Sunday, 27 April 2014

Doctor Who: Step Back in Time - Series Two

Taking a break from a celebration of all things comic (that's comic strips, not funny comic - this blog is always dedicated to the funny. No, don't laugh at that!), it's time to continue with a retrospective look at the series of Doctor Who, in preparation for the arrival of Peter Capaldi's début series later this year. This month, we look back at another (Scottish) Doctor's inaugural year in the TARDIS. It's Mr Fantastic himself (yes, I know I said I was giving the comic-theme of this month a rest), The Tenth Doctor!

Starring: David Tennant (the Doctor), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler), Noel Clarke (Mickey Smith) and Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler). 
Produced by: Phil Collinson
Executive Produced by: Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner

Best Episodes

Tooth and Claw by Russell T Davies
Often overlooked in the grand scheme of Doctor Who episodes, 'Tooth and Claw' is a fine adventure, mixing a simple story about an old werewolf folktale come to fruition with the 'true' personal history of Queen Victoria. This is an episode that Who's original creator, Sydney Newman with his dedication to education, would be proud of. 

Girl in the Fireplace by Steven Moffat
The episode that proved the Moff was not a one-hit wonder after 'The Empty Child' and could repeatedly deliver the goods. The writer's typical time-wimey shenanigans (on first display here) are used to tell one of the most heart-rendering romances in Doctor Who's history - and it involves the Doctor himself...

Army of Ghosts/Doomsday by Russell T Davies
I'd be remiss if I did not mention the series finale which sees the Doctor's hearts broken when Rose Tyler is lost to him in a parallel universe. Chuck in a war between the Daleks and the Cybermen and the spin-off series spawning Torchwhood and you've got one of the most memorable episodes in the whoniverse. 


Has there ever been a companion who has emotionally effected the Doctor more than Rose Tyler? In the time they travel together, he goes from a warrior suffering from survivor's guilt to a chirpy, dashing hero (it's a personal theory that the Doctor influenced his regeneration into a young handsome Londoner to impress Rose). With Rose at his side, this new Doctor is a lighter soul than his immediate predecessor but still feels the weight of being the last of his kind at heart. He also seems to have picked up Rose's humanity - what is it with Time War survivors and Rose? See 'Dalek' - as seen in his emotional farewell to Rose herself. Dear Rose made such a mark on the Time Lord that he mourned her loss for a long while; when it came to his regeneration many years later, his visited her immediately before dieing. The Doctor and Rose are such a perfect match, it's no wonder that the pair are often ranked at the very top of TARDIS teams. 
The only other frequent flyer joining those time-travelling love birds on their adventures this series is Rose's ex Mickey Smith who finally gets his dues here as he matures from 'Mickey the Idiot' to 'Mickey Smith: Defender of the Earth', fighting the Cybermen. Elsewhere, Jackie Tyler is still around to root the TARDIS to modern-day Earth while a parallel version of Rose's dad, Pete Tyler, is also discovered, meaning that when stuck on said alternate world, Rose has a complete family once again. And for a while, the Doctor did too. Unlike Number Nine, this Doctor definitely did domestic. 

Story arc

Taking its lead from the previous series' running references to 'Bad Wolf', Series Two makes several passing nods to the mysterious 'Torchwood.' As seen in 'Tooth and Claw', after being attacked by a werewolf, Queen Victoria creates the Torchwood Institute to protect her empire from all alien threat - including the Doctor. It isn't until a hundred years later that the Time Lord finally bumps into them - just as the Cybermen break through from their dimension into ours. Followed by another of the Doctor's old enemies, the Daleks, who have yet again survived the Time War. Before you can say 'pest control', the Daleks and the Cybermen cause worldwide destruction in the Battle of Canary Wharf, resulting in the dissolution of Torchwood. Or so the Doctor thinks...
In some ways, Series Two could be viewed as a large backdoor pilot for Russell T Davies' long-held dream of making an adult sci-fi show, an idea which became Torchwood, based around Captain Jack's version of the Institute run from Cardiff. Soon after this, another character who appeared in Series Two, classic companion Sarah Jane Smith, starred in her own spin-off show, The Sarah Jane Adventures. With the central show at the top of its game and in rude enough health to spawn two sister series, Doctor Who was truly travelling to brave new worlds.

Next month: Series Three... Have you met Miss Jones?

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