So after many years of gentle and not so gentle prodding I have finally started watching Doctor Who.  In the past I have seen snippets of the new series, and generally walked away muttering “…alright …that was odd…don’t see much point in that.” However my friends BatMatt and Doc kept suggesting I try it (much the same way we kept suggesting Rich try watching Firefly…) and since I share a lot of tastes in
common when it comes to TV shows and comics a few months ago I relented and let Doc know that I had come to terms with fact that someday I would eventually ended up watching some Doctor Who but needed to know where to start.

Fast forward to two weeks ago when my father had me open a Netflix account so we could figure out why Netflix streaming wasn’t working for him (no streaming outside the 50 states and DC…you lose out if you live in a Commonwealth of the US it turns out…bummer).  Since I had started the clock on my 2 week trial I figured I might as well take advantage of it once we were back in Rochester.

So early last week I started out watching Season 1 of the New Doctor Who series, starring Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor. The first 13 episodes are available via Netflix streaming, and I have watched 12.

If you haven’t watched the series yet…you might as well stop reading unless you want to be spoiled as to how I reacted…

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nope...I watched...just didn't write about them yet... but I will. I hope to do a summary of the Second season so far by tonight...

Jeff of Earth-J said:
Ana, you mentioned all of the series one episodes in order, then after “The Christmas Invasion” you skipped to “School Reunion” and “The Girl in the Fireplace.” Did you see “New Earth” and “Tooth and Claw” which came between?
Okay. I have specific comments to make about both of those episodes, but I can wait until you post. I’m just trying to be spoiler conscious as you and others were with me my first time through Buffy and Doctor Who. I must admit I’m looking forward to approaching one of this board’s TV discussions from the tutor rather than the tyro position. Speaking of the previous discussions, each of the new Doctor Who episodes has its own discussion thread over on the old board, making it simple to follow a spoiler free instant discussion.

I’ve got to admit Bill nailed my ulterior motive yesterday in asking your opinion of the Tenth Doctor in comparison to the Ninth. From what I understand, “Who’s your favorite Doctor?” is something of the prototypal Doctor Who question, and generally (but not always), one’s “first” Doctor is one’s favorite. That assumption certainly held true with Tracy, who loves her first Doctor (the Ninth), but never did quite warm up to the Tenth (for reasons we need not go into here). When I relayed your answer to her yesterday she said, “I always knew that Ana was a smart girl!” Then I asked, “What are you going to say when she eventually changes her opinion?” and she replied, “That the rest of y’all have brainwashed her.”
Actually, I find one can't access the old board, anymore, nor those conversations. Oh, well, I'll just have to go back and watch them all again!
Doctor Who
Season 2
S2.e.1: The Christmas Invasion: Here few go, the word of the season is Torchwood, and calling on them dooms the prime minister. This Doctor is not very forgiving even to old allies as he said “No second chances, that is the kind of man I am!”.

S2.e.2: New Earth: Ah good old trampoline face! She traumatized A a bit (who had not quite recovered from the previous set of aliens). A. was horrified her mostly by the idea that her face was made of her back. The girls did like the cat people and Z was particularly unimpressed when I decided the show was a bit much for them (after previewing the walking diseased folk). Interesting: our “no second chances” Doctor gives Cassandra a compassionate end.

S2.e3: Tooth and Claw: Honestly I think I am just not a huge fan of the travel back in time episodes. Not sure why…I prefer the doctor traveling through space, not just back in time. This had a cool story, with the diamond and observatory, but I didn’t really warm to it, maybe because I was preoccupied by how the Wolf had inspired its monks to take up Kung-fu. Did like however that we got some more information on the Torchwood Institute, and the fact that from its inception it has been deeply paranoid of not just aliens but the Doctor in particular.

S2.e4: School Reunion: I have written about this before, but this episode was great for me, we see Mickey continuing to grow. He alerted the Doctor and Rose of the problem, and in the end refused to be sidelined. I was treated to a familiar face in Tony Head and I thought the show did a lovely job of referencing the past without leaving out a new viewer like me out. I felt for Sarah Jane, even if I have never seen her in anything before. I liked she also gave Mickey and Rose something. Mickey encouragement to not be pushed aside and left behind, and Rose the idea that she isn’t and won’t be the only one, and that someday that might matter to her very much.

