Friday, 23 November 2012

Countdown to Doctor Who at 50: The Tenth Doctor

Happy birthday, Doctor Who; you're forty-nine years old today! To celebrate let's continue my countdown through all the Doctors, which has reached its penultimate stop with the brilliant Tenth Doctor. Allons-y!

I'm the Doctor. I'm a Time Lord. I'm from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I'm 903 years old, and I'm the man who's gonna save your lives and all six billion people on the planet below. You got a problem with that?
                                                                              The Doctor (David Tennant)

After Doctor Who became one of the biggest shows on television once again with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor for one wonderful swift year, the pressure was all on his successor. If he wasn't well-received the show's popularity might have dwindled as quickly as it rose. However, this was not the case as upcoming actor David Tennant was chosen to be the Tenth Doctor. With Tennant in the lead, Doctor Who continued to grow and grow in public adoration and perhaps enjoyed its most popular period up to that point. As a sign of how successful Tennant's Doctor was it could be argued that he has replaced Tom Baker in the public consciousness as 'Doctor Who.' If that isn't success I don't know what is.

Just from first glance, the Tenth Doctor is straight away very different from previous Doctors. Clad in pinstriped suit, converse trainers and 'sticky-uppy' hair, he's a younger, more modern character who might reference Kylie Minogue (and meet her) rather than Shakespeare (although he met him too). Underneath though, he's still the Doctor we know and love, the genial, lively persona which hides a kind yet lonely soul, one that still bears his predecessor's survivor's guilt. In fact, he was a Doctor who perhaps cared more than any other; taking deaths to innocents personally and refusing to give evil-doers second chances. As his own life continued and he lost so much along the way, his righteous side was shown more often until he had to face his inner - as well as external - demons when the whole of time itself was threatened and the Doctor once again put others before himself. In many ways, then, the Tenth Doctor is a coming-together of traits from all the previous Doctors - the Fourth's manic energy, the Fifth's vulnerability, the Eighth's love for life - but he was also a lot more human, allowing the weight of the world to get to him. Effected, maybe, by his many human companions...

Shop girl, Rose Tyler, whom had been travelling with him since his previous regeneration, was particularly special to this Doctor. The inseparable pair shared several adventures in which their fondness for each other grew until they were forced apart. When an Earth-shattering even occurred involving a Dalek/Cybermen war, Rose became trapped on a parallel world. While Rose's loss left a huge shadow over the Doctor, he did have other companions to see the universe with such as Martha Jones, a trainee Doctor who saved the Doctor's own life on numerous occasions, and Chiswick girl Donna Noble, the most important woman in the whole of creation. As other friends included Captain Jack, Mickey Smith, Jackie Tyler, Lady Christina, Jackson Lake, Adelaide Brooke and Donna's own grandfather Wilfred Mott, Sarah Jane Smith was not lying when she said that this Doctor had 'the biggest family on Earth.'

The Ones to Watch


Rightly seen as one of Who's greatest episodes, this is a gripping, creepy and funny mini-movie that, although others have been Doctor-lite, feels unique in the history of the show. Carey Mulligan becomes the show's lead for forty-five minutes and pulls it off brilliantly.

The Stolen Earth/ Journey's End

Series Four's two-parter finale is a great big, throw-everything-in party celebrating the Russel T Davies era of the show. You not only have every companion of the Tenth Doctor but also a humongous load of Daleks plus their creator, Davros! Sure, it isn't the tightest plot line Who's ever had but it includes an excellent cliffhanger and a heart-breaking exit for Donna.

The Waters of Mars

A fascinating and rather bleak episode from the tail-end of the the Tenth Doctor's time, 'Waters...' sees the Doctor on a doomed Martian base which he can't save from destruction without breaking the laws of time. Lindsey Duncan is excellent as the captain of the base while it includes perhaps the Doctor's biggest ever character development...

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