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63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I dream I'm this...adventurer. This daredevil. A madman.", November 10, 2007
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This review is from: Doctor Who: The Complete Third Series (DVD)
Third time's a charm--that's the inevitable cliche that pops to mind. If the first series (season) of Doctor Who was good with some hiccups and the second quite fine overall, the show's creators seem to have really hit their stride with the third series here and brought forth an excellent range of science fiction adventures at once interesting, inventive, and exciting--innovative and unusual but very true to the show's spirit over the decades. Oh, and loads of fun, of course.

By now David Tennant has a totally surefire grasp of the Doctor's character and has contributed much to its portrayal--and convincingly developed it in the bargain, especially in light of the events of series two. Eccentric as always, frenetic and off the wall but silently nursing a deep melancholy, open and friendly and yet with a certain emotional distance and brusqueness. The Doctor we all know and love, but a little more complex. You will never get me to say that he's better than Tom Baker as some have, but my sense is that Tennant may very well end up putting as definitive a stamp on the renegade Time Lord for this generation as Baker did for us old-timers. As for the Doctor's companion, it's clear that the writers were wisely avoiding a repeat of Rose (whom we all miss, yes) and going instead for a somewhat more mature and intelligent foil in up-and-coming med student Martha (as played by Freema Agyeman)--a doctor in training, as it were, a bit of cleverness that the writers thankfully capitalize on in her first episode. The chemistry strains a bit to spark at first and the one-sided romance angle is brought in a bit too abruptly perhaps, but still The Doctor and Martha make a nice, believable team overall.

The storytelling for this series is excellence itself. Not perfection, mind you, which is humanly impossible anyway, but even the lesser episodes are better than most of what you'll find on TV nowadays--especially when it comes to sci-fi. "The Runaway Bride" is good if slightly twisted holiday fun in the way a Christmas special should be, "Smith and Jones" has a hint of Douglas Adams influence in its satirically-edged motifs of galactic bureaucracies and absurd situations, "The Shakespeare Code" is a highly memorable pseudo-historical starring the Bard himself in a manner totally cohesive with the plot, and "Gridlock" is a claustrophobic return to New New York with an edgier angle. The "Daleks in Manhattan"/"Evolution of the Daleks" two-parter is kind of like comfort food for older Doctor Who fans--a very typical Dalek tale of invasion and mutation, but with a few fresh ingredients like the human/dalek hybrid and the 1930's New York setting. "The Lazarus Experiment" and "42" likewise conform to tried-and-true Doctor Who formulas but successfully so, "42" being something of an cocktail mix of "Ark in Space" and "Inferno" complete with a not overplayed ecological theme.

On the other hand, "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood" and "Blink" are unlike anything ever before seen really in Doctor Who and really showcase the creativity and never-ending potential of the show. And then finally the three-part epic series conclusion, "Utopia"/"The Sound of Drums"/"The Last of the Time Lords" first takes the Doctor to the Big Crunch and then builds on countless clues scattered throughout all the season's prior episodes to expertly spring quite a surprise on the unsuspecting viewer, the return of...well, if you don't know I won't give it away, but I haven't seen this particular character so masterfully portrayed since the original in the early 1970's. It must be admitted that the climax in part three is just a tad fanciful and will induce a sense of deja vu in anyone who in their childhood attested their belief in magic and clapped their hands accordingly so as to revive Tinkerbell, but this didn't really bother me consciously till well afterwards, meaning that the writers succeeded in getting me to suspend my disbelief long enough for them to get away with their forgivable little cheat.

All in all then, the show's creators have struck a fine balance throughout between the futuristic and the pseudo-historical, the cozily familiar and the out-on-a-limb unusual, the thoughtfully speculative and the chills & thrills adventurous. Of course tastes will differ, but my impression anyway is that "Doctor Who" has now really come into its own again as a wonderfully excellent science fiction TV program with this compelling variety of storylines in series three, all of which can be watched and enjoyed again and again (along with all the usual extras and behind-the-scenes programs) on this attractively packaged DVD set--a bit sturdier in design than the last two, thankfully. Only beware, once you start watching you won't even want to blink!
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 16, 2007 7:28:56 AM PST
E.A. Week says:
This is one of the nicest and most balanced reviews I've read. I found more of the episodes lacking than you did, but in terms of character, acting, and the emotional punch of certain episodes, you're right on the money. LOL at the Tom Baker vs. David Tennant comparison; I'm an old-timer too, and there's no question in my mind that Tennant will go down as the "definitive" Doctor for the new series.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 17, 2007 2:00:19 AM PST
Crazy Fox says:
Thank you much for such kind words, E.A. Week. Glad you liked it. I'd have to agree not every episode was a classic per se, but I found them all more or less entertaining in their own ways. Nice to know there are other old-timers out there, by the way :).

