Tag Archives: Billie Piper

Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor

The-Day-of-the-DoctorI think Steven Moffat has given my brain indigestion. Even sleep didn’t untangle the knots he tied in my mind last night. It seems that The Day of the Doctor is an episode that genuinely requires two passes – the first to follow the plot, the second to absorb the story.

The first viewing left me a little deflated – there were so many good things in there, but it hadn’t moved me (and as you will know by now, I cry at the drop of hat – be it a fez or a stetson). A rewatching has, however, had me reaching for the tissues…

I can’t tell you if this is a reflection on my diminishing abilities to keep up with the Moff’s timey-wimey plotting, or a change in the way the man writes.

(Spoilers of many things 50th-related below the line…)

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Joy of Sets: New Doctor Who – Series 1

Christopher Eccleston

[Contains mild spoilers]

It’s easy to forget what sort of pressure there must have been for the rebooted Doctor Who to be a success back in 2005. Doctor Who was still a cult thing (though a popular cult thing) and the most recent attempt to resuscitate the series had been the Doctor Who movie with Paul McGann.

Rewatching ‘Rose’ as it introduces a whole new generation to the Doctor, the Tardis, the aliens and the monsters, is still a pleasure. It reminds us that it’s often the monsters that could be close to home that are the scariest – shop window dummies that come alive and make a sinister creaking noise as they move – but the fact that the Doctor remains cheerful in the face of danger stops it becoming horrific.

I adored Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor. He was perfect as the first rebooted Time Lord – sarky, funny, serious, rude and good at running. In fact, the first word he says as the Doctor is one that defined the Russell T Davies era for many: “Run!”

I was hooked from episode one, but there’s no denying that Rose does look (if you’ll pardon the expression) a little plastic compared to later episodes. Though I’m prepared to overlook everything for this exchange: Rose – “If you’re an alien, how comes you sound like you’re from the north?” Ninth Doctor – “Lots of planets have a north.”

Across 13 episodes we get to experience the mercurial nature of the Doctor, always the cleverest man in the room, but so often missing the point – at least as far as humans are concerned.

Reasons to rewatch this box set?

1. Christopher Eccleston (see above).

2. Dalek. Asks hard questions of the Doctor and shows us his brittle, battle-scarred side – it’s not a pretty sight. Also demonstrates that the Daleks have learned to conquer that old enemy – stairs…

3. Aliens of London/World War Three is not the ‘tosh’ that some dismiss it as. It’s not the best of the first series, but forgive the writers for trying to make the younger half of their audience laugh (few things make eight-year-olds laugh as hard as farts after all) and pay attention to a chilling conceit – aliens hiding in the upper echelons of government and planning a nuclear holocaust so they can sell off the planet to the highest bidders – and all the ‘domestic’ stuff that the Doctor hates so much. Russell T Davies captures the fallout of a 19-year-old girl vanishing perfectly – of course her mum would be distraught, of course her boyfriend would be a murder suspect. Including the emotional baggage didn’t turn Doctor Who into a soap opera, it gave it heart.

4. The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances. My personal favourites of the first series. There are still moments that give me chills even on third or fourth rewatch. It has Captain Jack, though at the beginning of his character arc his ways aren’t as winning as they will be, Christopher Eccleston dancing, the gasmask monsters, a reference to Oliver, and “Everybody lives Rose! Just this once, everybody lives!”

The parting of the ways5. The Long Game/The Parting of the Ways. It still had me on the edge of my seat and it still made me cry. There are thrills of fear and love and it’s the moment where we see how the Doctor has made better people not just of Rose and Jack, but Mickey and Jackie too. It’s the story that makes me wish Christopher Eccleston had stayed longer  – even though David Tennant is My Doctor (and I’m itching to get onto Series 2 now). This two-parter was a great ending to a great series.

It’s been an absolute joy to rewatch. Fantastic? I should coco…

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Dr Who: Say hello, wave goodbye

Well there we go. The old cute David Tennant-shaped Doctor has checked out and the new cute Matt Smith-shaped Doctor has arrived. And frankly, both shapes are delightful, so nobody loses here. In a two-parter clearly designed for an audience of regular and devoted viewers, at times it was tough for a drop-in irregular like myself to keep up with who was who and what the flip was going on. I lost the plot many times, but I felt I got the big picture, so that’s ok.

Much like an Agatha Christie Special, this was a star-studded affair, and The End of Time began with a manic and cackling John Simm as The Master. Over-acting is hard to call on Dr Who, given the genre, but I can say he had excessive blonde highlights. I liked the way white whooshy power jets shot out of his hands so he could zoom up in the air, it looked like it might have been fun if he wasn’t in constant torment because of the hammer-on-anvil tinnitus and the urge to keep gnawing on whole turkeys.

Anyway. With the help of two bright green pointy cactus-headed creatures (no idea who they are) the Doctor sorted out the bit of local difficulty with the ever fabulous Bernard Cribbins by his side. It’s funny how we age people as children. I thought Cribbins was old when I saw him in the Railway Children in 1970, but he clearly wasn’t, since he’s still in fine fettle.

So it turns out that the entire Time Lord race weren’t really all dead as we’d thought all these years, they were locked in a something or other, and by means of a diamond star jobby, Timothy Dalton (with some disturbing spitting) brought them down to earth along with a giant planet (Galafrey) which was about to squish Planet Earth until the Doctor made a wise choice about what to do with Bernard’s pistol and zapped the machine which got rid of the Time Lords just in time to stop them ending time. Didn’t quite get the fine detail there, but overall, big Phew.

That left the Doctor with a few odds and ends to tie up, involving helping and/or saluting old chums. He dropped in on John Barrowman propping up a bar very similar to the Mos Eisley Cantina in Star Wars and helped him pick up a date. He saved Sarah Jane’s son from being run over, and dropped by with a winning lottery ticket at Catherine Tate’s wedding. A quick chat with Billie Piper before she knew who he was, then it was time to start regenerating. This gave us a teasing glimpse of the lovely Matt Smith, who arrived clutching his endearingly floppy hair saying ‘I’m a girl!’ No, you’re definitely not a girl Mattie. Too early to say what kind of Doctor he will be, because as the music kicked in, the TARDIS was crashing to earth with him screaming ‘Geronimo!’ Bless.

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