I'm going to be examining Doctor Who... every single episode. I'm going to take you on a journey through the 50+ years worth of this show, showcasing the good and the bad along the way. For each episode I'm going to give you a very brief rundown of the plot, how good/bad the story is, and anything interesting about the episode. Basically I'll just talk about whatever comes to mind for each of them. These will be a more in-depth overview of the series as a whole so you can see which stories or episodes (if any) you want to check out for yourself. Today I'm going to be talking about
The Tenth Doctor
Before I jump into this season, to date there have been two animated stories/episodes for the modern show. I'm not exactly sure why these were created but I'm glad of it all the same; more Doctor is usually a good thing. While the second of the animated specials features no companion and as such has a more comfortable spot later on down the road, the first one features the Series Three companion Martha Jones. While its placement is not definitive, most people agree that it belongs in the timeline somewhere around the place I have put it. Most streaming sites don't even have the animated specials as part of the series but I find them interesting or bizarre enough to include here.
Series three ran from March 31, 2007 to June 30, 2007 and contained thirteen episodes. With Billie Piper leaving the show the previous season, a new companion was required in the form of Martha Jones. Martha took the longest for me to like for two reasons. First off, she starts the season off being in love with the Doctor (something we've already seen) but him being oblivious to this fact. Then, at the end of the season she becomes a strong, confident, awesome globetrotter who is easily a welcome addition to the TARDIS...but she instantly leaves right as she gets interesting. This season's very loose ark is involving a man simply known as Mr. Saxon and figuring out exactly who he is.
The Runaway Bride
Picking up exactly where Doomsday left off, the Doctor is confused by the sudden appearance of a woman in a wedding dress. The woman, Donna Noble, accuses the Doctor of kidnapping her and opens to TARDIS door to find they are in space in-flight. The Doctor takes her back to Earth where the robot santas attack once more and take Donna hostage. The Doctor uses the TARDIS to fly next to the car holding Donna and rescues her. He takes her to her wedding where he meets her fiance Lance whom Donna worked with when she fell for him. The Doctor watches the video of Donna disappearing from the wedding and realizes she must have injected huon particles and was attracted to the huon particles in the TARDIS in her overly emotional state. He then also realizes the robot santas can track huon particles as a Christmas Tree begins attack the guests. The Doctor stops the tree and tracks the robot santas to a ship orbiting the Earth which quickly goes missing. Having learned that Donna's work is owned by the Torchwood Instititue, the Doctor heads there with Lance and Donna to discover a secret underground tunnel beneath the Thames River in which huon particles are being created as well as a large hole into the center of the Earth.. Suddenly a large spider-like alien appears ad introduces herself as the Empress of the Racknoss, a species wiped out by the Time Lords. Lance also reveals to have been in league with the Empress and had been feeding Donna huon particles to help her revive her race. The Doctor and Donna escape and use the TARDIS to travel back to the creation of the world where they find the first piece at the center of Earth was a Racknoss ship. The Empress plans to use the huon particles to revive her race. With Donna gone, she force feeds Lance the particles and sends them below waking up her "children." The Doctor reappears and asks the Empress to allow him to take them to a planet where they won't kill anyone. When she refuses he causes an explosion draining the Thames into the hole and drowning the reawakened Racknoss. The Empress returns to her ship but it is destroyed by the military on "Mr. Saxon's" orders. The Doctor offers for Donna to travel with him but she refuses. He takes her home and heads for the stars.
When it comes to Christmas episodes, about half of them are really great and the others are just ok. This is a great one. Catherine Tate as Donna Noble is absolutely hilarious in this episode and it's no wonder that we'll see her return as a regular companion next season. One negative is the reappearance of the robot santas. They didn't really make a lot of sense in The Christmas Invasion, and they certainly don't make any more sense now. The show was wise to jettison them after this appearance. Still a solid episode though and well worth watching!
