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Tuesday, 11 July 2006 - Reviewed by Patrick Leach

For as long as I can remember being a Doctor Who fan I loved the monsters that were widely considered to be the two most popular of the series - the Daleks and the Cybermen. They were both such iconic monsters and I could never decide which race was my personal favourite. They both featured in so many stories throughout the original series’ run, and so one thing always struck me as a little odd. Bearing in mind both species were considered to be probably the deadliest of the Doctor’s foes in the universe how come we never saw them in a story together? You’d think they’d have bumped into one another at some point in time and space, and yet the Daleks never once met or even mentioned the Cybermen in any of their episodes or vice versa. I know “The Ultimate Adventure” stage play in 1989 had them both in it together, but you can’t really count that. Neither can you really count stories like “The War Games” or “The Five Doctors” where the Daleks and Cybermen only appeared as flashback sequences and as enemies in different parts of the Death Zone - but were never actually together or in the same scenes. So as a fan the ultimate Doctor Who story for me was to see the Daleks and the Cybermen face each other, and at long last RTD has provided that story for us!

It all begins very well in voice-over scenes where Rose talks about the story of how she “died”. A great pre-title sequence and a wonderful “hook” to make sure you stay tuned to see how her story pans out.

“Army of Ghosts” mainly serves as a build-up to the episode’s cliff-hanger, but nevertheless it is a very engaging episode. The appearances of the ghosts are well handled and intriguing, and the scene where the ghost of Jackie’s dad appears is wonderful, even if we do know that it can’t really be him.

Murray Gold’s music is particularly good here. I even liked his strange “poppy” soundtrack that accompanied the scenes with David Tennant whilst he’s doing his “Ghostbusters” act! The scenes where we first see the sphere too are wonderful and I think Murray Gold’s score here is one of his best.

Torchwood was very intriguing, but I’m a bit baffled as to why the Doctor has not come across them before. And where was UNIT?

Graeme Harper still proves to us that he can direct some classic stuff! His low-angle shot of the Cyberman breaking through the front door of a suburban house made it seem so menacing, and to top that when the child runs up the stairs another Cyberman appears! Now that scared ME so lord know how the kids will feel about that!! I also loved the scenes where the Cybermen cut their way through the plastic sheeting - definitely a nod to “Tomb of the Cybermen” there!! The ghosts appearing and then revealing themselves as Cybermen was certainly a thrill and I was thinking to myself here “how on earth is the Doctor going to defeat them this time?!” Then of course we had the thrill of the sphere opening to reveal the Daleks! How cool was that?!

And so on to the confrontation between the Cybermen and Daleks….. brilliant! It was such a great scene where they meet each other for the first time! The Daleks exterminated the Cybermen pretty easily and I have to admit that I really wanted to see a Cyberman grab at least one Dalek by its plunger and crush the damned thing!! Oh well it was still good to see them in battle together.

The acting was very good all round in this story too. Tracy Oberman was very scene stealing as the head of Torchwood, and it was a pity that she was dispatched so early on in the second part. Seeing her reappear as a Cyberman was interesting, but bearing in mind she destroyed a few other Cybermen in this scene are we to assume that her “upgrading” wasn’t a success? This wasn't too clear to me as to what happened.

It was good to see Mickey back too. His character has come such a long way since his first appearance, and I always felt sorry for him. I really wanted to slap the Doctor and Rose because I thought they treated him like he was just a big joke, and so it was great to see him here in all his heroic glory so that he could stick two fingers up to them!!

Of course as soon as Pete Tyler turned up it became pretty obvious to me how the story was going to end…….. and I was right!! Rose, Jackie, Pete and Mickey all live happily ever after in the parallel world. I was sorry to see Rose go, but I think they’ve done enough with her character now in the series. Two seasons seems pretty good for Billie Piper and I think she’s been a great companion, even though she did start to irritate me at times during this last season.

I’m in two minds about the ending. I liked it to a certain degree, but for me it was a little too over dramatic and far too long. I could never take to the “soapy” elements of this new Doctor Who as the classic series concentrated more on the story itself and the menace they were facing, and not dwelling on the soap elements. Rose turning to the Doctor and saying “I love you” was just bloody awful. The Doctor has always bonded well with his companions, but I could never get to grips with Rose and the Doctor being “in love”. I just hope that when the series returns for its third year they don’t dwell on soap too much.

I wasn’t overly keen on the way Catherine Tate suddenly turned up like that in the Tardis either!!

Anyway these are minor criticisms as I thoroughly enjoyed the “Army of Ghosts/Doomsday” as a whole, and alongside “Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel” this is my favourite story this season.

FILTER: - Television - Series 2/28 - Tenth Doctor

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Tuesday, 11 July 2006 - Reviewed by Stephen Lang

Well, what about that then?

