My second pick of the revived series is the first of the now Traditional Christmas Specials – “The Christmas Invasion”. Not because of the episode itself necessarily but more for the arrival of David Tennant’s Doctor and the moment that you knew he got Russell T Davis’s writing pattern and rhythm.
The story is standard sci-fi with an alien race looking to take over a planet and harvest from it. The strengths for me come from the light touches, great humour and the characterisation that would mark out the Tennant/Davis tenure. The return and use of Harriett Jones as PM is great and Penelope Wilton should really be on our screens more often as she is a great actress. But the show belongs to David as the slowly regenerating Tenth Doctor. Because of the power that he took from Rose the regeneration from ninth to tenth has it’s issues and the lack of Doctor at the centre of the story until the last fifteen minutes or so is probably a reason that many don’t like the episode.
There are lovely cultural touchstones though from Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lion King, Russell gives the actors lots of fun lines and ideas to play with. By the end of the episode David has very much established himself in the role and the pace he gets the lines across encapsulates the new incarnation really well. We also see a duality in the character of being tired, unforgiving and angry alongside the more silly and verbose Timelord and that continues right through until matt takes over. For me this multi-faceted Doctor is my favourite (so far) because he grabs the emotional levers and make you laugh with great lines, worry that he will take things too far (Timelord Victorious), but also make you cry like no other version of the Doctor can (I give you the line “I don’t want to go.”)
This is the episode that starts off that amazing five year tenure in charge of the Blue Police Box – he puts the PM in her place, swashes his buckle, chooses his geek chic costume, makes us and Rose fall for him, commands the attention of the Sycorax and shows he knows how to use the Sonic Screwdriver. It’s the start of the most action packed, dramatic, funny, heart breaking Doctor.
Next Time: “The Girl in the Fireplace”