Book Review – Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension Book Two

  • Title: Doctor Who The Lost Dimension Book Two
  • Authors: Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby, George Mann, Cavan Scott
  • Artists: Ivan Rodriguez, Wellington Diaz, Rachael Stott, Mariano LaClaustra, Anderson Cabral, Marcelo Salaza, Fer Centurion, Thiago Ribeiro, Mauricio Wallace, Carlos Cabrera, Rod Fernandes, Mony Castillo, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line:  All-Doctors Crossover Special
  • Characters: Fourth Doctor, Eighth Doctor, Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, Twelfth Doctor, Romana II, Rose, Gabby, Cindy, Alice, Nardol, Bill, Cameos by other Doctors and Companions
  • Collection Date: 2018
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 03/27/2019

Titan Comics’ The Lost Dimension Book Two is the second volume in this series, which concludes the story. This volume opens with the Fourth Doctor as played on the BBC series Doctor Who by Tom Baker and Romana II in the TARDIS, but instead of materializing the TARDIS is caught between two transmat beams. When the Doctor and Romana exit the TARDIS they are confronted with Krotons, from the Second Doctor story, “The Krotons”, but these Krotons are considerably more dangerous. The other ship is crewed by Quarks from the Second Doctor story, “The Dominators”. Soon a spaceship appears from the Ogron Confederation of Planets and tries to take over. The Doctor soon realises that all of these new invaders are from other universes, universes without the Daleks. He and Romana manage to escape in the TARDIS after convincing the new invaders to leave the universe with the Daleks in it.

Meanwhile, Dr. River Song and her graduate student discover a lost colony of Silurians who are about to be destroyed by an asteroid crashing into their planetoid. Things do not go well.

The Ninth, Tenth, and Twelfth Doctors meet up in Australia while investigating the infection that turns humans into automatons saying, “peace”. They realize the Doctors TARDISes are all linked and that several versions of the Doctor have already been lost in the white void universe. The Eighth Doctor also arrives. The Ninth, Tenth and Twelfth Doctor use Jenny’s Bowship to investigate the White Void that is taking over everything. The Eighth Doctor stays behind to try to protect the humans on Earth from the infection of the Void. The three Doctors in the bow ship find at the center of the Void, an ancient TT capsule, and the Eleventh Doctor. The time capsule is eating everything in sight, consuming whole galaxies. The three Doctors are able to talk to the Eleventh Doctor, who needs help. Together the Doctors manage to fix things for the Time Capsule (ancient TARDIS) and reverse the damage. Everyone is then safe and able to go home.

The Lost Dimension Book Two is a good conclusion to the story. Book One had introduced the Eleventh Doctor’s journey to Gallifrey, and Book Two focuses on solving that mystery and concluding the story. Book Two also has more Doctors working together, with a minimum of the various aspects of the Doctors sniping at each other. Other than the Fourth Doctor and the Eighth Doctor, though, the Classic Doctors are still only seen in cameos, although having all the Doctors working together to rescue the Eleventh Doctor and reverse the damage caused by the TT Capsule works and makes this seem like a true multi-Doctor story. I enjoyed this graphic novel, though I did find it extremely confusing at times and I had to read it multiple times to really figure out what was going on. Still, recommended.

Read my Review of Doctor Who – The Lost Dimension Book One.

Advertisements

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension Book One

  • Title: Doctor Who The Lost Dimension Book One
  • Authors: George Mann, Cavan Scott, Nick Abadzis
  • Artists: Rachael Stott, Adriana Melo, Cris Bolson, Mariano LaClaustra, Carlos Cabrera, Leandro Casco, INJ Culbard, Rod Fernandes, Marco Lesko, Dijjo Lima, Hernan Cabrera, IHQ Studios, Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line:  All-Doctors Crossover Special
  • Characters: Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, Twelfth Doctor, Rose, Gabby, Cindy, Alice, Nardol, Bill, Cameos by other Doctors and Companions
  • Collection Date: 2018
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 03/24/2019

The Lost Dimension is Titan Comics attempt to do a crossover story with all the Doctors both from the Classic Series and New Who. However, even at two volumes (second volume to be reviewed separately), it doesn’t work as well as it should. The stories end up being more vignettes than a single, coherent story, and at times stories aren’t even told in order, which is confusing – even after multiple reads. Jenny’s story is particularly told backward: first, we see her trying to save Captain Jack and Tara who have arrived on a planet that is full of volcanic activity and very dangerous. But Jenny is unable to rescue them and is sucked into a white void. She’s pushed out of the void by the Fifth Doctor’s TARDIS which is sucked into the void in her place. Jenny’s ship is damaged. But the next thing we see in the book is Jenny crashing into the Terrance Dicks library on Earth – in a different ship. Later, we learn what happened to Jenny after she was freed from the Void and how she got her Time Lord Bow Ship, which subsequently crashed into the library. The story would have been stronger if it had been told in order.