This series of Doctor Who has been an uneven ride for me, including the excellent ('The Girl in the Fireplace'), the awful ('The Idiot's Lantern', 'Fear Her'), the disappointing ('The Satan Pit'/'The Impossible Planet') and the downright strange ('Love and Monsters'). Best of all for me was the final two-parter 'Army of Ghosts'/'Doomsday', delivering an intelligent and witty script and some fine acting. Most memorably, we also get a stunning series finale, albeit a slight borrowing from the Will/Lyra ending of Pullman's 'His Dark Materials'. Maybe RTD's parting of The Doctor and Rose is not entirely original, but I forgive him for this. Two people separated for an eternity in different dimensions will always bring a tear to my eye.

But first onto the monsters. My earliest memory of the Cybermen was of them walking down the steps of St Paul’s some time in the Patrick Troughton days. I think that RTD missed a grand opportunity when this image wasn't reproduced in the new era of Doctor Who as it would have worked brilliantly in a modern setting, seeing Cybermen or Daleks in London with a recognisable backdrop. Cybermen stomping over the Millennium Bridge may have brought the whole thing crashing down, perhaps, but a Dalek or two gliding over towards the Tate Modern would have done the trick. And, hey, didn't the Daleks once glide over Westminster Bridge? Quite a few golden opportunities were wasted and it's obvious that the BBC were constrained by budget, so all we get is a few Cybermen standing around what looked like the Taj Mahal, a few others milling around a suburban street, while the main action of Daleks vs. Cybermen largely occurs off-screen. What's the best we get? Flying Daleks? Oh come on, that's so last series.

What we do get is some hilarious bickering between the two, with the Daleks claiming that one Dalek could easily defeat five million Cybermen, let alone four. Such splendid self-assured arrogance, but lets not forget that the Daleks are ultimately evil little buggers. The line "which of you is least important?" is chilling in what it suggests, and what it eventually delivers. Another ex-EastEnders actor (literally) bites the dust.

In my opinion the Daleks do easily come out on top as the ultimate alien villain. Although Terry Wogan has made comparisons between the Cybermen's noisy stomping and Wallace and Gromit's ‘The Wrong Trousers’ on his radio show, I thought the marching Cybermen suitably effective when they first returned in 'The Age of Steel'. A recent Doctor Who Confidential saw the troops rehearsing as their marching was precisely choreographed and the attention to detail showed in the resulting onscreen military precision. The trouble was, once they had made their entrance there was nothing much more for the Cybermen to do.

Through their various incarnations I always found the Cybermen most frightening in their slowness and quietness of movement. "Watch out, there's one behind you!" The best moment in 'The Age of Steel' was the rows of inactive Cybermen slowly coming to life as The Doctor made his way down a dark corridor, but other than that I grew quickly bored with them. The problem with this generation of Cybermen was the voices. "You will be deleted" aside, I couldn't make out what they were saying and the Cybervoice sounded too much like Roger Lloyd Pack (Lumic in 'The Age of Steel') to me. The Dalek voice, however, has remained chillingly unchanged for more than forty years, with their design only receiving one or two modifications. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

But now onto the humans. And the Time Lord. Billie Piper was as excellent as ever, as were Shaun Dingwall and Camille Coduri. The first meeting between Pete and Jackie was very well done, but best of all was Pete materialising and saving Rose from being sucked into the void. Thinking back to 'Father's Day', with Rose saving Pete from the hit and run driver, this was a clever echo of those events. Tracy-Ann Oberman was good in her role too, but I hope we don't get such an overtly comic character in charge of Torchwood when it gets its own series.

Regarding Torchwood, we've had as many references to it throughout this series as we did last year with 'Bad Wolf' (and of course 'Bad Wolf' gets a final name check at the end of the 'Doomsday' episode). I think it was The Guardian that described Torchwood as being so sophisticated that they make UNIT look like Dad's Army, but I didn't really get the same impression. If anything, it was the other way round, with Torchwood making rather a big, stupid mess of things. If John Barrowman is going to take the helm of Torchwood as Captain Jack I hope he's not going to play it like Captain Mainwaring. Torchwood has been touted as an adult version of Doctor Who, but I think it will need some rethinking to save it from becoming the junior version.

David Tennant has generally shined for me in the role of The Doctor. Okay, so he can be a bit annoying but name me one Doctor who hasn't got on your nerves just a little bit (and there's a lot to choose from). Yes, he has a tendency to pick up ridiculous glasses and wear them, but at least there was a reason for this in 'Doomsday'. And yes, this Doctor is too much of a know all (things are just too easily sorted out too often as in 'Fear Her' and 'The Idiots Lantern'). Strangely, despite the effective ending of 'Doomsday', I can't recall any other memorable interaction between the Doctor and Rose in this series and her scenes with Christopher Ecclestone remain to me the most effective. What a waste. So new, interesting and most importantly, argumentative, characters are what's needed to make Series Three work. Let's please have some decent scenes between The Doctor and his new assistant, although in the meantime the Catherine Tate character does look promising.

