because it introduces the rift, although that’s just another name for Buffy’s Hellmouth. Nothing wrong with borrowing from the best. Basically this is a Christmas special before anyone knew Doctor Who was going to get them, stuck in the middle of a series. Fun with ghosts, and Simon Callow was born to play Dickens.
ML: 9 – The first real success of the series, only getting a 9 because there are better episodes in the season. Rose’s first jaunt into the past, Charles Dickens, a first step into the snow, and a ghostly good story and we’ve just solidified the Doctor’s return. And guest star Eve Myles would be instrumental in a spinoff series that has ties back to this episode.
Aliens of London/World War Three
RP: 7 – Grounds the series back in the reality of Rose’s life, after the future and past adventures, and then goes crazy with farting aliens and blows up Downing Street. How could you not love a series that’s this bonkers and fun?
ML: 6 – A weak start brings this episode to its knees, but the second part brings the average much higher. There’s too much of the lowest common denominator, with farting aliens and victory that should be naked, but the character piece in the second half manages to elevate the overall experience.
RP: 9 – Makes the Daleks scary again, by showing how deadly just one on it’s own can be. Eccleston goes all out with the PTSD stuff, confronting the enemy he thought had been wiped out. Rose having compassion for the Dalek mutant is wonderful stuff too.
ML: 10 – Stunning proof of what the new Doctor Who was capable of. Manages to ask some tough questions and tell a great story about PTSD in our hero. Plus there was something nice about bringing the Daleks back; maybe it was that they were actually scary now.
RP: 8 – RTD finally gets his weird and wonderful McCoy era script made (it would have been a perfect fit for the magnificently inventive 24th Season), and weaves a story about a failed companion into a hatchet job on the media, but Cathica’s redemption storyline doesn’t quite join all the dots.
ML: 5 – Tedious. A great concept about the use of ideas and words and the dangers of misusing media is all that really makes this episode something special. Well, that and Simon Pegg. The Adam story adds a sense of humor to the end, but just a weak story overall. Stick with the ideas and you’ll appreciate it!
RP: 10 – The brilliant Paul Cornell becomes the first writer ever to realise the full potential of time travel in what has never quite managed to be a time travel series beyond using the TARDIS as a means of transport. The exploration of relationship dynamics is groundbreaking for the series, and has rarely been bettered.
ML: 10 – Possibly one of the best uses of time travel and illustrating the dangers of the butterfly effect. Heartfelt and beautiful, this episode is a highlight, must-see episode.
The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances
RP: 10 – Steven Moffat’s first work of genius. Great setting, the creepiest monster of the series, a strong theme of overcoming repression (although the “dancing” metaphor is a bit cringey), and an ending full of hope.
ML: 10 – A magnificent double feature. The visuals, the story, and the fear factor are all off the charts. And still we get to laugh from time to time! This is what started our faith in Steven Moffat. Plus the ending is utter joy!
RP: 9 – RTD shows how you do a cheap episode. You make it about something. He plays with a tricky moral issue for the Doctor, and the episode pivots effortlessly between very funny humour and darker moments that challenge the actions of the Doctor. Lacks a good answer to the question posed by Blon though.
ML: 9 – A very strong character piece with loads of humor manages to pull a humdrum story to something really amazing. We get a chance to get into the head of the Doctor for some dark questions but get to laugh a lot too. How is that a bad thing?
Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways
RP: 9 – The first episode hasn’t dated well, steeped in a popular culture that for the most part no longer exists. At the time it worked brilliantly and was a lot of fun. The Doctor chooses to be a coward not a killer, but then magnificent Rose shows up with her third way and then we get the most emotional regeneration since… well, probably ever. Fantastic.
ML: 10 – The first half brought the story down, even if it was a great commentary, but the second half is amazing. And not knowing a regeneration was coming was a gift. (Oh, for the days of no spoilers!) What a beautiful ending to a wonderful first series!
Those were the days! Doctor Who was back and it was exciting and new and had some amazing music to delight the ears with special effects to delight the eyes. The cast had a chemistry that came off the screen. Would it be possible to get better than this? ML
Like any successful TV revival for a classic SF series, 2005’s Dr. Who was sufficiently familiar in some ways and sufficiently different in others. In comparison to how Star Trek did it, with The Next Generation, Russell T. Davies followed one similar route which naturally worked. Namely waiting for the timing to be right.
The TV Movie was an obviously rushed attempt to win back Dr. Who’s success on television and even if the right actor for the Doctor was clearly available, it failed because too much focus was devoted to the sake of continuation rather than the solid story material that launched Hartnell’s groundbreaking era.
RTD’s methodical success with introducing new Doctors and new companions, reintroducing the TARDIS and bringing back familiar villains (certainly the buildup for villainous returns that Eric Roberts’ Master should have had), could draw in older fans like a magnet and help new fans find their own subjective interests in the classic series. With the obvious downhill slide that Dr. Who faces all over again, even with Jodie and her castmates still giving their best, it can be refreshing enough for fans to look back on how the spark for the modern Dr. Who first ignited.
Thank you both for your contributions to this on the Junkyard.
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Quite naturally when Dr. Who successfully returned, there was all the hype as to how long it could go on for this time around compared to the 26-year-stretch of the classic era. Of course it will have to end again sometime (at least on TV) which can depend on lowering ratings or the chance to end it on a most triumphant note. But in comparison to other British SF shows that could conclude for their times after a shorter TV span, has the bar for the modern Dr. Who been set too high? Even if newer Doctors, companions and Masters can retain their appeals?
Terrance Dicks once commented that they considered ending the classic Dr. Who after Troughton’s departure at the end of the 60s. And that it was the failures to find anything else successfully new enough that made them keep Dr. Who on longer, even if audience figures were starting to fade. It was always the show’s ability to embrace change that appealed to many fans including myself. As for the quite challengingly bold moves made by Chibnall, we must ask ourselves how far is too far even for Dr. Who?
Bold moves can have mixed responses as proven by Discovery and Picard for Star Trek. Demands for more impactful stories can cloud the better judgments. So another cancellation for Dr. Who if they come to that could be an even bigger surprise than that for the classic series. Of course we’ll still have the wonders of Big Finish, novels, comics and fan films to remedy us.
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