Top of the Docs: Series 3 (2007)

Rose’s departure looms large over the new season and Donna did not exactly warm the heart with her first outing.  Could a new companion keep the flame of new Who alive for a 3rd season?  Let’s see…

series 3

Smith and Jones

RP: 8 – A brilliant companion introduction, and Martha is great although she is being defined as Not-Rose right from the start. Love the Judoon, and the moon setting, and overall this is a much more solid season opener than New Earth. I just think it goes a bit too far for a family audience by showing blood being sucked through a straw.

ML: 7 – Maybe it’s the way I view the grading but while this does deserve an above average score, I put it at the lower end of that range.  The Doctor’s treatment of Martha is problematic for me especially considering the hype around her at the time.  It felt like RTD missed an important mark.  But the episode makes up for a lot of that by being “completely mad.”

The Shakespeare Code

RP: 8 – One of the great examples of fantasy Doctor Who, because “word-based science” is of course exactly the same thing as magic. Rejects historical realism in favour of exploring Shakespeare in the realms of popular culture. The Doctor treats Martha horribly though.

ML: 8 – I’m torn on my rating here because the story feels like it deserves a 7 but Dean Lennox Kelley does such an amazing job bringing Shakespeare to life that I feel we have to bump this a little higher.  The comedy doesn’t hurt either!  Definitely above average but in a better way than Smith and Jones.  (Still wish Martha was being treated better by our hero though!)

Gridlock

RP: 10 – I adore this one. Anyone wondering why I have been so hard on writers thrusting environmental lectures down our throats during Series 12, just compare that kind of rubbish with this episode, which explores the dangers of pollution and drug taking without feeling the need to treat the viewers as naughty children. One of the most emotional and uplifting episodes of Doctor Who ever made.

ML: 9 – Close to perfect, but really can’t sit with some of those we give the perfect score.  It does get in your head giving us something to think about while adding lore and mystery to the series.  It’s one that also inspires, which is something Doctor Who can do very well.  And the music is perfectly chosen.  In fairness, Roger may be right giving this a 10 but when I think of those must-see episodes, Blink and Twice Upon a Time and many others come to mind, but somehow this one just falls short, so I think it only fair that I give it a semi-reluctant 9.

Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks

RP: 3 – An attempt at a Daleks greatest hits, which unfortunately includes all the things that diminish the Daleks as a threat, such as using slaves rather than simply killing everything that moves. The Daleks are also an uncomfortable fit for what is basically a Cyberman story: a race of monsters on their last legs and desperate to survive by adapting. Can’t stand the pig slaves, or the hybrid, but there are still some interesting themes explored by this story.

ML: 1 – If we accept that a score of 1-3 is below average, this is at the lower end of below average just above absolute crap (0).  It’s senseless, doesn’t have anything really memorable about it and the Daleks are at their most idiotic.  What was there to like about this?  Dalek Sec was a cool character, but really, this felt like a non-Dalek story with Daleks.  Huh?  The chance to see Daleks in my home state should have been electrifying, but alas, even the lightning rod didn’t spark any real excitement in this story.  (Although, this is the episode that really made me think about doing these Top of the Doc’s articles, so maybe there was something redeeming to be found!)

The Lazarus Experiment

RP: 7 – Gloriously unsettling performance from Mark Gatiss, and a very impressive bit of CGI, although they didn’t get the face right. Martha is brilliant in this, but continues to be treated badly by the Doctor. A good, solid Doctor Who story.

ML: 5 – A very average Doctor Who story.  Gatiss does a great job but I really take issue with the total disregard for science.  I’m fine with pseudoscience and silly ideas but when a man transforms, I feel there should be some kind of logic to the size of the thing he transforms into.  Doctor Who vs the Giant Scorpion is probably better suited for a comic book than an episode.

42

RP: 4 – If your selling point is an episode that takes place in real time over the course of 42 minutes, then maybe make it an episode that takes place in real time over the course of 42 minutes. Within the first five minutes the countdown has gone wrong. Chibnall here basically takes the plot of Planet of Evil and translates it to a spaceship. Most of the characters are forgettable, but it has its moments.

ML: 5 – Also a middle of the road episode.  I liked the concept of a creature that we simply can’t understand that doesn’t actually want to kill us but wants something we stole to be returned.  I also love the idea of a story told in real-time… except like the TV show 24, it doesn’t deliver.  It just had to maintain for 42 minutes and failed!  I feel like we’ve been given two comic book adventures back to back; not actually bad but not necessarily worthy of the show either.

Human Nature/Family of Blood

RP: 10 – Thinking back to this makes you wonder why more books haven’t been adapted for television stories. A brilliant exploration of the character of the Doctor in his absence, and both sides of human nature. This story also has a strong sense of the magical about it, particularly the Grimm-esque fates of the Family, and it’s all hugely emotional.