But finally onto the future. 'The Runaway Bride' seems a long way away, but the BBC forgot to include a spoiler for Torchwood following 'Doomsday', perplexingly trailing their new Robin Hood series instead. No, I don't want Robin Hood, and I don't want Dad's Army either. Give me Torchwood!

FILTER: - Television - Series 2/28 - Tenth Doctor

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Tuesday, 11 July 2006 - Reviewed by James Castelli

Although not without some problems, I thought this was a great way to end the 2nd "new" series of Doctor Who. As I say this I well realize that compared to the relatively odd and weak preceding stories "Love & Monsters" and "Fear Her" (after the amazing "Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit") that almost anything would be an improvement.

I have the suspicion that many reviewers will compare this pair of episodes to the finale of the 1st season. Without thinking too hard I can say that there were less cringeworthy or eye-rolling moments this time around (no corny deus ex machina or, as you say, "snogging"). But beyond that I don't want to compare the stories because, well, I don't see how season finales should be imbued with so much reverence. When in Doctor Who previously have series finales been such a whoop-de-do? I suppose this is simply another artefact of the modern media age where (much like the new 45-minute episode format and faster cutting and CGI) that says you must end the season with guns blazing and a big budget. Each story should simply try to be the best it can be without regard to its episodic sequencing. Otherwise one might expect the characters to "catch on" and the heroes think "hey, this is our 13th adventure since our last almost world-ending catastrophe, we're in for some trouble now! Maybe best to stay in the TARDIS a while!" and the villians think "wait - we are too big a threat for mid season - let's hang on until the finale!" I'm being silly of course, but I don't wish things to feel predictable and obligatory.

I have to say that everyone's performance was top notch in these stories. Only Tennant has one to many cheeky quips that undermine the overall gloom. It might have worked better to have him doubting his ability to "save the day" (always EARTH'S day, hurmph...) and Rose as promised. If the lead character has as much faith in himself to win every time as the audience does (since if he dies the show is over) then it gets to the point that ANY threat, no matter how cosmically tragic, is pointless and routine. This is fantasy, folks - as long as our hero survives he can still lose a battle now and then to humble him as he narrowly escapes with his tail between his legs. Otherwise he might develop a God-complex (amid cheeky remarks) and we think of him likewise.

I also didn't like the gimmick of Rose narrating her own death, which I thought was an impossible thing to do in principle, and so I didn't believe she would die. She is simply "missing" which I guess was her status while travelling with the Doctor. In that sense, I guess Mickey and Jackie are dead too? At least my fear that the producers "wanted it both ways" wherein they kill off a character but can "always bring her back" alla sci-fi and soap operas. RTD had said it was never a possibility that she would die, as if being a heroine and saving the earth twice wasn't enough for a simple shop girl to do and have as a eulogy. Was he afraid of being stuck with a Doctor who could't keep his word? Has he forgotten (and think he is "above") the other companions who have died (Katarina, Sara Kingdom, Adric and Peri...sort of)?

There was quite a lot of emotion on display here. Never before have we seen such an emotional bond between the main characters at the thought of never seeing each other again. Of course, one can think "gee, Mickey came back, didn't he? Why can't Rose?" and "Satan obviously predicted her death wrong" and "why worry - she isn't dying" and "she's got Mickey AND her mom and dad back - so celebrate!" But aside from that I thought these were the most touching moments since "Father's Day" - perhaps just by the performances. I thought Jackie and Pete reuniting was also good, but the melodrama began overstaying its welcome prompting me to think "uh, you are in mortal danger - perhaps this can wait!" Rose's "almost death" scene worked well too, and found myself not bothered by her dad rescuing her at the last moment, despite how improbable the timing and placement and execution of it that was. It would have been satisfying if she died or not. On the whole I like a little heart-wrentching poignancy now and then. But then the "epilogue" seemed a little unnecessary, since really it amounted to the Doctor trying to "say goodbye" like he was finally able to Sarah earlier this season. And for all that effort - burning up a sun! - he couldn't even get out the words "I love you" - which I guess is the tragic poignancy I was looking for...

