Tennant’s first proper episode as The Doctor, in which he sleeps a lot, Rose is inconsistent and aliens rock!
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Although Tennant had already appeared as the 10th Doctor at the end of (N013) The Parting of the Ways, as well as the 2005 Children In Need Special, aka Doctor Who: Born Again, this was his first proper go. And he’s asleep for most of it.
Something’s gone wrong with his regeneration and while he tries to get some rest, the rest of us are treated to the first video footage from the new Mars Probe, Guinevere One. Alas, instead of red dunes, we get the aliens of the week: the blood-control-wielding, mask-adorned Sycorax. And they’ve decided to invade the Earth. And as though that’s not enough, a bunch of Roboforms have arrived ahead of them to kill The Doctor and his companions.
Rose, Jackie and Mickey (aka Ricky) must now get the unconscious Doc to safety, while Harriet Jones, former MP for Flydale North, attempts to negotiate with the Sycorax.
A lot is certainly going on in this second Christmas Special ever – that’s right, the first one since The Feast of Steven. Enjoy.
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I don’t like it. This story is dumb. The aliens are not really scary or evil or something. They are just guys with silly rubber masks.
Why do they have a big red unprotected button to disable their blood control thingy? And the sword fight on the spaceship is not very doctorish. And what’s with all the wood outside the spaceship? Leftovers from the prop builders?
The only highlight are the 5 minutes after he is awakening and joins Rose on the alien spaceship.
1 out of 5
The Doctor is sleeping, the Tennant awakes. But little Lord Poonhound, no crying he makes. This is an extremely long mixed bag of an episode. Excellent boob work from Jackie, who (s)mothers her invalid delightfully with everything but the obvious. The Santas and spinning Christmas tree are naff as Poundland baubles, but this episode carried me along with the exuberance of its ridiculousness. It makes the darker moments pop out all the more: Llewellyn being summarily executed, Harriet Jones displaying steel we didn’t expect, and the spaceship ash falling. Compare this to Moffatt’s greyed-out Nolanesque palette where no extremity of misery takes you by surprise. Here I actually wanted to go with Doc and Rose to wherever he was pointing. RTD’s moves are bold and captivating, plus he starts to branch out into the jam-and-string business with some serious universe-building. There are questions: how can Doc grab the electro whip and not lose the same magic hand he’ll have cut off moments later? How had the Sycorax seen the video for Bohemian Rhapsody? But, great intro from Tennant. Lovely to see his initial enthusiasm and joie de vivre.
Show notes: 1) jD doesn’t sing nearly enough. 2) Other famous Llewellyns include Robert Llewellyn, i.e. Kryten from Red Dwarf. 3) The Doctor being able to take down Harriet Jones with 6 words here is probably due to this being filmed at the height of Alastair Campbell’s career, when spin doctors possessed almost unlimited power, before fake news became institutionalised.