Out With The Old

DW new earth2

Doctor Who “New Earth”

The waiting has finally ended.  The much anticipated “difficult second album” debuted on BBC1 last night and picked up exactly where Series One left off.  Last year, Christopher Eccleston’s debut was heralded with fanfare and the full force of Auntie’s media blitz and then, surprising almost everyone, it delivered what was promised and became a critical and commercial success.  The path was far from simple and there were many instances when this show found itself talked about on the front pages and even on the TV news.  However, it succeeded in reclaiming and reinventing the concept of family viewing, getting huge viewing figures (over 8 million each week on average), huge audience share and huge audience appreciation.  It even seemed to appease the notoriously fickle world of Doctor Who fans.  So the gauntlet was thrown to RTD and his merry men with a simple challenge…. “Follow that!!”

David Tennant literally burst onto the scene in the closing moments of “Parting of the Waves” and, while 99% of people knew it was coming, we all wondered what the future held.  We didn’t have too long to wait as the Children in Need 6-minute special, the Christmas Day 1-hour special, and an interactive episode have all been on our screens between last series and this one, so we kind of knew what sort of Doctor we were in for.  He’s more… ‘Doctor-ish’ than his predecessor and approaches the role with a Troughton-esque energy and twinkle in his eye.  What we were treated to in this Series Two premiere was the theme of “new”.

DW new earth3

We had a new Doctor arriving on New Earth, in a place where new cures for diseases were being discovered, while our old friend Lady Cassandra lay in hiding in the basement waiting for a new lease of life.  The story seemed to be nice and tightly plotted, although a few bits of pseudo-science seemed to be slightly too easily explained away.  All well and good if you’re going for a light-hearted romp but a bit of a distraction to those (like me) who’ll study it in meticulous detail over multiple viewings.  For example, the disinfectant scene was seemingly a throw-away comedy moment upon first viewing and then played a critical role in the story’s resolution but quite how this worked is anyone’s guess.  However. there was more than plenty to admire from this script with its suitably jovial dialogue.  Most of the jokes worked for me at least, and there was a hint that may be this season’s “Bad Wolf” may be something to do with the Face of Boe.

Performances were pretty solid all round.  The three actresses playing the catnuns did splendid jobs under their rather marvelous prosthetics, and Sean Gallagher gave an entertaining performance as Chip.  David Tennant seemed to be finding his feet a little although there were some sublime touches.  Final word though, must go to Billie Piper whose turn as Rose-possessed-by-Cassandra was near perfection.  James Hawes’ direction was as good as we’ve come to expect, while Murray Gold’s love-it-or-hate-it show with the music goes on (btw, I am in the former camp).  Overall, it was a good start to proceedings and 8 million more tuned in to lend weight to the hope that Doctor Who is here to stay beyond the 2007 date for which it has so far been commissioned.  New series, new Doctor, same old success.

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