To be perfectly honest, I’ve put these together into one post to attempt to minimise the negativity in this review, because I really did enjoy these 3 series. Christopher Eccleston was the perfect Doctor with whom to kick off the new series, with all his action hero-y charisma working very, very effectively to portray the Doctor as the breaking, lonely war hero that the Time War has made of him since we last saw him. In fact, several of my favourite episodes from these 3 series are from Eccleston’s run. In no particular order, these are them:
The Unquiet Dead – in which Rose and the Doctor meet Charles Dickens and a clairvoyant servant girl. What ensues is a tale that features some wonderful exchanges between the Doctor and Dickens.
The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances – a truly, truly creepy story involving a child in a gas mask during the second World War that walks around for the entire duration of these two episodes following people and asking them, “Are you my Mummy?” Oh, and if he touches you, you become a zombie like him. If you didn’t believe that simply putting a gas mask on a child could amplify creepiness exponentially, I would direct you to these episodes.
Dalek and World War Three, though having little to do with each other and perhaps not the most engaging of plots, also feature several wonderful moments where Eccleston showcases his ability to steal the screen with the fierce determination of the ninth Doctor.
From series 2, Tennant’s open, funnier, happier Doctor serves to showcase how Rose has melted the Doctor’s lonely, grieving heart, and what follow are series more full of humour than series 1. There was only one episode in this series that I truly enjoyed, and this was The Girl in the Fireplace. The Doctor walks through Madame Pompadour’s life starting with her childhood, though a time dilation field means that often there are more years between his visits than he expects. Though largely a sorrowful episode, it also features some of Tennant at his most hilarious.
The best episode of these three series, however, and in fact of the entire new series, is an episode known as Blink in series 3. Though barely featuring the Doctor himself, or Martha (his companion at this time), it is suspenseful, gripping and frightening in a way that few episodes can be. Blink also serves as the introduction of the Weeping Angels, a species that I consider the most frightening of Doctor Who so far, and of which I may in the future make an individual review.
Warning: spoilers ahead.
What I did not like about these 3 series was the companions. Every single companion during these 3 series did one of two things: 1. fall in love with the Doctor desperately, or 2. be an idiot. Some did both. Adam, a character invited by Rose and only present for 2 episodes, is the most idiotic of them all, but is brilliant in his idiocy from a storytelling perspective, as he demonstrates that not all people that travel with the Doctor are so moral as we have seen. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Captain Jack is to me the most appealing of the companions during this run, as he is intelligent but with a mind of his own independent from the Doctor, and despite allegedly being desperately in love with the Doctor, manages to hold his feelings in check without the need to be all weepy about it. I would put Mickey on the same end of the spectrum as Jack, but for his aimlessness in series 1 when he was trying to figure out what to do with himself. Starting with series 2, though, Mickey gradually becomes a more active, dependable sort of character.
Rose and Martha, however, are a different story. Rose and the Ninth Doctor were quite platonic, despite Rose having maybe a bit of a crush on the Doctor, and the Doctor becoming more emotionally open in Rose’s company. The moment he regenerates into the Tenth Doctor, though, suddenly the romantic and sexual tension is tangible. I suspect that this greatly influenced Mickey’s ability to give up on Rose entirely: in the days of the Ninth Doctor, she could follow him without it necessarily having any romantic overtures, but the moment that he becomes the Tenth Doctor, suddenly she has eyes for no one else. The tension between Rose and Sarah Jane (in fact, more directed from Rose at Sarah Jane than vice versa) demonstrated the extent of this, and it was not at all to my taste. The Doctor travels with a great many people, and Rose’s dependence on him coupled with her blind jealousy of anyone and everyone else associated with him (something that continues into the 4th season when she directs similar sentiments at Martha, though oddly not so much at Donna) did little to endear her to me. Once she became more self reliant, something only seen upon her return in series 4, I liked her a little better, but I still find little enjoyment in watching her in series 2.
Martha in series 3 I found more easy to tolerate than Rose, perhaps because with the premise of Rose’s departure, Martha realises that her love is unrequited and though hoping, doesn’t actually expect the Doctor to suddenly propose to her and be with her forever and ever. It helps that she was a strong, useful character to begin with starting with the first story in which she appeared. The storyline that unfolds through this series with the Master is also a gripping one, and while the Master and Doctor ultimately steal the story with their parts in the last 2 episodes, Martha’s final decision to leave the Doctor was a memorable one as well. I also must note that regardless of my feelings about the episode, Human Nature and The Family of the Blood feature wondrous acting by David Tennant as he plays the dual roles of the Doctor and John Smith, including the grey areas of John pretending to be the Doctor and the Doctor pretending to be John with remarkable skill.
So, here are my scores overall, though they do the best episodes no justice:
Series 1: 6/10
Series 2: 4/10
Series 3: 5/10