Doctor Who : The Next Doctor – A Press Start to Begin Review

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I’m back! In this next review, we take a look at the fourth TV special of David Tennant’s run as the Doctor as we get ever close to our fond farewell to our man with the dashing good looks and great hair.

The episode opens with the TARDIS landing in London on Christmas Eve, 1851. At first, it all seems peaceful, but as with all adventures with The Doctor, that is short lived. He suddenly overhears the cries for help with his name specifically being called. He runs into a man who is strangely himself “The Doctor” (played by David Morrissey)   as well as his companion Rosita who are  attempting to capture a Cybershade. The Cybershade unfortunately escapes, though both Doctor don’t seem to mind it too much, finding the adventure and the chase  to be quite enjoyable. The Doctor spends some time talking to the man, believing that he may be a future incarnation of himself, who is suffering from possible amnesia.

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Later, the man takes The Doctor to a nearby house of a recently deceased reverend, believing him tied to a series of disappearances around London and the Cybershade. Inside, The Doctor discovers a pair of Cybermen data-storage infostamps, which contains information on every encounter the Cybermen had with the Doctor. The Next Doctor suddenly recalls holding the night that he lost his memories. Eventually, The Doctor realizes that the man is a mere human named Jackson Lake who had an encounter with the Cybermen as well as their infostamps. During that encounter, Jackson remembers that his wife was tragically killed and that his used the data storage and the knowledge of The Doctor to fight off the Cybermen. As a side effect, the informantion fused with his mind, causing him to believe that he was in fact The Doctor. While Jackson comes to terms with this new revelation, The Doctor leaves with Rosita to track down the Cybermen.

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The Doctor and Rosita soon come across an underground complex where they find numerous children who have been pulled from workhouses around the city, at work under Cybermen guard to build a strange looking machine. There, they meet Miss Mercy Hartigan, the Cybermen’s human ally who has brought the children to them in order to  construct a “Cyber King” a giant mechanical steam-punk looking Cyberman. Miss Hartigan is later betrayed by the Cybermen and is then infused with the Cyber King as its controller.

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As the Cyberking starts to rise and begins to lay waste to the city in pure Godzilla-style, Jackson arrives having recovered his memories and the three begin the rescue of the children. Including Jackson’s son, who tearfully remembers was abducted in the initial attack and caused Jackson’s amnesia. As the Cyberking starts stomping through the city, the Doctor uses Jackson’s TARDIS, which is really an air-balloon to get close enough to the Cyberking’s control room in the Cyber King’s head and tries to reason with Miss Hartigan, offering a chance to escape.  When she refuses, the Doctor then activates  the infostamps to disconnect her bond to the Cyberking, thus exposing her to the raw emotion of what she has done. Enraged by what the Cybermen had forced her to do, the emotional feedback destroys both the Cybermen and Miss Hartigan. In triumph, Jackson rally’s the crowd with a vicious speech and cheer The Doctor. Later, as The Doctor is preparing to leave, Jackson invites him to Christmas dinner but refuses. As Jackson asks about the Doctor’s many companions, whom he remembers seeing in the infostamps, The Doctor sadly replies that in the end, “…they break my heart,” they move on, and he is left alone. After which, The Doctor deports, leaving Jackson to celebrate Christmas with his son.

THE GOOD & THE BAD

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 This episode was quite enjoyable, if a little predicable. The interaction between the Tenth Doctor and The Next Doctor was perhaps the best part of this episode. Unlike the Doctor’s past companions where they don’t know what to expect again, here we see The Doctor working with someone who is pretty much just like him and loving every minute of it. The roles are seemingly reversed this time with The Doctor taking more of a backseat while he watches The Next Doctor work while never letting on to what’s going on.

We haven’t seen very much of the Cybermen since Doomsday so having them return for this episode was great.

I’m used to seeing David Morrissey in more menacing roles such as The Governor in The Walking Dead and seeing him here playing up some the best qualities that make The Doctor so likeable made me thinking that he was worthy of the title himself. It’s rare moment, especially for a Whovian such as myself, to see an actor and think “You know, he’d be great as the Doctor.” So major props to Morrissey in this episode!

Sadly though, I really don’t have much to say about this episode as I found it to be pretty predictable. Mid-way into the story I kind of realize where it was all going to lead up to. While I did enjoy having the Cybermen back for an episode, the moment was kind of lost on me the moment that the giant steampunk Cybermen start destroying London. The whole thing just seem far too silly and believable and in the long run of the show’s narrative, just didn’t make any sense. One would think that someone would remember a giant Cyberman that almost destroyed London one Christmas Eve so very long ago! I don’t know. Perhaps it’s one of those moments that I shouldn’t get too hung up on. I’ve learned early on that when it comes to this show, one shouldn’t get too wrapped up in details and consistency.

While I didn’t find anything that made this episode stand out in anyway, I did find it to be a great adventure. As the Ninth Doctor would say, it was fantastic fun with perhaps the best Doctor impostor since Mark Meer!  We’re nearing the end of Doctor Number 10’s ride, sadly. Only two specials left, and then we must say Farewell to our fellow time traveler.

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