Attention conservation notice: Skip this post unless you are a fan of the revived Doctor Who.
It’s probably nothing new to Cal, but it was new to me:
Billie is coming back! At least for three episodes.
I tried watching Season 3 of Doctor Who on YouTube, but I just don’t enjoy watching television on a tiny monitor, at a desk, in a computer chair. I can’t bring myself to enjoy it. I need my comfy couch, warm blanket, cup of tea, my knitting… Computer I cannot do.
But Season 3 is finally out on DVD here in the States, so I put it in my Netflix queue. And I found the first few episodes to be forgettable, though the Shakespeare one was expensive-looking and fun. “Gridlock” et al ranged from bad (“Daleks in Manhattan”) to bad in a different way (“The Lazarus Experiment”).
But the season finally hit its stride with “Human Nature,” in which the Doctor becomes human — and falls in love.
The episode plays to everything that makes the character great: his loneliness, his morality, his power, his longing for connection while insisting on his thrilling but strangely empty lifestyle of gallivanting everywhere in the TARDIS, but never allowing himself to love anyone or stick around anywhere.
This is actually not as corny as it sounds, at least it’s not to a fan like me. The Doctor Who mythos is to me surprisingly rich, and plays upon what I see as everyone’s desire for adventure, everyone’s hidden hatred of and rejection of the ordinary, everyone’s feelings of being a lonely outsider, and everyone’s wish for someone completely magical to whisk them out of everyday life.
The 2-episode arc where the Doctor becomes human is the first Doctor Who novelization to be adapted for the TV show, and it works. It totally gets everything that fans love about the Doctor, and I found myself, stilled knitting in hands, watching open-mouthed, completely in the moment.
The episodes are not perfect. I don’t buy Martha being slavishly in love with the Doctor (I buy her being in love with him, but she seems the sort to keep it to herself). And I don’t think enough time was given to the cruelty of the Doctor pretty much creating a human “disguise” that was functionally another, separate being and then asking him to offer himself for destruction.
But this scene below from the episodes says everything about the Doctor that needs to be said. A fan of the show wrote this, because it’s something only a fan could write:
Tim Latimer: He’s like fire and ice and rage. He’s like the night and the storm in the heart of the sun.
The Doctor: [quickly and almost whispering] Stop it.
Tim Latimer: He’s ancient and forever. He burns at the centre of time and can see the turn of the universe.
The Doctor: Stop it, I said stop it.
Tim Latimer: And… he’s wonderful. n.
“Blink,” the episode that follows the “Human Nature” arc, has one of the most interesting and compelling beginnings of any television show I’ve ever seen. The rest isn’t quite as good, and does not hold up well logically, but is charming, scary, wonderful entertainment, written by Steven Moffat, who won a well-deserved Hugo award as the author of some absolutely remarkable television in Season 2.
(I must admit I wandered the house last night in the dark with an eye peeled for weeping angels… Probably won’t be the last time, either.)
And I loved, loved Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow — she’s got quite a range, as this character is little like her blonde, dull, wifely turn in Bleak House.
So, if you quit watching the Doctor after “Gridlock,” as I did, I am here to tell you that while it takes awhile to get into gear, Season 3 is hiding everything a fan could want (well, maybe not everything, but enough to keep me satisfied).
Here’s my recommendation: Start with Disc 2 and just watch “The Shakespeare Code.” Skip Disc 3. Watch the rest.
Last night I wasn’t done knitting a row but was done with the Doctor Who episodes on my disc, so I ended up watching David Tennant’s video diary of his experiences on the show. In it I saw the actor who played Mickey, Rose’s boyfriend, and memories flooded back to me of Mickey and Jackie and, of course, Rose.
You know, I loved those characters. I don’t fall easily for TV but there is television, and then there is television.
I loved how, unlike any companion before her, Rose had a mom the audience knew,a tacky, funny mom who was flawed and loved her daughter dearly and who was perfectly ordinary and funny and a perfect foil to the Doctor. I remembered laughing when Mickey realized that he was the tin dog.
Oh Mickey. I miss all of you. Why’d you have to go and strand yourselves in another universe?
While I am enjoying the latter half of Season 3, I miss our Rose Tyler. There’s something just not right with with Agyeman, and it’s not (just) that she’s not Rose, though I don’t quite know what it is. She has no chemistry with Tennant, isn’t as fun to watch, and just seems to be miscast. She is lovely and the character is smart and strong, but it’s just not working, not for me.
And I am a little tired of all the companions being in love with the Doctor now. I mean, I can’t blame them, but no one will ever do it as well as Rose, so there is no point in it anymore, really.
I want an ass-kicking companion who calls the Doctor on his bullshit and treats him as a dear friend. After Rose, I really don’t know who else is worth the trouble.