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Saturday, December 27, 2008
And there's double Doctor goodness!

Mine says, "Paterson Joseph, who's he?"

I should state now that if I had written this review after my first viewing, it would be quite different. For the first time since its return in way back in, ooh let me think, 2005 I was disappointed with an episode of DOCTOR WHO. After it finished on Christmas Day I felt down but not because I'd been on a 'high' (and that regularly happens with Who) but because the latest installment of the show, The Next Doctor, didn't make me happy at all. But, thankfully, I watched it again.

Dear Mr. RSC, can David pleased be excused from Hamlet...

Don't get me wrong, there's still a lot wrong with it but overall it did its job and entertained on the most bloated day of the year. As a story, and like last year's Voyage Of The Damned, it doesn't really stay in the mind. Visually there's some great stuff but there's also a lot of repetition and some stuff that doesn't quite come off. all that pumping his co~stars has done him an injury.

In RTD's excellent book The Writer's Tale we were treated to the genesis of this story and how short his time was to finish it. And, by cripes, it shows. Even in the podcast, for the episode, the outgoing show~runner reveals a better ending to it. Too much work for one man? Yes. I'm a huge fan of RTD's stories but this is a case of where his writing is the cause of the flaws in The Next Doctor.

Sounds like...

Once we find out that David Morrissey is not the next Doctor (and the audience pretty much guessed that early on) the story becomes a bit of a non~entity. And that's a great pity 'cos the scenes involving the two, as they investigated the dead man's house, were excellent with some lovely direction and some restraint from composer Murray Gold who elected to keep his orchestra silent.

... not long to go for me!

Once the 'mystery', such that it was, disappeared so did my interest. The 'revelation' that his wife had been killed and his son taken was so bleedin' obvious that I thought I was watching Eastenders. Very un~RTD. What was very RTD was his inclusion of a Dalek reference. Can we please have some time away from them? This was meant to be a Cyberman story. Speaking of them (who I prefer over the pepperpots), they came off rather poorly.

Surely we're not counting him as a real Doctor?

Let's examine. Just what the eff were they doing? Collaborating with some woman who had a strong mind? A woman who, once connected to their 'minds', they then decided wasn't up to the job? What a bunch of numbnuts! There was no threat from them and how Davey T managed to keep two of the blighters back with a 'cutlass' is anyone's guess. Speaking of that woman, Dervla Kirwan does an excellent job (until she gets Cyber~ed) though I kept thinking she was going to say, "These aren't just any Cyberman..., these are M&S Cybermen" (For those outside the UK who don't get that, she does an ad on telly for Marks & Spencer with those lines - my contribution to lazy joke~making.)

Scooby~Doo was surprised when he was asked to don a mask for the production.

But what was her deal? We got very little insight into her backstory and just why she was doing what she was doing it. More of Hartigan would have made this story more believable and would have taken our minds away from the 'mystery' a little bit longer. It can't be that Mercy simply didn't like men, could it? She was also very reminiscent of the Empress of the Racnoss from The Runaway Bride with her red dress and black eyes (another human possession story!) which annoyed me a tad.

This Charming Man

While I'm discussing similarities, and I do so because on two occasions RTD has pulled stories from DW 'cos they were similar to others in the same series, Jackson Lake was a re~enactment of Donna in Journey's End - a human whose mind has been garbled with that of a Time Lord. Granted it was different for Miss Noble but essentially it was the same (from a narrative point of view). Surprised RTD didn't notice that, seems he only notices that trait in other writers. *coughs*

Who let the Cyberman into the photo?

Direction~wise, it was a mixed bag for sure. We got some neat angles and handheld stuff during the more intimate scenes but the action scenes did not fare as well. For example, the chase at the start, as highly entertaining as it was, seemed disconnected. The rope that the two Docs clung onto was as rigid as a rigidy thing yet it clearly flayed from side to side in a wide shot with the Cybershade running up the wall. And just how they got through the window is another matter. (Too picky? Perhaps but it bloody annoyed me!) Poor execution of a great idea.

It was I who let them know the location of the Endor generator..

And just why did the Cybermen explode out of existence (thereby finishing the tale neatly) when Hartigan started screaming at the end? The Doctor had just stated that their connection was broken. Maybe I missed something but that also irritated me no end. Now, they're have been flaws like that in Doctor Who before so why mention them now? I mention them now because they're so noticeable. The Next Doctor has very little strength in the plot so these little points (that would normally pass me by or become inconsequential) are exaggerated.

Howdy, howdy, howdy...

It didn't seem like a lot of thought (or not as much as normal I should say) went into this production and after a year of such highs and zero lows it sticks out big time. I very much doubt that it will be in my festive countdown (coming soon blogites!) of Doctor Who 2008. I will say that I admire RTD (and the Mill) for creating a huge effin' robot. I lurve robots! And huge ones are even better. That was a treat at the end and the CyberKing was a nice twist. Sadly it blinked out of existence before I got its number. Sniff.

Nice helmet!

'Til the next doctor, oops, I mean 'time',

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posted by Cameron McEwan at 4:12 pm -
  • At 5:06 am, Blogger Richard Starkings said…

    I thought THE NEXT DOCTOR was the best of the specials, even better than RUNAWAY BRIDE. I thought David Morrisey was just terrific and the art direction some of the best and most interesting yet. It's a shame Miss Hartigan was disintegrated at the end, she'd have made a good recurring character.

  • At 11:24 am, Blogger Cameron McEwan said…

    ha ha, just goes to show us WHO fans can't agree on anything!

