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TV Review: The Doctor, That’s Who – Dr. Who Season Two

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So I’ve been DYING to catch up on Doctor Who (I lost the Tivo battles on Friday nights so missed season two until now) and only just finally got to see and savor Season 2.

And what a treat, with David Tennant bouncing around the universe, bringing this brand-new hilarity and energy to the Doctor (“Ten”). I love Ten even though I miss Nine’s odd purity and devotion. There was something lovely and steadfast to Christopher Eccleston that is the precise opposite of Tennant. I never doubted that Eccleston’s Doctor felt romantically about Rose, for instance, yet doubted it constantly with Tennant. I do love Ten — I think he’s cool, weird, sexy, crazy, and dazzlingly funny, but there is something about him that’s more detached to me.

It’s funny how different his arc is. Last season was about rage and grief, I think. This one was ultimately about loneliness and how close you allow people to get (or not to get).

I’ve been enjoying every minute of the season. Loved the body-switching. And werewolf meets Queen Victoria. Loved Anthony Stewart Head (Giles!) as the wicked (and wickedly tempting) schoolmaster. Loved Mickey and his adventures in an alternate dimension. Absolutely adored the two-part encounter with the Devil, in what was easily one of the show’s best-written encounters.

And the finale, “Doomsday”… oh wow. I adored it, and thought it was heartbreaking, challenging, gruesome, gorgeous and smart, and even better than the finale for Season 1 (which I also loved). It even made me love the Cybermen (which I just felt was a bit clunky earlier in the season).

And what an ending to the relationship between Ten and Rose. I’ve never been sure that Ten loved Rose, really. Or to be precise, whether it was romantic versus just a genial “love ya kid” kind of thing.

Ultimately, I think the Doctor’s thing for Rose (which I understand is very new in a Companion relationship, with Nine and Ten only) is that he’s in love with humanity and Rose embodies the best of all of it. She’s the best of the ordinary human being. She is pretty and scrappy, smart and capable, but she’s no more so than millions on earth. She is everywoman — and yet, she is blazingly unique. She is ordinary; she is extraordinary. Often it’s the distance between the two I love (Rose sees only the ordinariness in herself, the Doctor sees the specialness she cannot see). And to me that’s what the Doctor loves in her, best of all. But is it romantic? I kept waffling on the issue throughout the season before deciding that yes, it was.

And in “Doomsday,” at the end of the season, when Rose was being ripped away from him, screaming, and the Doctor screamed in return, their screams actually mingling as if they were one person – only then did I feel for sure that, “Wow, he does love her.” It was one of those rare glimpses into the abyss in Ten’s soul, that one moment, where you could see in his face that he was dying inside – not just because she was about to die horribly and eternally in the Void, but because she was leaving him alone.

And Billie Piper, the girl can freaking act. That final scene, when she could not get the words out, was heartbreaking. Just gorgeous work from her in the entire finale, and from Tennant too. I loved this season. The moment it was over all I wanted to do was to watch it again. And the music was just stunning this season, really beautiful stuff.

Oh, and speaking of sheer romance: When Jackie and Pete stared at one another in that hallway, across the impossible gulf of two different universes and lifetimes, recognizing all the ways they could never really work… and then Pete ran into her arms anyway? Um. I, er, sobbed. I had to press pause on the DVD player to cry it out. (I used to be much tougher before my stepdad’s cancer, but now? Total wimp.) But it was beautiful and so brave. For sheer romance, no matter how gorgeous those last moments were between Rose and Ten, for me nothing in the episode afterward could touch that moment when Pete ran to his Jacks. Sniffle. I love Pete, and loved that he was the one to rescue Rose. He found the father within himself after all.

So it’s over. Bah. On the down side, I am still in a total funk because I adored the last episodes but am decidedly blue at finishing the season, and sad to see the parting of Rose and her Doctor. It was so cruel that they couldn’t touch to say goodbye – whether or not it was romantic in the kiss-me-now sense, the first thing the two of them have always seemed to do is to instinctively link hands. But no, not even the solace of a touch to say goodbye.

On a side note, Doctor Who seems to be one of those things that people simply won’t try, sure that it’s too British, too hokey, too Sci-Fi. Their loss.

I’ve been raving about this season and especially the final episode to all these people, and the other day was trying to explain the poetry and loveliness of Peter and Jackie in that hallway, from two different universes that should never have touched, and somehow the wonderfulness of it just wouldn’t translate.

But what a lovely show, and a lovely ending to Season 2.

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About Angela Mitchell

  • Sunrise

    If you think season 2 was great just wait until you see season three…. It is absolute magic! As it progresses the new companion gets stronger, and Ten hits every emotion button possible. The return of Captain Jack brings a new understanding between him and the Doctor – and a great twist that no-one here saw coming!!!

    DT has just been voted the greatest Doctor ever here in the UK, even surpassing the great Tom Baker. I’m not arguing with that one at all – HE IS THE DOCTOR!!!!

  • Evie

    It’s fascinating to read a review which is almost exactly how I feel – particularly that Pete/Jackie moment which knocked me sideways. The acting from Camille Coduri and Shaun Dingwall completely overpowered the narrative plotholes and made it seem inevitable and so very right. I’m much less enamored of Ten than you are, although largely for the reasons of his detachment and inconsistency that you mention, and a lack of depth in Tennant’s performance (which gets marginally better in S3, but I still find him a highly variable, mostly superficial actor and am not charmed by his smugness); for that reason, I still prefer the finale of S1. But Billie Piper made me cry at the end of Doomsday because she’s amazingly good.

  • Robert

    I agree series three was awesome, especially the last 4 episodes and the Saxon arc. The penultimate was the best of the new series so the last episode is a bit of a letdown…

  • scott

    i think rose is a lot better than martha

  • me

    she,BILLIE PIPER,WAS AWESOME!!!WHY DID SHE LEAVE!!!!!!i WANT HER BACK!!!BUT FREEMA WAS ALSO VERY GOOD,sO i DON’T WANT HER TO GO EITHER,BUT TO HAVE THEM BOTH,THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE!!!!but it’s alright I guess,BUT the only person that I DEFINETELY DON’T WANT TO LET GO is DAVID TENNAT!!!I don’t want him to leave dr who!!and why do all the doctors QUIT??!!!DR WHO!!!,what’s so wrong about the show?I would DIE to be in it!!!what is wrong with those people?!I just hope david woon’t leave!!!