There are other vignettes – the Twelfth Doctor is there with Bill when Jenny crashes her ship into the library. Kate Stewart arrives with Osgood to slap a D-notice on the incident. But some sort of radiation affects Osgood and everyone else, so they are all saying, “Peace”.

The Ninth Doctor and Rose arrive on a pirate ship, captained by Vastra and Jenny. The ship crashes into an island hidden by a perception filter. It’s home to a colony of Silurians, but unfortunately for Vastra, these Silurians have a plague that can kill her. Still, the Doctor and Rose pick-up a psychic message from Captain Jack – which the Doctor ignores.

The Tenth Doctor, Cindy, and Gabby arrive on a space station, where they are welcomed with open arms. The Doctor fixes the station’s power overload, but he can’t do a lot about an invasion of Cybermen. That the Cybermen have been affected by the White Void and are acting weird just makes the situation that much more strange.

The Eleventh Doctor and Alice end-up on ancient Gallifrey, just as the Time Lords are beginning to experiment with time and space travel. Even though the Doctor warns Alice they must be extra careful and not interfere, the Doctor, well, does. He walks in on a TARDIS training session and uses calming persuasion instead of “breaking” to get the new time-space capsule to accept an interior dimension bubble. His success convinces Rassilon that the Doctor will be perfect for his test pilot program. Alice gets a warning about this from the Second Doctor, but when she gets to the training and testing center – it’s too late, the Doctor’s time/space capsule has exploded with him inside it.

We also see brief cameos of the Third Doctor in this volume as he briefly appears in one of his successors TARDISes. The story will be continued in the next volume.

Most of the stories in this volume felt somewhat disjointed and out of sync. Just as one was getting involved in the individual story of an individual Doctor and companions, that story would end on a cliffhanger. The cliffhangers usually weren’t resolved, so it left the reader hanging. Also, The Lost Dimension promises to feature all Twelve Doctors – but the Classic Doctors only appear in cameos, and the New Who Doctors get longer stories within the main storyline. Not that the New Who stories are bad – I enjoyed them. Titan Comics has excellent writers for their various New Who series. I was frustrated by the unresolved cliffhangers though. The general storyline involves this White Void that’s taking over space. Still, recommended.

Doctor Who Turn Left Review

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Story Title: Turn Left
  • Story #: Season 4 Story # 11
  • Discs: 1 (Part of “The Complete Series 4” – 5 discs total)
  • Network: BBC
  • Original Air Dates: 6/21/2008
  • Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Catherine Tate (Donna Noble), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler)
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD, NTSC
  • Originally Published on my Live Journal 1/26/2009, now hosted on Dreamwidth

In a word, “Turn Left” was awesome! I loved what I saw of it last summer, and now that I’ve seen the entire episode, I love it even more. It might be one of the best Doctor Who episodes ever made, and not just because of Doctor Who but because of what the episode says about philosophy / life outlook.

The episode begins with Donna being pulled into a fortune teller’s tent – said fortune teller then forces her to go back in time, changing a decision, turning right instead of left (incidentally listening to her overbearing and critical mother). This one decision snowballs, resulting in Donna never meeting the Doctor, and thus the Doctor dying when he meets the Spider Queen in what would have been “The Runaway Bride”. However, without the Doctor, the next year (or so) is a disaster for the UK and the world: London city hospital is taken to the moon – but everyone is killed including Martha, Sarah Jane, and Sarah’s two young wards; the “Christmas Star” – destroys part of London; the spaceship Titanic crashes into Buckingham Palace – vaporising London; the Atmos devices are set-off choking the world and Torchwood agents Owen and Gwen Cooper give their lives fighting the Sontarans; Adipose kills millions in the US. In other words – without the Doctor, the world is in sorry shape. And without Donna – there is no Doctor. Rose, however, returns – coming back from another universe, finds Donna and uses the dying TARDIS to send her back, to get her to change that decision, even though Rose also knows it will cost Donna her life. When Donna sacrifices herself – Other Donna turns left, resulting in her meeting the Doctor, the Doctor not dying, and Doctor Who history continuing on as we know it.