Smith and Jones
Medical student Martha Jones is heading to work at the hospital where she encounters the Doctor disguised as a patient under the name John Smith. Suddenly, the people in the hospital are in shock as the hospital has been transported to the moon and three alien ships arrive. The ships are piloted by the Judoon, intergalactic police for hire who are looking for an alien criminal that is hiding in the hospital; they begin cataloging everyone who is human and moving on. The Doctor reveals to Martha that he is an alien and that he fears the Judoon will execute everyone for unknowingly harboring a fugitive. Meanwhile an elderly woman reveals herself to be the alien and sucks the blood out of the hospital director so that she can pass as a human to the Judoon's scanners. The Doctor and Martha run across the body of the director and realize the criminal is still out there. Stalling for time, the Doctor kisses Martha so the scan shows traces of non-human forcing them to do a full scan. The Doctor discovers the old woman modifying the MRI machine to destroy all life on the Moon and the half of the Earth facing the moon at the time. Pretending to be a scared human, the Doctor tricks the alien into sucking out his own blood. When the Judoon arrive, Martha uses their scanner on the woman who registers non-human. The Judoon execute the woman and leave the hospital. Martha revives the Doctor and the hospital is returned to Earth. That night, the Doctor shows up and asks Martha to join him for just one trip in the TARDIS as a thank you. She accepts.
As far as companion intro episodes go, this one is pretty great! The Judoon were an interesting inclusion to the world of Doctor Who. The hunt for the criminal as well as the ticking clock of all the oxygen being depleted (which I didn't mention) made for this a very exciting story. My problem was something I mentioned in the intro which is Martha's motivations for a good half or more of this season; she was falling for the Doctor. We just lost Rose and I didn't want to see any sort of repeat. Still a pretty solid episode.
The Shakespeare Code
The Doctor takes Martha to London 1599 to see Love's Labour's Lost at the Globe Theatre. At the conclusion, Shakespeare announces that a sequel is in the world called Love's Labour's Won, however a young witch uses a voodoo doll to force Shakespear to declare the sequel will be shown the following evening. As this sequel is "the lost play" The Doctor and Martha investigate by heading to the inn where Shakespeare is staying. While there, the Master of Revels barges in insulted that he hasn't seen the script and declares the play will never proceed. The witch with the assistance of two older witches create a voodoo doll of that man and drown him in the streets. That same night the young witch uses a bewitched marionette to force Shakespeare to write a particular strange sequence as the final paragraph to the play before falling asleep. The next morning, the Doctor questions why the Globe has 14 sides and they go to visit the architect who is being held at Bethlem Asylum. Eventually finding out that the witches had forced him to make the Globe in that shape, one of the witches appears and kills the architect. The Doctor has now identified them as Carrionites, a species who use the power of words to manipulate psychic energies creating "magic." The Doctor sends Shakespeare to stop the play but is too late as the words spoken within the globe allow for the entire Carrionite race to return to the world from their exile. The Doctor tells Shakespeare that he is most likely the only one to come up with words powerful enough to banish them back into exile; Shakespeare comes up with some lines on the fly and they work to send the Carrionites back and trap the three on Earth inside their crystal ball.
This one is pretty fantastic. I love almost everything about this from the witches to Shakespeare acting like a sort of rock star, to the Doctor being angry with the Asylum guards for mistreating the mentally ill. There were two tiny parts of this story that I also found really great. The first is that Shakespeare was such a genius with words that the Doctor's Psychic Paper didn't even work on the man...and he was able to figure out Martha was from the future and the Doctor an alien without being told. The second is Martha, who is the first black companion, questions if she will be alright in the past as she's "not exactly white." To this the Doctor just responds that she should act like she owns the place and everything will be fine. Check this one out.
