Thursday, January 6, 2011

'Doctor Who' Season 3 (2007)

Starring David Tennant and Freema Agyeman
Developed by Russell T. Davies

Doctor Who: The Complete Third SeriesWhile I felt Season Two was a huge step up from Season One, could I really have been prepared for how near-perfect Season Three of "Doctor Who" is?

The Doctor (David Tennant) still reeling from the lose of Rose (Billie Piper), suddenly finds himself on a new adventure when a woman named Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) is mysteriously transported aboard the TARDIS from her wedding on Christmas day.  Attempting to get Donna back to her wedding, the two discover that she is actually the central figure in a new alien invasion of Earth.  Within her body are certain energy particles which could be used to awaken long-dormant alien creatures hibernating in the core of the Earth, which would then eat the population.  After defeating these aliens, the Doctor asks Donna if she'd like to join him in his travels, but she refuses.

Not long after, however, the Doctor meets Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman), a medical student who gets embroiled in an adventure after aliens transport her entire hospital to the moon.  As reward for helping him stop the aliens, the Doctor offers Martha a single trip to anywhere in time or space.  The two head for the 1500s and meet William Shakespeare.  With their trip extending further and further the Doctor eventually offers Martha a more permanent place aboard the TARDIS, and the two journey across the cosmos together, facing strange alien menaces, and new and old enemies alike.

While the entire third season of "Doctor Who" is wildly entertaining, I can't rave enough about the episode "Blink," which is just genius.  The script is taught and fun, featuring a great premise and some truly excellent antagonists.  The Doctor and Martha barely appear; the Doctor mostly through bits on video screens, and then the two appear only briefly in the final scene.  "Blink" is the story of Sally Sparrow, who finds messages from the Doctor warning her about "The Weeping Angels," just as her friends begin to disappear.  The Angels are statues in the garden of an old abandoned house, but they're not really statues.  The Doctor explains that they can only move when they are not being observed by a living creature - and that Sally should never, ever blink.

It's difficult to describe just how awesome a premise this is.  The episode probably could have gotten by just on that, but writer Stephen Moffat takes it a few steps further with some really genius use of time travel mechanics to make this one of the finest hours of television I've seen in a long while.  This is, without a doubt, my favorite episode of the entire series so far.

The other highlight of the season has to be the three-part finale in which the Doctor finds another surviving Time Lord: the evil Master (John Simm).  The Master steals the TARDIS, and the Doctor, Martha and Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) arrive months too late to stop him from becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain.  They arrive to find that the Master, masquerading as Harold Saxon, has become extremely popular.  He announces that he will negotiate a peace treaty with a mysterious race of aliens that look like small metal spheres.  But this is a ruse: the spheres actually do the Master's bidding, and he uses them to take control of the entire world, and ordering them to kill 10 percent of the planet's population.  He captures the Doctor and Captain Jack, but Martha manages to escape.

The finale takes place one year later, as Martha has been traveling the world laying the seeds of rebellion against the Master.  It's a fantastic episode, through and through, and the ultimate resolution is pure "Doctor Who."  I'm consistently surprised that as dark as this show can get, it always manages some kind of good-natured conclusion.  The Doctor and Martha's "weapon" for defeating the Master is a great twist on an old sci-fi standby, and really speaks to the cleverness of the writers and the kind of effort that gets put into making this show.

David Tennant steps up this year, as well.  While the previous season I felt that sometimes it was difficult to take him seriously in the show's darker moments, I have no such qualms here.  He's pitch perfect episode after episode, deftly balancing seriousness and goofiness.  Freema Agyeman is a nice, fun presence as Martha.  I actually came to care for her a bit more than I did for Rose, as Martha seems a bit more rounded and likable as a character.  She's a bit more take-charge than Rose, which is obvious from the get-go, and her world-weariness after a year of fighting the Master is an excellent take.

I can't recommend this third season of "Doctor Who" enough.  The cast brings their all, the episodes are great (even truly fantastic), and the show has once again stepped up its technical production.  Full of fun, adventure, and humor, this is definitely a top-notch bit of sci-fi TV.

See Also:
Season One
Season Two