S2.e5: The Girl in the Fireplace: I said it before but HEARTBREAKING. The moment that did me in was not when the Doctor goes back and finds it is much too late, but before then, when he too rashly got on the fireplace to run back to the future and tell Rose he was alive, not considering how a few minutes away meant years to Reinette. I do wonder if Reinette’s absence was noticed the time she crossed over through the tapestry with Mickey and Rose, or if only the fireplace suffered from the lag. Oh well I can’t wrap my head around it. I loved his surprise at the fact that she could see inside his mind, that he has been lonely longer than you would expect (since childhood…not just since his race died) and that because of that moment she knows him better than most if not all who have traveled with him.

S2.e6: Rise of the Cybermen: Man, I think the guy who they got to play Rose’s dead father probably never expected to have made so many appearances! Mickey/Ricky encounter was played well, including how hard it was for him to face up to the fact that he could be something other than timid. Reminded me a lot of the Buffy episode when Xander was split in to two, and he came to realize that he ha d a lot more character strength than he thought.

S2.e7: The Age of Steel: Goodbye Mickey!! This is a good move for him. He needed to start living his own life, becoming his own man. The Doctor did inspire him and encourage him, even if he did often overlook him

S2.e8: The Idiot’s Lantern: Despite the Doctor statements about his new unforgiving nature, he again is surprisingly compassionate to the Tommy’s dad in the end, maybe his attachment to the old of obsolete things explains it.

S2.e9: The Impossible Planet: Weirdly I think Tennant is both more human and more alien than Eccleston, his panic at the thought of building a life without the TARDIS I think is significant to his character. In The Girl in the Fireplace while he thought it was worth risking being stranded in the past to save Madame Pompadour, he jumped rashly at the chance to get back to the TARDIS, and here again we see that idea brought up. I haven’t seen the second half of the two-parter yet but so far it feels familiar (evil unearthed by miners who dug a little too far…mines of moria anyone?) The whole Ud thing is interesting. Other than becoming the legions of the beast, they can’t have the human’s best intentions in mind.

Season thoughts so far:
I might be a bit dense, but it is just starting to occur to me that we only see a fraction of the Doctor’s adventures, so it only seems like the TARDIS is always drawn to trouble, like the universe’s white blood cells, however it happens so often one can be confused into thinking it.
Tooth and Claw: Yeah, the Kung Fu monks in Scotland seemed a bit odd to me - it would've been OK if it was set in China, say.

School Reunion: I watched this with the commentary track on last night, and David Tennant said something interesting, that if you're a fan of the old show, you see this episode more from the Doctor's point of view, and if you've only seen the new show, you see it more from Rose's point of view.

The Impossible Planet: Ah, yes, the Ood...they're interesting characters.
About the "unseen" gives the leeway for audio, novel, and comic stories featuring the Doctor in every regeneration and the companions with him. Some companions become popular enough (Sarah Jane, Martha) to have adventures without the Doctor. The BBC novels are pretty great as the writers get the actors' voices just right. A UK company called Big Finish Audio creates audio plays for past Doctors and friends using the actors who played them. Many are now available for purchase online from them. Most of the novels have audio versions, available on iTunes, read by Tennant, Anthony Head, and others involved with the show. After watching the shows, I enjoy listening to the free iTunes commentaries for each episode. You'll get thoughts and background details from the actors, Russell T. Davies, directors, producers, etc. You can stay as light or go as deep as you want with the good Doctor.

I've just started a four series novel starring the Doctor and Ghandi.
"Tooth and Claw" provided Karen with her work email signature line: "Books -- best weapons in the world!"
That is a very good line.

Batmatt Beyond said:
"Tooth and Claw" provided Karen with her work email signature line: "Books -- best weapons in the world!"
Great to hear you've seen the light, Ana.

Regarding the 9th and 10th Doctors, I'd just about go for the 9th, although I'm certainly amongst those whose attachment to the 10th now makes it hard for me to be interested in the 11th.

My not very scientific or objective theory as to the difference between Eccleston's and Tennent's Doctors is that the former is more or less a cinema actor doing a television part. He has that larger than life iconic quality that makes movie stars. The series was incredibly lucky to get him even for one season.

The cinema is for gods whose faces are 20 foot wide that remove us from life for a few hours. The television is our friend that we spend our domestic life with and the actors there are more like our neighbours and friends (even family). Tennant is fundamentally a television actor. Tennant is like someone familiar we know from life, whereas Eccleston did seem like an alien with the potential to do anything that pops up in our living room.

As I say, it's not a very scientific explanation, but its mine. Yes, I know Eccleston has probably done more TV work than movies, but I'd still classify him as a movie actor.
The Ood are far, far more important than you may think from their first appearence...
Doctor Who Season 2:
S2.e10: The Satan Pit: The continuation of the Impossible Planet story. The Ood menace with their glowing orbs. Rose and the Doctor are separated for most of the story. The Doctor continues to act somewhat suicidal without the TARDIS.