This episode is the best illustration of Chaos Theory I’ve seen since “The Butterfly Effect” and frankly much better done and less violent/spooky/freaky than that movie (I couldn’t handle the animal and child abuse shown in “The Butterfly Effect” – it was SO excessive). However, Doctor Who “Turn Left” illustrates Chaos Theory beautifully. But what I really liked was watching Donna – listening to her saying, “I’m just a temp!” and Rose telling her “You’re the most important person in the universe,” not to mention, when time snaps back, the Doctor telling her “You’re brilliant!”. This was the second incredible philosophical statement in the episode – it shows how interconnected everything is. How one person can actually make a difference and change things. It also shows just how linked or connected everyone is. Donna sees herself as a normal person, and not a very important person at all – “Just a temp” – about the lowly-est job you could have in a technological society. Yet, it’s Donna who saves the Doctor’s life – and by doing that she literally saves millions of people. It’s one of those “you never know how you affect others” moments.

Kudos to Russell T Davies and the Doctor Who team – because “Turn Left” was totally awesome! Donna rules and the Doctor rocks!

Doctor Who Series 11 Review

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Season: 11 (New Who)
  • Episodes: 10
  • Discs: 3 (Blu-Ray)
  • Network: BBC
  • Cast: Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill
  • DVD: R1, NTSC, Blu-Ray

For the first time in the 55-year history of Doctor Who, the lead character of the Doctor is played by a woman, Jodie Whittaker and it is brilliant. Also, for the first time since the series was revived by Russell T. Davies in 2005, the TARDIS has a true team of companions, with the Doctor joined by Graham, Ryan, and Yaz (Yasmin). Having a group, a true team in the TARDIS brings to mind the classic years of Doctor Who, especially the original TARDIS team of the Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Susan. Series 11 avoids the pitfalls of having a four-person team, as well, because none of the team ever seem to be neglected or to have nothing to do. There are episodes where different characters are more to the forefront based on that particular story, but Series 11 avoids having someone take a nap for an episode, or spend the entire episode locked up. Also, each person has different talents and experiences, and the team works together with their skills meshing in the interest of good storytelling.

I enjoyed Doctor Who Series 11 very much. Jodie Whittaker plays the Doctor as someone who is full of hope and who brings hope to others – that is important. She also freely admits she doesn’t have all the answers, but that doesn’t stop her from doing her absolute best and if she makes a mistake or is wrong in her assumptions or assessment of a situation, she admits it and moves on to fix the problem. Jodie’s Doctor is never bombastic or ego-driven, she is caring and there to help. Jodie at times seems to channel David Tennent’s energy, but her performance is all her own and I just really liked her. I even like her earthy Sheffield / Yorkshire accent.

The Doctor literally falls to Earth in the first episode of the season, “The Woman Who Fell To Earth”, landing on a train that has just been attacked by an alien creature. Graham and Grace are aboard the train. Meanwhile, Ryan, Graham’s grandson by marriage has found an alien artifact in the woods and called a police officer, Yasmin Khan for help. It turns the two went to school together. “The Woman Who Fell To Earth” has the Doctor building her own sonic, including using Sheffield steel, discovering that the one alien that attacked the train was basically an information-gathering semi-organic robot and it worked for a warrior of the Stenza, on a hunt on Earth. The Doctor gets very angry at the Stenza using Earth as a hunting ground, with people being taken as trophies. With assistance from Yaz, Ryan, Graham and Grace, as well as a human who’s meant to be the next trophy, the Doctor stops the Stenza and banishes him back to his home planet. Grace, however, is killed in the crossfire. Yaz takes the Doctor shopping, where she gets her iconic outfit, including the awesome coat. But when the Doctor tries to use the Stanza teleport to get to her TARDIS, it also transports Yaz, Ryan, and Graham.

“The Woman Who Fell To Earth” flows directly into “The Ghost Monument”. The Doctor and her fam meet two competitors in a huge race with a huge prize. They discover the planet they are on was once a weapons-research facility for the Stenza, with kidnapped scientists forced to work while their families were held, hostage. One of competitors is from a world that the Stenza has captured. She’s racing so she can rescue her family and prevent them from being victims of genocide. The Doctor convinces the two to present an all-or-nothing solution to the man running the contest with the two splitting the prize. The Doctor gets her TARDIS back – and she likes the redesign.

