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Tuesday, 11 July 2006 - Reviewed by Paul Hayes

In every battle there are casualties. In every war, there are heroes. Heroism means little or nothing, however, unless it is thrown into sharp relief by tragedy and sadness. When the two greatest alien races in the history of Doctor Who come together for the ultimate showdown, it follows that all of these qualities are going to be present for those who are caught in the crossfire – the Doctor, his companion, their friends, family and associates. Planet Earth. The universe.

As Doctor Who fans, we usually tend to judge ‘eras’ of the show more in terms of production personnel, specifically the producers, than the on-screen staff, aside of course from the Doctors. With the climactic Army of Ghosts and Doomsday two-parter, however, we have an epic finale not just to the second series of the new Doctor Who but, despite the Tenth Doctor and the production team all remaining in place, to an era that began back with Rose that wonderful night in March 2005. The ‘Tyler era’, if you will.

Rose is gone, and with her having left it’s hard not to think we have also seen the last of Jackie, Mickey and Pete, for better or for worse. Doctor Who, after a never dull first two years back on air, once again has to reinvent itself, change, adapt and wow us all over again in a whole new world of raised expectations and high definition viewing.

But such things are for the future. What of the present? The most mouth-watering of scenarios, one many fans have dreamed of and speculated about but until now not even the maddest of mad Big Finish writers dared try and put together – Daleks versus Cybermen.

It’s hard not to feel lifted, elated even by that cliffhanger at the end of the first episode. It’s a great moment, even if you knew or had guessed what was inside that Voidship – I mean, it’s the Daleks, for goodness sake! Arriving to kick some Cyber backside! How could that not be exciting? One of those real punch-the-air moments akin to, say, Earthshock episode one. This show can be deep, it can be thought-provoking and it can have moments of calm reflection, but we all know that it’s the moments like these that burn themselves onto children’s brains and the collective popular consciousness, and make our little fanboy chests swell with pride and excitement.

Personally, this excitement was added to by the thought of ‘Hurrah! A proper enemy is arriving!’ Because, as I think I have said before, I deeply dislike the Cybermen. I think they’re frankly a bit rubbish, and they’ve never made an impression on me as any kind of meaningful threat or exciting presence in a storyline – aside possibly from the aforementioned Earthshock – so I was glad to see that the Big Boys had arrived to boot them out of the picture and make bloody war.

Russell T Davies couldn’t resist having the two races throw some insults at each other about who was best. As a serious person trying to write a serious review of the episode I should disapprove strongly of this sort of daft meta business, but given it had me grinning hugely to myself I don’t feel as if I have the right to complain! Seeing the Cybermen hopelessly gunned down by the four Daleks – one Dalek would be enough, don’t forget! – also raised a smile. For those who are fonder of the Cybermen than I it was perhaps disappointing to see them turned into mere cannon-fodder as soon as the Premier League bad guys showed up – even humanity managed to blow one of them to bits, for goodness sake – but with so much to cram into these episodes not every element was ever going to receive the time and space it deserved.

I am, of course, jumping ahead. It wasn’t simply the great meeting of these two Who icons that Russell T Davies had to wrestle with – he had to pick up on and make sense of all the Torchwood references we have been getting all year, and that have driven so many fans half barmy.

Torchwood turns out to be run by Yvonne Hartman, and as my friend Tim pointed out in an e-mail to me immediately after Army of Ghosts was transmitted, it seems the organisation for all its boasts is actually so under-funded it can’t even afford to provide its director with a shirt. What with Yvonne’s jiggling and Rose and Jackie’s efforts in New Earth and Rise of the Cybermen respectively, you do perhaps have to wonder whether the over-arching plot arc or this season has been not in fact the Torchwood Institute but gratuitous cleavage shots.

When not busy thrusting her chest in the direction of anybody who will look, Yvonne is actually quite a good character – not the ice-cold bitch I had been expecting her to be, but actually quite fun and a little scatty, albeit slightly mad and a little obsessive with it. Torchwood itself looks like a cross between the Area 51 set-up from Independence Day and the BBC Television Centre props store circa 1975. Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s similar ‘Initiative’ organisation in season four of that programme, you suspect that they simply lacked the money and the scale to be able to make it look as good as it ought to, although the idea of it being hidden in Canary Wharf is quite a clever one.

