Doctor Who – rewatched

Since December 24th I have watched a lot of Doctor Who for the second time. Spoiler-free summaries follow, in the order in which they were first broadcast (but I should first of all mention that all but the last of the stories below are at least mentioned in Graham Sleights’ superb essay for Strange Horizons, Take Me To The Fantastic Place):

Pyramids of Mars (1975) – from Tom Baker’s second year as the Doctor, which also included The Seeds of Doom and The Brain of Morbius, surely near the top of any fan’s listing of best stories. This is the one with the mummies and ancient Egyptian gods. It survives pretty well, and the DVD commentaries give it extra value – in fact it’s particularly touching that Michael Sheard, who of course died last August, obviously really enjoyed reliving his Who days via fandom and especially cons. The one serious problem is the special effects towards the end… but more than compensated for by the mini-documentary about Philip Hinchcliffe’s influence on the show.

All the rest are episodes from 2005 revisited:

Rose – this really is very good, better on second viewing than first if anything. In particular, Rose’s first encounter with the TARDIS is just superb. The climactic scene with the Nestene Consciousness seemed better paced than I remembered, and the wheelie bin scene seemed somehow more appropriate and less silly second time round. And of course, the Doctor and Rose are absolutely perfect, from their first meeting up to the final scene. (But surely the Doctor’s dialogue with the Nestene Consciousness was a bit of a lift from the star of Men In Black?)

Dalek – this is still great, though only as good second time round as it was first time. The different reactions to the captured Dalek from the Doctor and Rose are beautifully done. (ObLJ – the LiveJournal of the Last Dalek.) It also has my second favourite line of the entire series – “Broken… broken… hairdryer… broken…”

The Long Game – Thought it was OK first time round, and no reason to revise that second time round. Could fit as an episode into almost any sf series, to be honest. I was impressed by Anna Maxwell Martin as Suki and understand she came from playing Lyra on stage in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, and went on to great things as Esther Summerson in Bleak House.

(Father’s Day – I didn’t re-watch this one properly, but just want to state that it has my favourite line of the entire series: “Who said you’re not important? I’ve travelled to all sorts of places, done things you couldn’t even imagine. But you two..! Street corner, two in the morning, getting a taxi home. I’ve never had a life like that.” That last sentence is superb.)

The Empty Child – even better second time I watched it, and I loved it first time round. I must sit down and see the second half of the story, The Doctor Dances, again soon.

But this brings me to a serious point about Hugo nominations. I had originally take the view that I would nominate my favourite single-part story (Dalek) for the best short dramatic presentation Hugo, and then nominate both The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances in the long category. Cheryl Morgan points out, quite reasonably, that Serenity is 100% certain to win the long category, and so better to concentrate our Doctor Who nominations in the short category. Do others follow this logic? Makes a certain amount of sense to me. If it’s clear that The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances togterh make a valid short form nomination, I would very much hope it wins.

And finally, The Christmas Invasion – watched it tonight with Anne, who had been prepared by reading the Graham Sleight/Tim Phipps reviews. Well, I take a neutral position. I didn’t like the Lion King/Arthur Dent lines as much second time round, and the plot holes seemed even more egregious. But it was fun. And While I don’t go overboard about Tennant the way some people do (Ecclestone was as good as Tom Baker in his early years, and from me there is no higher praise) I still thought he was up to it. Looking forward very much to Anthony Stewart Head/Elisabeth Sladen in the new series…

One thought on “Doctor Who – rewatched

  1. Read 7. All by the same author, although there are a couple of others on my to be read list (the Pratchetts, Naomi Naovik and The City and the City).

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