The Doctor decides to stretch the definition of one trip with Martha and since he took her to the past it's time to take her to the future. He takes her to New Earth like he did with Rose; a fact that Martha is annoyed by. However they land in a sort of under city several years after he arrived with Rose. Almost instantly, Martha is kidnapped by a couple and taken to The Motorway. The Doctor follows to find bumper to bumper hovering cars in an enclosed roadway filled with exhaust fumes. He is quickly picked up by a couple who explain they barely move a few feet every week or so and have been on the motorway for years. Martha wakes up with her captors who explain they needed her to get to the express lane (3 or more people) but upon arriving there, they begin to hear strange voices. Tired of this nonsense, the Doctor begins dropping down to the bottom layer of cars in order to find Martha while a cat nun starts to follow him. At the bottom, he discovers a group of crab-like aliens known as Macra have been breeding in the pollution and are killing anything that enters the fast lane. The cat nun finds the Doctor and teleports him to the surface of the planet; there are bodies lying everywhere. Several years prior, a plague hit New Earth killing anyone it touched so the leaders trapped people in the under city and motorway in an attempt to save them from death. The Face of Boe is also there to help the Doctor by using the last of his life energy to re-open the motorway allowing everyone freedom. Martha finally makes it back to the Doctor who is with the Face of Boe as he utters his last words. "You are not alone."
This is a weird episode with a lot of random funny characters. What I really want to talk about here is the Macra. Now the Macra haven't been seen since the 2nd Doctor's time frame and they were very different back then. They were fully sentient intelligent beings who were about as tall as a bus. Here they have not only tripled in size but their intelligence was reduced to that of a mindless beast of instinct. Now I wouldn't mind seeing how species can change over time but this is literally the only time we've ever seen any sort of significant change in an alien race. It's like they just needed something to be threatening and pulled the Macra out of a hat to make Classic Fans smile at (or be annoyed by) the reference. It's also interesting to see future stories where random bits of the past become prominent. Here the entire population sings The Old Rugged Cross every evening. It's... odd. If it sounds interesting then give it a watch.
Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks
The TARDIS lands in 1930 as the Empire State Building is nearing completion. They notice a news article about disappearances in Hooverville located at Central Park and investigate. The leader of Hooverville, Solomon, tells them more about the disappearances but a man shows up offering jobs. The Doctor, Martha, Solomon, and a young man named Frank take the job. They are sent to the sewers to clear out rubble but along the way they find organic alien matter that the Doctor takes to analyze later. Eventually the group run into mutated pig slaves and flee for their lives. Frank is captured by the pig slaves but the others escape up a ladder and into a theatre where they meet a showgirl named Tallulah whose boyfriend had gone missing as well. The Doctor begins to analyze the organic material when Martha sees a pig slave watching Tallulah's performance and gives chase where she is captured by pig slaves. The Doctor and Tallulah follow and find the pig slave watching her was her boyfriend Lazlo. The Doctor and Lazlo continue through the sewers and encounter a Dalek confirming the Doctor's suspicions. They eventually encounter the Cult of Skaro from Doomsday and find Martha and Frank with them. Martha asks the Daleks what their plan is and they reveal to be attempting a Dalek-human hybrid to strengthen the Dalek race. Dalek Sec then conducts the experiment on himself and becomes the first human dalek.
I wish I could really pinpoint what it is about this two parter that I don't care for that much. The idea of it is fantastic. A race of hate-filled beings suddenly wanting to be more human to strengthen themselves and becoming kind in the process is great. There's just something about this that is weird and sometimes kind of stupid. Maybe it's the pointless theatre scenes, maybe it's the weird makeup, maybe it's the random pigs that make no sense... I don't honestly know. It's not the worst that the show has to offer by any means but it's also just not really good either. Maybe you'll like it more than I did.
The Lazarus Experiment
The Doctor returns Martha home but decides to stay when he notices an 80 year old man say he is going to "change what it means to be human" on live TV. That night they go to see what Lazarus was talking about and find that he has created a machine to rejuvenate the body back to a previous point in time. Lazarus steps in the machine and emerges as a 30 year old with his memories intact. The Doctor has his suspicious about the machine's side effects and begins snooping around. Elsewhere, Lazarus is talking with his partner when he suddenly starts to mutate and kills the woman by sucking out her life force. The Doctor using DNA samples from when Lazarus kissed Martha's hand find his DNA is unstable and changing. Lazarus returns to human form and takes Tish, Martha's sister who works for him, to the roof. The Doctor and Martha head to the roof where all three see Lazarus transform into a strange scorpion-like creature and give chase. They manage to escape by hiding in Lazarus' machine and reversing the polarity to knock him out. An ambulance arrives to carry him off but he transforms once more and kills the drivers before running into a nearby cathedral. He cannot stop his transformations and so Tish and Martha lead him into the bell tower while the Doctor modifies the pipe organ. With Lazarus in the bell tower, the Doctor plays the organ which interferes with Lazarus DNA and he falls to his death. The Doctor invites Martha along as a full companion and she accepts. As they leave, Martha's mother leaves a message on her answering machine warning her about the Doctor and that a representative of Mr. Saxon had told her terrible things about the man she was traveling with..
