The Man and I have be rewatching Doctor Who from the beginning in preparation for diving into the Eleventh Doctor episodes that are now available on Netflix, and just last night we finished the third season, which I have a very love/hate relationship with. I mean, the other seasons were easy for me to cuddle and adore, for various reasons, and I often cruised right through without any trouble.
But season 3 is complicated. In my opnion, it’s a very uneven season, and The Doctor and I have our issues from episode to episode. We fight a lot. And because I’m a nerd, I feel like I should blog it all out:
The debilitating lows
The first time I was watching the show all the way through, somewhere in the early-middle of season 3, I drifted off. First it was one “eh” episode and then another, and then there were pig-men and “Daleks in Manhattan” and I felt less and less of a driving need to load it up on my queue when I got home. There was other stuff … Dexter maybe or Dead Like Me or rewatching Buffy or BSG. I had traveled with The Doctor right into the arms of the Devil himself, but a string of mediocrity was breaking his captivating hold.
“Fancy a spin?” he’d say, leaning against the TARDIS controls.
“Um…maybe later,” I’d say.
I adored him, but our relationship had lost it’s luster.
The absolutely soaring highs
Just like he always does, though, The Doctor turned things around. I shouldn’t have doubted him. I should’ve known that, as Martha put it, he’d still be able to surprise me after all this time. For Pete’s sake, David Tennant’s charisma alone should’ve let me soar past the bumpy bits because all I really needed to do was make it to the John Smith episodes.
They are my go-to recommendations for Who-conversion. If that pair of episodes doesn’t suck someone in, even a little bit, then I generally give them up for a lost cause. (And also delete their number from my phone.) Brilliant depiction of what it means to be The Doctor, brilliant and creepy evil aliens, brilliant acting by Tennant … Just overall brilliant.
And after those came “Blink,” which I still can’t watch right before bed.
I was well and truly in love again.
The season’s Big Boss and my enduring adoration of him
I think John Simm as The Master is amazing. I love the whole concept of The Master, of how all these little bits of the season – Bo’s prophecy, the Chameleon Arch, Mr. Saxon, the Lazarus experiment – build up into one monster of a man who takes everything good about The Doctor – his intelligence, his energy, his sense of fun and life – and perverts them into something horrible.
He’s fantastic (pronounced exactly as Christopher Eccleston would say it) and diabolical and a perfect foil for our hero. He deserved a bang-up finale where the Time Lords really duked it mano-y-mano.
*sigh* Which brings me to …
The rather silly finale
It’s not like the Doctor Who team doesn’t know how to make a damn good one. Ninth Doctor and Rose and Captain Jack get a big ol’ steaming glass of glowy TARDIS-tini to set the day right. Tenth Doctor and Rose get a dramatic rift between parallel universes and one of the best Who-vian moments in the form of Cybermen and Daleks shit-talking each other. (“The only thing you are SUPERIOR at is DYING!”) Tenth Doctor and Donna get Bad Wolf, time shifts and THREE FREAKING DOCTORS all at once.
And Tenth Doctor and Martha and Jack start off well with theirs, too – terrible machines and paradoxes and a year of terror for the whole planet that really shows what horrors a Time Lord can commit when he has no conscience.
But I think the writers must’ve gotten themselves into a bit of a pickle with the storyline because it’s solved rather conveniently by everyone just thinking thinky thoughts that somehow level up The Doctor into Supreme!Glowing!ForceField!Doctor and – bam! – The Master is foiled. Done and done.
It ends strong, with some good final scenes between The Doctor and The Master and a nice exchange between our intrepid heroes, but that middle bit … Oy, that’s just a bit silly.
The redemption of Martha Jones
Look, I’m Doctor/Rose for a romantic pairing – all the way. OTP. Always was. I also adore Doctor/Donna, but as a friendship, brother-sister thing because they are BRILLIANT in that fashion. Beginning season three meant no more Rose, so I was already pretty sad about that when in came Martha. And I hated her. She was just so whiny and petulant most of the time, mooning over The Doctor and stomping around about it like a child. It was irritating. Every now and then she had a cool moment, but most of the time, I wanted to throw things at her head.
And yet, if the writers of the finale did nothing else, they managed to fully redeem Martha Jones for me in the end. By the time she steps away from the TARDIS, on her own volition, a little sad but also strong and confident and in charge of her future, I love her and who they have set her up to be. I almost wish she were sticking around so I could hang out with that Martha.
It’s something I’ve tucked away as a writing lesson, as well. Grow your characters over time – let them be reforged by the experiences you put them through by the end.
And I don’t really know that this entry serves any purpose, really, except that sometimes you need to have a good fandom treatise, and this one is mine. For now anyway.