S2.e11: Love and Monsters: Loved this episode, reminded me a lot of The X-files spoof episodes and the Andrew Documentary episode from Buffy. However most of the episode and for several days afterwards I keep wondering why Elton’s love interest Ursula seemed so familiar, till I realized she plays Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter films.

S2.e12: Fear Her: Honestly this episode didn’t leave much of an impression on me, other than reinforcing how lonely the Doctor has always been.

S2.e13: Army of Ghosts: I have to say that I was hoping we would be reintroduced to Captain Jack as the leader of Torchwood in this episode, but I guess we are going to have to wait a little while longer for that. I have to admit not being excited at the reintroduction of both the Cybermen and the Dalek’s this episode. I thought the show had done a good job to bringing them into the modern show, but my first reaction was…what again? Did love seeing kick-ass Mickey again.

S2.e14: Doomsday: Rose’s parents are unconventionally reunited, and Rose and the Doctor separated. I was sad to see that whole segment of the cast shunted away to another Earth and I cried more than I expected to at their last goodbye.

Doctor Who Season 3:

S3.e1: The Runaway Bride: Actually a Christmas special, this episode picks up right where season 2 ended: The Doctor’s interrupted goodbye to Rose. I thought it was brilliant that a Time Lord, isn’t given time to mourn the end of his relationship with Rose, when a stranger is teleported into the TARDIS. I thought I was going to dislike Catherine Tate’s “The Bride” because she was so shrieky but I ended up liking her whole lot, and actually really enjoying her pairing with Tennant, they have good non-flirty chemistry.

S3.e2: Smith and Jones: I love the introduction of Martha Jones, because it felt so familiar. As the oldest child of divorced parents I could immediately identify with Martha and her peacekeeper role. If there is ever a person who will be able to take the craziness of the TARDIS in stride it will be her,and honestly the adventure will likely be a welcome break. I loved to off-kilter way Tennant played things in this episode. His hair when he is looking through the files at the hospital was hilarious. He is honestly cracking up a bit, and idea they played brilliantly with the taking of his tie for Martha bit.

S3.e3: The Shakespeare Code: I have mentioned not being a fan of the travel back in time episodes but this one was better than previous ones. I think the writers are continuing to do a good job introducing us to Martha as a very competent and independent woman, who while clearly attracted to the Doctor, is not just trusting his every proclamation. Half-hoping we don't see a Elizabeth I episode, for it can't be as funny as I imagine it will be.

S3.e4: Gridlock: Interesting follow up to the New New York storyline. The last time we were here, The Doctor nearly lost Rose when Cassandra hijacked her body, and this time Martha is kidnapped by people looking for access to the fast lane. The last time here the Doctor was able to show how well he knew Rose, when he so easily saw through Cassandra’s impersonation and this time the Doctor has to realize how little time he has spent getting to know Martha. She knows him pretty well however, she calls him on being on the rebound, and can tell something not quite right about what he is saying about his home world, which is interesting considering his reaction to the Face of Bo’s dying statement.

S3.e5: Daleks in Manhattan: This is another of those episodes that I have seen snippets of in the past. Hoovervilles, Pig slaves and Daleks: really not a good episode to use to introduce anyone to the show. The accents are horrible and the Dalek human hybrid eye-rolling. Having met this crew of Daleks before I was able to accept them a bit more but I don’t think the story measures up to others…seems like time we give the Daleks a break. The only thing that I have appreciated about this particular story is the Doctor reaction when he realizes they are dealing with Daleks again, He keeps losing everything and they keep surviving.

So far I have enjoyed Season 3 a lot, particularly because I think the new companions have better chemistry with Tennant than Piper did, and his grief over the loss of Rose has given him a more off-kilter character to play. Looking forward to what is ahead.
Interesting as always, Ana.

A few notes: As you may or may not know, "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday" was the first meeting of the Cybermen and the Daleks. In the "old days" there was a sort of "unwritten rule" that the two should never meet, so this was a big deal for us aging fanboys.

The Macra (the crab monsters in "Gridlock") had only ever appeared once before, in 1967, and would've been pretty low on my list of "creatures they will bring on the new show". That pleased me in a way - it's fun seeing the old critters done with a better special effects budget.

I tend to agree that the Daleks should not be overused.If it was up to me, each Doctor would have one adventure with them, but that they ought not to be used more than once every three-four years, otherwise.

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