Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor: Series 1 Overview

doctor who series 1 christopher eccleston ninth doctor logo review nine years of the ninth doctor russell t davies bad wolf rose tyler billie piper

So, with the series over, I thought it would be a good idea to do a sort of retrospective on the series itself, as well as a sort of analysis on the marks I gave each episode, and how it averages out across the series.

First of all, then, are the marks given to each episode, in chronological order.

  1. Rose | Russell T Davies | 7/10
  2. The End of the World | Russell T Davies | 8/10
  3. The Unquiet Dead | Mark Gatiss | 8/10
  4. Aliens of London | Russell T Davies | 7/10
  5. World War Three | Russell T Davies | 7/10
  6. Dalek | Robert Shearman | 10/10
  7. The Long Game | Russell T Davies | 7/10
  8. Father’s Day | Paul Cornell | 8/10
  9. The Empty Child | Steven Moffat | 9/10
  10. The Doctor Dances | Steven Moffat | 9/10
  11. Boom Town | Russell T Davies | 8/10
  12. Bad Wolf | Russell T Davies | 9/10
  13. The Parting of the Ways | Russell T Davies | 10/10

I made a graph, to make everything look more official and analytical.

image

It’s very obviously quite a strong series, never getting less than 7/10, although admittedly there are quite a few of those. There are some obvious standouts, and some obvious patterns.

Dalek episodes tended to fare well; both of the episodes featuring them predominantly gained 10/10, and Bad Wolf, which featured them peripherally, got a pretty strong 9/10.

Historical episodes, The Unquiet Dead and The Empty Child & The Doctor Dances, did well with an average score of 8.6/10 between them, or 26/30 altogether.

The present day ish episodes (Rose, Aliens of London & World War Three, Dalek, Father’s Day, and Boom Town) did well too, with an average score of 7.83/10, or 47/60.

Future episodes (The End of the World, The Long Game, and Bad Wolf The Parting of the Ways) got high scores as well. They averaged out at 8.5/10, or 34/40.

Now, that’s not wholly indicative of quality, given that there’s quite an imbalance in the different episodes, and it’s not really in proportion. That applies to the writers as well; because of the way it’s worked out with averages and whatnot, Russell T Davies is, technically, the worst writer.

  1. Robert Shearman = 10/10
  2. Steven Moffat = 9/10
  3. Mark Gatiss = 8/10
    Paul Cornell = 8/10
  4. Russell T Davies = 7.875/10

It’s certainly odd to look at it like that. I do consider RTD to be amongst the best writers to have worked on Doctor Who over the past nine years, but here it would appear he’s not the best. But then again, being, ostensibly, ‘the worst’ doesn’t mean that it’s not “very, very good”.

I generally don’t like to rank stories in such a way, because it’s all very subjective. Each of the stories have their own merits and values, and always very different merits and values. I often say something along the lines of “7/10, but a different 7/10 to the last 7/10, because it’s a different episode”. Odd though that may sound, it’s very true, I feel.

But, I did give the stories numerical ranks, so, rank them I have:

  1. Dalek
    Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways
  2. The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances
  3. The End of the World
    The Unquiet Dead
    Father’s Day
    Boom Town
  4. Rose
    Aliens of London/World War Three
    The Long Game

That’s the 10s, the 9s, the 8s, and finally the 7s. Beyond that, I don’t think I could give them proper ranks – where the marks were shared, I simply left them in chronological order.

Overall, the whole series got a mark of about 8/10 (specifically 8.230769/10), which worked out as 107/130. To have only dropped 23 marks across 13 episodes is pretty damn impressive. As a series, it’s very, very strong.

At some point soon, I’ll try and write a post about the Ninth Doctor and his character arc, which will, I imagine, be altogether more interesting than this.

Related:

Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor Reviews

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Doctor Who Reviews Index

It’s been a whole year of sitting doing nothing. Huh.

It feels like something of an achievement actually. A whole year is rather a long time. And I’ve written some interesting things, or at least I’d like to think so.

How long before I can start making money off of it though?

Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor: The Parting of the Ways

doctor who review the parting of the ways ninth doctor christopher eccleston daleks regeneration russell t davies joe ahearne

It was a better life. I don’t mean all the travelling and seeing aliens and spaceships and things. That don’t matter. The Doctor showed me a better way of living your life. You don’t just give up. You don’t just let things happen. You make a stand. You say “no.” You have the guts to do what’s right when everyone else just runs away, and I just can’t!

