The TARDIS crash lands in London, with a new Doctor at the
controls. It is Christmas Eve, but the yuletide season becomes
a time of terror for Rose, Jackie and Mickey when they are
attacked by sinister Santas and a killer Christmas tree, then
for the whole of mankind when the alien Sycorax arrive. The
world needs the Doctor, but the bedridden Time Lord has not
yet recovered from his regeneration...
DVD contains David Tennant's first two episodes as the Tenth
Doctor, The Christmas Invasion and New Earth.
Or his second and third episodes, if you count the Children
in Need mini-episode, which I do and which is tragically
absent from this disc. I hope the BBC include it in the Series
2 box set this autumn, because I consider it a vital precursor
to The Christmas Invasion. For one thing, it explains
why the TARDIS lands on Earth rather than the planet Barcelona.
think I'm in the minority here, but I have to say that, during
his all-too-brief debut in the one-hour yuletide episode,
Tennant doesn't make such an immediately distinctive impression
as his predecessor Christopher Eccleston did during his first
be fair, though, Tennant only gets about 20 minutes of airtime
to establish himself once he has recovered from his regeneration,
and perhaps we shouldn't expect the Tenth Doctor to be so
different from the Ninth anyway. The last two occasions on
which a new television Doctor was presented to us, the series
had been off the air for several years and the new Doctor
was brought to us by a brand new production team. The respective
introductions of Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston were
therefore both bound up with the shock of the new that accompanied
a re-launch of the show itself. This time around, the production
team the remains practically the same as before.
Tennant puts his own stamp on the role, the Doctor still speaks
with the distinctive voice of chief writer Russell T Davies.
This is a Doctor who flirts with his companion, and who says
"yeah" and "nah" rather than "yes" and "no". It becomes clear
that these are trademarks of Davies rather than of Eccleston.
his predecessor, the new Doctor's jocular demeanour conceals
a dark and dangerous flipside. Witness his treatment of the
Sycorax leader ("No second chances") and his warning to the
defeated enemy that Earth is defended. However, this darker
side was also a characteristic of the Seventh and Eighth Doctors
(I'm factoring in the Eighth's audio and prose adventures
here too), so we shouldn't be surprised that it remains present
in the Tenth. It seems to be a requirement of heroes in general
does set Tennant's Doctor apart from Eccleston's is that he
seems far more at ease in domestic situations, such as sitting
down to a family Christmas dinner, something the Ninth Doctor
would never have agreed to. He is also more of a man of action
than his predecessor, engaging in a thrilling sword fight
with the Sycorax leader (Sean Gilder).
for the rest of the episode, the yuletide setting is as flimsy
as tinsel decorating the plot. It is largely irrelevant except
at the beginning and very end of the show. The sinister Santas
and killer Christmas tree come and go with little explanation
as to their nature or motivation, and are quickly forgotten
once the Sycorax arrive.
It's great to see the return of Penelope Wilton as Harriet
Jones, Prime Minister (as she likes to introduce herself).
Her character undergoes a surprising change, though sadly
this also means that any future appearances will probably
not see her as her amiable old self. Her fate also undermines
some of the Ninth Doctor's predictions about her future in
World War Three (though
Johnny Fanboy has an answer to that).
reviewers have compared the Doctor's outrage at the Prime
Minister's actions with the Third Doctor's anger at the Brigadier
at the end of Doctor Who and the Silurians. However,
the homage to Season 7 doesn't end there. The Christmas
Invasion also borrows from Spearhead From Space,
by having UNIT and the Doctor's human chums carry the can
while the recuperating Time Lord is bedridden for most of
the first 40 minutes of the story. Later on, the Doctor, like
the Brigadier before him, states that Earth's space probes
have been drawing unwanted attention to the planet. As in
Ambassadors of Death, a British probe sent
to Mars is intercepted by aliens (but not actually Martians).
I detect no allusions to Inferno, but then we have
a parallel Earth story to look forward to later in the series.
did anyone else pick up on the similarities to Faction Paradox?
The Sycorax's bony heads remind me of the Faction's skull
masks, and their use of voodoo methods is also comparable.
all my qualifying statements above, I did enjoy The Christmas
Invasion, and it only gets better on repeated viewing,
no matter what the time of year.
The Doctor and Rose visit mankind's new home in the year five
billion and twenty-three. A luxury hospital is being run by
an order of cat-like nurses who claim they can cure all illnesses,
but the institution hides a terrifying secret. An old friend,
the Face of Boe, has a message for the Doctor, while an enemy
he had thought long-since dead, the Lady Cassandra, is out
On the surface, New Earth seems to be Series 2's equivalent
of The End of the World. With its far-future setting
and the respective returns of Cassandra (ZoŽ Wanamaker) and
the Face of Boe (voiced by Struan Rodger), this is clearly
a sequel to The End...
In other respects, however, this instalment is analogous to
the previous series' debut episode, Rose. Once again,
the story feels rather lightweight and lacking in depth. This
is demonstrated most noticeably in the Doctor's solution to
the ensuing biohazard, which seems a little too neat and convenient,
not to mention fast.
Having said that, we know by now that Russell T Davies has
a J Michael Straczynski-like knack for foreshadowing events
to come, so what appear to be throwaway incidents may gain
added significance in a few episodes' time. No prizes for
guessing that the Face of Boe will reappear (because he says
as much to the Doctor), but does anyone else think that the
new human population of New Earth will prove to be an irresistible
lure for the deadly Cybermen later in the year...?
Wanamaker isn't in the episode for as long as I had expected.
Then again, she wasn't present for more than a few minutes
in The End..., for reasons of effects time and cost.
On the plus side, though, we do get to see her former self,
before she was reduced to being a mere flap of skin, and other
characters are possessed by her distinctive personality, which
leads to some very amusing impersonations by Tennant, Billie
Piper (Rose) and Sean Gallagher (who plays Cassandra's manservant,
Chip). Like Blon in Boom Town, Cassandra's second story
presents her in a more sympathetic light than the first, and
she achieves a degree of redemption.
is a higher than usual element of comedy in this instalment,
which boasts some great lines, including Cassandra/Rose's
"Oh my God, I'm a chav!" and sight gags such as the disinfectant
in all, New Earth is a decent start to the new series
- or perhaps that should be the new new series.