Our Season 2 Doctor Who Re-watch is off to a running start, even if David Tennant sleeps through the first half of the episode. As a first time watcher, Andy was worried the Tenth Doctor would remind Pete too much of Kilgrave, but Pete is on board the hype train and ready to accept him as the same man.
Christmas Special: The Christmas Invasion
Andy: I couldn’t be happier for you to finally meet Ten. This introduction of David Tennant as the Tenth Incarnation of the Doctor is one of my all time favorite episodes, and of course my Doctor. Ten is still undeniably the Doctor, he is full of the same fierce anger and passion, but he carries it lighter. Ten is readier with a pithy joke than a judgmental stare, he’s effusive in a way that Nine never was, and quite fond of the sound of his own voice.
Pete: The way the new Doctor is “withheld” in the first half of this episode reminds me of the pilot of the ‘West Wing’, when President Bartlett is kept off screen while people talk about him and fail to fix the problems, only to start handling shit like a boss immediately upon arrival. That’s exactly what happened here: aliens invaded at the worst possible time and the Doctor is asleep.
Andy: Rose’s panic over this is a reminder of why he is so important to the world. Although I have to say, what a waste to have David Tennant asleep for his first appearance. It would be embarrassing if his eventual introduction wasn’t so cockily-well written.
Pete: It’s such an effective and enjoyable storytelling technique, and it does such a great job of hyping up the Doctor and let me tell you. The hype is real.
As amazing as Rose’s attempt at grandstanding was the Sycorax weren’t buying it. But it did buy the new Doctor enough time to make this fabulous entrance.
Andy: I mentioned last week that my favorite moments tend to be emotional crescendos, and the ending of this episode delivers that in spades. From the moment the Doctor opens those doors, David Tennant spouts off line after line of dominating put downs, neutralizing the threat of the Sycorax almost casually, impressing everyone around him, and then literally engages in a sword fight for the planet.
“You stand as this world’s champion?”
“Thank you. No idea who I am, but you’ve just summed me up.”
Andy: I don’t think I could love him more.
I’m starting to get a bit annoyed with Mickey. He very rudely kept trying to get Rose to change the subject away from the Doctor. I understand where he is coming from emotionally, but it’s a very poor attitude. Not only is it generally not very kind to tell Rose to stop talking about the Doctor, but in this case she has an especially good reason. The Doctor is inexplicably unconscious and one of his hearts already stopped beating and Rose doesn’t know what that means! He might die. So maybe try and help her not worry, instead of telling her that worrying is stupid.
Andy: The question of the season: will you be able to like David Tennant as the Doctor, or will he remind you too much of Kilgrave from ‘Jessica Jones’?
Pete: I am having no such problem. I’ve always found it harder to watch wholesome actors become ruthless villains. (Like watching Corey’s dad from Boy Meets World pretend to be a god on Stargate. I just can’t take it seriously.) David Tennant’s Doctor is entertaining, and while he doesn’t remind me of Kilgrave, I wasn’t sure he was really the Doctor until the end, when he let the Sycorax fall to their death.
The Doctor isn’t giving second chances. And he has the piece of fruit in his pocket to back it up. (I’m not normally one for the the classic comedy routines, but the way use fruit on this show has gotten me every time.) But the serious tone of the statement made me feel like a little piece of the Ninth Doctor was saying “Hullo”.
Episode 1: New Earth
Pete: This episode is already off to a better start than the the premiere, what with it being in the future and all, and on Future Earth! You know how I feel about future episodes! And those tiny robots are back and I’m kidnapping one this time. I’m going to reprogram it to do something not nefarious, like pet unadopted cats and dogs at shelters.
Andy: This is….not one of my favorite episodes. There’s no good reason for that, either, because there are lots of elements that I should like: a utopian vision of Future Earth, lots of great jokes, and the seed of future drama via a secret message from the Face of Boe. But the body and disease swapping elements make me incredibly uncomfortable, so I often skip it on re-watch.
Pete: This is the second non-consensual kiss between the Doctor and Rose and I think we need to add this to the list of tropes that should go die in a fire. It comes across as fanservice, where the show runners wanted to tease the audience with a kiss, but they didn’t want to commit to dealing with the consequences. Even with that reasoning, I still don’t like it.
Andy: I think in most cases this kind of non-consensual kiss is used as a device to spark the realization that the characters are attracted to each other. But that’s not quite what happens here, which is another reason it doesn’t work for me. The Doctor laughs it off as a tribute to his attractiveness and neither character mentions it again.
More broadly, it goes back to the episode’s theme of things being done to your body without your consent. It is just as wrong for the hospital to transfer diseases to the “flesh” as it is for Cassandra to try to steal Rose’s body.
Pete: Cassandra was a fun villain the first time around, and this episode expanded her existing characterization while also doing something new. I’m glad to see characters and threads coming back around.
And of course, Billie Piper was amazing at playing Cassandra. She dominates as Rose, but now we know she can also play a polar opposite character. The way she changed her voice made the most impact, but her entire performance was compelling. This show has a terrible habit of making me feel sorry for these people.
“Everything has its time.”
Pete: I keep noticing this line come up, and I really like it. It’s bittersweet.
Andy: One of the things I liked about this episode was that the Doctor immediately knew Rose wasn’t herself when she didn’t react to the horrific medical experiments. (I really wish he had noticed at the kiss, but…) It was a strong gesture of the faith he has in her that he thought it was more likely she had been body-swapped than that she lacked compassion. They even argued about with Cassandra about who should sacrifice themselves to her mind control!
I have to admit, I find the ending a tad cheesy though. I adore the way the Doctor is written in this scene, but I don’t quite get the theory behind his magical cure. It comes across as a little “because magic!”
Pete: It was also fun to see Bob Barker’s head guest star again, aka the Face of Boe. Not only is that an ominous name, but to top off the episode we find out he’s not just a pretty face, he has a message for the Doctor…but not for today! Next time the Face of Boe shows up something awesome or terrible is going to happen. It makes me excited for the future.
Question of the Week: What do you think was Ten’s best moment of these two episodes?
Images courtesy of BBC. Please do not spoil Pete in the comments!