Thursday, May 13, 2010
The 10th version of the Doctor was played by David Tennant from seasons 2 through 4 (28-30) and in 7 Specials for a total of 36 adventures. Not surprisingly, after the series was brought back in an era of better production values, Tennant’s doctor is considered the favorite of many, barely beating our Tom Baker’s 4th doctor. The Tenth Doctor is a lonely wanderer and adventurer, quick to action and intolerant of those who are evil. He puts is enemies off guard with mock ignorance and wit, but seldom does the viewer ever feel like the Doctor is not in control of the situation. In the Tenth Doctor era the Time Lords come off near god-like and not just another advanced species as they were in the past.
Several of the stories are thought provoking or even downright philosophical:
The Christmas Invasion:
Having just regenerated into his Tenth form, and suffering ill effects from the process, the Doctor and Rose return to present day earth on Christmas Eve. Coincidentally, the earth is being attacked by scary aliens aiming to control humanity. The Doctor fights for the earth, but we discover that it is not just naughty, scary monsters from space that can do evil.
In this story, the Doctor declares that his new personality is the type that will give people just one chance to do what is right. He has no patience for wrong-doers. He proves true to his word with both an evil scary monster from space, and with an old friend who attacks the aliens unprovoked.
This doctor started (and ended) his career during Christmas Day specials. The messianic comparisons and allusions will be many during his run, and they provide for interesting explorations of the nature of good and evil, belief, and religion.
This story explores the idea of what happens to the humans who travel with the doctor. How does it change there lives and what do they do after he is gone. The enemies this time are also after god-like knowledge and the ability to change reality to suit their purposes. The Doctor must face the temptation of using such a power to make the universe a better place.
The Girl in the Fireplace:
A girl in 18th Century France encounters the doctor at various points throughout her life; and some scary monsters as well. This is a wonderfully told story, as all the stories by Steven Moffat tend to be. There is an interesting idea about taking the good in life even when it comes with bad things as well. “The monster and the doctor. It seems you cannot have one without the other. One may tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel.”
The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit:
A two part story exploring such light subject matter as the devil, the nature of evil, why people believe what they do and theology in general. The Doctor comes to terms with the fact that he to has a religion of sorts and that part of why he travels is to continually test his faith out on reality to see if what he believes can hold up to the new things he learns—“Faith seeking understanding,” if you will.
Love and Monsters:
Not one of the best Doctor Who stories ever told. It is not bad exactly, just not Doctor Who. However, it is an interesting thing to watch as a metaphor for church, where it goes wrong when it loses its vision/ purpose, and how easily churches can fall prey to charlatans and false teachers.
Army of Ghosts/ Doomsday:
Two of the doctors oldest enemies attack the earth at the same time and the Doctor must find a way to save the day. For one of the few times in the show’s run, and maybe the first time since the new series began, the Doctor is shown to be fallible. How he deals with this failure will impact the rest of the Tenth Doctors time. There is not a whole lot of deep thought here, but it is a great story just the same.
The Shakespeare Code:
The Doctor takes his new companion, Martha, back in time to meet William Shakespeare. The only problem is that some aliens are conspiring to use William’s gift of gab to destroy the world. It’s not exactly magic—more like scientifically sounding magic. Doctor Who does this a lot. They like to point out that science has a hard time explaining reality… it has severe limitations. Of course, Doctor Who assumes that science is just not advanced enough to explain everything yet. Someone as advanced as the Doctor shouldn’t have problems rationalizing all the strange things in the universe, but he does.
Human Nature/ The Family of Blood:
Forced to genetically change himself into a human to escape some aliens, we are treated to the Superman 2 of Doctor Who. As a human, the Doctor is free to fall in love and dream of a single lifetime and children etc. In the end will he sacrifice all of that to save the people he cares for? Ever since his failure last season we get the impression that the Doctor is a sad lonely and tragic figure.
Steven Moffat writes another incredible story. It is easily one of the creepiest stories television has seen. If you are going to have a time traveling hero, these are the sorts of stories you have to be able to tell—where the fact that he does travel in time is essential to the plot.
The Fires of Pompeii:
The Doctor takes yet another companion (Donna) back to ancient Rome. The only problem is they end up in Pompeii days before the end. This story explores the limits of what the Doctor is allowed to change in history. More interestingly, the show looks at false religion and false prophecy and how they can be confronted with the truth.
Silence in the Library/ Forest of the Dead:
Moffat’s fourth season entry is mentioned here simply because it is as always brilliant. It also introduces us to a new character: River Song. We have no real clue as to who she is, but she will be seen more in the future.
One of the more philosophical episodes of serial television ever produced. It is scary on an intellectual level. A lot of talking and not much else, but the study of how scary a group of people can be when they are threatened is not a pleasant thing to think about.
Donna experiences her own version of It’s Wonderful Life. How would the world be changed if she had decided one little thing differently?