The most interesting thing about this episode is the form that Lazarus takes and the Doctor's explanation of it The Doctor explains that the scorpion-like creature was an evolutionary possibility for the human race that was rejected and the machine made his normal form unstable so he reverted to some other possibility. Honestly not a bad episode.
The TARDIS receives a distress call from a spacecraft that is slowly falling into a nearby sun with only 42 minutes left. Within minutes of arriving, the Doctor and Martha are separated from the TARDIS by heat shields due to the rising temperature on the ship. The engines have malfunctioned and the cockpit is behind 30 deadlocked doors. Martha teams up with a crew member, Riley, to tackle the doors while the Doctor helps repair the engines. While this is going on, the husband of the captain has become infected with a presence that is raising his body temperature. When sedation doesn't work he puts on a welding helmet and begins killing crew members with intense heat before infecting another member of the crew. This second infected tracks down Martha and Riley trapping them in an escape pod and sending it off into the sun. The Doctor learns of this and goes to save them by activating a magnetic recall device. He looks into the sun while doing this and becomes infected himself. It is then that he learns the sun is a living being and the ship had used a scoop on the sun to refuel the ship and had stolen the sun's heart. It is the sun trying to reclaim it's body parts that is causing the ship to malfunction. The Doctor tries to freeze himself to stop regeneration and the captain orders the fuel be dumped before finding her infected husband and sending the pair of them out of the airlock. Martha and Riley finally get through the doors and dump the fuel. This allows the ship's engines to re-start and the Doctor to return to normal.
This was honestly an exciting mystery. It was interesting to see the possessed people growling "burn with me" throughout the episode and it really made you question exactly what was going on. It was good to see Martha being a true companion and not just along for the ride. We also get a taste that something bizarre is up with this Mr. Saxon character though we won't see what's going on fully till the finale. This is a solid episode and well worth your time.
Human Nature / The Family of Blood
The Doctor and Martha are on the run from The Family of Blood who intend to take away the Doctor's Time Lord lifespan in order to prolong their own lives. They seem to be unable to outrun them, so the Doctor uses a device known as a chameleon arch to transform himself into a human and hide his Time Lord essence in a pocket watch. He hopes to hide from the Family until their lives have been extinguished... which would only be a few months. He programs the TARDIS to find a time and place where he can easily fit in and transforms. The TARDIS takes them to 1913 where the very human John Smith (the Doctor) begins working as a school teacher for boys with Martha working as a maid. John keeps the strange pocket watch in his room but doesn't question why. John continues to have strange dreams of his adventures as the Doctor and starts writing them down in an Impossible Journal. Eventually John falls in love with the school nurse, Joan Redfurn. The Family of Blood have tracked the TARDIS to Earth as a young student with ESP abilities locates the pocket watch and takes it for himself. The Family possess four people, including a student at the school and sense the Doctor's presence with Timothy briefly opens the pocket watch and sees visions of the Doctor's past and future memories. The Family track down John (who has no idea what's going on) and demand that he change back into a Time Lord or watch as Martha and Joan are killed. Timothy opens the pocket watch a second time which distracts the Family and allows everyone to get out safely.
