Doctor Who: The Doctor Is Out – Like a Light!

Doctor Who - The Doctor & RoseTime Lords are a hardy breed and when Doctor Who [Sci Fi, Friday, check your local listings] returns, there's a new regeneration of The Doctor – though his regeneration hasn't quite come off correctly – leaving his current companion, Rose Tyler, to try to save the world without him…


The Christmas Invasion finds the TARDIS hurtling rather unsteadily back to Earth, containing a Doctor [David Tennant] who hasn't recovered from his latest regeneration, and a very worried Rose Tyler [Billie Piper] – who still isn't sure that the semi-conscious man accompanying her is really The Doctor. On the plus side, the TARDIS has returned to Earth just in time for Christmas. [This 2005 Christmas special served as an introduction to The Doctor, Mark 10 – and aired in the UK and Canada last Christmas.]

As Rose, Jackie [Camille Coduri] and Mickey [Noel Clarke] try to figure out what's wrong with The Doctor [Jackie is amazed to discover he has two hearts!], an unmanned United Kingdom spacecraft disappears before the eyes of its trackers. As Prime Minister Harriet Jones [Penelope Wilton] tours the facility that put Great Britain into space, they receive a signal from the explorer – from beings who seem to have exoskeletons, and speak very aggressively.

Using translation software provided by UNIT [a lovely reference to the show's earlier days], they discover that the aliens – the Sycorax – have claimed the planet for themselves. When they arrive, Jones refuses to surrender, but they have an ace up their sleeves: somehow, they control one-third of the world's population – and force them to climb to the top of the nearest tall buildings [the implication being that if the Earth doesn't surrender, they will plunge to their deaths].

With The Doctor unconscious, Rose and Mickey carry him to the TARDIS [the only safe place on the planet], but Jackie is accidentally left behind. The Sycorax bring the TARDIS on board their vessel and it falls to Rose to try to save the world. The results are not promising…

Doctor Who - New Earth

Russell T. Davies came up with a lovely script for The Christmas Invasion. By making The Doctor's latest regeneration problematic, he gives Rose a chance to show more courage and determination than she's needed in the past. We also get a bit more character development for Mickey and Jackie, as well. Even better, we get to see a Doctor who really doesn't know who he is – or at least, what kind of person he is.

The special is filled with all sorts of delights, but my favorite has to be "The Impressive Big Red Button That Must Not Be Pressed Under Any Circumstances." There are so many television shows that have the equivalent of a "Big Red Reset Button" that puts everything back to point zero at the end of an episode, this feels like a reminder that Doctor Who is a show where there things are changing and characters are always growing. Another highlight is the introduction [though mostly offscreen] of Torchwood.

When the first episode of season two, New Earth, airs next week, we get to see that such is, indeed, the case. The episode finds The Doctor and Rose on New Earth, just outside of New New York, where they visit a strange hospital that's run by cat-like beings who have cures that are centuries ahead of themselves. We once again encounter two characters from the second episode of season one [or if you're a purist, season twenty-six]: The Face of Bo, and another…

In Tooth and Claw, the show takes on the idea of werewolves – placing one in Victorian England. We also get martial arts monks and a very odd running gag that features Rose trying to get Queen Victoria to say, "We are not amused." The beginnings of Torchwood are hinted at, as well. Now, if only the CG werewolf was a hair more convincing…

This may be the weakest episode of the series, to this point, which reinforces just how good the show really is. If an episode this good can be considered the weakest to date – and the season ahead holds joys like two-parters featuring the Cybermen and Satan – then we can rest assured that Doctor Who remains one of the best [and strangest] shows on television. [It also functions as a dose of lightness to balance the darker Battlestar Galactica – which also returns on Friday.]

Grade: A-


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