Most helpful critical review
37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
The greatest doctor, but not his finest hour...
on 21 March 2010
For me, David Tennant is the greatest Doctor we have seen since Tom Baker. David is for 21st century Who, what Tom was to the 20th. The strength of David's performance has carried these specials, and made every one absolutely worth watching.
At the same time, I've become increasingly frustrated with Russell T. Davies' (RTD) writing for the series. Not that I am one of these people that appear to have an irrational hatred of a man I have never met:far from it, I love the fact he brought the series back, and he has given us some great stories (The Christmas Invasion, Tooth and Claw, Turn Left and Midnight to name but a few).
Increasingly however, RTD seemed to have simply run out of fresh ideas, and was not able to produce a series finale that had a satisfactory resolution. Thus for series 1 we had Daleks trying to take over the world, series 2: Daleks & Cyberman trying to take over the world; series 3: the Master had a go; Series 4 the Daleks again and the Specials the Master had another go. Similarly, we had alien invasion of contemporary earth for Christmas special 1 (a classic), alien invasion of contemporary earth for Christmas special 2, destruction attempt of earth for Christmas special 3, then an alien invasion of Victorian earth, and for the last Master tries to take over - you guessed it - contemporary earth. With its infinite format, don't you think Who deserved some originality? I do!
So to the stories:
The Next Doctor - I was really thrilled at this one... at first. The Doctor seemed to be having a ball, for once we get a Christmas special away from contemporary earth, and the premise seemed good. However, like most RTD specials the storyline seemed to have been set up for the pre-publicity gossip (i.e. is David Morrisey the next Doctor?)and subsequent viewing figures. However, this as a basis for a good story, just doesn't simply work, and you feel so let down as there's no explanation for Miss Hartinger's motivations or why the Cyberman would go along with it; and the Doctor destroying the plot from a hot air balloon was just plain ludicrous. 6/10 - great promise, but awful resolution.
The Planet of the Dead - A landmark episode as the first story to be broadcast in High Definition. Not a landmark story though - it looks beautiful but I lost interest rapidly. David Tennant is great as usual, but the plight of those on the bus and monsters that look as though they came from the Slyvester McCoy era did not really grip my attention. Perhaps too much was trying to be achieved in one go, or we just didn't know enough about the characters on the bus to feel involved in their plight? 5/10
The Waters of Mars - the classic of these specials. This story really had a "classic Who" base under siege story. For the first time, shown on a Sunday instead of a Saturday, for once we see a different side to Doctor's character. Here he relishes the fact he is more than a mere mortal and has the capability to change future events as a Time Lord - almost like a God. The Doctor himself is scary, and it is made even more so by the sacrifice that comes at the end of story by someone who realises that her timeline cannot be changed. 10/10
The End of Time. Both David Tennant and Bernard Cribbins carry a very poor story to wind-up the 10th Doctor's era. Bernard Cribbins is an amazing man, now 80 and running around like someone half his age on screen, and with a real zest for life still. Not only that he gives an excellent and moving performance throughout! I hoped that RTD would not use his "let's throw as many elements in the mix as possible for a finale but not worry about tying them up" again but I was disappointed. The Time Lords return as evil psychopaths who want to .. take over the earth (groans), and now Rassilon is alive and well apparently. How did the Time lords manage this miraculous feat of returning after the Time War? Well it's obvious... they seeded a banging noise in the universe which allowed them to re-appear !
David Tennant plays the regeneration scene very well, but I can't help thinking the line "I don't want to go" was greatly out of chracter for the Doctor (too egotistical and wimpy). However, on the plus side: whilst many have criticised RTD's self-congratulatory visit of old companions , I think for once he showed originality for the regeneration sequence.
So for the discs/extras:
- It is rather cheeky to say the least, that for this release that the BBC has decided to master these @1080/60i on Blu-Ray rather than 1080/50i for the UK market. Many have complained at seeing a slightly jerky picture, and odd colours. Why isn't the BBC mastering in the UK for the UK market?
- DT's Video Diary - a nice, personal look at his last year on the show.
- Doctor Who Confidentials - for once, not cut down- except for the one for The Next Doctor - which has some small edits.
- Commentaries - only 1 for The End of Time. Why or why, given podcasts had been recorded for the other stories?
- BBC Christmas idents. Christmas 2009 will go down as the Christmas of David Tennant, so nice to include these. Though like many, I cannot understand why they didn't also include David Tennant announcing his last show on New Year's Day?
- Doctor Who @ the Proms. Given this was filmed in HD and recorded in surround sound, the decision here to present on the Blu-Ray in SD/ Stereo is a huge wasted opportunity.
So: should you buy this set? For a fan of the 10th Doctor, then absolutely: though the extras are not up to their usual standards for the reasons outlined above. For the "casual fan" then there are many other stories from David Tennant's era that stand out much better than those on offer here. Hence my 3* rating.