That leaves you wondering if Rose will "look up" Sarah in her new universe... though if she is there, no doubt she will have never met the Doctor, so scratch that. And I think RTD dropped the ball with the only exciting line in "Fear Her" where the Doctor mentioned his granddaughter Susan, and it never went beyond that. Rose was so jealous of Sarah but got over it because it was platonic, but she never pushed the issue of why the 900-year-old love of her life had been previously "married" and had a grand-kid. So I guess it is back to eating fish-and-chips, working at the shop and and making little Mickeys - no, wait - she will work for Torchwood - ah, but not the one dear Captain Jack will be in the new series...

What else? I thought all the special effects were top-notch, exept for a few "old school wobbling Daleks" when they spoke. The Cybermen-as-ghosts worked well. The Cybermen marching in front of the Taj Mahal and in rural neighborhoods was a little gratuitous (as in: "I'm supposed to say "ooh!") The Cybermen and Daleks had some good - if screen-writery - exchanges. Was odd hearing Daleks brag like that. I didn't mind the head of Torchwood retaining her personality and loyalty (which I read elsewhere as a gripe) since the depth of her loyalty was established as she entered the cyber-abatoir, and it redeemed her. But where has UNIT been during all of this? And what is it with the Time Lords imprisoning millions of Daleks - the Doc thought they were ALL dead - yet having the Genesis thingy pop up and meeting the Daleks thrice in two years, I would expect him to think: "my people MUST have survived, and I WILL find them!" - certainly that day is coming soon.

There was of course the huge selling point of "Daleks meet Cybermen" for the FIRST TIME - which despite it working, does come off as a heavily obvious pitch meeting come-to-life, similar to recent films like "Freddie Vs. Jason" and "Alien vs. Predator" and, I hear in rumors "Superman vs. Batman" - all with people caught in the middle - oy vey! Anyway, had they forgotten the trivia that (a) Dalek and the Cybermen were both in "The Five Doctors" despite not meeting? I just hope that each season doesn't end with another Armageddon-du-jour by adding whatever old nemesis RTD thinks would be "cool" to bring back (Sontarrans, Ice Warriors, Silurians & Sea Devils and THE MASTER) - I shudder to imagine the pretentious mish-mosh of all these cats battling at the end of the 6th or 7th season!

Oh, and how did the Daleks know the Cybermen if they never met - or rather, if the ones they were meeting were just created but in a parallel universe?

Sorry I found so much to criticize. I admit that is easier than praise, especially if I want to avoid describing the entire plot and how wonderful it is. For all its faults it is one of the three best moments of the 2nd season, and five best of the 1st and 2nd.

FILTER: - Series 2/28 - Tenth Doctor - Television

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Monday, 10 July 2006 - Reviewed by Will Valentino

Russell T Davies and crew have given us an astounding gift in the wake of losing Billie Piper and the character of Rose - THE ABSOLUTE GREATEST DOCTOR WHO ADVENTURE EVER FILMED. Why should I mince words. In 2005, the current production team had taken a dismissed tired format and reworked the physical elements of the show to appeal once again to a mass audience, yet continuing to serve the loyal fan base that has kept the show alive all these years. In the resurrection of DOCTOR WHO, Russell T Davies kept the core spirit of the original show and everything that was laid down about the character of Rose and the souls who populated her universe, her mother, Mickey and the memory of her Father are finally brought together with "DOOMSDAY" in such a fascinating and entertaining way. One of the hallmarks of the new series has been its sheer entertainment quality and its product ion values. This is why the series is a critical and cultural success in England as well. DOOMSDAY, isn't so much a story about a battle between The Daleks and the Cybermen, it is the story of Rose, Mickey and her Mother and Father. ARMY OF GHOSTS has proven to be the primer for the setup of the century - armies of Daleks and Cybermen clashing for the future of Earth . This was more than just a story of earthly and universal domination, more than a fan's "dream" episode, and despite it hitting the high marks on all those levels as well, it proves that RTD and the talented professionals who put this show together every week populate it with wonderful characters you care about. Russell T Davies has cleverly woven the threads of those characters into many of the episodes over the past two years and DOOMSDAY succeeds on the most intanigible and untouchable level imaginable - the human soul and spirit of Rose and her disjointed family. Uncle Russell had this beau tiful vision for the Doctor and Rose - A Doctor who had been hardened by the Time War and softened in the end by the hand and touch of Rose Tyler, who actually became the most important entity in the Doctor's life and universe.

