The end of year special has now arrived after a great amount of
internet speculation. We know how the story goes by now; if it
makes fans sit up and take notice then newspaper inches follow -
this story certainly delivered. But as seasoned fans do we expect
too much? As a popular yuletide diversion, does The Next Doctor‘s
easy charm offer anything else?
I suspect that this is the measure by which the remaining stories
mean themselves to be assessed for the RTD era, which as far as
you and I and Russel T Davies are concerned, is nearing its end,
and soon. We haven’t reached the end of the tenth Doctor, though
I would say it is telegraphed visibly here. Quite probably this all
could be explained by the fact that in order to save time and also
do justice to a hampered lead actor’s schedule needs dictated that
this story was filmed back to back with season 4, and it does show
in point of fact. David Tennant is a master at this and still remains
our best ambassador to the role, but looks knackered, acting in his
sleep (or was it the back problems already?)
You may recall last year saw TSV‘s most regal subscriber ever
realise the same cheese factor as Fear Her‘s Olympic torch, though
I will admit that this story is tighter (although it could be said we
haven’t seen the benefit of tighter editing, instead what we have
seen is a simpler plot and fewer supporting characters muddying
the story to fuss over than 2007′s support-cast massacre festive
If this year is better it’s because it’s quieter (though yet again
noone mentions still another giant-sized bother for London, or even
notices), and this also has more actual actors. David Morrisey is
then slightly less of a stunt casting than the ‘faddish’ John Simm.
I’ll say he does ‘sad’ well, which redeems that OTT CiN prelude.
Throw in the arguments over the months leading up to this that
The Next Doctor was based on Big Finish’s The One Doctor, then a
lot of the pantomime Doctor’s bluster may actually have been more
If this was indeed RD’s modus operandi then there’s an irony to be
identified in turning a man who has had everything in his life un-
kindly removed into a suddenly swashbuckling and outrageously
forward ‘hero’ may be smarter than it appears. We can also see
this through the Doctor’s own life the real Doctor adopts a bluster
to cover his inward turmoil. It’s a neat parallel to the tragic hero
the Doctor has become – a neat and exaggerated, portrait of the
usual candidate. That the Doctor also possesses the humanity to
address this himself is key to his persona.
Thanks to Tennant’s performance it’s not overdone.