Now, then, I want to start out by saying that I've never watched any other Who than the 2005 version originally starring Christopher Eccleston (sniff, sniff) as the Doctor, followed by David Tennant taking over the role in the following three seasons. I can not, and won't even try to, compare these versions of the Doctor, the companions, the stories, production values, etc. to any other because I haven't seen them and probably won't ever. So these comments are based solely on the current Doctor Who. Period.
Oh, and to be safe ... spoilers for all four seasons up to 4x07 (but the reference to 4x07 is only in the random comments section). If you've watched seasons 1-3 and at least a few episodes of season four, you're fine (again, with the exception of the random comments at the end).
Alrighty then, I'm going to start with the Doctors. I admit I haven't re-watched season one in two years (but I'm working on getting it), and if you've been reading my journal for any length of time and have read my Who posts, you know it isn't because I didn't like S1. In fact, I loved it. I was completely hooked by the third episode and fell head over heels for Christopher Eccleston's Doctor. He created such a mixture of joy and sorrow, goofiness and seriousness in such a beautifully nuanced package. This is the awesomeness of Eccleston.
And, of course, because I'm a silly, silly shipper at heart, I rather fell head over heels for the relationship between the Doctor and Rose as well. I loved Eccleston's Doctor and the Rose/Nine relationship so much that when the reveal of David Tennant as Doctor #10 appeared at the end of the season, I was upset, angry, annoyed, frustrated, saddened, you name it. And it was a little over two full years before I actually watched another episode because the Doctor was ... Christopher Eccleston. Period.
I've now seen all of season two and three, and what's aired thus far of season four. I don't LOOOOOOOOOVE Tennant's Doctor like I did Eccleston's, but I do like him very much and I love his relationship with Rose as well. It's different, but the same. Which makes sense considering the Doctor is different, but the same. I do think Tennant tends to get a tad, erm, okay, a LOT, yelly at points, but I think he does the fun of it quite well and I like the introspective, bad-ass moments also.
He's not my Doctor -- that will always be Eccleston -- but he's a fine, fine Doctor none-the-less and I enjoy watching him very much indeed. And because the second season was the Doctor and Rose already knowing each other and having been through such an emotional experience (the end of season one), there was a richer, yet lighter feel to their relationship in season two. Needless to say, if you're familiar with my leanings, it won't surprise anyone to know that by the end of season two, I was pretty much a die-hard Rose/Doctor (Nine or Ten) shipper ... yes, this was even knowing that Billie Piper was gone after season two before I even sat down to watch it. But more on the whole Doctor/Rose relationship later.
First, let's take a look at the Companions. This show is so oddly set-up in terms of creating actor/character/shipping fandoms because the Doctor CAN easily be replaced at any time should something change with the current actor due to the whole regenerating thing when he "dies." As well, the companions can just be set along their merry way for any number of reasons and it's all so logical and makes sense that the almost transient nature of the actors on the show makes it an interesting one for me to glom onto because I'm SO entrenched in loving my favorites and any replacement BE DAMNED!!! Yet, this show makes it work ... likely, in my opinion, due to the already-set-in-place structure of the show, as well as the almost routinely excellent casting and writing.
My first companion was, of course, Rose. I didn't love love her by even the end of the first season, but some time throughout the second season, I did grow to love love her and her departure at the end of that season left me a literal bawling mess. I loved her fiestiness, her ignorance, yet willingness to explore anything and everything. I loved her dedication and loyalty to the Doctor. Hah, I actually just figured it out when I realized I love loved Rose because of typing that last statement: It was in the two-parter ending with "Satan's Pit." She was so awesome on her own, fighting and doing everything that had to be done while still remaining steadfastly loyal and devoted to the Doctor. Loved it, and loved her.