I feel… I feel weirdly nostalgic actually. As though I’ve come to the close of a great adventure. That’s a slightly ridiculous thing to say really, but it’s true. I’ve now completed the Ninth Doctor’s era. All 13 episodes, tied up in a neat little bow. One complete run.

But it’s not quite over yet. The Parting of the Ways. Christopher Eccleston’s final episode. The swansong, as it were.

The swansong – the only song and swan can sing, in its final moments – is supposed to be the most beautiful song sung by any bird. (I think so anyway, I might be misremembering. It doesn’t really matter though, it fits the point I’m trying to make)

And you know what? This really is a beautiful episode.

One of the most important things to talk about in this episode is, I think, the Daleks. This is, after all, just as much their episode as it is anyone else’s.

doctor who review the parting of the ways daleks russell t davies joe ahearne ninth doctor christopher eccleston paterson joseph satellite five

The bit that sort of epitomises the Daleks in this episode, for me anyway, is actually one of Captain Jack’s lines.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are at war.

And that’s what this is here! It’s a gritty, brutal, war. One final stand, one final resistance. This episode is, I think, one of New Who’s strongest Dalek episodes, and it’s for this reason. We’re seeing an actual fight against the Daleks, full of desperation and fear.

But Daleks being Daleks, they go one better than that. They don’t just fight and kill, they exterminate. In one of the scariest moments of the episode, they go and kill all the other people who are hiding. Who didn’t believe in the Daleks. Who are having their worst fears realised. To see quite so many Daleks, swarming in and surrounding everyone… that’s scary. That is a scary set of Daleks.

There’s so many other fantastic moments in this little war, all of it adding together to create this dark, hopeless fight. There isn’t a line wasted in these scenes – one, chilling, awful moment is when the female producer of The Weakest Link calls Jack, and screams at him “You lied to us! The bullets don’t work!”. And then… she’s killed, only a few moments later. Just like everyone around her. There is so, so much death.

Of course, a benefit of being the second part of a two-parter is that we know a lot of these characters already. The two programmers, male and female, and Lynda with a Y. We knew them, in a way, and we cared about them, which meant what happened to them hurt all the more. The guy, finally, finally able to admit his feelings to his colleague – and then she’s killed. And he goes into a senseless rage – and he dies too. It’s awful.

And Lynda. God, what happens to her is so painful. She isn’t safe. She was never safe. But that last scene is so much worse because it’s silent, yet we know what the Dalek is saying. We can see the flash of it’s lights. It’s an awful, chilling moment.

But it gets worse still. Jack dies. And it’s a tragic, poignant moment. We’ve seen him develop and change since he was that conman. Since he was a coward. (God, that feels like ages ago). Yet here, he’s making the ultimate sacrifice. It’s a brilliant scene. His final line, full of that trademark bravado, really works. I remember quoting that for weeks after this. Actually, no, years. I love that line.

The whole thing comes together and it gives us the best Dalek episodes of the new series.

doctor who review the parting of the ways rose tyler powell estate billie piper sent home chips a better way of living joe ahearne russell t davies

The other important aspect of this episode (because it’s a threefold episode, split between the Daleks, the Doctor, and Rose) is, of course, Rose.

Sending Rose home was, I think, one of the best moments of the episode. It helped to tie everything together, bringing every theme and aspect of the series to a close.

The scenes with Rose and her family were amongst the best of the episode (though having said that, every scene is pretty damn great). There’s a pathos about them, to use a big word. Rose’s refusal to accept the Doctor’s death, and her refusal to stand by and do nothing is wonderful. The speech she gives is one of my favourites of the episode, and it kinda sums up, for me, a lot of the philosophy of the show. It’s quite profound, in it’s own way.

I really loved the scene where Rose tells Jackie about Pete. There’s an element of coming full circle there. The separate threads and plotlines come together and culminate here. Jackie finally accepts the Doctor and Rose’s new life with him, and helps.

And then we have the Bad Wolf. Seeded across the series, threaded through, hinted at, referenced. It’s been there, hiding in plain sight, all the time.

I love it.