Less clever, and in fact a rather dubious piece of scripting by Davies, is the idea that this ultra-secret alien-bothering organisation could allow some building works to be going on right in their midst without anybody having the slightest clue that the Cybermen have set up camp down there and are snaffling up Torchwood employees as they head off for their coffee-and-kissing breaks.

Let’s face it, this is an organisation with a security system so slack that not only do they allow any passing cybernetic life form from a parallel universe to sneak in, but they also let Mickey set up shop undercover as a scientist. I was very pleased and not a little surprised by Clarke’s reappearance in Army of Ghosts, incidentally revealed in a nice shot over Doctor Singh’s back by Graeme Harper. Possibly more through luck than judgement – I had even looked at the Radio Times listing before the episode aired and completely missed his name in the credits – I had no idea that Mickey was returning for the grand finale. He lost out somewhat in Doomsday as Pete and Jake also returned to squeeze him out of the plot, and Rose’s departure at the end meant neither he nor Jackie got the farewells to the show they deserved, but proving that he has come a long, long way since the bumbling fool of Rose was perhaps enough.

Even Yvonne got to display a bravery when Doomsday came around – I was actually pretty heartbroken when the poor old Torchwood director was turned into a Cyberman, and it was quite a relief to see that her bloody-minded devotion to Queen and Country had left her with enough marbles rolling around in her head to provide a remarkable convenient blockade to the Cybermen about to ruin the Doctor’s plan. Also rather too convenient was Pete hopping back in the nick-of-time to rescue Rose from being sucked into the void. These niggles leave an uncomfortable sense of corner-cutting that just stops this two-parter from being up there with the very best of Doctor Who, although then again, if you’re going to start pulling adventure fiction apart for nick-of-time rescues then you’re going to bring the whole genre crashing down like a game of ker-plunk.

I wasn’t the only one to be less than thrilled with the rescue, however – poor old Rose herself was also left pretty devastated to be trapped on the wrong side of the void. Rose was always going to get an emotional send-off, and even though the Pete-less Jackie and Jackie-less Pete always seemed likely to end up together from right back in the first Cybermen two-parter of the season, Rose and Mickey ending up trapped in the alternative universe was less expected. In some ways, Rose has ended up with the same life she had before she met the Doctor – a job, Mickey as her boyfriend, her mum…

But she’s gained so much more. Not simply through travelling and experiencing so much of the universe with the Doctor, and learning about how to live a better life from him. Not simply from having a better job because of it all, or finding some sort of inner happiness and peace. But because she has her father back, and the stable nuclear family that you sense she probably always wanted all along. That’s what she was searching for with the Doctor, and why she became so deeply attached to him, and why it was always her personal tragedy that she could never have him. She loved him, but she could never have that fully-rounded life with him.

Nor he her, although it’s doubtful whether he loved her in the same way. He was snatched away – by the fanboy tractor beam, you might speculate! – before he was able to say it. He had to leave her behind for good, in Bad Wolf Bay, over and done with but perhaps finally at some sort of peace.

As with so many endings, however, even when it seems to be so final there is still a glimpse of how life can carry on afterwards, how some future point can pick up the threads. For here, through a coincidence of casting and a young actress seizing her chance to impress the programme’s producers, the future of Doctor Who has been glimpsed like a Watcher preceding a regeneration. Freema Agyeman may have played only a small part in Army of Ghosts, but she has a much bigger role – literally – to perform in the future of the series.

I for one cannot wait to see the future. Especially given the rather fun cliffhanger ending – Catherine Tate? Runaway Bride?

Barmy. But brilliant. As, of course, Doctor Who always is!





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Tuesday, 11 July 2006 - Reviewed by Robin Calvert

RTD's single biggest contribution to DR. WHO has been velocity of dramatic impact & pace of storytelling. And in ARMY OF GHOSTS/DOOMSDAY he penned a true epic. Daleks & Cybermen for the first time. The prison ship, the last remaining part of Gallifrey, housing millions of elevating Daleks above central London. In fact, there's a catalogue of iconic moments in every episode, all of which have been comparable to a film. Surely any potential film series shouldn't compete with new stories, but launch a long-running franchise to remake the classic old (eg: INVASION).

