Friday, 29 November 2013

Doctor Who's Greatest Moments: Part Four - The 00s

After sixteen years in the wilderness (apart from one TV movie), Doctor Who returned to the nations' screens anew. Previously seen in the public consciousness as a cheerful children's show with wobbly sets and cheap monster costumes, viewers had their prejudices blown away when, in 2005, acclaimed writer Russell T Davies brought it back as a 'proper drama.' Of course, fans had always seen it that way but now the rest of the world had caught up. Doctor Who was prime time material once again - but there were a few changes. It was grounded in human characters and relationships, rooted to modern-day Earth and, most importantly, that eccentric wizard Doctor was now a survivor of a terrible war, recovering from the horror he had seen. However, underneath it was still exactly the same show, with the same brew of humour, drama and scares that had made the original twenty-six year run a success. The Doctor Who of the 00s was greater than ever before - and so were the moments...

10. Run! - Rose

Let's start at the beginning. Shop girl Rose Tyler is at the end of another boring day when things take an unexpected turn - confronted by living dummies in a stock room she encounters a strange man who takes her hand and tells her to run. And her life is never the same again.
A perfect kicking point for the adventure, this moment absolutely captures the effect meeting the Doctor has to a companion's perspective. You have a normal, boring life and then suddenly the Doctor appears, a wonderful, charming, insane man, with danger all around him. When the Doctor tells her to run, Rose does. And if the Doctor did the same to you, wouldn't you run too?

9. Don't Blink - Blink

Inquisitive (and all round fantastic character wonderfully played by Carey Mulligan who - ok, I'll stop now) Sally Sparrow has been caught up in a mystery involving the predatory statues, the Weeping Angels. In spooky old house, she and Larry Nightingale stick on a DVD - a message from the Doctor, giving them advice on how to escape the angels... that are (slowly) gaining on them. This scene makes it onto the list as the most memorable scene in arguably the most memorable episode of Doctor Who. Exceedingly clever and scary in equal measure, it properly established the most notorious monster of the 00s series. If you're walking through a graveyard and you come across a statue of angel, there's just one thing you have to remember: don't turn your back and, whatever you do, don't blink. Good luck.

8. The Family lives forever - The Family of Blood

At the end of exceptional two-parter 'Human Nature/The Family of Blood', after leading another life as a human, the Doctor returns and punishes those who forced him to change his identity in the first place - the Family of Blood - in particularly harsh ways. Father of Mine he wrapped in unbreakable chains, forged in the heart of a dwarf star, Mother of Mine was tricked into the event horizon of a collapsing sun, Sister of Mine became trapped inside a mirror world and Son of Mine was put into suspended animation to watch over England's fields - as a scarecrow. They wanted to live forever,' says Son of Mine (Harry Lloyd, in one of the show's best guest performances in recent years), 'so he made sure that we did. Obviously the Family were nasty individuals, but the callous comeuppances the Doctor dishes out to them are rather chilling examples of the dark edges of the Doctor's character.

7. Everybody lives! - The Doctor Dances

On the exact opposite side of the Doctor, we have this triumphant moment from Steven Moffat's cracking Doctor Who debut 'The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances.' With half of war-torn London converted into gasmask zombies, it all looks bleak for humanity until the Doctor is able to guide the nanogenes that created the virus into mending everyone affected. 'Everybody lives,' cries an ebullient Ninth Doctor,' just this once, everybody lives!' It is an extremely rare occurrence that everyone survives a Doctor Who story (it's contains an inordinate amount of death for a family-aimed series) but here the Doctor has his greatest wish granted - he saves everyone. It's wonderful to see the Ninth Doctor, often morose and hurt (oh no, he came before), so full of joy. A heartwarmer.

6. Time Lord Victorious - The Waters of Mars

However, it's not always so easy to save everyone, as the Tenth Doctor found out in his penultimate adventure 'The Waters of Mars.'
The defining characteristic of the Tenth Doctor could be said to be how much he felt the losses he had experienced in his long life. From his own people to Rose Tyler, he could hardly take it when he failed to save someone. Here, it seems the Doctor finally snaps and resolves to break the laws of time to save the crew of Bowie Base One on Mars from their deaths, a fixed point in time. His ego boiling over to dangerous levels, the Doctor proclaims himself 'Time Lords Victorious' and that time 'will obey [him].' The scene is such an important one as it details perhaps one of the significant changes to the Doctor's character in the entire series. For a few moments, in his manic state and blind assuredness, the Doctor virtually becomes the Master - prepared to do anything to get what he wants. This growing coldness to the character could be said to stem from a terrible event in his past...