This two parter is good... VERY good. It was great to see David Tennant playing a normal person. It was also heartbreaking to see him so in love with Joan and having to choose to be something that he didn't want to be in order to save people. It's a beautiful story. I also want to point to this episode as far as the Doctor's cruelty. People and the show itself can forget the Doctor's wrath and occasional cruelty... something that the Twelfth Doctor has done well to remind us of. While the 10th Doctor next season will call himself "the man who never would" here we see him tossing someone into the creation explosion of a new galaxy, trapping a man in dense chains, trapping a girl inside every mirror in existence, and freezing a boy permanently in time and making him work as a scarecrow. Granted the torture they had handed out to people throughout their lives most likely made this whole thing justifiable but.... that sort of extreme measure is scary.
The Infinite Quest
An alien tyrant named Baltazar has decided to crush Earth into diamonds when the Doctor and Martha show upon his ship in the TARDIS. Eventually the Doctor causes a strange fungus to begin eating the ship causing it to rust. The Doctor then frees Baltazar's robot bird Caw who saves Baltazar as the Doctor and Martha go back to the TARDIS. At some point later, Caw takes the TARDIS to his home world and provides Martha with a pin for her help saving his life. He then provides the Doctor with a data chip which is supposed to have coordinates to The Infinite, an impossibly ancient space ship which legend says can give you your hearts desire. The Doctor isn't interested until he mentions Baltazar has a duplicate and is also off to find the Infinite. The Doctor and Martha then use the data chip to find coordinates to the next data chip and so on. Their adventure leads them to a sand world where a woman and a group of skeletons are liberating oil. Eventually the woman escapes but is murdered with her data chip left behind. They find the next data chip is in the possession of a gun running lizard alien on a planet where humans and insects are at war. Eventually the lizard is also murdered and his chip is located. The next segment leads them to a frozen prison planet where the robotic leader of the prison has been tossed into a cell with an inmate (in possession of the chip) running the jail. Eventually he too is killed but when they go to retrieve his chip, Baltazar shows up riding Caw. Baltazar reveals that the pin given to Martha was a tracking device and forces the Doctor to pilot the TARDIS to the Infinite. As he does so, Baltazar tosses the Doctor out with Martha's pin which turns out to be Caw's son. Martha and Baltazar arrive at the Infinite which turns out to only be causing illusions of what your hearts desire is. The Doctor arrives having spent 3 years raising Caw's son and reprogramming him to take Baltazar to prison. The Infinite breaks up as the Doctor and Martha head off on their journey.
This one is really bizarre and could only be done with animation in all honesty. It's like they had a bunch of interesting ideas but not enough material to make a full episode so they slapped the whole thing in here. It's pretty entertaining even though ti's kind of absolutely insane. It kind of reminds me of the William Hartnell story The Chase with all the various locations and bizarre things going on. While this isn't the definite placement of this story chronologically, this is where I like to put it as Martha is a full companion at this point... or at least she seems to be. If you can track it down, and are a fan of the 10th Doctor and Martha then give it a try.
A young lady named Sally Sparrow is photographing an abandoned house when she sees creepy angel statues and finds a note from the Doctor in the 1960's behind the peeling wallpaper which warns her about the Weeping Angels. The next day Sally and her friend Kathy go back to the house, but there is a knock on the door. Sally goes to the door as Kathy suddenly disappears and the angel statue has moved. The man at the door is older than Sally and Kathy but claims to be Kathy's grandson who was told to show up at that house at that exact time with a letter from his grandmother. The letter is from Kathy who says she suddenly found herself in 1920 and eventually married and lived a peaceful life. Sally sees a strange key being held by an angel statue and takes it as she goes to find Kathy's brother Larry at his DVD shop. Sally tells Larry that Kathy has "gone away for awhile" but notices that he has been documenting a strange Easter Egg on several unrelated DVDs. It's a man in the 60's calling himself The Doctor having half of a conversation with the viewer. Kathy then decides to take the key to the police station where she meets Detective Billy Shipton who informs her that there have been several disappearances at that house and one of the latest ones was a locked police box. Sally leaves but remembers the key so she returns to the police station to find that both Billy and the TARDIS are gone. She receives a call from a much older Billy who is dying in the hospital. He had seen the angel statues approaching the TARDIS and suddenly found himself in 1969 where he met the Doctor. Billy tells her to check the list of DVDs and passes away. The DVDs are all DVDs that she owns. She takes Larry and a portable DVD player to the abandoned house where she watches the easter egg and seems to have a conversation with the Doctor who reveals he has a full manuscript of their conversation because Larry was writing it down. The Doctor explains that the angels are creatures who cannot move when they are being looked at but are lightning fast and will send you back in time to feed off your time energy. He then asks Sally to take the DVD to the TARDIS so that he and Martha can escape 1969. As they head for the TARDIS the angels start attacking and causing light failure. The pair enter the TARDIS which recognizes the DVD and flies off without the pair...however that has caused the angels to look at each other and be permanently locked. Later, Sally sees the Doctor out in town and provides him with the information and manuscript as it hasn't happened for him yet.
