David Tennant as The Doctor (Article)

I wrote a fair number of reviews for Behind the Sofa, most of which, looking back, weren't as good as they could have been. And were surprisingly short. I had a habit of writing short stuff back then - presumably as I got bored and couldn't be bothered to keep going. How professional of me.

As a result, I'm not going to be showcasing everything from there. Some of those articles can stay buried, as far as I'm concerned. There were a couple, however, that think deserve a second airing. This one, looking at the relationship that The Doctor developed with Rose in both his incarnations, was based upon a discussion I had with someone from Outpost Gallifrey, and also included a sort-of review of Fear Her, an episode from David Tennant's first full series as The Doctor.

I could find the original posts if I really wanted to, but given that the forum's closing down soon, I won't bother.

People these days need a bit more than just a monster. A show needs more depth then that, and having the human element can give it a new edge, one which the mainstream public can identify with. RTD himself has said 'If there's planet X with monster Y, then I'm not interested. But put a human colony on planet X, and suddenly I'm interested', or something similar. He has a point. In a similar style most, if not all, programmes these days have story arcs. It keeps people interested and in a way it rewards them for watching by having a blazing conclusion. Doctor Who had an arc in the first series which paid off in 'The Parting of the Ways' (well I thought it did), and it has another one this series which will pay off in 'Doomsday'. And while I agree that at times that arc (occasionally) seems crowbar'd into the episodes, it doesn't make the rest of the story any less great. If you look at them as individual stories, they do stand up well. The writers aren't writing themselves into a corner, because there is no corner to write themselves into. That's the beauty of Doctor Who - you can do almost anything.

Sadly, some of the science (there's a scientific explanation behind all magic! ) from the first series has been lost in this second one. It's hard to say why exactly, but I personally think it has something to do with the main characters. Eccleston had a hard shell, if that makes sense. He was a lot tougher, more of a loner. And Billie, essentially, drew him out of that shell, almost made him into the father she'd lost. There was good chemistry with that relationship, and I enjoyed the series a lot because of it.

We don't have that chemistry with Tennant. He's not a loner, he has no shell, he's just a happy-go-lucky guy with few cares in the world who's out for a laugh. That doesn't make him bad, but it does make him a mate to Rose rather than a fatherly substitute. And when you have two friends who think they're invincible, they can get very, very irritating. I didn't notice it at first, but as the series went on, their smugness became more and more apparent.

The first time I really noticed it was in 'Rise of the Cybermen', when the Doctor & Rose got into the Tyler house working in the kitchen. Rose says some very bitchy things ("or maybe she's just a little bit thick") and that's really when it first hit me. I started noticing it a lot more when I re-watched the episodes after that, but since that point in RotC, it hit me that the two were really starting to irritate me. They ticked me off during 'Tooth & Claw' ("Where the hell have you been?" is NOT what I would yell at that point), during 'The Idiot's Lantern', at the beginning of 'The Impossible Planet' (not so much during the rest of the story, which I think is the strongest of the series), whenever we saw them in 'Love & Monsters' and throughout 'Fear Her', which is my biggest flaw with the episode. Truth be told, the episodes that work best are when the two are split up - 'The Girl in the Fireplace' and 'The Satan Pit', but they also have another reason for being great.

I'm going to pick on 'Love & Monsters' for a moment, if you don't mind, because I enjoyed that episode. For the first 32 minutes. Watch it again (if you can) and you'll see where it all falls apart, but for that first half-hour, things are good. Why? Because the story is focused on a person who isn't having a laugh. Elton is a real person, who has real feelings. He shares them with us, whether it be by telling us or through the quality of the actor's performance.

Hard as it may be, I can't really think of many times we get that with the Doctor or Rose this series. We got a couple with the Doctor while he's in the caves, and later climbing down the pit, during 'The Satan Pit' (as I call the 2-parter), and they were great. We also had a few in 'Girl in the Fireplace' (it's a really touching moment when he reads that letter), but sadly that's about it. And we had them all the time in the first series. That, I guess, was the magic of the first series that simply isn't there in the second. We've lost the emotional connection with the characters.

I mostly enjoyed 'Fear Her', although I will admit it wasn't perfect. You only need to read the other reviews her to see what other people thought of it. Hopefully that ridiculous air of smugness that's been surrounding the lead characters this series be addressed in the final episodes, but still... Anyway. Yes, 'Fear Her' - not perfect. But FAR from pathetic. There was no real monster, which was the whole point of the episode. It was all about one lost soul finding another, which is what the Doctor and Rose were when they first met, in a way. Eccleston was somewhat lost, and Rose was... well, struggling to find a meaning to it all. Then they found each other, and all was right. Until he turned into Tennant, and that connection was lost.

Here's hoping they can get something like that connection back in the third series

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