ML:  10 – If the last two episodes were placed to lower our expectations, it was a clever strategy because this two part story is amazing.  Loved the introduction of the Chameleon arch and the resolution is absolutely classic.  Total win for the series.  Even pushes the boundaries of 10 to the breaking point.  (If only we had an 11…!)

Blink

RP: 10 – Ironically the perfect Doctor Who episode hardly has the Doctor in it at all. But look who we have instead: Sally Sparrow! It also has the most frightening Doctor Who monster anyone has created since 1966. The story has some plot holes, but that doesn’t matter one bit. Probably the greatest ever example of Doctor Who being written by Moffat as a fairy tale, an approach he would often run with when he finally took the reigns of the series.

ML:  10 – Hard to dispute the popularity of this episode.  And while sometimes that can be a question of herd thinking, Blink justifies all the praise heaped upon it.  Mulligan is fantastic as a pseudo-companion, the Angels are terrifying and you can’t complain about such a good time travel story.  Absolutely brilliant.  Moffat deserves all the recognition he’s ever gotten for this episode!

Utopia

RP: 10 – And the astonishingly high standard continues. The utopia dream examined through the lens of a dystopia, Professor Yana established brilliantly as a mirror to the Classic Series Doctors, and then the ultimate twist ending when he becomes a twisted mirror to the Doctor once more.

ML:  10 – The only reason I think about giving this one a lower rating than Roger is so that his line shows up on the graph.  Sadly that would be unfair to the episode.  Even the fact that it ties in with Torchwood gives us reason to appreciate this one.  Derek Jacobi is (unsurprisingly) outstanding and the desperate nature of the situation is palpable.  Absolute classic with one of the best cliffhangers we’ve seen in new Who.

The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords

RP: 10 – At times upsetting to watch, especially the total humiliation of the Doctor, but euphoric viewing when Martha becomes such a hero and inspires a Doctor religion. It’s all about hope conquering despair. We are taken to the lowest lows, and then the highest of highs, which is fitting for what is quite possibly the greatest series of Doctor Who ever made.

ML:  10 – John Simm sells the villainy of the Master in an episode that really doesn’t look like the Doctor can win.  What really takes the cake is the finale.  I often crave a dose of Doctor Who and find myself hitting YouTube for some of the best moments.  This finale is stunning and remains a frequently re-watched moment for me.  The music, both vocal and instrumental, is magnificent.  Sorry to see Martha leave though.  Really felt she was a rival to Rose in her awesomeness.  Oh even the big complaint I had in this episode wasn’t enough to derail a very deserved 10.

Time Crash

RP: 10 – Aw, what a lovely treat this was, a celebration of the era that made David Tennant himself a fan. And it’s never schmalzy either. Like us, the Tenth Doctor has rose-tinted (brainy) specs on, but it’s also a commentary about how our pasts embarrass us. A joyful little bonus moment in Doctor Who history.

ML: 10 – For an episode that doesn’t even hit this many minutes, the love letter that it is to the show from the fans warrants the top score.  Seeing father-in-law and son-in-law playing together adds a sense of humor to the whole “multi-Doctor story”.

Voyage of the Damned

RP: 10 – This fully deserved its huge viewing figures, and not just because it has Kylie Minogue in it (although she is brilliant). The perfect examination of the Doctor as a flawed hero, and RTD had the courage to show that sometimes the good guys don’t survive and the idiots do. Convincingly builds a tragic relationship between the Doctor and somebody he has just met, which is an incredibly difficult thing to achieve, and something even The Girl in the Fireplace couldn’t quite manage.

ML: 10 – An over the top villain, Kylie Minogue, a cyborg named Bannakaffalatta, Alonzy Alonso, the Van Hoffs, and a score to make one jump out of the seat applauding… how can you give this episode anything less than a 10?  Plus, remember what I said a paragraph or two ago about viewing those greatest moments?  This one is always a top contender!

If anyone was worried that a new companion was not going to work well for the series, we were able to rest easy by the time the season wrapped.  We had one of the strongest seasons we’d ever seen and Roger and I were in such agreement, it ends up looking like one of us didn’t do all his homework.  What can I say?  It’s proof that a good writer and a great cast is one hell of a combination.  But now that Martha has left, we’re right back where we were one season earlier.  Could lightning strike twice?   ML

This entry was posted in Doctor Who, Entertainment, Random Chatter, Science Fiction, Tenth Doctor, Top of the Docs. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Top of the Docs: Series 3 (2007)

  1. scifimike70 says:

    Series 3 in retrospect felt like where the modern Dr. Who could recapture more of the seriousness that was popular for the classic series. Certainly with the return of the Master and an outstanding intro for such an originally new villainy like the Weeping Angels. Mostly the stories benefited our understanding of how personally challenged the Doctor’s life must be. The return of the Daleks in one of their most creatively effective stories, Peter Davison’s return and the SF homages to Titanic for the Christmas finale all help to show David Tennant at his best. So fans could feel confident in the new Dr. Who’s chances for a long life on television.

    Thank you both, ML and RP.

    Liked by 1 person

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