I know it has it’s detractors, I know people whine about deus ex machina. I do not care. I love it, it’s brilliant, it’s wonderful, it’s excellent.

It works in the context of the story because it’s not just a deus ex machina (well technically it is but shut up), it comes from Rose. Rose takes the machine and makes herself a god, and goes out and deliberately saves the day. And it is really, really wonderful. It’s a wonderful, triumphant moment, and I love it. The Bad Wolf storyline has been concluded, and it really is excellent.

doctor who review the parting of the ways ninth doctor christopher eccleston coward or killer coward every time russell t davies regeneration daleks

Now, there’s one last thing to talk about, but I’m going to try and keep it brief, because this review is getting pretty long already, and I’d like to write an overview on Nine’s entire tenure and story arc next Wednesday.

This is, I think, Christopher Eccleston’s finest episode as the Doctor. And rightly so – the swan’s final song is its best.

He demonstrates so many different sides to his character here – the anger, the compassion, the intelligence – but most importantly, there is closure. The Doctor is finally able to move out of the shadow of the Time War. When presented with that same decision once again, he refuses to make it. Coward, any day. It’s a wonderful, poignant moment. On some levels, you’re happy for the Doctor, because he made the right decision – but it’s at such a cost. It’s already been at such a cost. There is no way to escape, it seems.

But the Doctor is finally the Doctor again.

Cliched though it may be, and I know that every other person who’s ever reviewed the Ninth Doctor must have said it… but I don’t care it’s great I’m saying it.

Now that it’s the end, before I go, there’s just one thing that needs to be said. He was fantastic.

And you know what? So was this entire episode. There’s so many things I didn’t get to mention, all sorts of little details… but everything was there.

And an episode like this deserves 10/10.

Related:

Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor Reviews

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Doctor Who Reviews Index

On internet criticism, and the validity of it

internet criticism computer user silhouette red pencil scratch art

I was thinking about internet criticism, and the nature and validity of it… and, well, I wanted to write about it. Besides, I also have homework to do, so it’s a great avenue of procrastination.

Anyway, I was scrolling through my dash, and I came across a post from the Explore blog (I couldn’t get a link to work). The basic gist of it is advice for dealing with criticism from the internet, but there’s one bit that jumped out at me – Actually, Brené Brown said it best: “If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.“

And that bothered me actually, I didn’t like it. Whilst I understand where it comes from and what the point is… I don’t agree at all. (The rest of the post was actually kinda okay)

Dealing with criticism is hard. Some people take it better than others. And, yes, a lot of the time you do have to be quite discerning of which criticisms you actually pay attention to, and which you simply disregard.

But! Here’s where I’m not all that impressed. When you’re discerning which criticisms to listen to and which not to, you shouldn’t make that decision based solely upon the fact it comes from the internet. That’s a pretty ridiculous thing to do, I think, to deride and ignore something simply because of the platform upon which it originated.

Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t be cautious of things that originate from the internet, because, yeah, sure, there are a lot of idiots out there who don’t know what they’re talking about, and just repeat things they don’t quite understand because they think it sounds smart. Or worse, the aggressive ones, who just get a kick out of being cruel to people.

But for every one of those people, there are all the people who do know what they’re talking about. Articulate, eloquent, well spoken people, who can give insightful and often witty commentary. And you know what? A lot of them are people with no further qualifications than owning a blog. They’re the people who are, as it were, outside of the arena, and not getting their asses kicked.

I don’t really think that matters either though. Whilst having done something can help, I don’t think you actually have to be in the ‘arena’ to be capable of offering comment.

I mean… I’m awful at football. I have very little interest in it, but I know enough about how it works to be able give some sort of critique of how someone plays. Work as part of a team, shoot in the right goal, pass this way rather than that, etc.

Maybe it’s a poor analogy, but I think the point I’m making stands.

You don’t have to have ever made a film to criticise one.
You don’t have to have ever written for TV to criticise someone who does.
You don’t have to have ever written a book to review one.

Just because something is on the internet, by someone who isn’t in a particular field… that doesn’t mean that the person is unqualified to have an opinion. Now, yes, maybe you’re going to have more useless or wrong criticism on the internet, because there is so much of it… that doesn’t mean you should just take it all and ignore it all.

