Thursday, July 28, 2011

Season 28 Review

I tend to remember Season 28 (or New Series 2) very well, partly because Tennant is awesome from the moment he begins and has terrific chemistry with Billie Piper, and partly because it contains four of my favorite stories (Christmas Invasion, School Reunion, Girl In the Fireplace, and Doomsday), but really looking it over, man, the second half of the season is a slog until that knockout finish.

Still, all in all, and with thanks in particular to Doomsday, it does a brilliant job of continuing RTD's threads from Season 27/Series 1.  The Doctor has rediscovered, even increased his joy and zest for life, the Universe, and everything, and even losing Rose was something he could at least weather.  Rose by the end stands eye-to-eye with the Daleks with the same bravado as her Doctor.  The series gave her a lot to do, and while she had her failings, she was, on the whole, a hugely successful companion.  Doomsday was the perfect exit for her; there really wasn't anywhere else to go with her arc, but a lot had been done.  It couldn't have been better timed.  Mickey, who started pretty poorly in Rose, had managed to make "fairly sympathetic" by the end of the previous series; but here, he gets ever stronger, ultimately becoming quite the action hero.

Best of all, it's now comfortable enough in its usual zones - modern-day invasion, semi-historic fantasy, and fururistic satire - that it's willing to go out of the box.

Which, after all, is the entire point of Doctor Who.  So we got Girl In the Fireplace, which brilliantly went in directions no Doctor Who had gone before to a stunning emotional effect, The Impossible Planet, an old-fashioned base-under-siege carried out on a spectacularly imagined and executed other world, and Love and Monsters, a romantic comic-tragedy from the point of view of an ordinary guy whose path happens to cross the Doctor's a couple of times.  And while the latter two definitely had problems, it was refreshingly not samey.

Unfortunately, we also got The Idiot's Lantern, which was painfully ordinary and uninteresting.  And then Fear Her, which had all the boring cliches, flat characters, and unimaginative ideas as Idiot's Lantern, and then added several layers of pure awful.  And the thing is, even bad Doctor Who stories, even the worst of the worst, even the Celestial Toymakers and Nightmares of Eden and Terminuses and all manner of Timelashes are at least, on some level, interesting.  For all their flaws, I'm glad Impossible Planet and Love and Monsters exist, because they did some intriguing things and added to the ongoing story of Doctor WhoIdiot's Lantern and Fear Her are rare Doctor Who stories I wish never existed.

And that, combined with the flaws of those other late stories, makes the time between the Cybermen and the finale feel so, so long, and so dead.

But the first half and closing episodes are brilliant.

And, to be honest, Doctor Who is pretty uneven by its nature.  You can do absolutely anything with the show, but that means that you're probably going to fall short quite a lot.  But this is now a show that's confident and in full swing.  And it has a leading actor who's funny, energetic, incredibly  charismatic, and call sell the living Hell out of any emotion.  So, despite a couple of black marks, Season 28 is, overall, a rousing success, and leads very hopefully into the third...


1. Girl In the Fireplace
2. Army of Ghost / Doomsday
3. School Reunion


2. The Idiot's Lantern
1. Fear Her

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