Doctor Who 2006 is over. If this had been the first series of the relaunch then people would be ecstatic about the series. But we’ve had Christopher Eccleston already. This series has been mixed.
There’s been more missable episodes. Love and Monsters featured a monster created by an eight year old in a competition, and was a pretty good demonstration of why TV producers rarely ask eight year olds to design villains. The opener New Earth isn’t as bad, but episodes introducing new characters tend to be poor in plot and given the relative lack of Doctor in The Christmas Invasion, New Earth was partly about introducing the new Doctor.
However, when it went right it went brilliantly. The pre-series hype was all about the Cybermen, but there were other better episodes. The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit worked both in the set-up and finale. School Reunion, with Sarah-Jane and K9 could have been dire, but actually worked both in character and plot. My favourite episode of the series though was The Girl in the Fireplace. Saying why is difficult. The episode is like Gorgonzola, being both cheesy and full of holes, but the chemistry between the Doctor and Reinette makes it enchanting.
The season finale also beats last year’s finish. Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways was good and with the death of major characters looked like an impossible situation. That was exciting until it turned out it really was impossible and the ending required a magic wand to fix everything. Army of Ghosts / Doomsday starts at least as well, but the ending is so much better.
The cast has generally improved. David Tennant wouldn’t have been my choice for Doctor, I’d have gone with Richard E. Grant, but he is usually good in the role. He certainly seems to enjoy it. Mickey Smith became a more interesting character rather than spare part and Noël Clarke did a good job making the growth convincing. Billie Piper improved as Rose. I was also pleased to not see Slitheen this time, but I wouldn’t rule them out from making a return next year.
When it was bad 2006 was worse than 2005, but on the whole the series was better than the previous series. Parts of it, like the domestic life of Rose, integrated better with the storylines and added to them. It looks like the Christmas special will be a bit of a breather from all that, so it’ll be interesting to see how they tackle the 2007 series.
And then there’s Torchwood coming this autumn.