The rest of the season does what New Who often does with a new Doctor – each story is an example of a typical type of Doctor Who story. “Rosa” and “Demons of the Punjab” are historical stories and both are extremely strong. I liked both of them very much. “Rosa” doesn’t shy away from the racism in America – and Ryan and Yaz have a frank discussion of the racism and religious bigotry they still face every day in England. But Yaz also points out that it’s because of people like Rosa Parks that she’s able to be a police officer. “Demons of the Punjab” at first it seems like aliens have invaded India in 1947 on the eve of Partition. This is the partition of India that made Pakistan a separate country and resulted in the deaths and displacement of millions of people. “Demons of the Punjab” is also a very personal story for Yaz, as not only is she Muslim and of Pakistani descent but the story is deeply entwined in her personal history, and her grandmother’s story. The alien “demons” by the way weren’t after all evil but were there to witness and honor the deaths of those who would die alone. There was a beauty to that – a sad beauty, but a beauty nonetheless. I enjoyed both “Rosa” and “Demons of the Punjab” even though both stories are very sad.

“Arachnids in the UK” is the “scary” episode of the season. I’m not afraid of spiders (they are actually useful to ecology – you just don’t want to get bit by one). I also felt like the plot for this story felt a little disjointed. The angry, arrogant, white billionaire hotel owner messed up by building his hotel on top of a toxic waste dump, and to make things worse, the researcher was sending animal and spider carcasses from “research” to the dumping ground where they were treated anything but properly. Yet the queen spider dies of asphyxiation because it’s too big to breathe, and what of the other overly-large spiders? We have no idea. The Doctor and her crew had a plan to trap them in the panic room and cut off the oxygen but who knows if it worked (and it seemed pretty cruel).

I loved “Kerblam!” – first, it has the best (or the worst) pun title ever. Second, although at first, it seems a straight-up critique of Amazon.com and other extremely large online retailers, the actual plot is more a critique of automation and how too much automation can cause people to lose jobs. This may seem like an out of date argument, and it is, but the story also does something Doctor Who has done throughout it’s run both Classic and New – it introduces a likable character with understandable grievances who goes to an extreme to get what he “wants” and the Doctor and her crew must stop him. Charlie isn’t all that bad a person, and he’s no doubt been informed by anti-automation rhetoric his entire life. But his plan, of sending a massive wave of bomb-carrying Kerblam! Delivery bots out to his planet is a bit extreme. The massive loss of life would be catastrophic. The Doctor is able to stop the plan, and makes an ally in the head of HR who decides to make Kerblam! a people-led company.

I also liked “The Tsuranga Conundrum”. The Doctor and her team are on a junk asteroid trying to find some needed spare parts for the TARDIS. Ryan accidentally trips a sonic mine and the TARDIS crew wakes up on an automated hospital ship with a very tiny crew and a few passengers who are also in need of medical care. It’s a good base under siege story, with several wonderful moments – the Doctor’s excitement and joy when she examines the anti-matter drive, the ending memorial service for the pilot, and yes, even the P’Ting. In the episode, a computerized database reads out a horrific description of the P’Ting, and the pilot says one went through her “entire fleet” once. Unfortunately, these descriptions were not passed on to whoever actually designed the P’Ting as a digital character because he’s as cute as an Adipose and then some. It even reacts like Gollum when the Doctor tries to get her sonic back, then throws it up drained of energy.

I mean, look at that face – Don’t you want to bring one home?

Again, this isn’t a criticism. The Adipose were also adorable!

“It Takes You Away” is a modern haunted house story with a twist. But it brings a satisfying conclusion to the story of Ryan and Graham trying to process their grief at losing Grace and becoming a family.

Technically, “The Witchfinders” is a historical, set in the time of James the First during the witch trials in England, but the episode is really the first time we see Jodie’s Doctor challenged because she’s a woman. The Doctor handles it well. The episode is also about assumptions, fears, scapegoating, and people not taking responsibility for their actions. The landowner decides that she must blame others for her mistakes – which involves freeing an alien army that was imprisoned in an ancient hill. It does feel like a traditional Doctor Who story, it’s a common story point for some sort of confrontation to occur between humans and aliens in a familiar feeling context even if it is a historical one.

