Journey’s End
Episode / June 3, 2016

Aired 5 June 2008 ‘Journey’s End’ picks up the events begun in ‘The Stolen Earth,’ moving at a blistering pace and using every available second of its extended running time to its fullest, raising the stakes to almost absurd levels as it caps off the celebratory nature of recent episodes in grand fashion. There are certainly a few plot contrivances and the Davies deus ex machina makes a return as well, but the story is hardly the primary focus of the episode, giving just as much time to the individual characters as well as the fans in a big thank you note for four great years that have made the modern Doctor Who such a success, a journey that has ended with the programme going from a mostly forgotten cult show to an international phenomenon. In what is the last full series for both David Tennant and Russell T Davies, it makes sense that ‘Journey’s End’ essentially becomes a giant valentine to everything that Doctor Who is. Logically, that means bringing back the Daleks- easily the most iconic foe of the programme- at their most dangerous in a full empire bent on destroying reality itself. The stakes have consistently been…

The Stolen Earth
Episode / June 1, 2016

Aired 28 June 2008 If Russell T Davies set out to leave fans clamouring for resolution after delivering the most shocking of cliffhangers Doctor Who has ever managed, then he succeeded masterfully. With a Dalek shooting the Doctor, leaving him in the midst of the familiar glow and burst of the modern regeneration without any sort of preview for the upcoming conclusion ‘Journey’s End,’ the entire cast and crew of Doctor Who has managed to achieve what many would normally deem impossible in the modern culture of leaks and spoilers. Nobody saw this ending coming, and though it’s unlikely that David Tennant will actually regenerate, especially with the camera panning to his hand from ‘The Christmas Invasion,’ it’s still a shocking turn of events that capped an intriguing opening instalment to the series finale. To be fair, ‘The Stolen Earth’ is not the best-scripted episode of the series. Instead, it’s a celebration of everything that Doctor Who has managed to achieve in its four years back on the air- elevating the programme from a cult following to an international phenomenon- while delving still deeper into the classic series’s mythology. It’s loud, brash, and bombastic, moving at such a breakneck speed…

Turn Left
Episode / May 30, 2016

Aired 21 June 2008 Nearing the end of its fourth incredibly successful series, the modern series of Doctor Who brazenly celebrates itself with ‘Turn Left,’ essentially Doctor Who meets A Wonderful Life and telling the tale of the world had Donna not been there to stop and save the Doctor in her debut tale ‘The Runaway Bride.’ With the Doctor dead, killed too quickly to regenerate, Donna takes the lead in this story and provides an entry point for the viewing audience to experience the strange and alien events witnessed over the past two years from a completely normal family. Of course, without her travels with the Doctor to temper her, the Donna on display is much more in line with the brasher and more self-centred version from her debut; it thus makes perfect sense that, upon seeing the Titanic crash into Buckingham Palace and flood a good portion of the country with radiation, her biggest gut reaction would be to her inability to move to Leeds rather than to the loss of life and ramifications involved. As the events continue to unfold, there is a recurring background story of the world at large trying to carry on normally, and…

Midnight
Episode / May 30, 2016

Aired 14 June 2008 ‘Midnight’ is, simply put, a magnificent piece of science fiction and quite possibly the strongest episode Russell T Davies has contributed to Doctor Who yet. Saying that, there is unquestionably a polarizing aspect to it that, despite its sterling plot and characterizations, may leave some viewers underwhelmed and unfulfilled. With Donna Noble enjoying a holiday, the Doctor boards a shuttlecraft to view the utopic and undisturbed splendour of the surface of the planet Midnight. What follows is a tightly-scripted character piece that explores what happens when a small group of confined people come under siege from a mysterious force outside, only to have the real menace secretly manifest within the shuttle. Indeed, ‘Midnight’ directly contradicts the underlying optimism of Doctor Who that people are inherently good in all places at all times across the cosmos. Here, the other passengers become the true villains of the piece as their inner natures and prejudices are slowly revealed, in a sense echoing what the Master reveals happens to humans trapped and without hope in ‘The Last of the Time Lords.’ It’s particularly interesting to note that, as individuals, each passenger does possess a sense of good, and it’s not…

Forest of the Dead
Episode / May 26, 2016

Aired 7 June 2008 ‘Forest of the Dead’ concludes the events set in motion in ‘Silence in the Library,’ masterfully piecing together every dangling plot thread it wanted to and offering a few surprises along the way. This is still a story very much based around concepts Steven Moffat has already used, but the end result is an extremely entertaining one nonetheless. The ending probably deserves the most note, cleverly turning the ever-present sonic screwdriver into a legitimate plot device as it holds the ghostly data fragments of River and thus saves her life in the only meaningful way the Doctor could hope to achieve. It would have been entirely appropriate to simply end the episode with a still shot of the spoiler-filled journal, but the extra motivation from the Doctor to save River certainly creates an altogether more memorable ending for a character that seems like she may still find her way back into the programme at some point in the future. Moffat also proves adept once more at subtly inserting horror into seemingly normal situations. The revelation that every male and female child in Donna’s life is the exact same is chilling, and the casual realization that six…

