(See also: my review of the first half of the season.)
8. Father’s Day — Like almost every episode of the series, this turned out to be much better than the trailer would have had us believe. It takes a sci-fi element — travelling back to when Rose’s father was still alive, and saving his life – and explores what happens, how the other characters react when they realise what’s happened, and what happens (including freaky black monsters, why not) when a small part of history has been changed. I know I wasn’t the only one to get something in my eye towards the end there — this episode was not primarily sci-fi (something which narked some of the diehard fans), but was first rate drama.
9. The Empty Child/10. The Doctor Dances — Absolutely appalling ABC promotion for this story, but I thought it was the best of the whole season. The Empty Child got the top scare rating from the BBC’s panel of kids, and it worked on the adults too, the chilling gas masks, and a suitable amount of mystery over why it was occurring.
11. Boom Town — Groan, not the Slitheens again. After three strong episodes, this one was a bit of a let-down. Most of the episodes have had a strong idea to explore, and in this case it was capital punishment. But it dragged on too long (compare for instance to the topic being dealt with in Genesis of the Daleks, way back in 1975). And the Deus ex machina ending was a bit weak. But happily, the preview for the next episode grabbed me.
12. Bad Wolf — Straight after I watched “Bad Wolf”, with the climactic last few minutes still ringing in my ears, I emailed Tony with my three word assessment. The first word was “holy”, the second referred to copulation and the third to excrement. Damn this was exciting. It all built to the last few minutes, and despite already knowing from the trailer that the Daleks would be showing up, I can’t tell you how the adrenalin was pumping when the familiar Dalek base sound effect was first heard as we saw where Rose had ended up.
Some have complained about the pop culture/reality TV references in this one, that it’ll date it and people won’t understand it in the future. Perhaps, but Doctor Who has historically had a lot of references to current events — one that springs to mind was the question of Britain joining the Common Market (EU) way back in the Curse of Peladon… tell me anybody watching that one these days is going to pick that up?
To see the Doctor simply defy the Dalek hostage gambit with a single “No”, then tell Rose what he was going to do… just brilliant. Edge of the seat stuff for the next episode, to see how he’s going to do it.
13. Parting Of The Ways — Wow. Plenty of tension. Most memorable moment: the Dalek outside the window. Four silent flashes of its lights, then BLAST! Most memorable and inspiring dialogue: Rose in the cafe.
Finally Bad Wolf is revealed. But oh dear, yet another literal Deus ex machina ending.
I for one had no idea that the Doctor would regenerate in this episode, so after the twists and turns, it came as an extra surprise to see Eccleston morph into Tennant.
In conclusion: Okay, I’ve been a fan for decades, so they’d have had to really stuff it up for me not to like it. But they didn’t stuff it up; they’ve done brilliantly. It’s great to see the series back, this time with a grown up budget and concepts to match. It wasn’t perfect (it never was), but I enjoyed this season immensely. And it’s been a success, with another two series on the way. Hats off to exec producer Russell T Davies for the achievement.
The DVDs are already being released, but I’ll hold on til the end of the year and get the boxed set with extras. And yes, I thought Christopher Eccleston was fantastic.