The final episode, “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos” wraps up a few themes from the season. The TARDIS receives a series of distress calls from a planet with some serious atmospheric issues, “Tim Shaw” the Stenza Warrior shows up again, having created a truly terrifying weapon he is already using, and a new race, the Ux are introduced. The Ux are dimensional engineers and there are only ever two at a time. Unfortunately, when an injured Tim Shaw crashed on the Ux planet, they mistook him for their god, “The Creator”. The Stenza Warrior took advantage of this and used them, their talents, and Stenza technology to create a horrific weapon that literally kills planets and everything on them. The planets themselves are then taken out of orbit, shrunken down, and held in stasis pods as trophies. The Doctor is horrified by the sheer amount of death. One of the Ux is starting to question his orders, while the other argues they cannot “understand the creator’s plan”. Also on the planet is an amnesiac pilot who was a last-ditch effort by the Nine Galaxies to stop the weapon. The Doctor fits him with a Neural Inhibitor which stops the atmospheric effects of the planet that are causing his amnesia. He also has all the tools needed to rescue his own crew and others held by the Stenza. This is an episode where everyone splits up to accomplish different tasks, but it works and no one is shortchanged. At the beginning of the episode, Graham tells the Doctor that if he gets the chance to kill Tim Shaw he will – for Grace. The Doctor tells him, no, absolutely no killing, and that Grace would want him to be the better man. “The Better Man (or person)”, actually could have been the title of the episode because it becomes not only a theme of the episode but of the season – as many of the episodes deal with how to be a better person, or the better person even when confronted with prejudice or the loss of a loved one (Graham and Ryan losing Grace; Erik and Hanne losing Brine), or even incompatibility in existence (the frog in “It Takes You Away”). Anyway, Ryan argues the Doctor’s position with Graham, telling him he can’t kill Tim Shaw. In the end, Graham doesn’t kill the Stenza Warrior, though he had the chance and he and Ryan lock him in a stasis chamber. The Doctor works with the Ux and uses the TARDIS to return the planets to where they came from, though they are presumably still desolate rocks.

I loved Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor and I enjoyed her companions, her team, her “fam” as the Doctor puts it. After increasingly grim and depressing storylines in the Moffatt Era (and other issues I’m not going to get in to here), Jodie is a breath of fresh air. Not merely because she’s a woman – that really doesn’t enter into the plot all that often, but because she is kind and warm and full of hope and enthusiasm and joy. Jodie’s Doctor seems to enjoy traveling again so we can enjoy riding along with her and her crew, even with the monsters and death and destruction. Highly recommended!

Doctor Who – The Day of the Moon Review

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Story Title: The Day of the Moon
  • Season: 6
  • Episode: # 2
  • Discs: 1 (Part of “The Complete Sixth Series” – 6 discs total)
  • Network: BBC
  • Original Air Date: 11/15/2009
  • Cast: Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD, NTSC
  • Originally Published on my Live Journal 5/01/2011, now hosted on Dreamwidth

UPDATE: This review was written in 2011 before I had seen the rest of New Who Season 6 much less the entire Seven Moffat era of Doctor Who. It’s fascinating what I got right, what I got wrong and what could have been done differently and even better. Oh, and in the original review I for some reason spelled the villain/monster’s name as, “Silents” – I’m fixing that for this review.

I really liked “Day of the Moon” but it was very, very scary. Monsters that you forget the second you turn away and are no longer looking at them – that is very scary. Like conceptually that’s extremely frightening – you could encounter one of these things and never know it. And, also, that The Silence have the ability to manipulate and control behavior is also terrifying.

Though the second part didn’t have as many questions as part one, I still have some. And, I’m really hooked into Matt Smith’s second season. I hope everything pays off.

First, no one, at least no one on camera (not River, not Rory, nobody) seemed to notice that the underground lair of The Silence looked like a TARDIS. I noticed this right away and I don’t think it’s an accident of similar designs.

Second, I happened to be watching “The Lodger” this morning (still working through the S 5 DVDs) and the spaceship on top of the house looked IDENTICAL to the one we see underground and the one where Amy is held, prisoner. I don’t think this is an accident, either. I think it’s probably the first spaceship that landed on Earth piloted there by The Silence, whatever they are – though I have a theory on that.