Silence in the Library
Website / May 26, 2016

Aired 31 May 2008 Steven Moffat returns to two-part scripting duties for the first time since the revived Doctor Who‘s first series’s ‘The Empty Child’ and the ‘The Doctor Dances.’ After those sterling first episodes that featured memorable monsters and catchphrases as well as the introduction of Captain Jack Harkness, Moffat followed with the equally brilliant ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’ and ‘Blink.’ ‘Silence in the Library’ is the opening act of the new Moffat-penned script, and though there are still plenty of brilliant concepts and a lot of potential for a classic story in the making, the end result doesn’t completely capture the imagination quite as successfully as his previous stories did, partly because of the weight of expectations his own name now carries. Every writer has favourite plot devices at the ready, and Moffat offers spins on ingenious concepts he has already used to fuel this story. Thus, what seems to be malfunctioning machinery that was designed to help, scares elicited from an everyday object such as shadows, and even a relationship apparently happening out of time as River Song clearly knows more about the Doctor than she is letting on, all owe credit to similar devices in…

The Unicorn and the Wasp
Episode / May 25, 2016

Aired 17 May 2008 Doctor Who rarely presents itself as an all-out comedy, but that’s exactly what’s on offer in ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp,’ a tale that at the same time fills the celebrity pseudo-historical slot of the fourth series as the Doctor and Donna cross paths with Agatha Christie, played excellently by Fenella Woolgar. The end result is a joyous blending of genres in an immensely enjoyable story that never takes itself too seriously despite some of the darker themes that subtly underlie the proceedings. Even in a more light-hearted series, ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’ is notably lighter in tone than the previous celebrity-driven stories which all featured more overt monster scares and horror in very atmospheric environments. Instead, this is more of a daylight manor murder mystery with a brightly-coloured Vespiform wasp seeking his mother’s love. Even the transformation scenes as human turns to wasp is brightly-lit and features a cloud of purple smoke, a stark contrast to other more painful transformations the programme has show in recent years. There are times when cliches should and should not be used, and ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp,’ in keeping with its almost tongue-in-cheek nature, uses the all…

The Doctor’s Daughter
Episode / May 24, 2016

Aired 10 May 2008 After a very strong start to the fourth series, ‘The Doctor’s Daughter’ ultimately proves to be a weaker episode, one filled with some clever ideas that are haphazardly thrown together and ultimately fail to reach their full potential. With the addition of the Martha subplot that sees her off on her own with an ill-defined alien Hath for the majority of the story, relegating Martha to stereotypical companion role with little development, nothing ever seems to completely gel coherently and the result is very much a story in pieces. Still, having Martha wander around a desolate landscape only to happen onto the climax and having a genuinely clever plot twist that wasn’t built up enough beforehand aren’t the downfall of this episode. Rather, the premise of the episode ends up feeling like a cheat. The brazen title brings with it a heap of expectations even knowing that Gallifrey and the Time Lords are destroyed, bringing with it images of grandly expanding the Doctor’s personal family line to show the generation between he and Susan. Instead, the titular daughter Jenny is created from a DNA extraction and cloning machine. Either way, Jenny is built up to be…

The Sontaran Stratagem
Episode / May 20, 2016

Aired 26 April 2008 The first two-part story of the fourth series of modern Doctor Who finally welcomes back another of the Doctor’s many classic foes, with the war-obsessed Sontaran clone race deservedly making their modern debut. It should be noted that the initial two-parters have been some of the weakest of the first three series, skewing more to the younger demographic and offering little meaningful events beyond sheer spectacle. Fortunately, whereas the likes of ‘Aliens in London’ and ‘Daleks in Manhattan’ failed to truly build upon an intriguing premise, ‘The Sontaran Stratagem’ is crafted quite well on all levels and piques interest for its upcoming concluding half. To be fair, the cliffhanger leading into the poison sky is certainly not one of the strongest in Doctor Who‘s history, and it seems like it was added just to artificially increase the tension at the end of the story, but otherwise ‘The Sontaran Stratagem’ works quite well and aptly succeeds with what it sets out to do, learning from mistakes of other early opening episodes. It also certainly continues the trend of the first two-parter of the series being quite blunt about monsters and destruction whereas the second two-parter has tended…

Death and the Queen
Audio / May 19, 2016

Released May 2016 The Tenth Doctor Adventures Volume One wraps up with James Goss’s ‘Death and the Queen,’ providing easily the most creatively satisfying and unique story of the three. In the late 1700s, Goritanian Prince Rudolph has asked Donna to marry him. Though knowledge of the television series precludes the fairy tale from actually unfolding as Donna hopes, the Doctor is instantly intrigued by the fact that he has not heard of Goritania, a land that has supposedly enjoyed 500 years of uninterrupted peace and that proudly displays a flag with small print that even the Doctor can’t translate as a testament to that fact. Of course, being Doctor Who and knowing Donna’s past troubles with marriages, these quickly take an expectedly unexpected turn for the worse. Goritania is soon surrounded by a dark cloud that completely prevents anyone from getting into or out of the kingdom. Having been at peace for so long, the meager army members that the prince commands are left to ineffectively shoot arrows at the cloud, gaining admiration from the Queen mother- even as she cannot stand to actually watch the slaughter- but accomplishing nothing but quickly meeting their end. The visual of ominous…