The cameos worked because of the ghost context and the fact they weren't dwelt on. But it was quite brave to include Barbara Windsor's Peggy Mitchell making references to Dirty Den, given the wife who turned him into a ghost was present in the shape of the attractive Tracy Ann Oberman. Now if DR. WHO ever becomes a woman, which seems increasingly likely, I hope Tracy Ann is it. Yvonne Hartman's journey concluded when duty led her to open the floodgates to a Cybermen invasion which threatened her very dominance at Torchwood. But even then her strength of character was enough to subvert the Cyber-programming and turn it around. In fact, she was never more human than once turned into a Cyberman (and never more like a Cyberman than when recognisably human). A triumph for the human spirit. The tear from the Cyber-head tear-hole was a lovely touch.

The Cyber-army stomping through suburbia was quintessential DR. WHO wonderfully brought to life by the 21st Century team. Door off hinges from low angle. Cyberman comes marching in. Family cower in terror on the stairs. Young boy runs upstairs for refuge. Too late. The Cyberman wants him too! Pure behind the sofa stuff. Has no one noticed that the 2006 Cybermen sound like the alien ambassadors in THE AMBASSADORS OF DEATH? Pleasingly, I might add.

DOOMSDAY was likely the best episode of Series 2. Certainly the most powerful.

The punchy repartee challenged the presumption that Daleks & Cybermen should remain characterless. Dalek to Cyberman: "You're better at dying". True. Daleks can get out of control a bit too much. Their combined firepower was explosive, but I was surprised the battle was so one-sided, given the Cybermen are the 2nd most awesome aliens of classic WHO and were the main threat of the 2006 series (four episodes). However, given the Nation estate's robust stance, they probably insisted no one Dalek could be exterminated by a Cyberman! It might have been better had Daleks & Cybermen not fought each other, but concentrated their fire-power on the Army (the UN seem to have done UNIT in) and the humans. Even so, I'd hope for an "upgrade" and a rematch.

The look on The Doctor's face as Rose is sucked back into the parallel world. We didn't think Rose & Jackie would be joining Mickey, let alone that Jackie would get back what she'd been missing all these years - Pete. Their "reunion" across universes was moving stuff and Camille Coudouri's put-downs of The Doctor ("I think he makes half of this up", "shut up", etc) were funny and natural. Jackie was the Voice of the Unconvinced Mum of a Fan from the days when women apparently didn't really watch it. Her daughter was instrumental in getting them tuned in. Rose's attempts to stop her normal-universe Pete from being killed in FATHER'S DAY can now be seen to anticipate how it's ended for the Tyler clan. It was also poetic that, in the end, Pete rescued Rose from death and returned the compliment. So, the Ood were wrong about her dying in battle. Their telepathy couldn't read that she went into a parallel universe, it just stopped at ours - that she was on a list of the dead.

The scene with The Doctor & Rose either side of the dividing wall, guitar/vocal mood music playing = heart-wrenching. The unusual framing of Rose's journey for the encounter on the beach, which completely revealed the Bad Wolf subplot. The Doctor warning Rose that their final goodbye might risk two universes colliding, her "so" and his smiling tacit understanding of that mood proves he has got two beating hearts and bagfuls of emotions. He knows what it's like. And of course the final tragedy: that he never did get to say "I love you" and Rose's weeping torment. The single biggest emotional departure for any companion ever. It had more clout than the end of last season and that's saying something - although we knew from the offset Eccleston was leaving and we've only just found out about Billie moving on.

Two traumatic companion goodbyes in one season - and that's before getting to the departure of Jackie, Mickey & Pete. The ending of DOOMSDAY reflected SCHOOL REUNION in that you don't expect The Doctor to meet up with Rose or Sarah again. It makes SCHOOL REUNION all the more poignant, having Sarah and Rose together, signposting Rose's future without him. It had been building up to Rose's departure for awhile with little hints and a good idea to raise expectations with her warning prologue. It's also instructive for new viewers who knew next to nothing about the programme before March 2005. Then again, everyone else came back from the parallel world and Daleks & Cybermen will return because "that's what they do". And when Billie said "for the moment at least", maybe she'll guest in TORCHWOOD. She's working for the parallel organisation after all and I would have thought the Time Rift in Cardiff offered potential...