DOOMSDAY is without a doubt the fulfillment of that vision. Over the past two years we have seen unfold one of the greatest love stories ever filmed. When Rose and the Doctor meet, they are both damaged goods with gigantic gaping holes in each other's lives. While that relationship did work better with Eccleston's Doctor, and proved to be more strained in the hands of Tennant, Season Two did show different sides to the characters and explored further deeper aspects of the relationship. DOOMSDAY brought together all those elements and brings the story of Rose and the Doctor to a close. In DOOMSDAY, we see Rose , get everything she ever wanted to have in "FATHER'S DAY" , yet losing the most important thing she could ever had hoped to find in the Doctor. Throu ghout Season Two, Rose is faced with eventually losing the Doctor, and vowing within her soul never to turn away.And she stands by her Doctor's side until the inevitable and inescapable happens. In the end, the character is very realistically forced to accept everything that cannot be changed. Sometimes the hero doesn't win, and sometimes, like all of us, you must face your reality. When the Doctor was forced to close the door on the two colliding universes in DOOMSDAY, he ultimately closed the door on one of the absolutely, fantastically best eras of Doctor Who ever. Many Tv series have tried what Doctor Who has succeeded in doing in trump cards - noteably the X-Files, when the story has to deal with two characters that have fallen in love with one another, unknowingly and unintentionally. The final scenes between the Doctor and Rose on the beach in Norway where an unexpected treat especially since no further words were necessary after seeing the Doctor and Rose, standing Face to Face in separate universes with the unmoving and eternal void separating them...forever. These scenes were the most spectacularly emotional scenes ever filmed in Doctor Who.....And that single tear streaming down the Doctor's cheek....... Oh, this was DOCTOR WHO at its ultimate best folks, and cudos to the production team for pulling all this off. Everything in this episode worked so beautifully, I won't even attempt to suggest it could have been done better, because frankly, I don't think it could have. Graham Harper has proven once again he is one of the most prolific directors in the history of Doctor Who and British television, taking the show to adult levels without excessive campiness, his episodes seem to be the most "balanced" in the season two, and it is under his direction Tennant's character flourishes and exceeds expectations. Let's hope this balance becomes the "blueprint" for all future episodes to follow.

DOOMSDAY is also a story about the Daleks trying to revive the "Genesis Ark" and colliding quite beautifully with the Cybermen's vain attempts to "upgrade" another earth. Their goals are so pure and uncorrupted when you think about it. The Daleks want to dominate physically and externally exteriminating everything in their path, and the Cybermen in Season two seem more motivated to "upgrade" and relieve the human race of their emotional baggage by internally subjecting their brains to an emotional "cleansing" never more horrifically realized until the past season of stories. The Daleks and Cybermen could never form an alliance because they defeat each other from the outside in, and so the battle begins. If something was missing from RISE OF THE CYBERMEN and THE AGE OF STEEL, I think DOOMSDAY has made those episodes even more powerful in hindsight , thematically linking them though characters and concepts to almost create a continuing story. DOOMSDAY is burgeoning with one classic moment after another, but never more classic than the Daleks opening the Genesis ark when it astoundingly is revealed to be a timelord prison ship filled with millions of Daleks. Only in our wildest dreams! This episode also served to introduce the full blown TORCHWOOD concept to the series , and I was hoping to see an ongoing rivalry between the Doctor and TORCHWOOD and it remains to be seen how the two different tv series will progress from this point on, and cross reference each other in future episodes. Only time....will tell. I tend to enjoy the concept of the Doctor on the outside, looking in. The character is a revolutionary anarchist at heart and while season two has seen his earthly presence turn into an internet cult noticed by a few overzealous misfits like we saw in "LOVE AND MONSTERS", the character still and should al ways remain an outsider. I think TORCHWOOD will soon be moving away from being a "people" organization and tighten its grip into a fist. More so after the loss of its director who went to her death "serving Queen and Country" only to steal a scene in a triumph of humanity as a crimson tear falls from the Steely metal face of the Cyber body she found herself imprisoned in. A reminder once again of the victory of the human spirit over the steely cold mechanisation of encroaching technology! Once again, DOCTOR WHO, at its finest!

It’s almost inconcievable actually that DOOMSDAY succeeded so omnipotently on as many levels as it did. The story should have been literally ripped apart in having to serve as many purposes as it did, including going back to Season One and tieing up loose story arcs from the Time War through to FATHER'S DAY and even "BAD WOLF", ultimately bringing Jackie and Peter Tyler together and healing Rose's dysfunctional fragmented family. Everybody wins here....except the Doctor and Rose , who lose each other forever. In celebrating the best of DOCTOR WHO, we forever must deal with the loss of one of the best companions ever to grace the TARDIS.

Of course the possibility of the impossible will always exist in Doctor Who and the Production team leaves behind enough possibilities for a reunion - we have not loss Rose Tyler forever. Perhaps there are other chapters still to play out and concievably, there is plenty of room for the BBC to imagineer a Big Screen theatrical venture reuniting Chris Eccleston with Billie Piper as "a space in time" revisited. It is apparant that the story of Rose may have been in Russell Davies head from the moment she stepped out of that department store and into the TARDIS. Of course , now, the series must totally recreate itself once again, and it will be interesting to see the direction that will be taken with Freema Agyeman's Martha Jones character when the third season begins. Thank you to Russell T. Davies, Julie Gardner,Phil Collinson, Billie Piper, David Tennant and the entire cast a nd production crew for making the second season a wonderful and entertaining ride through space and time.............Shine on you crazy diamonds!