But hey, maybe I’m just being arrogant. It’s been known to happen before, on occasion. I am, after all, one of those people with no greater qualification than a blog, yet I think I could’ve made a better Superman movie than Man of Steel, or that I could write better scripts than some Doctor Who writers.

So who knows?

Note: Four years later, having actually sort of technically kinda built a career as an internet critic type person, I have some slightly more nuanced thoughts than the above, though I do still agree with the basic gist of it.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Writing Index

Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor: Bad Wolf

doctor who bad wolf review russell t davies joe ahearne christopher eccleston big brother weakest link ninth doctor rose tyler billie piper

Someone’s been playing a long game. Controlling the human race from behind the scenes for generations.

Ah.

Bad Wolf.

I’m feeling rather sort of nostalgic actually. Bad Wolf was the first episode of Doctor Who I ever watched, more or less. (I’m not 100% sure, more like 90%, but this is the episode I consider to have been my first one). Nine years ago today, give or take an hour, I started watching Doctor Who. I’ve passed a point where Doctor Who has now been a part of my life longer than it hasn’t been. That’s just mad to think about.

And, as first episodes go, it was one hell of an episode, wasn’t it?

So, Bad Wolf opens with the Doctor in the Big Brother house. It’s a very funny opening, and it works really well. The Doctor, in a way he doesn’t tend to, acts like the viewer would. He asks pertinent questions, he mocks the game, he finds it all very ridiculous. It carries through to Rose as well, as she laughs about being on The Weakest Link. I loved that actually, it really suited the tone of it. Of course you’d laugh at something like that- it’s totally absurd. (Actually what I found hilarious is how Jack got swept along with it, the only really willing participant – “I have to find the Doc- what do you mean you need to change my look?”)

doctor who bad wolf review ninth doctor christopher eccleston lynda moss jo joyner big brother endemnol weakest link russell t davies joe ahearne

What I also liked about this was the very creepy, almost insidious build up of threat. It was rather interesting to watch back actually, because I didn’t really remember it all that well it turns out. I’d just sort of assumed, probably because I already knew, that the whole killer game show thing was obvious from the outset, but it wasn’t. It’s very slowly revealed, pared back bit by bit – until we start seeing people die, and it begins to kick in. As a reveal, I think it’s rather well done. (It’s good enough for me to forgive them the Daleks, who I wouldn’t have revealed until the very, very last seconds. Ah well.)

Another rather stand out aspect which I liked was the characterisation. It’s something I don’t really mention often, and that’s kinda a shame – there’s always really great characters in Doctor Who, always deftly created and well acted. (Or maybe I just love everything and I’m looking at it all through rose tinted glasses!)

Lynda (with a ‘y’) was a really great character. The first companion who could’ve been, I think. I do wonder, perhaps, if she would have been a companion had Christopher Eccleston stayed on? Probably not. I think she was always created to die, which is… nice, in a way. Dramatically I mean.

Once again, I loved seeing the interactions between Jack and the Doctor. They’re a great, really comfortable team. It’s a shame we never did get a season with Jack as a companion. (Incidentally, one of my favourite Doctor Who books, The Stealers of Dreams, has Jack in quite a prominent role, and it’s really fantastic. Recommended)

The final cliffhanger then… ooh, that’s very nice. The game show aspect is more or less dispensed with, and we get down to setting up the plot for next week. The Big Bad. The Big Bad Wolf, even. Our overarching enemies, who’re here for the ultimate showdown…

doctor who bad wolf review daleks dalek empire christopher eccleston ninth doctor rose tyler billie piper captain jack john barrowman rtd

Well, it was hardly going to be the Face of Boe, was it?

It’s a really great episode this one. And I’m not just saying that! There’s so many great elements here, I only got to touch on a few of them. I’ll give it a 9/10, because it really is that great – the only thing that, perhaps, I’m sad about is that the game show aspect wasn’t developed more, or given more attention. Seems almost like a lost opportunity.

It’s an odd one that, having TV on TV. Doctor Who doing TV. At the start of this review, I was talking about how Doctor Who has been a part of my life for such a long time… and then, we’ve recently had the 50th Anniversary… at the minute, I’m writing an essay for my English class about the influence of TV…

Doctor Who?

Well, it was never just a TV show, was it?

Related:

Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor Reviews

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Doctor Who Reviews Index

 

Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor: Boom Town

doctor who boom town review russell t davies joe ahearne christopher eccleston ninth doctor maragret slitheen annette badland series 1

Let’s see who can look me in the eye.

