Doctor Who: The Complete Specials features what proved to be a mixed bag of special episodes that became a sort of de facto fifth mini-season for Tennant. While you're not going to find a bad piece of television anywhere on this disc (or anywhere in Doctor Who's 21st century rebirth), last year's programs got weaker as they marched toward Tennant's regeneration.
The line-up includes The Next Doctor, Planet of the Dead, The Waters of Mars and The End of Time, Parts One and Two. The first two stand alone, but the last three create a sort of trilogy documenting the 10th Doctor's final days.
The two-part story, "The End of Time," was watched by 10 million in the UK -- flirting with a 50 ratings share. So, it's an undeniable success. It was also an undeniable mess of a story that proved unworthy of Tennant's swan song.
Davies forever deserves credit for taking the street credit his successful work on series like Queer as Folk gave him and investing it in one shot from the BBC to bring back the network's crown jewel, Doctor Who. And he deserves credit for increasing the nerdy guy-friendly show's popularity with women by introducing "Buffy-ized" romance and humor.
But, the hard truth is Davies isn't a gifted sci-fi genre writer. And it showed in "The End of Time."
On a personal note, this was the end of an era for me, because it was Tennant who pulled me back into Doctor Who a couple of seasons ago. I had heard the new series was great, but didn't manage to catch Christopher Eccleston's incarnation. I have since gone back and watched his series, but I may not have had Tennant not been such a fantastic fit for the role (Brad also explained this in out Best TV of the '00s feature).
It's very difficult to write about this episode without using any kind of spoiler. Excellent performances all around with a little more credit going to David Tennant for his final bow. They also broke out the remainder of the special effects budget for this one, probably spending more on this episode alone that an entire season of William Hartnell's era. There were also surprises galore along with some familiar faces at the end. Anybody that accuses me of spoiling the fact that this is Tennant's final episode has not been reading this site for the past six months.
Real spoilers follow ...
More after the jump ...
Regeneration is a brilliant idea, enabling the program to continue while changing the lead actor. This in turn allowed the program to continue on the air for 26 years before being put on hiatus, then restart a couple of times in the same universe without much fuss. The beautiful thing is that it's built into the character that every actor who plays him can be completely different. It doesn't suffer the limitations of, say, the different actors playing James Bond.
My first Doctor was Colin Baker and I started right after his regeneration from Peter Davison. Contrary to most fans, I enjoyed him in the role. For all you fans reading, which regeneration sticks in your mind?
From a meth-making chemistry teacher to a damaged 1960s ad exec, the guys populating the dramatic actor category in our best of the decade are nothing short of brilliant.
It's hard to choose favorites when you're dealing with the likes of Jon Hamm, Bryan Cranston, Mark Harmon, James Gandolfini, and many others, but the TV Squad team has spoken.
Did your favorites make our list? If not, feel free to add them in the comments below.
Instead, I'm going to focus on the things that really stood out this year. Sorry, Mad Men fans, but even though this was a great third season and an amazing finale, I expect it at this point. It's the only way I could come up with to keep my list manageable.
Also, as a point of protest I did not include Jon, Kate or the balloon boy hoax. These events got more attention than they deserved already this year, and I feel bad I even mentioned them.
Among the many full episodes of BBC programming now awaiting your computer's perusal is the creepy 1981 production of Day of the Triffids. Most pop culture and horror buffs know the title from the 1962 monster movie of the same title. But this BBC production was a much more faithful and in-depth production of John Wyndham's book.
The online series serves as a great lead-in to the new BBC production of Triffids -- set to premiere Dec. 28.
Given that the majority of the cast was killed off during seasons two and three, this would represent a good opportunity for Russell T. Davies and whichever other creators are involved to re-invent the series. Whether the new series will involve the newest Doctor Matt Smith is anybody's guess, however given Davies' departure from the source program (which, granted, was amicable) and his likely desire to similarly remove Torchwood from Doctor Who continuity as much as possible, I doubt it.
So here we have Captain Jack returning to Earth and assembling a new team. Will Gwen be involved as well, child in tow? Are you looking forward to a new season of Torchwood?
Doctor Who fans can once again rejoice. Episodes of the classic series are now available on YouTube. These are officially sanctioned by the BBC, so there's no piracy in this instance.
In this case, it's a selection of a single episode from four of the ten existing Doctors. There is The Edge of Destruction with William Hartnell, The Krotons with Patrick Troughton, Carnival of Monsters with Jon Pertwee and The Caves of Androzani and The Twin Dilemma with Peter Davison and Colin Baker, respectively.
Classic episodes have been available online before. Netflix had a few in their library for subscribers. This is the first instance I recall in which the episodes are available to anybody in the world at any time.
I note that a bunch of the available stories are written by the fantastic Doctor Who scribe Robert Holmes. This guarantees quality writing to compensate for the poor special effects of the era. Enjoy!
There is a lot of crossover between Doctor Who fans and Beatles fans, so there is sure to be some interest in the series. The roles I know Eccleston best for are those of the Doctor and Destro from G.I.Joe: The Rise of Cobra, so the question is if he can pull off a Liverpudlian accent. Since in the aforementioned roles he's done a Northern British accent (I believe his natural one) and a Scottish accent, he's likely capable of it.
So what do you think? Is Eccleston a good choice for the role of John Lennon?
Spoilers and video are after the jump.
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