Published on December 30th, 2008 | by Christian Cawley
The Next Doctor Reviews Roundup
Well where do you start – to say that critical reception to The Next Doctor was mixed is a little bit like describing the Sahara as dry.
I could speculate that finally the press has cottoned on that a typical Russell T Davies Doctor Who script is a string of badly conceived set pieces. Just occasionally he makes it all worthwhile with classic episodes like Midnight. For all hint of quality however, it is necessary to sit through the quantity. You know, the wheat from the chaff, that sort of thing.
If you think that’s harsh, I’ll introduce you to AA Gill of the Times. He’s already hacked off (!) with Christmas specials, writing about Christmas specials, year in year out, something that Gill considers to be "flogging a dead reindeer". Don’t get him started on David Morrissey or The Next Doctor…
This Christmas special… was low on extras and short on story. It was self-consciously overwrought, with a good 1930s-style juggernaut robot that stamped on Victorian London. The new Doctor looked like David Morrissey… It would be depressing if he were going to take over. It’s not exactly that the part’s too shallow for him, but that he’s too big an actor for the part. I fear he will look ridiculous paddling his talent around in it.
On second thoughts, don’t get Gill started on Doctor Who or indeed anything on television. I’ve always wondered why someone who obviously dislikes television so much would review television programs.
Perhaps there’s a career in reviewing rubbish, or stuff you hate. I wonder if there is a job going for a reviewer of Take That albums…
Den of Geek, meanwhile, reckon that RTD was enjoying a bit of Ghostbusters while writing The Next Doctor. How else can the giant CyberKing robot that looked like the combined Big Dai X have come into fruition?
We had a massive Cyberman stomping, Mr Stay Puft style, all over Victorian England. To say this reviewer had to suppress a guffaw would show a level of understatement that the massive Cyberman lacked. And yet, you couldn’t help but warm to the fella.
As for David Morrissey – well yes he was good, but he’s not the definite argument.
That weeping sound heard just before 7 o’clock was an abundance of punters realising that their fiver at Ladbrokes on Morrissey being the next Doctor was a few quid wasted.
I thought it was the sound of angels. Must get my hearing checked. Must be all of the M&S trifile I imbued on Christmas Day.
Speaking of M&S – Dervla Kirwan was rather smashing, I thought, underplaying the villainous role nicely in a way that could be described as the antithesis of Sarah Parish (that crazy spider thing in The Runaway Bride). Liverpool Confidential were certainly impressed.
‘The Next Doctor’ offered a reptilian Dervla Kerwin, resplendent in her scarlet dress against the snow white backdrop. She’s what made the graveyard scene so thrilling, willingly watching her fellow man die… writer Russell T Davies also infused the episode with a range of Dickensian motifs, with ladies of the night, street urchins and this workhouse madam straight out of Nicholas Nickleby, who, like the Cybermen, had divested herself of much of her humanity even before she was inevitably converted.
Oh and look out – it’s Mr Stay Puft man again!
Not even last year’s image, of a lookalike of the Queen scurrying from Buck House as a space replica of the Titanic skitted overhead, prepared me for the sight of the 1,000-foot tall, manga-friendly steampunk Cyberman stomping across London like mechanised cousin of Mr Staypuffed in Ghostbusters.
Seriously however, if you really liked The Next Doctor, don’t read what "The Meddling Monk" thought of it.
We’ll leave the last word to the lovely MaryAnn Johanson, who adores Doctor Who. However, even she was slightly bemused by one aspect of the Doctor Who Christimas Special 2008.
…what the **** was with those shaggy dog Cyberthings?