Anyhoo, back to my Rose love. I even loved her selfishness because it just made her more real. When viewers (and I'm talking mostly TWoP commentary here as I've yet to find another Doctor Who community where I can just dig in and read good, meaty thoughts on the show -- but I'm looking) complain about "Saint Rose" or "Mary Sue Rose" rearing her head in season three and thus far in season four, I seriously wonder if they've watched season one and two recently. Seriously. Because not only was Rose NOT a saint OR a Mary Sue; she was never written as one (nor was she portrayed as such in season three, or season four thus far). She was ignorant, and selfish, and jealous, and stupid, stupid, stupid sometimes. However, she was also capable of greatness. Great acts of sacrifice, great thoughts, great love, great compassion. Many of the kick-ass awesome qualities we see in Martha and Donna were in Rose: a bit of the humor, the action, the smarts, the compassion, the heart and soul. Rose was fucking awesome. I love her.
I don't, however, love Martha. I like her. I think Freema Agyeman is lovely, but I just never connected to Martha the way I did Rose. That very well may have been because the Doctor kept her at arm's length, something he never did with Rose, and so she felt like she was at arm's length from me as well. There were moments with Martha where I loved her (and I do have Torchwood on my Netflix so I can get caught up on that, I might like her better when she shows up there -- I quite liked her and Jack), but overall, I just kinda, you know, liked her.
I'll be honest, it didn't help that I kept waiting for the show to screw up (in my opinion) and make Martha into another Rose in terms of how the Doctor felt about her. To me, what was between the Doctor and Rose was special (more on that later, I promise) and it would have just infuriated me to see Martha just take over Rose's spot. All of the moments of jealousy that Martha had, the continued bringing up of Rose, the continued crush that lasted the whole season really had me believing that the final episode of season three would basically feature the Doctor showing that Martha was just another Rose to him, ie, just another companion, one he valued and felt great fondness, but just another companion ... thus Rose wasn't special at all. That didn't happen and I may actually be able to go back and rewatch season three with a different eye that is more appreciative for that fact.
It's not something I'll be doing all that soon though, because, overall, season three was subpar to seasons one and two in my book, and that's not because Rose wasn't there. I did like Martha, I really did, she just didn't connect to me and thus make me connect to the show the same way I had in seasons one and two. In fact, my favorite episode was the incredibly awesome "Blink" which barely featured Martha and the Doctor at all. However, I DID really like her spark with Tom Milligan in the season finale and was really, really happy to see his return (or at least mention of him) as her fiance in Martha's first appearance back on the show in season four. A Martha not mooning over the Doctor may make me like her all that much more. Still, I'm not sure. I kinda think if she was gonna grab me like Rose did, it woulda happened. I mean, I may not have love loved Rose by the end of season one, but I loved her and it was before the last episodes that I was there already. So, who knows?
Well, I do know that my opinion about Donna came pretty quickly, faster than even with Rose. See, I hadn't watched the show in two years, but I would see posts on ONTD about it and I would note them simply because it WAS a show I had loved. And lately I'd been seeing this (I'm being honest here) mean, bitchy, scarecrow-looking, kinda unattractive red head in all the promo shots with David Tennant and I thought, 'What the hell?!?! They went from Billie Piper to Freema Agyeman to, uhm, that?!?!?! Oy. I don't know.' Flashforward to season two, I watched "School Reunion" (with Anthony Stewart Head!!!) and there was an older redhead woman, Sarah Jane, and I thought ... "Oh, I bet THAT'S the redhead chick. Oh, she looks much better onscreen. Just not photogenic." Did a teeny bit of research and found out, nope, totally different actress. So I was back to thinking 'Oy vey! Crap. This is gonna suck. I don't like the way she looks. I'm not gonna like her.'
Then came the season finale of season two. As mentioned above, I'm a bawling mess and the Doctor is crying himself and then all-of-a-sudden familiar scary, mean-looking redhead woman pops into the Tardis wearing a wedding dress and I was like, "That's her!!!" I was leery, but "The Runaway Bride" was the next episode to watch. So I watched it. And in about, oh, fifteen minutes ... maybe even ten, I fell completely, totally, absolutely, mind-boggled IN LOVE WITH DONNA NOBLE!!!! OH. MY. GOD! Is she like the COOLEST character ever!?!?? Why, yes, I do believe she is. She isn't just the awesome. She isn't just made of the awesome. She isn't just the very definition of the awesome. No, Donna Noble is everything in the universe put together that is good and right and cool, creating a brand-new definition of awesome that has never before been witnessed.