Now The Doctor's lost his new family, he's back at square 1 again. I reckon we'll be seeing a more sombre Doctor in 2007. I think the characterisation will change to reflect circumstances, as it should.





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Tuesday, 11 July 2006 - Reviewed by Rob Littlewood

A War. The Cybermen. The Daleks. An epic season finale. The end of Rose Tyler.

How could these episodes fail?

‘Army of Ghosts’ sets the scene and builds the tension and drama; we’re promised so much by the episode end and left with a cliff hanger to end all cliff hangers, a Dalek and Cybermen war.

‘Doomsday’ has a lot to deliver but besides a really cool sequence on a bridge where a group of humans make a stand against a squadron of Cybermen, most of the action takes place off screen or in the skies above London, where some shaky CGed Daleks take out the earthbound Cybermen.

Like ‘The Parting of the Ways’ last year, the episodes are resolved with a sprinkling of fairy dust…the Doctor flicks a few switches, reverses the polarity of the neutron flow (or whatever) and sends the massive armies of the Daleks and Cybermen to hell. It’s all too easy…it’s lazy…and it’s poor writing. Before the fighting gets going proper and we get to see who really holds the cup for Masters of the Universe, the whole lot are sucked into the void. What a let down.

These new Daleks are once again left over from the Time War, but this time around they hilariously throw a few bitchy taunts at the Cybermen. In a war of words, the Daleks win, hands down.

There’s a nice little scene where Jackie meets Pete but this only really serves to halt the action once more and in all honesty, we’ve only really tuned in to watch the Daleks and the Cybermen kick arse. Jake appears once again from ‘The Age of Steel’ and confirms he certainly wasn’t hired for his acting ability (hey, Russell) and those celebrating cameo’s from ‘Army of Ghosts’, although not as grating as the ones from ‘Badwolf’ are once again intrusive, embarrassing and inappropriate and to top it all Catherine Tate appears in the final seconds as the Runaway Bride. Why Russell, why? Have you forgotten Hale and Pace or Ken Dodd? It takes all the credibility from your show and makes it silly and camp.

After initially loathing David Tennant’s portrayal of the Doctor, I’ve grown to love it and would go as far as to consider him amongst the best actors ever to have gone by the name of Who.

Billie Piper however, was just about to pass her sell-by-date, so maybe it’s just as well she’s left when she has. It’s a fitting end to a great character as Rose has seemed a little awkward and occasionally stilted this season, still; she goes out with style and ultimately saves the day. The final sequence on the beach in Wales (sorry, Norway) is both touching and moving, and here is where Russell is in his element.

The design is what, like last season, let’s the programme down.

‘Welcome to Torchwood…’ cries Yvonne Hartman and flings her arms out to reveal a very drab warehouse in Cardiff with CGed saucer stuck on the ceiling, later the control room/lever room looks more like the interior of my local Halifax Building Society. The whole thing looks and feels mundane and dreary with the only real attention and thought having been lavished on the interior of the Dalek Spaceship last season.

For a Sci-Fi series, cutting edge design this ain’t.

Alien worlds we were promised this season and we got New Earth, a grassy knoll with Playstation flying cars, a barren rock orbiting a black hole and a few seconds of a totally CGed world with flying dinosaurs (quite liked this one), but please can we have somewhere other than London, Cardiff, Cardiff pretending to be London or Cardiff pretending to be somewhere else.

So, season two has come to its conclusion. Rose has departed. Catherine Tate has, hopefully temporarily, joined the Doctor in the Tardis. Am I bothered though…well, yes actually I am.

I fell in love with Doctor Who many years ago, when I was 4. Maybe the show isn’t aimed at me or my generation anymore, maybe I should switch off and enjoy Battlestar Galactica but quite frankly I want to see good, home-grown British Sci-Fi and more importantly the latest adventures of my favourite Time Lord. And they could be so, so much better than this.





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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.





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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!





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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.