    Mozza was terrific as was Kirwan but it wasn't enough for me. As you say, it's a pity she was dispensed with as her story could have been an interesting one, why was she so powerful?

    I think my favourite special is still The Christmas Invasion.

  • At 4:05 pm, Blogger Persephone said…

    I (very boringly) agree with your review. Don't you get the feeling that RTD just tries to cram too much in, and can't bear to part with anything? I felt the absence of back story on both Mercy Hartigan and Rosita. The workhouse children being herded off to work for the Cybermen bothered me too, in the sense that I don't think it was clear enough that they were being shepherded from one hell to another, and that the work they were required to do wouldn't be all that different from what they'd be used to on a daily basis --- just a tad more terrifying.

    I judge Doctor Who episodes on how many repeat viewings I can stand. Something like "Human Nature" I can watch over and over and find something new each time. On the other hand, I never really want to watch "Fear Her" again. On my second viewing of "The Next Doctor" I was glancing at the time and willing it to be over. Splendid acting, good visuals, holey plot.

    I do think RTD is a splendid and gifted writer, but, like the Doctor, he needs someone to stop him. I wonder if Stephan Moffat's stories will suffer when he's in charge and there are fewer people to say "no".

  • At 4:47 pm, Blogger Jen r. said…

    I haven't seen it yet in the US, but honestly.. aren't there any other aliens in the universe besides the Daleks and the Cybermen??? really ?

  • At 7:26 pm, Blogger Cameron McEwan said…

    Yes, I think we're in all agreement that more of Hartigan would have been appreciated.

    I was going to mention that Rosita's character could have been fleshed out more but I'd had enough of my own negativity.

    The kids' scenes also seemed like an afterthought even though the theme of children had been mentioned a number of times. Your thoughts on their portrayal are on the money, as it were.

    I'm getting a bit fed up of the 'hero' aspect of the Doc's persona, it's getting a bit over~played now and way too obvious. The shots of him running through the steam and smoke carrying Jackson's son were almost parodic (is that a word?) and Lake's heralding of the Doctor (claiming he never gets thanked when in fact he does all the bloody time!) amongst a group of people was just unnecessary.

    Finally, it's never boring to agree with me - it's just common sense!

    (This is a statement for those not as bright as others - of course, people are free to disagree with me and my opinions. I actively encourage 'healthy' debate.)

  • At 8:06 pm, Blogger joy said…

    Good review, Cam. (Can I call you Cam?)

    After watching twice, I'm totally on the fence for this episode. I didn't enjoy it as much as previous specials, but then, I'm not a big Cybermen fan, either.

    It was magnificently shot, and ITA about liking Mercy Hartigan until she was crowned Cyberking. And, I really did like the Robot stomping all over Londontown - and the lovely CGI'd TARDIS balloon. I even loved that it was Victorian England (having just pretended that's where I was a couple of weeks ago).

    But overall, the eppy felt rushed, like it could have done with being an hour and half, rather than shoehorned into an hour. Ends weren't tied, and stories weren't as developed as they shoulda/coulda been.

    And, it doesn't make me look all that forward to the next few specials. I just worry that the one-offs will basically be lame-duck fillers, until the new regime can take over.

    Not that I won't be glued to the telly (or the laptop, as it were) for each special, of course.

  • At 9:45 pm, Anonymous Mark Donaldson said…

    Cameron K McEwan you heartless old cynic! Loved this for reasons below. That said it was very clearly two seperate storylines bolted together. Still, better than last years, which was the first time New Who left me feeling disappointed.

  • At 9:51 pm, Anonymous Mark Donaldson said…

    Oh, and Colin Baker is a lovely man. You should be ashamed! Haha

  • At 10:44 pm, Blogger Cameron McEwan said…


    Of course you can call me 'Cam'. You should hear what some people call me...

    I too feel a two~parter might have done justice to the story and, more importantly, the characters.

    I've seen it three times now (once with the excellent commentary) and although it improves on multiple watchings, the shortcomings are also highlighted more.

    As for the 'specials', RTD has got some help on two of them so hopefully Davey T will get the send~off he so rightfully deserves.

    Ha! I was wondering how long it would be before someone noticed my nudge at 'ole Colin. It was, of course, in 'jest'. I lurve him as much as I lurve Sylv... *coughs*

    The Next Doctor was better than last year's Christmas Special though it must be said that I enjoyed Voyage Of the Damned much more on its transmission.

    It's odd that both our first disappointments with NEW WHO came on the same day, (yet different year) considering stories such as Fear Her and The Idiot's Lantern and 42 which are all poorer than the specials mentioned (I feel anyway).

  • At 2:12 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree with all your review, except the big Cyberking part. That was not cool for me, it was Godzilla meets a giant Transformer who looks like a Pyrovile who is a biiiig Cyberman. That came out of the Thames. Huh? Been there done that to bits to say the least?

    I have yet to see the special for a second time, I don't know if it will improve. It was so filled with clich├ęs and self-adoration (courtesy of RTD's exaggeration) that it doesn't interest me anymore. It was one hour that passed and... OK, back to whatever I was doing, nothing lingering.

    My favourite special is "The Christmas Invasion" too, with "The Runaway Bride" a very very close second.

    Best regards, Arwyn-t :)

  • At 1:18 pm, Blogger Cameron McEwan said…


    I guess my lurve for robots made me overlook its shortcomings!

    Self adoration is a very good way of describing the goings~on here. A bit too self~congratulatory too.

    Though, I guess it was Christmas so I'll forgive RTD on this occasion though I doubt I'll be watching it again.

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