Doctor Who: Series Two

Doctor Who: Series Two

***

Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

When Queer As Folk creator Russell T Davies announced plans to reimagine the old-school classic Dr Who, it's fair to say that the fanboys panicked and your average TV viewer didn't really care. However, though not able to escape its long-running ‘nerds only’ label (tell anyone you watch it and you're instantly tarred as a geek), Davies combined with Christopher Eccleston to rejuvenate the Time Lord with a successful first series.

So what of the second? Well, for the most part it’s more of the same only without the fresh back-from-the-dead feel. Sharing the same strengths and weaknesses as Davies’ freshman effort, Series Two oscillates between tiresome end-of-the-world threats and superb material that touches on the nature of humanity (such as that urge to jump into the unknown). Okay, so its still overly-silly at times and the frequent stunt-casting is distracting (Peter Kay anyone?), but whenever Doctor Who ventures into dark, adult material it grips like a sonic vice.

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Despite frequently adhering to the template set last year (the Dr and Rose (Billie Piper) arrive in an Earth-related place to face an evil race trying to enslave mankind) the quality of each episode varies dramatically. While one minute we get the standout Event Horizon-esque two-parter The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit, the next we get an almost Dr-less yarn about a group devoted to finding the titular hero (good idea, overly comical execution). As for the finale, it’s undoubtedly way out there in terms of zany, but the emotional punches hit very hard.

Indeed, the biggest – and most obvious – difference is, of course, The Doctor. With the brilliant Eccleston deciding to leave the TARDIS behind due to fears of typecasting, self-confessed Whovian David Tennant steps in to give his own eccentric take while offering chemistry with Billie Piper (who can rise to decent material). Sure, Tennant’s Doc is less haunted by past events than his predecessor and more of an infectious enthusiast, but there’s no doubting the gobby Scot is very, very likeable. One question though, why didn’t he keep his native accent?

Elsewhere the effects range from the obvious to very impressive (see the cat-people or the Satanic beast), the score music is subtly impressive and – like the older version – there is many a chilling moment to be had (the Cybermen marching in unison, the Ood staring out from their paddock). Though too frequently too zany for its own good, the self-knowing vibe does provide amusement with in-jokes ranging from Camille Coduri’s ample busom to a typical Eastenders Christmas.

Aside from David Tennant’s entertaining feet-finding as The Doctor, series two is pretty much on par with its predecessor. Now, if only next year can become a bit more adult and avoid London’s council estates for a few minutes.

Reviewed on: 11 May 2009
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Torchwood, Cybermen and Madame De Pompadour - oh, my! And Peter Kay running around in a fat suit.
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Director: James Hawes, Euros Lyn, Graeme Harper, James Strong, Dan Zeff

Writer: Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat, Toby Whithouse, Tom MacRae, Mark Gatiss, Matt Jones, Matthew Graham

Starring: David Tennant, Billie Piper, Sophia Myles, Anthony Head, Peter Kay, Elizabeth Sladen, Noel Clarke, Zoë Wanamaker, Pauline Collins, Camille Coduri, Shaun Dingwall, Roger Lloyd Pack, Gabriel Woolf, Nicholas Briggs

Year: 2006

Runtime: 606 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

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