Dreamland
Episode / June 13, 2016

Aired 21 November – 26 November 2009 Following the rather interesting animated experiment of ‘The Infinite Quest,’ Doctor Who explores the animated realm once more with ‘Dreamland,’ as David Tennant’s time as the Doctor nears its close. ‘Dreamland’ initially aired as one twelve-minute episode followed by five daily six-minute episodes, but despite that brief episodic format similar to its predecessor, it is a much more fluid and traditional tale that works just as well together as separately. Roswell, New Mexico is perhaps the most well-trodden setting for science fiction stories on all of Earth, and so it seems inevitable that the Doctor would finally end up there at some point. Little time is wasted in setting up the story as, before the opening credits even roll, an alien spaceship is seen crashing on 13 June 1947. The Doctor arrives some eleven years later, allowing for all of the initial hysteria to die down and subsequent years of mystery and folklore to be built off-screen. In grand Doctor Who fashion, it takes little time for the Doctor and his companions of the piece, a local waitress named Cassie and her boyfriend Jimmy Stalkingwolf, to be thrown into the middle of a…

The Infinite Quest
Episode / June 10, 2016

Aired 2 April – 30 June 2007 ‘The Infinite Quest’ is a unique piece of Doctor Who history, a forty-five minute animated serial that was broadcast in three-and-a-half minute increments during consecutive Totally Doctor Who episodes that featured the voices of David Tennant and Freema Agyeman as the Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones, respectively, set towards the end of the third series. Because of its short episode length, there is never a break in the action as it rattles along at breakneck speed, constantly shifting locations and characters as events shift between pirates, giant insects, prison robots, and beyond. While it’s a testament to everyone involved that the pieces can be watched cohesively and have it make sense, the disjointed nature of the story means that certain events are not as fully fleshed out as they otherwise might be in a standard episode. The new series of Doctor Who certainly moves a much more rapid pace than the classic series, but ‘The Infinite Quest’ speeds events up even further, creating a fairly satisfying short-term experience but not really leaving anything deeper for further reflection upon its completion. The plot does buckle a bit under its own scope and resolutions to…

The Waters of Mars
Episode / June 9, 2016

Aired 15 November 2009 Publicity for Doctor Who often touts an upcoming episode as being the scariest yet, or at the very least one of the scariest yet, and while scary is a subjective term to use depending on the target audience, ‘The Waters of Mars’ certainly lives up to its hype as one of the most chilling and unsettling stories in the programme’s long run and without question lives up to the expectations that an episode billed as a special carries with it. ‘The Waters of Mars’ also directly confronts the Doctor’s morality, showing how absolutely terrifying and powerful he can be and suggesting that perhaps it truly is time for this particular incarnation to leave. These are issues that have been casually flirted with in several episodes since the programme relaunched in 2005, but they take centre stage here, showcasing the heroic man who makes lives better as a force of nature full of hubris who will let nothing get in his way to get what he wants. ‘The waters of Mars’ takes away any and all ambiguity regarding the Doctor’s darker side, showing just how truly terrifying he can become when hurt and left alone. Yet, and…

Planet of the Dead
Episode / June 7, 2016

Aired 11 April 2009 With Doctor Who now firmly entrenched in its year of special episodes as David Tennant’s time in the titular role nears its end, ‘Planet of the Dead’ being the first to air since Christmas with another not scheduled until near Halloween, there’s a greater impetus for each story to do something spectacular. Yet despite some magnificent guest casting and stellar special effects with breathtaking vistas due to location shooting in Dubai and in high definition, ‘Planet of the Dead’ is very much a lighter and very average episode of Doctor Who, not challenging viewers too much after their Easter festivities and meals. In fact, this is the first Easter ‘special’ in the show’s long history, a fact that the Doctor acknowledges by saying that he can never find Easter since it switches days every year. With the help of the other passengers on board as well as an enthusiastic scientist back at UNIT, the Doctor has to find a way to get a bus back to Earth after it passes through a wormhole and becomes stranded on the arid planet of San Helios. Michelle Ryan is the big guest star of the episode, her character Lady…

The Next Doctor
Episode / June 6, 2016

Aired 25 December 2008 Airing after David Tennant has announced his departure from the lead role and before a replacement has been cast, ‘The Next Doctor’ uses its audience’s speculation about who the next Doctor will be to its fullest in the aptly-named ‘The Next Doctor.’ With David Morrissey more than able to fill the role given his acting credentials, ‘The Next Doctor’ presents an intriguing twist on the multi-Doctor story, telling a tale in which the current Doctor meets a potential future incarnation. As it turns out, David Morrissey is not the future Doctor, and the title and core concept are decent attempts at misdirection. Fortunately, even when taking away those aspects the story itself and the mystery about the man named Jackson Lake hold up remarkably well, avoiding the trap of being a fluff story with one hook to grab attention. By having the Doctor meet a version of the Doctor that isn’t atually the Doctor, the tragedy of Jackson Lake is slowly revealed. He is simply a man who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time, losing his family to inhuman monsters he couldn’t comprehend and needing desperately to become someone else to endure…

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…