I love Donna. I love Donna so much. Donna? is, well, there is no other word to accurately describe her. Donna ... is Donna. So, so Donna. I love her. So much. My God, the charades scene in "Partners in Crime?" Funniest damn thing I can recall seeing ever!!!! Catherine Tate is so beyond awesome. Her comic timing, her delivery, her pure awesomeness -- seriously, she must sweat liquid beads of awesome -- she's just WOW!!!!!!!!!! Love her.
Funny thing, though, Donna's my favorite character on Doctor Who ever -- meaning, yes, I like her more than I like Christopher Eccleston's Doctor ... I KNOW!!!!!!!!!!! -- but, Rose is still my favorite companion. Which brings us to ...
I wrote above that I'm basing this bit on fandom as read at TWoP about the Rose/Doctor relationship -- if anyone knows of the thoughts in the overall fandom outside of that evil place and know that they are, in fact, in the minority, do let me know. I mentioned how Rose is referred to as "Saint Rose" and "Mary Sue Rose" (ridiculous, but I already groused about that in above) and this is mostly done because of posters annoyed that Rose is brought up as much as she was in season three and four (so far). For me? I would have been not annoyed, but damn right PISSED! had Rose not been brought up in season three, so I was actually giddy and thrilled with every mention because, in my opinion, she damn well should have been for one reason and one reason alone.
The Doctor loved Rose. Period. I don't care what happened in previous incarnations. I don't care if romance has never been part of the show to any degree. I know what I watched happen over the course of two seasons and I damn well know what happened in the last ten minutes of season two. See for yourselves (minus the Rose voiceover regarding directions in between the two videos):
He was screaming her name -- and not the normal David Tennant-screaming -- but in an anguished cry of devastation; she was sobbing uncontrollably. THEY SENSED EACH OTHER THROUGH AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE; they did the whole touching hands through a wall ... THROUGH AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE. Final scene: The Doctor was "burning up a sun just to say goodbye," Rose told him she loved him; it sure as hell seemed like the Doctor was going to tell her likewise. Once he lost contact with her, he was crying. In other words, they loved each other. It was love. As how love is seen and shown and produced and stylized on television and in film. The Doctor loved Rose. Rose loved the Doctor. Whether one wants to accept that such is not how Doctor Who worked in the past is all fine and dandy, but what's happened on new Who, what we saw onscreen? The Doctor loved Rose. Rose loved the Doctor. They loved each other. And it wasn't of the sibling sort or like father/daughter.
The reason that Rose was brought up as much as she was in season three was because -- sticking to the storyline that had been crafted through the first two seasons -- the Doctor was mourning a woman he loved. The reason the Doctor was such a dick to Martha is because he knew she fancied him, but he was dealing with a broken heart -- which, based on comments I've read, hadn't happened before with any other companion -- but would never admit it, and just wanted to not deal with it. That? was part of the season's arc ... it was brought up how horribly affected he was by Rose's loss in "The Runaway Bride" (Go Donna!! "Pockets!!") and having a bright, young girl who didn't really know love at that point thinking she loved him allowed him to witness a fresh innocence at work again despite his continued tragedies.
As for chemistry, yes, I thought that Billie Piper had better chemistry with Christopher Eccleston and if it hadn't been for how well they played off one another, the love angle may not have worked in season two with Tennant. However, Piper and Eccleston did have chemistry, they did play off of one another well and the finale in which Rose took on the life force of the Tardis connected Rose and the Doctor in a way that simply could not be dismissed as a schoolgirl crush. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if part of the why of Martha's crush was to show that what Rose felt for the Doctor was NOT in fact a crush, but that she truly loved him. And while, again, Piper had better chemistry with Eccleston, that didn't take away from the fact that she and David Tennant had fine chemistry as well, just different, but yet with the same touch because they were the same characters.
What will happen in the future? Who knows? But that's one of the great things about Doctor Who, anything truly is literally possible. Will the Doctor get Rose back? Will he move on to someone new? Based on his interactions with Martha -- stand-offish, at arm's length -- and Donna -- "I just want a mate" -- I'd like to think that any romantic entanglements will be kept to the one/two-shot deals we've had thus far and thus easily expendable and forgotten. I'm a silly shipper at heart, I know, but I LOVE the fact that Rose is so clearly special to the Doctor. I love that we are still hearing about and seeing (!!!) Rose despite Billie Piper's work on The Secret Diary Of A Call Girl. As far as I'm concerned, it should stay that way because the show made me believe that the Doctor and Rose loved each other (I mean, HELLO!!, watch those clips!!) -- a true love, a real, once in a (human's) lifetime kind of love -- and I'm sticking to that. I hope the show does too.
Finally, a quick (yes, I am capable of "quick," I swear) look at the finales thus far. One thing that Doctor Who does so well are its finales. Well, normally. I adored the first season finale so much. So much so that I was a crying mess at the end of it. How the show built from this goofy, quirky, silly, time-traveling sci-fi geekfest into this emotionally heartrending, thrilling, dramatic tour de force is amazing. But it did it. I cared so very much about the Doctor and Rose ... and when they both risked so much for, well, so much, it was awesome. And when I say "awesome," I don't mean in the 'ooh, cool!' way, but rather in the literal definition of the word: Inspiring awe. All of the plot points, all of the lines about, all of the build-up of "Bad Wolf" to the season came to a head in this beautiful tapestry of threads sewn together with such love and talent. Ah, it was wonderful.
And then ... and then!!! The second season managed the exact same feat. Starting out light and goofy, with some serious undertones, and then building, building, building to that killer of a finale where Rose became a heroine in her own right, and not just the Doctor's sidekick; and where the Doctor experienced yet another devastating loss -- not comparing losing Rose to an alternate universe to the Time Lord war here, but it was still devastating to lose Rose. It was just ... no words. It blew me away. If I was a crying mess after season one, season two had me bawling in the fetal position.
The third season? Eh, not so much. It was good, BUT, I didn't know Martha's family enough to care beyond normal human compassion (for fictional characters) that they were being held by the Master. The mom I flat-out didn't like; the dad was a cipher to me, and Tish was kinda lame. As for the Master? Hello! John Simm is awesome, but, but ... we shouldn't have been hit with his appearance with only two episodes to go. We should have seen more of the soon-to-be PM, a lot more. We should have been introduced to the Master prior to that. We should have cared more. I was hopeful, very hopeful in the episode where old man Master was introduced and I realized it. I was wowed, and loving it, anticipating an awesome conclusion as I'd gotten the first two seasons.
That episode, "Utopia," really was just fabulous, but the fall-out in "The Sound of the Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords" ... it was too much, too rushed, I didn't care enough about any of the players. And sadly, Martha hadn't endeared herself to me enough so I didn't care about her plight either. (Although, as I mention above, I did like her and Tom Milligan. Nice spark there.) And when the Master died in the Doctor's arms, I didn't feel for the Doctor in being bummed that the Master was letting himself die. I just didn't care enough about the relationship because it hadn't been fully realized for me as a viewer. Unlike Rose and Nine; unlike Rose and Ten. That's where the (good!) devastation came from when watching the finales of seasons one and two. I knew and loved these characters and their relationships. I didn't know nor love the Master; and I certainly didn't love the relationship between the Doctor and the Master precisely because I didn't know the relationship.
I dunno, perhaps if I HAD watched previous incarnations and had more of a feel for the Time Lord war, I would have been more affected, but I just wasn't. I'm hoping that the season four finale will kick ass like seasons one and two. I have faith that it will.
Sigh, okay, so I'm not capable of "quick." Is anyone surprised?
Now, just a few comments about random stuff related to the show.
- The Face of Boe reveal being Jack was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!! I loved it so, so, sooooooooo much. It made such perfect sense, was built up perfectly throughout the seasons with the conversations with the Face of Boe. Just awesome. My only wish is that I really would have rather that reveal been done with Rose who had a connection with Jack as well, or with just the Doctor himself. While I did like Martha and Jack's interactions, she wasn't enough a part of the whole background of Jack/The Face of Boe to really hit the full emotional moment there. Ah well. Tis a small complaint for such an awesomely, unexpected (on my part) reveal.
- I pretty much loved EVERYTHING about "Army of Ghosts/Doomsday." Fabulous, fabulous job on those.
- Shipper that I am, I was a bit bugged by the whole "Human Nature/Family of Blood" Doctor falling in love with the Nurse thing. (Partly because I didn't really cotton to the actress, and wasn't impressed with her and Tennant's chemistry, or lack thereof.) Still with that said, I think these were my favorite Martha episodes. She was awesome in them.
- What is it with the Doctor having to kiss every Companion under non-romantic circumstances? There was the Doctor/Rose kiss in "The Parting of the Ways" when the Doctor transferred the Tardis vortex thingie from Rose to him. (Though to be fair, in my opinion, although not technically romantic, I still see it as such, personally. Anyhoo ...) Rose as Cassandra in "New Earth" kissing the (new!) Doctor. Then we have Ten kissing Martha to leave a DNA scent in "Smith and Jones." And finally, the shock of Donna kissing the Doctor in "The Unicorn and the Wasp." I just wonder.
- Despite no Rose (and likely because of the awesome that is Donna), I liked "The Runaway Bride" waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more than "The Christmas Invasion."
Lastly, a quick run-down of my favorite episodes from all four seasons so far (I've got 4x08 sitting on my computer waiting to be watched, so awesome or not, I don't know yet). In chronological order, including a quick episode recap to help jog memories:
"The Unquiet Dead" ... The Doctor plans to take Rose back through time to Naples, 1860, but instead they arrive in Cardiff, 1869. In Victorian Cardiff, the dead are walking and creatures made of gas are on the loose. The time-travellers team up with Charles Dickens to investigate Mr Sneed, the local undertaker, who's hiding a very big secret. However, this time, The Doctor won't be able to save everyone.
"Father's Day" ... Rose requests a trip back to the day her father, Pete Tyler, died. Reluctantly, the Doctor agrees, but he realises he has made a mistake, when Rose saves Pete from being run over by a car. This has now changed the timeline, and Reapers are transposing themselves all over the Universe. However, this time, the Doctor doesn't have a plan...
"The Empty Child" (Part I) ... After chasing an unexplained capsule through time, the TARDIS lands in London, during an air raid. Rose investigates when a small child wearing a gasmask, standing on a rooftop, continuously calls out for his mummy. After floating above the city on a barrage balloon, Rose is swept off her feet by another time traveller – Captain Jack Harkness. Meanwhile, The Doctor follows a teenaged girl to a meeting of the homeless children of the Blitz. Here, the child in the gasmask is terrorising them with a parade of strange events, constantly asking for his mother.
"The Doctor Dances" (Part II) ... After narrowly escaping the gas mask monsters, The Doctor, Rose, and Captain Jack try to stop the mutated people from infecting other victims. But it soon becomes apparent that one of the group may be indirectly responsible for the virus. The answer lies at the bombsite, but time is running out...
"Bad Wolf" (Part I) ... In a seemingly futuristic world, the Doctor wakes up in the Big Brother house during an eviction, Rose wakes up on the Weakest Link with the Anne-Droid, and Captain Jack gets a make over with Trin-E and Zu-Zana. But something unusual is happening, and the losing contestants are being disintegrated. Obviously, it's time for the Doctor to investigate.
"The Parting of the Ways" (Part II) ... The fate of the Universe is hanging in the balance as the Dalek fleet begin their invasion of Earth. The Doctor must decide whether to sacrifice every human being on Earth in order to save every other living creature in the universe from the Daleks. Either way, he knows he must send Rose home.
"Rise of the Cyberman" (Part I) ... The Doctor, Rose and Mickey return to 2007 after the TARDIS malfunctions, but discover that they arrived in an alternative timeline, where Earth is a fascist society and Rose's parents are still together. This Earth, however, is under threat of invasion from the Cybermen!
"The Age of Steel" (Part II) ... The Cybermen are taking over the world. Can the Doctor save this Earth from the Cybermen?
"The Impossible Planet" (Part I) ... Rose finds herself further away from home than ever before, on a desolate world in the orbit of a Black Hole. Trapped with an Earth expedition and the mysterious Ood, the time-travellers face an even greater danger as something ancient beneath the planet's surface begins to awake.
"The Satan Pit" (Part II) ... Rose battles the murderous Ood and the Doctor finds his every belief being challenged to the core, as the Pit beckons in the concluding part of this two-part story. With the planet threatening to fall into the Black Hole, the Doctor must make the ultimate sacrifice – but can he save the entire universe from the Beast?
"Army of Ghosts" (Part I) ... Rose: Planet Earth. This is where I was born, and this is where I died. The first nineteen years of my life, nothing happened. Nothing at all. Not ever. And then I met a man called "The Doctor." A man that could change his face. He took me away from home in his magical machine. He showed me the whole of time and space. I thought it would never end. That's what I thought, but then came the Army of Ghosts. And came Torchwood and the war. That's when it all ended. This is a story of how I died.
"Doomsday" (Part II) ... The Cybermen have taken over the world, but four Daleks that hid themselves in the void want to awaken something they brought in a capsule called the Genesis Ark. Can the Doctor stop the Cybermen and Daleks from turning this world into hell?
2007 Christmas Special
"The Runaway Bride" ... As Donna is about to marry her boyfriend Lance on Christmas Eve, she suddenly finds herself on board the TARDIS. As the Doctor tries to get Donna to the church on time, the alien Empress of the Racnoss watches closely from the throne in her spaceship above. How is Donna the key to an ancient plot to destroy the Earth? With time running out, can the Doctor solve the puzzle, defeat the Empress and stop her army of robot Santas?
"The Shakespeare Code" ... For her first ever trip in the TARDIS, the Doctor takes Martha to 1599 Elizabethan London. They quickly discover that the world is under threat from the evil Carrionites and history's most celebrated playwright William Shakespeare is under the control of the sinister witch-like creatures.
"Blink" ... The Doctor is lost in time and within the walls of an old, abandoned house, murder is afoot and the Weeping Angels await... A young woman called Sally visits a dilapidated house, and is led down a terrifying time-torn path.
"Utopia" ... After being brought back to life in The Parting of the Ways, Captain Jack Harkness was just left on the Gamestation by the Doctor and Rose. In this episode, Captain Jack Harkness storms back into the Doctor's life, and the TARDIS is thrown to the end of the universe itself where they meet up with the last surviving humans looking for Utopia.
"Partners in Crime" ... A woman named Donna Noble searches for an old friend - the Doctor. Can Donna and the Doctor halt the mysterious Ms. Foster and her mysterious plan to rid the world of fat?
"Planet of the Ood" ... The Doctor and Donna find themselves on an icy planet known as the Ood-Sphere. There they discover what drove the Ood to be a servant race. Can they free them before it's too late?
Sigh, I so very much want the full DVD sets of at least season one and two, but my GOODNESS! they are so frickin' expensive and no matter how much I try and justify that I can buy them, I just can't. It sucks, it sucks, it sucks. Waaahh!!! Why must money woes get in the way of feeding my growing addiction!?!?!
Phew! And thus ends my insanely long Doctor Who post. Aaaaaahhhhh!!