Are the Silence -Time Lords? Time Lords that escaped the Time War? Time Lords from an alternate or parallel history? (Remember how the Doctor first describes the crack “two universes that should never have touched but did”?) Being Time Lords would explain why you forget them the minute you see them – they exist outside of  Time, therefore how could you remember a point of Time that doesn’t exist? It also would explain why the Doctor can’t see them either – usually, something mental that affects humans, like a perception filter, wouldn’t affect the Doctor.

Oddly enough, the speech by the Silence describing themselves – woven in the history of the Earth, there at every major event from the first making of fire and the wheel to the present – could ALSO describe the Doctor. Scary, isn’t it?

The 10th Doctor (Tennant) mentioned something called “The Nightmare Child” in his rants about the Time War. I think this child that we hear about in “Day of the Moon” might be “The Nightmare Child”  and a cross between a human and a Time Lord, specifically Amy and possibly, the Doctor (tho’ I don’t think the Doctor would have his way with Amy intentionally). Or, another possibility, is that somehow The Silence took Amy’s child and raised it as their own.

The orphanage looked a lot like a run-down version of Amy’s house, too – and Amy seemed to recognize it. When Amy and Rory investigated the orphanage – they both seemed much older, especially Amy. And marks kept appearing on Amy while she was in the same room in the house, which indicates time jumps. Amy’s life doesn’t seem to make sense, and this is the second time the Doctor tells her this. I think it has something to do with her being a time traveler and more than just a companion to the Doctor.

There also seems to be some sort of weird connection between Amy and Dr River Song. I think it’s possible Amy is River’s mother (this possibility was discussed in a recent chat I was in).

The child at the end that REGENERATED! Who is she? Is she Amy’s child? If so, is the Doctor the child’s father? Is the child RIVER?

The Doctor kissing River and River’s reaction was very, very sad. It makes me want to see “Silence in the Library”/”Forest of the Dead” again. It seems like just possibly. River’s now seen the Doctor’s death, and the Doctor’s seen River’s. Eeeep.

Did you notice the Doctor opening the TARDIS doors with a snap of his fingers? This was something River mentioned he could do, and Tennant’s Doctor didn’t believe her (tho’ he does it at the end of “Forest of the Dead”).

Who’s the astronaut that “killed” the Doctor? Is it the child?  Is it River? If it’s River, Did the Doctor tell her to do it? If so, Why? The Doctor that died at the very beginning of “The Impossible Astronaut” was over 200 years older than the Doctor we know. Think about that. We’ve seen Time Lords go batty before (Rassilon, Omega, The Master, The Rani, Borusa, Rassilon). In “Trial of a Time Lord” the Valeyard is said to be a future incarnation of the Doctor (though, this is later disproved as a trick by the Master and the Matrix). There’s been speculation for years that the Master is more than a dark side of the Doctor – he’s the Doctor’s future.

I cannot wait to see the rest of the season.

The Tenth Doctor and Adelaide

Doctor Who – The Waters of Mars Review

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Story Title: The Waters of Mars
  • Story #: Season 4.5 Story #3
  • Episodes: Movie Length
  • Discs: 1 (Part of “The Specials Collection” – 5 discs total)
  • Network: BBC
  • Original Air Dates: 11/15/2009
  • Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Lindsay Duncan (Adelaide)
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD, NTSC
  • Originally Published on my Live Journal 4/02/2010, now hosted on Dreamwidth

The previous Doctor Who special, Planet of the Dead was a typical fun, adventure type Doctor Who episode, with the exception of the hints about the Doctor’s fate. The Waters of Mars is more of a more typical horror Doctor Who episode, with a slightly claustrophobic feel and eventual hints of the Doctor’s coming fate. One interesting thing about the episode is that it is very similar, at least at the start, to “The Fires of Pompeii”. Like Pompeii, the Doctor has arrived at a fixed point in time, which means he can’t do anything about what’s going to happen. To make things interesting – this time he’s fifty years in the future. But, from the Doctor’s pov, it’s the same as Pompeii – he can’t save anyone, and he can’t alter what’s going to happen.

Despite his instincts telling him to just leave, of course, the Doctor stays on Mars, and we discover what the mysterious disaster was – an invasion of water creatures called The Flood. Any water infected by The Flood can infect a person – causing them to become deadly drones of The Flood. Before long, the Doctor and the crew of the base are trying to stop The Flood and escape. However, because this is a fixed point in time – the Doctor, and the audience, know that no one can escape. Or, rather, they shouldn’t. The Doctor should not be interfering – at all, he could cause more damage than he could fix.