FILTER: - Television - Series 2/28 - Tenth Doctor

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Monday, 10 July 2006 - Reviewed by Phil Baron

Since the start of the year there have been two television “events” I have looked forward to; the World Cup and the second series of Doctor Who. In many ways my experience of one has mirrored that of the other: I felt slightly let down by the footy, and not just because of England’s typically early departure. The football on display was easily the most mediocre of my lifetime and the final was decided by yet another penalty shoot-out – exciting to watch but an unsatisfying conclusion to the world’s biggest sporting event.

I was hopeful that Doctor Who, which like the World Cup had been patchy in parts with only the occasional moments of brilliance, would redeem itself with a barnstorming finale to make up for the mediocrity of “New Earth”, “Tooth and Claw”, “The Impossible Planet/”The Satan Pit” and “Fear Her.

Happily, after the intriguing events of its immediate predecessor “Army of Ghosts”, “Doomsday” came along and instantly made me forget the many things that have bugged me in this series – the Doctor and Rose’s laboured “chemistry”, the rubbish acting from all concerned in “The Impossible Planet”/”The Satan Pit”, the smug in-jokes and cringy hug in the latter episodes and a great deal of Billie Piper’s acting in every episode – for, well, a while at least!

“Doomsday” was an example of the Russell T Davies era Who at its very best – epic storytelling involving the world in danger combined with strong character development for several of the players, particularly the Tylers and also Tracy-Ann Oberman’s Yvonne, who it transpired was more a misguided patriot than an evil fascist.

The episode continued, logically enough, where “Army of Ghosts” left off, with the dramatic realisation that the Daleks, and not the Cybermen, were responsible for bridging the gap from the alternate universe of “Rise of the Cybermen”/”The Age of Steel” to ours. The malevolent pepperpots were desperate to protect something called the Genesis Ark from enemy hands at all costs – we know this because they helpfully said to Rose and Mickey “We must protect the Genesis Ark at all costs”.

Rose managed to blag the Daleks into thinking she was too important to kill by convincing them she knew loads about their history, and the new, cannier Mickey, fresh from three years fighting the Cybermen in an alternative reality (as you do), followed her lead. Sadly, the bloke from Eastenders who played one of the much-maligned members of the Ferreira clan (appearing here as a Torchwood scientist) was not so lucky, and was plungered to death in a gratifyingly grisly scene.

The Doctor and Jackie, meanwhile, were trapped upstairs with the Cybermen, who were also busy explaining away their plans – is it any wonder that both the Doctor’s biggest foes consistently fail in their world-domination schemes when they can’t shut up telling him and his mates what they have in store for them? Schoolboy error.

Anyway, the whole point of the opening scenes was to provide an excuse for the Doctor’s two great enemy factions to confront each other, which they promptly did. Anyone who had a fiver on the Cybermen to win would have been gutted, as the Daleks’ guns proved to be more than a match for their effete looking wrist lasers.

The Daleks, incidentally, were given some cracking lines in these opening scenes. When warned by the Cybermen that the two sides were now at war one of them cockily replied: “This is not war, this is pest control!”. It added: “Cybermen are superior to Daleks in only one way; how you die!” and boasted that four Daleks were enough to take on the millions of Cybermen who were now present on our Earth.

Sadly, the Cybermen did not reply: “Oh yeah? You and whose army!”, but if they had done they would have received an emphatic response – the Genesis Ark (remember that?) was actually a Dalek prison ship stolen from the Time Lords. Inside were millions of the little buggers, kept in such a small device thanks to Time Lord technology i.e. it was bigger on the inside.

To be honest with you I got a little bit lost after that but I do know that Mickey’s new Geordie mate Jake popped up along with the alternate Pete Tyler to help save the day. The Doctor concocted some scheme or other that would conveniently send both the Cybermen and the Daleks to the Hellish “void” between the two realities. The only downside was that all of his companions, including Rose, would have to permanently relocate to the alternate Earth.

Rose predictably rebelled and ended up staying to help the Doctor. She looked like she was going to fall into the void herself but was then saved at the last minute by Pete, who took her to the alternate reality and out of the Doctor’s life. The end – except for a poignant epilogue where the Doctor managed to use the TARDIS to project an image of himself to a beach in Norway, which in no way looked like the Welsh coast, to say a final goodbye (and to learn from Rose that Jackie was up the duff, thanks to a quick moving alternate Pete).

