Unsurprisingly, I've also watched The Next Doctor, and this is what I thought about it.
- I came to the party fairly unspoiled, with my only expectations having arisen from seeing the first two minutes on Children In Need night. I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, to find that the teaser snippet had been cunningly misleading and that the Next Doctor was apparently not going to be a con man or impostor as I'd suspected (and thus this was not going to be a remake of an audio story that I haven't heard).
- Miss Hartigan may be able to astonish the locals by turning up at a funeral in a shocking frock with an even more shocking attitude (oooh Matron, as they say down at the workhouse), but I was much more amused by the two Doctors sharing a startling-but-fun experience involving lots of rope and severe bottom-chafing, and the Next Doctor later delivering the line "I shall effect an entrance at the rear..."
- Despite the initial flurry of double entendres, however, the first half of the episode was surprisingly straight-faced and remarkably touching. This was mainly down to David Morrissey, whose switch from bombastic brashness to hopeless and helpless was absolutely stellar; however, Ten's genuine emotional reaction (see, he can do it!) to someone he first believes is (or could be) himself, and then realizes is not, but is someone he unwittingly has a lot in common with, also rose to the occasion rather wonderfully. Throw in Rosita, who was not the screechy irritant that the teaser made her appear to be, and the crowd-pleasing multi-Doctor flashback, and there was some really good stuff here. Given the pile of marshmallow that was Voyage of the Damned, I was quite stunned, but in the best way.
- Mind you, the Cybershades were rather rubbish: a cheapo cross between a Buffy-brand werewolf and a Puli dog, perhaps? And Tethered Aerial Release Developed In Style was a groanworthy acronym if I ever heard one. Mind you, in my tired and emotional state, I can't really improve on it. Tumescent Airbag Roped Down In Stable-yard? Teased Audience Registers Disbelief In Spoilers? I got nothin'.
- It's a shame, then, that after the halfway mark, the whole shebang pretty much fell apart in a welter of gratuitous silliness. Suffering orphans in the Cyber-workhouse (straight out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by way of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), check. Miss Hartigan borrowing a pair of fake eyeballs from Maya-from-Heroes and suffering from that annoying mixture of being-told-she's-brilliant and acting-like-she's-stupid that gives supposedly "strong" women characters a bad name, check. One of the Sentinels from X-Men rising from the deep in search of a bit of seasonal work, check. Jackson being removed from the dramatic bit at the end and just standing there watching like a lemon, check. Ten swinging about doing a dull Indy-inspired routine match his boring Bond-alike shenanigans from last year, check.
- But most ridiculous of all, because it was utter overkill, was the fact that Jackson's missing son turned up wearing Max Factor Big-Eyed Orphan Look mascara! Oh Russell T., WHY did you do that? Jackson was eminently loveable and hugely sympathetic, you didn't NEED to give him an utterly clichéd Christmas Rent-an-Urchin to drum up a bit of extra lump-in-the-throatiness. He already had it in spades, and you almost threw it away. It was only Mr Morrissey's dramatic clout that managed to hold onto it, in fact. I can only echo Mr Lake's own words and say "How very, very silly."
- Still, I suppose the presence of Tiny
TimFrederic was dramatically required to give Jackson a reason to stay on Earth, despite the fact that he would have been a fabulous companion and had buckets of chemistry with Ten. At least the ending left a lovely space for pervy mindscreative imaginations to explore. Oh, go on Doctor, take Jackson with you. He can leave the sprog with Rosita for a few years, no harm done! The kid doesn't have a personality anyway!
- So, kudos to Messrs Morrissey and Tennant, an eyeroll and a hard tweak of the nose to RTD, and roll on "Planet of the Dead", I suppose. And no Torchwood teaser yet? Boo. I wasn't really expecting one but a girl has to have hopes...
Afterwards on ITV, I happened to see a trailer for Demons, a peculiar new series that seems to be half-Dracula rewrite, half-Buffy rip-off, starring Gene Hunt doing an American accent (?!?) and Ross Jenkins of UNIT fame. Was this real, or was it just a hallucination brought on by overexposure to roast potatoes? On second thoughts, I'm not sure I can bear to find out...