This was the bottle episode. The cheap one, where they had to save money. There couldn’t be an Auton invasion of London, or a spaceship crashing into Big Ben. Platform One and assembled aliens were both out of the picture, as were WWII and Victorian Cardiff.

But… Doctor Who has a very long history of taking monetary limitations, and coming out with something fantastic. The chameleon circuit and the Police Box shape, for example, was borne out of a lack of money. And that’s become one of the show’s most enduring images. (I like to imagine the explanation of the chameleon circuit and the TARDIS exterior were because this was the ‘cheap episode’, and that’s why they exist)

So… cheap. Yeah. But… so what?

This episode doesn’t open with spectacle, but suspense. We see Mr Cleaver, telling an offscreen presence about the deaths and the dangers of this new project. It’s pretty interesting already, even if it doesn’t quite have the same hook as previous episodes. There’s mystery and intrigue rather than action and explosions. (Not that I’d ever pick one over the other. Both is good. Both is always good)

But… actually, no, it doesn’t start that way. Even before that, there’s a ‘previously on’ trailer – nowadays, everyone just knows – which tells us we’re going to be dealing with pre-existing characters and referencing earlier episodes. But that’s a good thing! What that does is allow us to see, and to examine, the consequences of the way the Doctor lives his life. It’s the first time we really see this in NuWho, and it’s going to become a bit of a theme over the years.

doctor who boom town review margaret blaine blon fel fotch pasameer day slitheen annette badland russell t davies joe ahearne series 1

It’s examined in a really interesting way – Margaret and the Doctor’s dinner is a really fantastic scene, with some really interesting questions put forward. Is the Doctor content to ‘execute’ her? Is he actually responsible for that, if he returns her? Doesn’t she deserve mercy?

Another stand out moment was the “Can you look me in the eye?” moment, in the TARDIS. It was very, very good, a great piece of writing in my opinion. (One thing I would perhaps have preferred would have been if, in the edit, they’d toned the music right down. It didn’t really fit, what they had going on there – it should have been much lower, more sinister. Subliminal, almost)

Christopher Eccleston’s acting of these scenes was pitch perfect – the steely eyes, the blank expression, the calm demeanor. Fantastic. Annette Badland is great as well, moving between threatening and pleading, and keeping it all very natural.

Something I was also quite fond of, and would maybe have liked to have seen more of, was the interplay between these four characters. It was really fantastic – Rose, Jack and the Doctor just seemed to be having so much fun together, which I always loving seeing. Doctor Who is, at it’s heart, quite an optimistic show, and to see the characters enjoying life… it’s nice. (Can you imagine a second series, with Rose, Nine and Jack? That would have been amazing. Just picture it. Wow.)

Mickey was pretty great as well. The way his relationship with Rose was portrayed was, I thought, quite intelligent – his getting angry was another demonstration of the consequences. It’s not just the Doctor, it’s the Doctor’s lifestyle. A lifestyle Rose has begun to live…

doctor who boom town review ninth doctor christopher eccleston rose tyler billie piper captain jack harkness john barrowman mickey smith noel clarke

It’s also a really funny episode. Lots and lots of funny moments, right alongside the darker stuff. And it never jars – everything fits together perfectly. My favourite exchange was this one:

Cathy Salt:  And then just recently Mr. Cleaver, the government’s nuclear advisor?

Margaret Blaine: Slipped on an icy patch.

Cathy Salt: He was decapitated!

Margaret Blaine: It was a very icy patch.

Absolutely brilliant. Margaret has a lot of funny lines throughout though, she’s a really great character.

The ending, admittedly, is probably one of the weaker elements of the story. It is a bit… deus ex machina, as it were, and does only exist to set up next week’s episode. (I know the budget wouldn’t have supported it, but maybe it would have been better if the TARDIS got a bit destroyed in the process, rather than just a panel popping open?)

It also conveniently avoids giving any sort of answer to all those great questions that were posed throughout, which is a little bit of a shame.

So… in all, a very, very good episode, which I would definitely rewatch. The ending does let it down a little, but I’m still going to give it a strong, and possibly slightly arbitrary, 8/10

Related:

Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor Reviews

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Doctor Who Reviews Index