This episode offered a fitting end to the second series and to the Rose-era as a whole. It wasn’t perfect – there were gaping plot holes: why did the Yvonne Cybermen still have a free will? The Daleks apparently needed the touch of a time-traveller to open the Genesis Ark but how did they know they would find one on our Earth (or did I miss something here)? Also, how thick must be the Cybermen be if they cannot crack reality-hopping technology when even that Geordie fella off CBBC can do it via a handy device that fits into the palm of your hand?

I liked the direction and the effects were mostly OK, even if the Cybermen’s guns seemed to be not much more impressive than the weapons you get at your local Laser Quest. The use of music seemed to be less obtrusive than in previous episodes; I particularly liked the mellow tune used in the epilogue, when Rose followed the Doctor’s voice to the Welsh, sorry Norwegian, coast.

Humour was used sparingly and to good effect, such as Mickey smirking that a battle between a Dalek and a Cyberman was like “Stephen Hawkins versus the speaking clock”. The meeting between Jackie and the alternate Pete was funny and poignant; especially amusing was the look on Mickey and the Doctor’s faces when Jackie said there hadn’t been anyone else since her own Pete died! I loved Jackie telling the Doctor to shut-up when his convenient parallel universe spiel was over-shadowing her and Pete’s moment. Compare this to the unfunny opening scene to “The Impossible Planet” when Rose jokes that they could simply go back to the TARDIS and leave at the first sign of danger, and her and the Doctor collapse with laughter – this is how you do knowing self-parody without appearing smug.

Remarkably, the dramatic finale to the Doctor-Rose story arc managed to overshadow the Dalek-Cybermen aspect to such an extent that you were almost glad to see the back of the old villains so that the emotional denouement could play out. Maybe that has been Russell T Davies’s greatest achievement since he brought the show back, to create characters you actually care enough while placing them in ever more ridiculous situations each week.

Either way, I’m hopeful for the next series for a variety of reasons: David Tennant clearly has the potential to get even better in the role, the prospect of new material, including Stephen Fry’s postponed script (imagine how mad that one will be!) and – sorry to harp on about this – no Rose. Hopefully, the script writers will take their queue from Tennant’s vastly different portrayal to Christopher Ecclestone’s and write Martha as the anti-Rose: not so touchy feely and maybe even prone to disagreements and antagonism with the Doctor (after all, the chirpy Dick Van Dyke routine would get on anyone’s nerves after a while, no matter how big the TARDIS is).

FILTER: - Television - Series 2/28 - Tenth Doctor

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Monday, 10 July 2006 - Reviewed by Paul Berry

It is easy to ignore the fact that in todays easily taken forgranted world of multi channels and the internet, we are probably in the middle of a sci fi/ fantasy film and tv golden age.

Any comic or cult tv fan should be doing cartwheels at the moment as all those ideas which only ten years ago were the stuff of dreams become a reality.

These past few years have been saturated with new Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, sci fi and superhero films. Now not only are we enjoying a full second series of Doctor who but we are also getting so many wish lists ticked: return of Sarah Jane, Cybermen and finally that ultimate fan boy dream: Daleks v Cybermen.

It may seem an obvious idea and it may seem curious now that such a thing doesn’t ever seem to have been seriously considered in the past, but that is most probably because it is a very dangerous idea in that it promises much more than it can probably deliver. Really apart from a good shoot out, there isn’t a whole lot of mileage in the idea, much as the Alien V Predator film proved, its hard to tell a story about two protagonists who are both bad guys. But you cant blame the production team for pulling out this particular trump card and for the most part the Daleks V Cybermen scenes came across as very well executed, but probably really in need of an extra episode and a feature film budget to do full justice to the scale of the idea. Really though the Daleks and Cybermen were pretty much the background story, the real star of the show was Rose and Russell T Davies did us proud with a beautiful exit for this most special of companions.

The story in essence touched many of the same bases as last years Parting of the Ways 2 parter (sic), we had the slightly frivolous opening, followed by a slowly building mystery, all out war and finally the revelation that the Doctor and Rose must once more be parted to save the world. Thankfully the BBC’s publicity department can be congratulated on this occasion for keeping Billie’s departure under wraps for sufficient time, thus allowing her departure to carry its full dramatic weight and not be diluted over 13 episodes of anticipation and speculation as Eccleston’s was last year.