This is one of those fantastic episodes that come around less often than they should. It's one of the best episodes the show has ever produced. With the increase of episodes, in Season 2 they had a Doctor Lite episode in Love and Monsters which was atrocious. Here it's done right....practically perfectly. The introduction of the Weeping Angels is also amazing as they are one of the creepiest creatures to ever have been created in all of Doctor Who. This is something everyone should watch.
Utopia / The Sound of Drums /
The Last of the Time Lords
The TARDIS is refueling at the rift in Cardiff when the Doctor notices Captain Jack rushing towards them having used the Doctor's severed hand from The Christmas Invasion to track him. He tries to take off but Jack latches himself to the TARDIS and goes along for the ride. The TARDIS tries to shake him off and lands way farther in the future than they should have been... the end of the universe. Jack falls off the TARDIS dead from the flight but immediately comes back to life. It seems that when Rose brought him back to life in The Parting of the Ways she made him a fixed point in time so that he could never actually die... or at least it would be an extremely long time. The trio find themselves on a planet where the last remaining human beings in the universe are trying to leave on a rocket ship to find Utopia. However the rocket isn't functioning and the bumbling Professor Yana can't figure it out. As Yana can't figure it out and keeps having bizarre headaches, the Doctor notices that he is holding a strange looking pocket watch. He then decides to help Yana with the rocket. Yana hadn't noticed he had a pocket watch and opens it as the rocket takes flight. Yana begins to remember who he is and kills his assistant proclaiming his real name.. The Master. The Master is shot by his assistant in her last moments and hops on the Doctor's TARDIS. He regenerates into a younger man and the Doctor begs him to open the doors as they are the last two remaining time lords in existence. The Master taunts him and takes off but not before the Doctor used his Sonic Screwdriver to lock the TARDIS coordinates.
This is a pretty exciting three parter. It was great to see the Master once again and see the dynamic of these two evolving some. You get more of a sense that they were actually good friends at one point before they went their separate ways. One strange decision to make with the modern series is that the Master is legitimately insane this time around. I realize that they give a real explanation for the headaches and drumming sound later but.... the Master was never quite this. Sure he was evil and his plans sometimes made no sense but... this is more like The Riddler cosplaying as The Master. Don't get me wrong. I still love this version of the Master but it's just not the same as the Classic Show. Also, the last episode gave us the Martha we had been wanting from the very beginning. She was smart, amazing, and freaking tough. This was a companion worthy of the TARDIS....then she leaves. Despite any belly-aching I've said, this three parter is a pretty good watch and a great end to a pretty good season.
That was Series Three of New Who. In many aspects is reminds me a tiny bit of the first season mostly because I didn't care for it as much the first time I watched it. However upon a second viewing, I loved most of it. While Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks is kind of stupid there is far more good this season than bad. Human Nature/The Family of Blood and Blink are all absolutely fantastic episodes that everyone should watch. While many Classic Who fans have a real issue with this portrayal of The Master, I truly enjoyed it. It was something different that made the Master a very unique foe. All in all this is pretty great and continues to show why David Tennant will always be considered one of the best Doctors. Please join me again as we continue to examine all of Doctor Who.
This is Ghost, fading into the darkness
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