Eventually, as he sees Bowie Base 1 exploding the Doctor makes a fateful decision and goes back to help. Normally, in Doctor Who, this is what we want the Doctor to do, to help people in desperate situations. However, in this case, there’s a sense that to actually interfere and even attempt to save the good people of Bowie Base 1 would have serious consequences for history, and possibly even prevent the launch of the first lightship mission into the galaxy, to be captained by Adelaide’s grand-daughter. Yet, the Doctor defies the Laws of Time anyway, saving Yuri, Mia, and Adelaide. He returns the three to Earth (all had originally died on Mars) and becomes extremely arrogant and condescending towards them. Adelaide challenges the new “Time Lord Victorious” who has decided to shape the Laws of Time to his own purposes.

“There were laws, there were Laws of Time, and once upon a time, there were people in charge of those laws but they died, they all died. Do you know who that leaves? Me! It’s taken me all these years to realize the Laws of Time are mine. And they will obey me!” – The Doctor (David Tennant), The Waters of Mars, BBC

The Doctor has never been so close to becoming The Master in all his lives. He even uses The Master’s catch-phrase from the Pertwee years (“You will obey me!” – Roger Delgado’s Master). Adelaide, terrified by this new Doctor, and realising that only her death would “fix” time, kills herself. The Doctor, seeing this off-screen death, freaks, and realises he’s gone too far – then he sees an Ood in the distance, not good. Just to top things off, he goes into the TARDIS, and the Cloister Bell is ringing – never a good sign. The Cloister Bell last heard in “The Stolen Earth”/”Journey’s End”, and before that in “Logopolis”, always spells absolute disaster – usually something the Doctor cannot control or stop completely. In “Logopolis”, it also heralded the Doctor’s Regeneration.

There are a few things I didn’t really care for in “The Waters of Mars”, – first, they are on Mars, now granted, it’s a base (like a space station), but still – it’s Mars, Why no space suits? The first thing the crew should have done when confronted with water – was to have everyone get into their space suits. This would have saved three of them at least – until the base exploded. Second, OK, the Doctor manages to save three people and returns them to Earth?! On the same day? How are they going to explain surviving and that they aren’t on Mars? You’d think all that would do would start conspiracy theory groups that believed the entire Mars mission was faked (kinda’ like the lunatics who think the US never landed on the Moon. Idiots!) And Adelaide, poor, sweet, strong Adelaide, kills herself because she thinks this will set history right? Only if the Doctor moves her body to Mars! I really didn’t think the end of the story made any sense whatsoever.

That the Doctor has gone beyond the pale and started to abuse his power as a Time Lord is something RTD has played with before. He seems to think there isn’t much of a difference between the Doctor and the Master, for example. And, it some sense, we do know from the entire run of Doctor Who that Time Lords have so much power they do tend to corrupt. (What’s that saying – power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely? Time Lords tend to be perfect examples of this philosophy). However, the Doctor has always been a voice in the wilderness arguing against the abuses of power in his own Time Lord society:

“In all my travelings throughout the universe, I have battled against evil, against power-mad conspirators. I should have stayed here. The oldest civilisation… Decadent, degenerate, and rotten to the core… Power-mad conspirators, Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen – they’re still in the nursery compared to us. Ten million years of absolute power – that’s what it takes to be really corrupt!” – The Doctor (Colin Baker), “Trial of a Time Lord”

And the Doctor’s been just as harsh when arguing against human, Dalek, Cybermen, or other evil empires of corruption and power. I realise RTD wanted to make the Doctor more human and vulnerable, but The Waters of Mars doesn’t quite work to establish that much of a change so quickly. Overall, three out of five stars.

The Waters of Mars DVD also includes the full-length “The Waters of Mars” episode of Doctor Who Confidential. It’s very nice to see the full-length version of Confidential.

The Tenth Doctor and Lady Christina standing in front of a wrecked red double-decker bus in the desert.