In her final appearance Rose bowed out with one of the best departure scenes ever written for a companion, it is astounding to think how casual the exits of many previous companions have been, and Russell showed how to do it properly. It was unashamedly emotional and anyone out there with a heart who has enjoyed Billie’s performance must have been struggling to hold back a tear. I must admit I have not been totally convinced Billie’s heart has been in it this season, in some stories you got the impression she was marking time a bit, but for her exit she was back 100%. The whole Tyler family reunion thing could have come across as a bit twee and convenient, but it worked and I think brought everything full circle in a most satisfying way. While I have sometimes accused the new series Doctor of being perhaps a little too human, here I could quite happily make that concession and allow him those tears as we realise that the two friends will never see each other again and the Doctor must once again continue his lonely voyage. It was one of the most heartbreaking scenes I have ever witnessed on television and was impeccably scripted and played. Although I am sad to see Billie go, I hope that the character never returns as any future cameos will only tarnish this great exit.

I was vehemently critical of the Rise of the Cybermen 2 parter on these pages several weeks ago and I am glad to say several parties involved in that story redeemed theirselves here. Firstly the superb Shaun Dingwall got some material finally deserving of his talent. Father’s Day was my personal favourite of season 1,due in no small part to Shaun’s portrayal of Pete, I was so disappointed then when Age of steel gave him very little to do and he seemed to walk through the story like a spare part. In Doomsday he got to show some real grit and while much more weary than the old Pete, he got to once more play the hero as we saw the scene when Rose rescues Pete in Father’s Day mirrored as he too snatches his daughter from the jaws of death.

I had also found Graeme Harper’s direction on the first two parter a bit lacklustre and at times amateurish, but this story was much improved and more in line with the work of his new series contempories. The Cybermen weren’t at their best in ROC/AOS either and came across as very clunky and toy robotish, while I am still not totally won over by the new Cybermen, their movement was a lot better in this story and the way they were shot gave them much more physical prescence. The biggest drawback on the new Cybermen however is the voice and the light up mouth, they are big hulking creatures, but the voice for me at least goes against that impression and weakens them. I know the production team are trying to evoke the whole sixties thing, but to me it feels laboured and the monotone delivery is too similar to the Daleks. They also came across a bit like cannon fodder for the Daleks. The story really did need that extra episode after the genesis arc opened to portray the full extent of the Dalek Cybermen invasion/war and its effect on the planet as a whole. We were still denied the Daleks actually being seen on terra firma. The shots of the arc opening and the Daleks flying over London were terrific stuff, as were their brief face offs with the Cybermen, but we really wanted to see much more. The battle had barely begun before it was time for the denouement.

And what a denouement it was, there were some liberties taken with logic particularly in the notion that thousands or millions of Daleks and Cybermen could be pulled into the breach so tidily with the Doctor and Rose hanging feet away from them and not even getting nudged, but the epic edge of the seat nature of it made that easily forgivable. For a moment as the realisation that Rose could possibly die for real seemed a possibility, we saw the full extent of the Doctor’s emotional anguish. David Tennant’s characterisation has at times been a little too flippant for my liking, but in these final scenes he proved he has the full dramatic range needed to portray a really great doctor and I hope he will tone down the smart arse aspect of the character down a bit in season 3.

And so that was it, another 13 weeks of Who gone far too quickly, and while a backlash against the series seems to have developed in some quarters, hopefully this episode will silence any critics, far from running out of steam as some seem to suggest, this story proved that when they put their minds to it Doctor who can still weave that magic. The season hasn’t been perfect, but has built on many of the strengths of last year while discarding some of the weaknesses. There hasn’t been any episode anywhere near as embarrassing as Aliens of London or Boomtown, and even some of the quieter stories such as Fear Her or Girl in The Fireplace have been far more memorable than the likes of The Long Game. The season arc has also payed off better than last years Bad Wolf and while the Torchwood references were sometimes a little overbearing, one can see with hindsight in stories such as School Reunion or the Girl in the Fireplace that the signposts were there for the Doctor and Rose’s parting. I think next year possibly needs to see a move away from earth, I have started to hear a lot of comments made that a series about space and time travel seems to end up on present day earth with alarming frequency. Impossible Planet proved it could be done, so more alien planets please.

I wasn’t quite what to make of the ending, obviously it was designed to surprise the audience who probably expected the episode to go out on a melancholy shot of the Doctor. It certainly did its job in providing an unexpected twist, but somehow fudged the cliffhanger with the puzzled exchange between the Doctor and the Bride not quite hitting the mark. We all know now that Catherine Tate is not the new companion, but I wonder how many people would have fell for the idea, if they had kept the announcement of Freema Agyeman back for a bit longer.

So all in all a hearty well done to all involved in this story, and particularly to Russell T Davies who when he pulls out all the stops can create some truly astonishing television, he is not too great at atmosphere or plotting , and has a sensibility which veers too much towards camp for my liking, but when he imagines Doctor Who as a sweeping blockbuster epic with action and emotion to match, nobody does it better.

FILTER: - Television - Series 2/28 - Tenth Doctor