Fire and Ice and Rage: Looking back at the Tenth Doctor
written by Mackensie Baker (@MackensieBaker)
Hello again! Only two more weeks to go now until Doctor Who returns to our television screens! And for some, to the big screen itself, as "Deep Breath," the first episode with Peter Capaldi, will be shown in a multitide of theatres across North America. But I digress. As promised, here is part two of my review of New Who (pardon the rhyming), featuring the Tenth Doctor.
So after the jaw-dropping episode where we left our favourite Timelord, Tennant's next appearance wouldn't be until the 2005 Children in Need mini-episode, "Born Again," wherein he has to try and gain Rose's acceptance. Rose wasn't the only one, though, who had to come to terms with the Doctor's change of face. David Tennant had to take on the challenge that all new Doctors must: convincing his audience that he is the Doctor. And in that first mini-episode, as well as the Christmas special itself, "The Christmas Invasion," I was just about convinced. Then again, I am something of a sucker for sword-fighting and hilariously out-of-place Disney references. But truth be told, Tennant fell into place right off the bat. As a professed long-time fan of the show, he simply couldn't wait to fill the shoes of one of Britain's best-known television heroes.
We got a few very different kinds of aliens in Tennant's first few episodes, both friend and foe, including cat nurses and a werewolf. The Face of Boe made a reappearance, as did Cassandra (the "b*tchy trampoline), quickly followed up by Sarah Jane Smith and K-9. I greatly enjoyed the new and improved Cybermen as well. The classic throwbacks were a nice touch, especially for older fans. Not all of these baddies were impressive though. Yes, I'm looking at you, Abzorbaloff (from "Love and Monsters").
As for the man himself, Tennant played the part well, and even brought a new, darker, and before-unseen side of the character. He was practically the human, or well, not-so-human embodiment of angst for much of the series. Not everyone's cup of tea perhaps, but—call me crazy—I actually like a little character development in the shows I watch. I would even go so far as to say that Tennant made the Doctor better. Not to mention opening the character up to important future developments. Can anyone say, "Day of the Doctor?"
Another thing I love about Ten is that two of the scariest episodes of New Who was written in his timeline: "Blink," written by Steven Moffat, and "Midnight," by Russell T. Davies. Blink, as many of you will remember, was the introduction of the Weeping Angels, which I still shudder to see even at conventions. Like, really, what posesses any sane cosplayers to dress like the stuff of nightmares?
But the "Midnight" train is not half as pleasant as the Weeping Angels. Nor is it so nice as the one in the Journey song. In fact, despite no real monster to fight, this episode made it to my top three Oh God Why episodes of Doctor Who. Moffat may be able to create creatures that haunt your dreams for years to come, but Davies managed to make people themselves the true monsters in this episode. Even by the end, there is no real resolution, and we begin to see why the Tenth Doctor's ending is so very dark.
Rewatching Ten, I think I discovered something that I had missed before. The Tenth Doctor is about loss. Sarah Jane, Rose, Joan Redfern, Jenny, Martha, River Song, Donna, and the Master...all left him one way or another. Time and time again, the Doctor tries to hold on, but he learns how to let go. And yeah, Ten might get a lot of criticism for making Doctor Who too "romantic" or daytime television-y, but it wasn't like that. Those critics are forgetting the struggle with having "everybody live, just this once" that turned him into "the lonely god." That's what Ten was. The lonely god, so desperate for companionship, friendship, love, and even at times, a normal life. His downfall was that desperation though. He was compared to a god so many times that he thought himself to truly be one by the end. And that was what destroyed him. Nine regenerated in order to save Rose, and that self-sacrifice defined Ten. When Ten regenerated, he simply didn't want to go.
And so, enter the Eleventh Doctor, taking the stage with a mighty "geronimo" that leaves us waiting for more to come.
But that will be covered next week