RELEASED: December 25th 2008
DISTRIBUTED BY: BBC
SHOWRUNNER: Russell T Davies
WRITTEN BY: Russell T Davies
DIRECTED BY: Andy Goddard
MUSIC BY: Murray Gold
STARRING: David Tennant, David Morrissey, Velile Tshabalala, Dervla Kirwan & Nicholas Briggs
REVIEW: After the immense highs of Doctor Who series 4, the adventures of David Tennant’s Doctor continued in a series of specials spanning over a year.
The first of these was, you guessed it, The Next Doctor; the Christmas special.
After the Doctor lands in London in 1851, he stumbles upon a plot by the Cybermen, who plan to build a massive walking ‘Cyber-King’ factory. But before the Doctor can take them down, he learns that one of his future incarnations may already be on the case.
Series 4, as I raved about in the last review, was the peak of Tennant’s Doctor Who years. And unfortunately, the only place for them to go from there was down. That’s not to say The Next Doctor is bad, but it definitely isn’t as strong as the stories that were present in series 4.
For one, Christmas episodes are rarely as strong as the core series episodes. They can be of course, but generally, they’re more concerned with being goofy and capturing the Christmas spirit rather than telling a strong, thoughtful story.
It’s about tone rather than theme.
However, as far as Christmas episodes go, this one does lean into the themes of series four, as it continues to examine Tennant’s Doctor’s loneliness and the reality of his relationships with his companions.
Furthermore, it has some fun new characters and some interesting new additions to Cybermen lore. Furthermore, the character of Miss Hartigan is a particular highlight, as is the mystery (sort of) of the ‘Next Doctor’, played fabulously by David Morrisey. Obviously, we know that he isn’t really the next Doctor, but he gives an affable turn as the mystery character that if he did become the Doctor, I wouldn’t be opposed to it.
Still, despite the cool new takes on the Cybermen, there are also some stupid additions, as well as the continuing problem that the Cybermen haven’t felt all that dangerous since their reintroduction; especially since under Davies, they’re pretty much constantly just used as cannon fodder.
But alas, the Cybermen’s time will come one day. Whether that’s in future stories, or past ones (I’ve decided to explore Classic Who after this).
All-in-all, I give The Next Doctor: