Television Revision: Doctor Who – Season 2

Doctor Who S2

By Andrew Williams
May 14, 2013

Television Revision is a weekly feature in which our tuned in TV critic trawls through the best the box has to offer, giving you a primer on some of history’s finest shows (and warning you away from the specific episodes – or even seasons! – that might have ruined their reputation).

Now, this is a story all about how… The newly regenerated Doctor (David Tennant) continues to travel through time and space with his companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), but as their adventures progress, he begins to realise that perhaps his time with this companion is as limited as all the others.

Doctor Who S2

Happy days? Some actors just ‘are’ The Doctor. Christopher Eccleston was great during his tenure in the role, but David Tennant absolutely inhabits the character and jumpstarts the show into what would be a fine creative period. As a performer, Tennant has all the necessary attributes: he’s attractive but also a bit odd looking, whimsical, witty, charming, and with enough of a dark side that we’re never sure exactly how much he’s willing to sacrifice for the good of others. As a pair, he and Piper have plenty of G-rated chemistry, and make for a very watchable duo.

It’s a pity, then, that the writing and plotting of Doctor Who’s second season isn’t quite up the promise of its leads. The standalone episodes are mostly a letdown, and it’s only when Russell T. Davies and his writing team are given two-episode arcs to work with that they begin to shine. As for season-long serialisation, Season Two might be the most disappointing; the cleverness of Season One and the epic nature of seasons to come are replaced here with scattered, vague portents of doom leading to a nonetheless affecting, emotional finale.

The final frontier: You’ll find very few highlights from this batch on anybody’s all time Top Ten list, but it’s a mostly consistent season of sci-fi adventures elevated by the performances of the leads.

Doctor Who S2

Top three episodes: There’s a theme here: 6) The Age of Steel, 9) The Satan Pit, and 13) Doomsday are all second parts of double episodes, and The Doctor is always at his best when the stakes are high. In particular, the emotional climax of Doomsday between Rose and The Doctor will move most to shed a tear.

Worst Episode: 11) Fear Her: Some decent ideas totally squandered by a nonsensical ending and a lazy, tacked-on attempt at serialisation. 10) Love and Monsters earns an honourable mention for having one of the grossest sexual implications ever seen in what is ostensibly a show for children.

Season MVP: Tennant really comes into his own later, so I’m going with Billie Piper this time around. Her infectious energy and surprising acting prowess in the more emotional moments make her status as a fan favourite no surprise.

3/5

Check out Andrew Williams’ previous instalments:

Television Revision: Doctor Who – Season 1

Doctor Who is available on DVD. It can also be streamed instantly on Quickflix Play.

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