RELEASED: March 31st 2007 – June 30th 2007
DISTRIBUTED BY: BBC
SHOWRUNNER: Russell T Davies
WRITTEN BY: Russell T Davies, Gareth Roberts, Helen Raynor, Stephen Greenhorn, Chris Chibnall, Paul Cornell & Steven Moffat
DIRECTED BY: Charles Parmer, Richard Clark, James Strong, Graeme Harper, Hettie MacDonald & Colin Teague
MUSIC BY: Murray Gold
STARRING: David Tennant, Freema Agyeman, John Barrowman, John Simm, Adjoa Andoh, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Reggie Yates, Dean Lennox Kelly, Anna Hope, Miranda Raison, Ryan Carnes, Hugh Quarshie, Andrew Garfield, Eric Loren, Mark Gatiss, Jessica Hynes, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Carey Mulligan, Finlay Robertson, Derek Jacobi, Chipo Chung, Alexandra Moen & Nicholas Briggs
REVIEW: I always look back fondly on series three of Doctor Who, but upon rewatching, I realised I need to change up my rating system (for episodic TV anyway). Because generally I’ll just assign a rating, but it won’t really take into account my predisposed bias for loving the show or the fact that I recall the greater episodes more than the poor ones. So now I’m assigning a rating per episode, and then the average will be the final rating.
Because, as I recalled, this series does have some great episodes. Blink, Human Nature, The Sound of Drums. Truly great stories. The whole back of the third series is stacked with excellent writing, excellent acting and real emotion.
Unfortunately, the first half of the series (or even the first two thirds) are ‘fine’ at best. Downright bad, in some instances.
Series three sees the Doctor pick up a brand new companion in the form of medical student Martha Jones. Together, the pair combat the return of the Daleks, the arrival of the fearsome Weeping Angels, the nature of humanity and the rebirth of the Doctor’s archenemy, the Master.
That Dalek story, in particular, is a perfect example of the series’ faults. For all the good performances the cast bring, the proceedings of the episode seem silly and inconsequential, and sometimes even bland. The designs that they put forward, like the human-Dalek-hybrid aren’t the best. And the technology used to render such things to life, especially evident in the later Lazarus episode, is just not up the scratch. They just look ridiculous.
Furthermore, the writing seems overly concerned with telling you how great Rose was, rather than focusing on the matters at hand or taking time to truly develop the new companion. It’s part of Martha’s character arc to overcome being second best, sure, but it’s a bit shoddy that for the first half of the series her entire story revolves around her pining after the Doctor while he pines after Rose. Especially when she is shown to be far more competent than Rose ever was. Rose was a damsel in distress far more frequently, she wasn’t especially smart, and she kept making the same mistakes than put people in danger.
She also treats Mickey like shit, if we’re being honest.
I’m not denying she was a great companion at the time, but this seasons constant deifying of her gets old fast, especially when it comes at the expense of the current companion.
And so the show doesn’t really find it’s footing until episode eight when the Doctor and Martha tackle the Family of Blood. From here, the show becomes more reliant on practical effects and more human, emotional storytelling (until the very end of the series that is). This is in part due to the return of writer Paul Cornell, who previously wrote Father’s Day, another great episode. Frankly, it’s a crime he hasn’t written more Doctor Who episodes.
It’s in these episodes that the show really finds its way in series three. The writing improves, the aesthetic improves and Martha’s character gets a chance to prove herself. The episodes here are some of the best of the era, with some of the most memorable adversaries of the revival series, such as the terrifying Weeping Angels and an extremely charismatic turn from John Simm as the Master.
It’s a shame the majority of the episodes in this season are just passable, but the tail half of the series manages to save the show’s third season from an abysmal score.
So, all-in-all, I give Doctor Who: Series Three: