225 of 235 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2006
The BBC's new production of its classic series, Doctor Who, weathered its first major casting change admirably. Most actors remain in the lead role for at least three years, but for Christopher Eccleston, one year was enough, and his Doctor (aka 'Nine') died in the season one finale. In keeping with Who tradition, the Doctor, upon his death, regenerates into a completely new body. Taking the TARDIS controls from Eccleston is another Russell T Davies alumnus, David Tennant (who headlined Davies' production of Casanova) as the tenth incarnation of the Doctor (aka 'Ten'). Tennant had his work cut out for him, following Eccleston's marvelous turn as the Time Lord, but he made the transition so seamlessly that the character truly seems like the same man in a different body.
Aiding this transition is largely the same writing and production staff, as well as the same co-star (Billie Piper as Rose Tyler) and supporting cast (Camille Coduri as Jackie Tyler and Noel Clarke as Mickey Smith). It's to Tennant's credit that he not only immediately puts his own stamp on the character but maintains Eccleston's level of chemistry with the supporting cast. Ten is physically younger than Nine, more brash, more impulsive, less tormented by guilt, but still achingly lonely. His loneliness becomes a running theme throughout the season, touched on in nearly every episode. Eccleston played the Doctor as he played Steve Baxter in Davies' The Second Coming (a tormented otherworldly being); Tennant plays the Doctor as Casanova (a young, lovelorn romantic hero).
The Doctor's romantic attachments, in fact, become the vehicle by which Davies explores the central theme of loneliness. Ten and Rose build upon and deepen the romance that Nine and Rose began in the first season. Their love is palpable; they're often literally willing to die for each other. In the UK, the series is family-oriented and rarely strays beyond the PG level, so this romance is never physically consummated; the characters don't even kiss. Despite this--in fact, because of it--their feelings are all the more poignant. (And how often do we see a depiction of true and abiding love on television that doesn't involve some kind of bump-and-grind?) By the end of the season, the relationship has come full circle: the Doctor has taught Rose all he can; it's time for her to leave him and put to use all the things she's learned. Their final separation is tragic but yet also hopeful: despite the sadness, the viewer knows Rose will thrive in her new environment. Billie Piper's send-off couldn't have been more positive or more lovingly written (and it leaves open the possibility of her returning to the series in the future for a guest spot).
Nobody who leaves Who is ever truly gone. The tremendous "School Reunion" brings back an old fan favorite, Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen). Again, romance is the means by which Davies explores the Doctor's impact on his companions' lives. The story is beautifully written: suspenseful, funny, romantic, and poignant. Sladen slips back into the role effortlessly, and Anthony Stewart Head provides a wonderful villain in the sinister Mr. Finch. Romance also infuses the imaginative "Girl in the Fireplace," in which an army of clockwork repair droids from the fifty-first century stalks Madame de Pompadour (Sopia Myles). The Doctor is clearly smitten with the young Reinette, but the episode's conclusion showcases how the heartbreakingly short human lifespan will always thwart such attachments.
But romance isn't all the second season has to offer: old foes return (Daleks, Cybermen, Cassandra) as well as old friends (Harriet Jones, Sarah Jane, K-9, Pete Tyler, the Face of Boe). Also, the settings finally get away from Earth for a few episodes, and there are a couple of trips to Earth's past. The recurring characters develop beautifully, especially Mickey Smith, who finally comes into his own as a hero. Particularly good is the two-part story "The Impossible Planet"/ "The Satan Pit," which finds the Doctor and Rose in a bleak space station on a planet perpetually circling a black hole. But the real standout of the season might well be "The Christmas Invasion," an hour-long special that aired on Christmas day, 2005. This episode allows the supporting characters--and by extension the viewers--an opportunity to adjust to the new Doctor, and it allows Ten to establish his heroic bona fides. The guest cast is marvelous, particularly Penelope Wilton as the UK's new prime minister, Harriet Jones. An argument between the PM and Ten at the episode's conclusion is brilliant, worthy of the West Wing, showing that Davies isn't afraid to challenge his viewers' perceptions of heroism and villainy.
Other highlights of the season are "The Rise of the Cybermen"/ "The Age of Steel," the chilling "Tooth and Claw," the off-beat "Love and Monsters," and of course, the brilliant finale, "Army of Ghosts"/ "Doomsday." Of all the episodes, only the disjointed "Fear Her" feels sub-par. The overall quality of the season is remarkable, given the amount of backstage shuffling that took place (e.g., the timing of Piper's departure was initially unclear; a few episodes underwent last-minute rewrites). And yet another challenge looms ahead for Davies as he reinvents the show in the wake of "Doomsday," which writes out literally the entire supporting cast. Only two seasons in, and an era has already ended.
Much of the season's success is owed to Tennant, who has quickly established himself as one of the most popular Doctors in the show's long history. His own love for the series and the character shines through every moment he's on scene, and he effortlessly conveys the Doctor's past through his expressions, body language, and vocal inflections. If Eccleston was "Doctor Modern," Tennant is "Doctor Classic-Modern," melding perfectly the older and more contemporary portrayals of the character. His chemistry with Piper is nothing short of magical, and he also plays wonderfully off the supporting and guest actors.
As with the first season, the second season is best viewed in pristine DVD rather than the hacked-up versions shown on TV. The boxed set includes the usual extras; viewers should make the Pudsey Cutaway/ Children in Need special their first stop--it's an essential prologue to "The Christmas Invasion." Season two is proof positive that Doctor Who can hold its own with pretty much anything else currently on television.
81 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2006
Eccelston did a fantastic job as the Doctor and Tennant just gets better and better as the series progresses. The wonderful thing about this incarnation is that you don't have to have been a fan from the early days. The show is accessible to new viewers, while holding onto the history - as evidenced by Sarah Jane and K9. The story telling is marvelous and it's great to see a show in this day and age that does not always wrap up at the end of the broadcast hour.
This series has drama, humor, tragedy, everything you could want in excellent TV. For the new viewer, and the old, we learn more about how the Doctor came to be the last of the Time Lords, and he gives out tidbits of his history for the new viewer.
When you get these DVDs, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. It's fantastic!
105 of 125 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
If you thought the return of the Doctor was over with the regeneration of the Doctor, you haven't seen David Tennant(Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)as the tenth incarnation of the Timelord. Just as loaded with emotion depth and darkness as Chris E's Doc, but with a more traditional streak of classic quirky Doctor traits.
The Doctor is suffering from post-regeneration stress on the X-mas special opener "THE CHRISTMAS INVASION." Although the Doctor is out-of-it for a major part of the special, Billie Piper and crew carry on superbly until the climax. The greatness of the season opener is no exception, nearly all of the season two episodes are perfect!
The weakest episode is the New Earth (#2)which is the first to competely feature the new Doctor. The Cat-nurse hospital is true to the spirit of the series, but the best parts are body swaping moments in which Rose becomes the posh Cassandra from season one, and so does the Doctor (insanely funny, both performances). The rest of the season features some of the best work ever done in the shows 30+ history, bar none! Other reasons to buy this set:
The Doctor finally meets a werewolf
The return of Parallel universes
The return of Peter Tyler
The return of the Cyberman
The return of K9
The return of Sarah Jane
The return of mysterious reference threads (TORCHWOOD)
The return of another long time villain(s)in a long overdue monster mash smackdown of epic proportions!
The School Reunion, which features the Doctor's reunion with fan-fav compainion Sarah Jane Smith & K9, is a touching and tightly composed story that nicely sets the tone forshadowing things to come, namely the amazing season finale.
The writing is terrific in each episode, the reinvention of the Cybermen, set up more stories that the fans themselve would have written. The Cybermen return for the finale along with some legendary uninvited party guest. Just like last season, you'll be asking yourself "why hasn't someone done these stories already, WOW!"
Bring on the 3 season! Love & Monsters 4 ever!
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2007
After the astounding climax to the first season, I found it hard to believe that this strong debut would ever be topped. The Christmas Special blew those doubts apart, as well as setting the tone (and some plotpoints) for the rest of the season. This episode is one of the most unusual in the show's history, as the Doctor is incommunicado for almost three-quarters of its running time. The payoff is huge, with the best debut of a Doctor that I have ever seen. There are so many great moments in those fifteen minutes. Seeing the Doctor work out who he is. The swordfight. Six words. Russell T. Davies really stamps his mark on the series with this episode.
The succeeding episodes all, arguably, vary in quality depending on how high your standards are. The most annoying aspect is the inclusion of Torchwood - which on reflection wasn't as subtle as the 'Bad Wolf' meme
from last season. For me, the standout were the perfect three episode run - Tooth and Claw (Russell T. Davies), School Reunion (Toby Whithouse) and the absolutely superb and near-perfect Girl in the Fireplace (from the brilliant Steven Moffat). All, for me, perfect Doctor Who episodes and also great examples of the different tones and themes that the series has explored throughout its long history.
New series fans may be perturbed that Rose gets less to do this season. It's clear, in retrospect, that the focus is on creating stories for the new Doctor. While Rose's backstory runs as a subplot in the background. In retrospect this is understandable, but was rather jarring on initial transmission. Especially as Russell's plan for this season wasn't entirely clear from the first few episodes.
The DVD Extras are as great as ever. In addition to the Confidential Cut-Downs, there's also the DVD Commentaries. Dissapointingly, Steven Moffat doesn't get a turn this time round, although he does provide commentary in a podcast freely available on the BBC's Dr Who website. However Russell T. Davies does commentate on Tooth and Claw, and is wonderfully entertaining and informative. It's also incredibly pleasing to see the new Doctor - David Tennant - make a big contribution to the DVD as well. He contributes commentaries to three episodes (School Reunion, Idiots Lantern, Doomsday). And also provides a whopping 85-minute video diary that covers the entire season. It's a suprisingly frank documentary, showing David's initial nervousness at both living up to the Legacy he so clearly idolises, and coping with the hectic schedule that seems to be the hallmark of this new series. Big Kudos to Tennant for providing such a generous look at what it takes to be the very best in this fantastic series. In addition to being one of the best Doctor's ever, he's also a great Ambassador for the show.
Looking back on it, the Second series is much much better than the already strong First season. Whether or not you enjoy it depends on whether or not you accept David Tennant as the Doctor. And whether you can accept that this new series flatly refuses to conform to fans expectations of what a Science Fiction should be. This is Doctor Who as big-budget Family Entertainment. In my case, the answer is a resounding yes. This second series has helped in laying a strong foundation for what is undoubtedly the greatest run this much-loved series has ever had. If I could, I'd give this 10 stars out of 5.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
When Doctor Who returned to our screens in 2005, even for the disinterested, it was probably THE British TV event of the year. For the die hard fans, it was a dream come true. Finally the BBC was giving it the profile, the budget, the schedule and the kudos that they felt it had always deserved. Russell T. Davis had reinvented a classic TV icon and made it even more exciting than ever and Christopher Eccleston brought a new edge to the world's longest running sci-fi TV hero.
But before the first season had even run its course, Eccleston was gone. Never explaining why, after the huge relaunch, the BBC were already having to recast the role, running the risk of losing everything they'd built up in such a short space of time. Thankfully, (unlike so many times in the 1980's) the production team made a truly inspired decision to cast David Tennant in the role of the Doctor and keep the new found dynamism on track.
Here is the complete first season of Tennant's stint as the Time Lord from Gallifrey, which I personally hope will be the first of many. He really has taken the role to heart and developed a truly engaging and charismatic Doctor - one that's on a par with the great Tom Baker for sure and outdoing many others who've taken the role in the past. All 14 episodes are included, starting with the hour-long 2005 Christmas special, followed by the 13 45-minute episodes from the spring of 2006.
There are many fans of course who aren't particularly enamored of the new approach to their favorite time traveler. It is fair to say that the whole concept has become rather `soapy'. It's certainly no stretch to see that Eastenders seems to have a big influence over the style of the new direction. Whereas it brings an edge of reality to the series to flesh out the lives and emotions of the Doctor and his companions, it has to be said that in this particular season, that emotion is being somewhat overplayed. Sarah-Jane Smith is back at the Doctor's side in `School Reunion' after having been dumped from the TARDIS back in 1976. It's great to see Elisabeth Sladen back on form, but from a continuity point, it's not really true to the original series. Sarah-Jane did already meet up with the Doctor again, back in the 1983 20th anniversary special, The Five Doctors, and the hurt and despair explored now ignores that particular narrative completely. Every episode seems to have some emotional turmoil between the Doctor's current companion, Rose, and the Time Lord himself, which seems to always be edging them towards at least a romantic relationship, if not a full-blown sexual one. After a while, it seems this sub-text is always getting in the way of the main narrative of each story. Even the long awaited and definitely overdue clash between the Doctor's two most famous enemies, The Daleks and The Cybermen, is eventually pushed into the background to develop more of the Doctor/Rose relationship. It's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just overplayed. I for one would like to see less of Rose's emotions and those of her family and hopefully in the 2007 season, new characters will be handled differently.
There are fewer extras than were included on the Eccleston season release, possibly to accommodate the extra episode. The short interim piece shown on the BBC's Children in Need charity telethon is included and there's a commentary for each story, often with on-screen visuals. A sixth disc includes the accompanying Doctor Who Confidential, behind the scenes documentaries, but there's little else. It's still a great package nonetheless.
I hope the rumors of David Tennant's departure during the 2008 season are false. He's such a great Doctor; it would be a shame to lose him. But so far, most of the rumors about the series that have done the rounds have all pretty much turned out to be true. Still, they moved effortlessly from Eccleston to Tennant, so presumably they can do the same again. In the meantime, here's some wonderful Doctor Who to enjoy again.
29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2006
As everyone has already said in their reviews, David Tennant does indeed step in Christopher Ecclestones considerably talented shoes with ease. He graces his Doctor with the same amount of energy and charisma as the previous Doctor, but also manages to imbue him with a more natural and engaging warmth.
The second series may lack some of the excitement and 'new-ness' of the first, but thanks largely to it's great cast it manages to steer ahead strongly, driven by broader plots and leading to a darker end.
But, for me, it's Rose who is the real star of both. Billie Piper, ex-teen singing pop sensation, just bristles Rose to real life. I can see this every girl on any street in London or Cardiff, full of ideas, energy, wit, fear, strength, joy..... just watching her play off the Doctors' eccentricities is a reminder to how we would all like to behave if ever confronted with a Time Lord!
The last two episodes are up with the best, and unlike a previous reviewer, I disagree with the final episode being a let down. My judgement? No thirty four year old man should ever cry in front of his misses and kids because of a TV show, but the fact that I did is all the proof I need!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
How do you improve on the near perfection of the reborn "Doctor Who" starring Christopher Eccleston? Quite easily, when you have stories like "School Reunion," "The Girl in the Fireplace," "The Impossible Planet," and "The Satan Pit," to name just a few, but... I'm getting ahead of myself here!
For those of us of a "certain age," as we say in England - that's the wrong side of 40! LOL! - and remember the origins of the series waaaaaaaaay back in the 60's, then spent the subsequent decades suffering through more cardboard sets and rubber monsters than you could shake a stick at - the Daleks being honorable exceptions of course! - the rebirth of the venerable Doctor in 2005 was a revelation.
The stories had been tightened-up considerably - no running up and down endless corridor filler here! - the budget for a single episode appeared to be more than was spent on an entire series from the good-old-days, the production values/sfx were stellar, the writing tight and dramatic, bringing the Doctor and his Companion thoroughly up-to-date without losing the essence of the original. In Chris Eccleston they had, at last, a genuine, heavyweight Thesp playing the Doctor, an actor who could not only handle the edgier, more grown-up aspects of the new stories, but could also inject an element of the manic/slightly unhinged into his performance, similar to the much-loved Tom Baker. And any worries that Billie Piper would not be up to the job, dramatically, were soon laid to rest... and how!!!
To say that us fans were spoiled by the 2005 series was putting it mildly, then as the season climaxed with the superlative "Bad Wolf" and "Parting of the Ways," we were all thrown for a loop when given a "regeneration scene" and a NEW Doctor! What were the BBC thinking about, were they crazy?!?!?! The short answer is "No," the casting of David Tennant was every bit as inspired as his predecessor; he actually managed to up the manic-quotient without going completely bonkers, and brought a kind of geeky coolness to the character we hadn't seen before!
And then there was "Rose;" oh my goodness, in all it's years, there has NEVER been a companion for the Doctor like Rose Tyler. Unlike practically all previous companions, Rose is a character in her own right, with her own back story, fully realized, she is, dramatically at least, the Doctor's equal. Her development, from London shop-girl, to time traveler, explorer of the universe, and killer of Daleks, helps drive the stories in a new, more emotionally fulfilling direction.
After the roller coaster ride of Season 1 with it's "Bad Wolf" story arc, Season 2 scaled things back ever so slightly, but invested even more time and effort in exploring the relationship between the unearthly Doctor, and the all-too-human Rose. This is tackled head-on in the 4th episode, "School Reunion," which goes some way to answering the question of what happens to the companions after they have stopped travelling with the Time Lord; a stand-out episode, it re-introduces Elizabeth Sladen's "Sarah Jane Smith." I don't want to say too much about any particular episode for those who haven't seen the series yet, but the scene where Sarah Jane discovers the TARDIS and its owner made the hair on the back of my neck stand up! Later in the episode there's an affecting scene between the Doctor and Rose as he tries to explain to her why he can't allow himself to become emotionally involved with his Human companions... he's practically immortal, we're not.
The next episode, "The girl in the fireplace," perfectly illustrates the preceding point, when the Doctor allows himself to become attached to Madame de Pompadour, whilst simultaneously battling clockwork androids on a derelict starship in the far future! "Rise of the Cybermen" and "Age of Steel" successfully reinvents one of the Doctors most popular adversaries, whilst "The impossible planet" and "The Satan pit" set-up some very Alien-esque chills in a wonderful two-parter.
The series ends, just as did Season 1, with another amazing two-part story, "Army of Ghosts" and the aptly titled "Doomsday," which sees the Daleks fighting it out with the new-and-improved Cybermen for control of planet Earth; to steal a line from the totally execrable AvP, "Whoever wins, we lose!" LOL! It's difficult to know which fate would be worse, having the whole planet "upgraded" by the Cybermen, or flayed and filleted through the Daleks genetic labs to help create an even bigger and more murderous Dalek army!!! This is a superb story to end the season, but be warned, the finale is... emotional!
There's a nice recurring theme in the series concerning the "Torchwood Institute," which becomes central to the final two episodes, and if this set is the first you've seen of Season 2, DO make sure you watch the "Children in Need" episode in the "Special Features" section of the set FIRST. It acts as a coda to Season 1, as well as a prologue to Season 2, and explains the somewhat crazed materialization of the TARDIS, as well as the Doctor himself, in the rollicking first episode, "The Christmas Invasion."
Any worries I had that the quality of the first season could not be maintained were unfounded... if you enjoyed Season 1, grab Season 2 immediately, you won't regret it!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I'm a long time Doctor Who fan, having grown up with Tom Baker. Needless to say that I was quite wary when BBC announced the new Doctor Who series. Like most of the new Doctor Who fans, I was blown away by the first new Doctor and was quite distraught at the end of the first season to see him leave. How can the writers do that to a new series struggling to gain a foothold in the U.S.? Well, within the first two episodes of the second season I barely remembered the first doctor... David Tennant is that good. Like a small boy again, I found myself anxiously waiting for the next episode to air on Friday night. Doctor Who is better than ever. Beyond the vastly improved special effects, the writing is more mature and clever, and the relationships between the characters are deeper and more meaningful, all the while the episodes tend to retain the playfulness of the Tom Baker years while injected with a bit of scariness to keep us all on the edge of our seats. I can't wait until the third season! (Even though I'll miss Rose, I'm not worried anymore. The writers and casting directors have proven themselves already.)
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2007
I've actually had this set in my collection since last November. I'm not sure what happened to my original review.
I was always leery of the new Doctor, having got so comfortable with the previous one whoever that may have been.
Chris Eccleston's Doctor was a real triumph and his pairing with Billie Piper was nothing short of inspired. The stories were great, taking not only the series to new heights but TV sci-fi also, so his departure after one season was truly brave, for where was that going to leave the show?
In the hands of a very talented individual by the name of David Tennant, that's where. His Doctor explores humanity like never before and it's not since The Green Death that we see him so openly attached to his companion. Their separation was a miserable experience for me and, damn, did I want him to tell Rose his feelings for her. She knew it, he knew it, we all knew it but just say it!
The stories are of a consistently high standard and some of the Doctor's lines are pure magic ("I may die but the moral high ground is mine"!) This show has not only hit its stride but come of age. This is intelligent sci-fi, thoroughly enjoyable, gripping, witty and produced by people who care.
The downside is that my set comes with a natty little Cyberman head stuck on the front (I couldn't wait for the US release!). Just like the first box, which I also got from Amazon UK, this won't go many rounds. I took the first set out of the box and put them in separate cases to avoid unnecessary wear and tear. Perhaps I should do this again.
This is a minor quibble, I suppose.
The point is that the BBC has produced world-class television. That this television is my favourite ever show is a very good thing.
Enjoy the show, one episode after another. Tennant's Doctor rocks.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2007
I was thrilled when the new Dr Who series came to the USA. Christopher Eccelston's characterization of the Doctor during the first season was more than I could have hoped for.
So I was very disappointed when he chose not to do a second series. Then when I heard that "Barty Crouch Jr" from Harry Potter was stepping into the role well I was resigned to never watching the good Doctor again.
To say that I was surprised with how much I liked Tennant's take on the Doctor would be an understatement. He brings his own brand of quirky joie d vivre to the role that both fits and is different from Eccelston's Doctor
His characterization has a harder edge - he is willing to take a bit more violent stand and he is willing to let his feelings for Rose show a bit more
The end of the second series really points out the tragedy of being the Doctor (immortality is not all it is cracked up to be). I am glad Tennant is coming back for season 3. It will be very interesting to see what new characters pop up since several from last season have gone on to have spin off shows in the UK.
If you are a old time Dr Who fan, like British TV, or are in to sci fi, you will enjoy this new incarnation of the old favorite.