Series Three of DOCTOR WHO is where The Act Finally Gets Together. There are no elements that lack in comparison to others. It's a perfectly balanced production that delivers on every technical and emotional level.
The varied nature of the stories still means there's going to be some episodes better than others, but the beauty of it all is that the standard is so impeccably high. It's fair to say we have never had it so good.
DALEKS IN MANHATTAN and EVOLUTION OF THE DALEKS, a two-parter set in Depression-era New York, is probably the least effective story of the season. However, I will immediately qualify this by saying that the visuals are generally stunning and the scope is impressive, but the flaw remains in the realisation of DALEK/HUMAN SEC. It slightly diminishes the whole by not being 100% convincing and that's a terrible shame. Credit must go to Director JAMES STRONG, however, who is mostly on the money (note: I initially disliked the marching human/hybrid army dissolves, then saw in it a lovely homage to the Flash Gordons'/Buck Rogers' Republic serials of the time, a very nice touch) - but for my money, and for sheer visual and visceral impact, he'll need to sit on another Zarbi anthill before he tops THE SATAN PIT.
What an absolute delight THE LAZARUS EXPERIMENT is. Elements of Frankenstein, Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde, The Fly, Quatermass and The Pit - all rolled into one big, skeletal mess of a monster. MARK GATISS makes the most of his part as the age-reversal experiment gone wrong and draws out an effectively mean 'n moody performance from his best mate DAVID TENNANT. FREEMA AYGEMAN likewise continues to impress with her measured performance, wholly without the clinginess that made late-era BILLIE PIPER so irritating. The climax in the Cathedral is another great set-piece and leads nicely to the ending, where the "Mister Saxon" element is ramped up considerably to generate palpable fear in the mind of Martha's mother and the man her daughter's Tardishacked-up with. Great stuff.
'42' was never going to exceed expectations, mainly due to Danny Boyle's 'Sunshine', but for a primetime British television show, the story of a mining ship being dragged into a star was beautifully realised. With forty-two minutes left before destruction, there's a terrifying real-time twist to unfolding events which highlight the true nature of 'cause and effect'. That said, I tend to blow a little hot(!) and cold about Director GRAEME HARPER's work on this show (blame the slightly indifferent Cybermen for that), but the pace he generates and his striking colour palette cannot be faulted here. Allied to The Mill's superb CGI, there were moments as the escape pod fell into the sun that simply took my breath away. Hopefully yours too. "I'll save you!" "I'll Save You!!" "I'LL SAVE YOU!!!" I'll say no more.
I'm sure I've missed things out, but where do you stop? Music, performances, set design...everyone involved firing on all cylinders, all passionate about their work. How jealous am I? How lucky are we.
Wizzard were right. You know...the seasonal hit they had? Doctor Who is the fulfilment of that wish and we are spoiled rotten. Every Saturday night. Every Year. For thirteen wonderful weeks. And THEN Christmas Day comes and...