Top of the Docs: The Specials (2009)

Donna is gone.  David Tennant’s Doctor is coming to the end of his run.  2009 was a heartbreaking year for fans and we didn’t know what was to come next.  Join us in revisiting the last 4 stories of the Tenth Doctor’s era.

the specials

The Next Doctor

RP: 3 – One of the Christmas clunkers. The David Morrissey mystery really only worked in the original context it was broadcast, and not even very well then. A very poor outing for the Cybermen, with the silly Cyber King, and the Shades could have been great if they had been more imaginative with the visuals (or maybe had a bit more money to spend on them). Jackson’s idea of the Doctor is oddly reflective of the largely media-invented stereotype of Doctor Who, which is a bit odd.

ML: 8 – I find this an immensely fun story that works brilliantly as a mystery with the potential of the Eleventh Doctor being revealed ahead of time.  The Cyber-story, while at the heart of the episode, does drag the story down, but the interaction between Tennant and Morrissey shoots it right back up.  I do consider this an above average episode but maybe not at the upper end of the scale.  I had to delete a point because of the stupidity of the Cyber King.

Planet of the Dead

RP: 5 – Only the amount of money thrown at this and the location filming makes it feel like a “special” as such. The script itself is more of a mid-season filler effort. The guest characters are mostly forgettable or walking stereotypes like Christina. It has its moments and is obviously visually stunning, but really this is the definition of the middle of the road, despite being instead the middle of the desert.

ML: 7 – Also above average, again largely because of the characters but not quite as good as the previous story.  Malcolm and Christina are great, but the bus through a wormhole and the fly-headed creatures on San Helios were just not “all that”.  Plus I hate when the Doctor is written with that disdain for the military. He doesn’t need to like the military to be respectful; he is our hero after all.  (But I loved the name of the planet!)

Waters of Mars

RP: 10 – Only Doctor Who could make water terrifying. One of the best base-under-siege stories ever made, with a funny robot as an added bonus, and a shocking ending that questions the very nature of the Doctor and what he does.

ML: 10 – In a word: powerful.  Tennant is amazing in this base-under-siege story and it is utterly terrifying.  Great cast, fun robot, terrifying monster, fantastic episode, incredible ending.

The End of Time

RP: 9 – The Master is back, and he’s come back wrong. I’m not sure the Time Lords should ever have been brought back, but if you’re going to do it then this is how. Wilf knocking and the Doctor’s reaction to it is one of Doctor Who’s greatest moments, and the Doctor’s “reward” is a lovely build-up to the regeneration. A great conclusion to one of the greatest ever eras of Doctor Who.

ML: 8 – Be glad we are not reviewing this in two parts.  Part one is so abysmally weak that it can only drag the whole down.  Luckily the second half is so impressive specifically with Wilf and the regeneration scene, not to mention a beautiful tying up of character arcs from an entire era…  I have to bring this into an overall above average score.  But the first half does hinder it reaching the higher end of the spectrum.  (Although Rassilon, played by Timothy Dalton, was an awesome surprise!)

Well, I didn’t want him to go but David Tennant regenerates to a gloriously beautiful peace of music and we are introduced to Matt Smith as his spits all over the TARDIS console.  Perhaps an odd start but based on his first minute, he sure looked like fun.  I don’t know if anyone could recapture the magic that Tennant brought to the role, but magic comes in many forms…  ML

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2 Responses to Top of the Docs: The Specials (2009)

  1. scifimike70 says:

    After the 10th Doctor at the end of Series 4 regenerates again into the 10th Doctor for vanity issues, it can make his extended era feel more suited to in-between-season specials as they can prepare us for arguably the most impactful regeneration finale ever in The End Of Time. It’s almost like a stay of execution with The Waters Of Mars as a last appeal. We thankfully still had The Next Doctor and Planet Of The Dead for Tennant’s fans to see his Doctor at his morally best and without much of the hubris mentality in his victories. But he knew that his time was up and this left Steven Moffat with an even more challenging task of filling Russell T. Davies’ shoes.

    Given the recent and current states for Dr. Who, one might in retrospect see Tennant’s regeneration finale as something of a pinnacle. It will take quite a leap for the show to recapture its magic and in appreciation for the Top of the Docs on the Junkyard, future producers of Dr. Who should read a lot of what we all have to say.

    Thank you both again.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. scifimike70 says:

    John Simm’s Master in The End Of Time is a timely reminder of how villains have so much to say about the heroes. Whether it’s Sherlock Holmes vs. Moriarty, James Bond vs. Blofeld, Batman vs. the Joker or Xena vs. Callisto, the villain’s most formidable strength is making our hero confront many haunting factors within himself or herself.

    Michelle Gomez, Alex Macqueen and Sacha Dhawan kept all the vital Master/Doctor chemistry alive in their own talented ways. But Simm’s Master for The End Of Time could also be a pinnacle thanks to the unrivalled magic of Russell T. Davies.

    Liked by 2 people

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