Posted on Feb 18, 2008 12:01:48 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 18, 2008 12:03:48 PM PST
WriterGal says:
Your review was superb. I guess I'm one of the old timers as well, having remembered the Tom Baker era. I never thought anyone would measure up until the new wave of Doctor Who episodes started with Christopher Eccleston. I got hooked again! Also I wondered how anyone could top Christopher Eccleston. Well, David Tennant is amazing in the role. Season three, as you said, is excellent. Even the episodes that some might find derivative are still extremely creative and represent the potential of the medium.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2008 12:02:35 PM PST
Crazy Fox says:
Thanks so much for the thoughts and kindly praise, WriterGal. I totally agree, Eccleston and Tennant have done a truly fine job in "regenerating" the Doctor for the 21st century. Your fellow old-timer here got hooked again as well!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2008 8:48:35 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 4, 2008 11:22:31 AM PST
WriterGal says:
I've got to ask if you would recommend to someone new to the series (perhaps someone who only knows Tennant as Doctor Who) to watch the old Doctor Whos. I watched CITY OF DEATH and GENESIS OF THE DALEKS just for old time's sake. Budget-wise, they seem a bit cheesy. But the writing is great.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 5, 2008 4:03:03 PM PST
Crazy Fox says:
You are of course asking someone who's immensely fond of this show past and present, and someone who as a teenager grew up a fervent fan of what are now the old Doctor Whos--especially Tom Baker and Jon Pertwee. So given that I'm clearly biased in that regard, the answer is a resounding yes, I would highly recommend so. That said, someone only aware of current Doctor Who will need to go into the classic experience with the prior proviso that, yes, classic Doctor Who was given the same budget as any other BBC drama, no more nor less, which means that they were trying to do a sci-fi show on a soap opera's budget. With that in mind, what they accomplished is nothing short of amazing. Also, effects in general were not so advanced as now, especially lacking CGI which has revolutionized everything. Still, as you say, the writing is great, and in many ways it's the same quirky, idiosyncratic dramatically humorous and endlessly creative show as now--anyone who goes into it looking for that will be greatly rewarded (and, by the way, learn some of the background history only alluded to sometimes in the Eccleston and Tennant series).
In terms of being a bit of an acquired taste, some of the oldies/classics are probably more approachable to the newcomer than others, though. The two you name, "Genesis of the Daleks" and "City of Death" are ideal in that regard. "Pyramids of Mars" and "Robots of Death" might also do well, I think. Then, if one likes those, from there on out it's just a matter of exploring further. "Trip of a lifetime" is no exaggeration :).

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 31, 2008 11:57:56 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 2, 2008 1:14:11 PM PDT
WriterGal says:
Thanks for your reply. I can see what you mean. Yet I have a lot of friends who only know Eccleston and Tennant as "their" Doctor. They love the revamped series with its greatly increased special effects budget. It's hard for some of them to get past seeing the guy in the rubber mask versus seeing an episode like 42 in Season 3 which has great CGI. But I loaned them CITY OF DEATH and GENESIS OF THE DALEKS. So, we'll see what comes of that.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2008 11:31:21 PM PDT
Crazy Fox says:
Sure thing. And hey, as long as the DVDs were loaned to them, the worst thing that could happen is they don't like them. No money spent, no real loss, and at least they'll know the show has a history pre-2005. If it's not their cup of tea, oh well so it goes, but one can't know without trying.

In reply to an earlier post on May 8, 2008 9:40:10 AM PDT
Our numbers are legion

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2008 7:09:02 AM PDT
Crazy Fox says:
The Legion of Extraordinary Doctor Who Old-Timers, that's us :).
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