Doctor Who – Planet of the Dead Review

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Story Title: Planet of the Dead
  • Story #: Season 4.5 Story #2
  • Episodes: Movie Length
  • Discs: 1 (Part of “The Specials Collection” – 5 discs total)
  • Network: BBC
  • Original Air Dates: 4/11/2009
  • Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Michelle Ryan (Lady Christina de Souza)
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD, NTSC
  • Originally Published on my Live Journal 3/26/2010, now hosted on Dreamwidth

This review will be a little short, because there really isn’t much to Planet of the Dead. Not that it’s a bad episode of Who, or that there’s anything really wrong with the story. It’s just fairly basic. Planet of the Dead is pretty much a straight forward adventure plot. The only slight nod to something else going on is the character of Camille – a psychic, who ends-up having a warning for the Doctor. But we’ll get to that.

This story starts with a jewelry robbery at the “International Museum”. This introduces us to Christina, full name Lady Christina de Souza, who as a bored member of the aristocracy, steals for the adventure, not the money. Trying to get away from the cops after the robbery, she boards a local red double-decker bus. She’s followed on board by the Doctor. Both have bluffed their way onto the bus – Christina paying the fare with her diamond earrings, and the Doctor paying his with his psychic paper. The Doctor is trying to track down some sort of time/dimensional disturbance when the bus literally drives through a wormhole to another planet.

The cracked-up bus arrives on a desert planet, all its passengers alive and well. Because of the three suns in the sky, it’s obvious to everyone that they are on another planet, not just moved in space. Briefly, a few of the passengers accuse the Doctor of causing their predicament, but they quickly realise that the Doctor will help them out.

They also see a crashed spaceship. The Doctor and Christina go to investigate, finding fly people, and the spaceship. Eventually, the Doctor gets anti-grav clamps from the ship and uses them to fix the bus. He offers the fly people the chance to escape, but while they are debating one of the nasty stingray-like aliens is loose in the ship, causing destruction and the two fly people are crushed to death. The Doctor attaches the clamps to the wheels of the bus, and uses the ancient gold chalice Christina stole to get the incompatible drive working.

With a little help from Malcolm, a UNIT scientist, he successfully returns the bus to earth. UNIT cleans-up the few stingray-things that get through the wormhole and the Doctor helps Malcolm to permanently seal the dimensional hole so it doesn’t re-open on its own. It should be noted that Malcolm is quite possibly the best part of the entire story. He’s bright, funny, totally in awe of the Doctor (almost a “fan”) and a bit socially awkward. However, when the UNIT Captain orders him to close the wormhole before the Doctor and the bus have returned, he refuses, rightfully standing up to her.

Christina takes a bit of getting used to, but I think she could have made a good “real” companion. To me, any of the temporary companions from the various specials don’t really count as companions, including Christina. But, because of her background as a thief, she could have been a companion, like Leela, that the Doctor had to teach and train. And, I think the season of specials might have been improved by having at least one companion that traveled in the TARDIS with the Doctor. However, that also would have been contrary to RTD’s theme for the abbreviated season/series 5 which was that traveling alone is bad for the Doctor’s mental well-being. (After all, Doctor # 9 arrives back on earth, newly regenerated and companionless).

This brings me to the final point. At the end of the episode, Christina walks up to the Doctor by the TARDIS and first asks him to show her the stars. When that doesn’t work, she explains that she needs excitement and adventure and she wants to travel with him. He refuses. She practically begs him to let her travel with him. He almost relents. But then he says no, and lets her get carried off by the police (though he uses the sonic screwdriver to loosen her handcuffs and she escapes the police car and runs off). It’s after he’s refused to have her as a companion that Camille shows up to warn him.

“You be careful because your song is ending, sir.” – Camille
“What do you mean?” – The Doctor
“It is returning. It is returning through the dark.  … He will knock four times.” – Camille
Planet of the Dead, BBC

This ends up hanging over the Doctor’s head for the next three specials. I think that refusing to have a companion was a temporal nexus for the Doctor. Christina might, like Donna definitely would have, stopped the Doctor from messing-up at Bowie Base in Waters of Mars (review forthcoming). The Doctor had said at the end of The Next Doctor that he just couldn’t handle having companions anymore because they leave him, and he ends up with a broken heart. He tells Christina, “People have traveled with me and I’ve lost them. Lost them all. Never again.” The Doctor is trying to protect himself from loss and is still reeling from what he had to do to Donna (and he’s in mourning for her). Yet, he doesn’t realise just how much he needs to have a companion with him. That’s very much a Russell T. Davies thing – that the Doctor needs humans to keep him sane, and in return, he offers his human and non-human companions the adventure of a lifetime.

And because I forgot them on my last review – the special features.

The DVD contains the Doctor Who Confidential Special for Planet of the Dead.