5. The Survivors of the Time War - Dalek

Locked away in billionaire alien collector Henry Van Statten's vault, the Doctor is horrified to find a lone Dalek survived the Time War (give it a while, Doc, and I'm afraid you'll find there's a lot more). Despite both being the last of their kind, the last soldiers of the Time War, the Doctor is blinkered with his hatred for the Daleks and his usual compassion dissipates. In many ways the Dalek is more human in this scene, despondent and alone, while the Doctor gloats about the Dalek species' destruction - and even tries to 'exterminate' it before Van Statten intervenes.
Making the Dalek the fearsome force it hadn't been since the 60s, this scene really captures the impact the Time War had on the Doctor. A fine example of how the revived series knows how to pitch the drama of the series perfectly.

4. 'I'm regenerating...!' - The Stolen Earth

The cliffhanger of Series 4 finale 'The Stolen Earth/Journey's End' is one of Doctor Who's most 'coffee-spurting' scenes. Finally about to see Rose again, the Doctor is shot down by a Dalek - and begins to regenerate! For a whole week, the entire viewing public believed that come next Saturday David Tennant would cease to be the Doctor. Of course, at the beginning of the following episode we found out it wasn't the case - the Doctor is able to siphon the excess regenerative energy into his spare hand in a jar (just accept it). But this scene meant that, at the height of its 00s popularity as it was, Doctor Who was the focus point of every conversation in Britain (or at least at my school, ah those were the days) for seven days and so it stands as a testament to the power Doctor Who has in grabbing people's attention. Every now and then, it likes to remind us that it's the biggest drama on TV.

3. 'I think you need a Doctor...' - The Parting of the Ways

The Daleks have conquered the Earth. Yeah, I know, we've heard it a dozen times but this time they really are unstoppable. Unless you're Rose Tyler, and you've hoovered up the heart of the TARDIS to become a God-like entity. Deux Ex Machina it may be, but this end to one of the series' strongest sees the touching demise of Eccleston's Doctor. In exactly the way the Doctor should go, he sacrifices himself to save his companion. Restrained but emotional, the Doctor gives a few last jokes, almost says his feelings for Rose and bows out with grace and gravitas. While Eccleston is not my favourite of all-time Doctor, he is most probably the best all-round actor to play the role, and watching him here it's hard to say differently. He is simply fantastic.

2. The Most Important Woman in the Whole of Creation - Journey's End

It seems that the aforementioned Series 4 finale had two brilliant episode closes with the, uh, end of 'Journey's End'  being the devastating farewell to companion Donna Noble. After touching the Doctor' spare hand, full of regenerative energy, Donna gained the Doctor's mind - becoming the DoctorDonna, part human, part Time Lord. However, it was impossible for anyone to hold all the Doctor's knowledge in their head and so, to save her life, the Doctor had to wipe Donna's mind of all her adventures with him. The growth of Donna from mouthy trivia-obsessed temp to a grown-up woman who realised her true potential was the story of Series 4 and so to have the character robbed of not only her wonderful time in the TARDIS but also her improved sense of self-worth is utterly heartbreaking. The script and the fine performances of Tennant and Catherine Tate collide here to create the saddest companion exit ever.

1. I'm the Last of the Time Lords - The End of the World 

While there may be funnier, snappier moments out there this affecting scene sums up the ethos of the Doctor Who of the 00s and so claims the decade's greatest moment. After witnessing 'The End of the World', the Doctor and Rose return to modern-day London. Reflecting on how nothing lasts forever, the Doctor reveals who he really is; the last of his race, the Time Lords, who were destroyed in the Last Great Time War. A discussion of cosmic battles between alien races, but fuelled with such emotion - and taking place in an everyday street - this scene is quite simply 100% 00s Doctor Who. Just as 'The Day of the Doctor' recently made a major move to ensure the longevity of Doctor Who, this scene - and the changes it brought to the series - guaranteed that Doctor Who came back changed but still the same - letting it sail into its 50th anniversary and beyond.


    Jamie! :D

    Stalking your posts!

  2. Ooh, are you doing the theme tune? I'll do the next bit: WEEEEEEEEE-OOOOOOOHHHHH! :D

    And you betcha! He may be empty, but he fills your heart with love.


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