The Next Doctor
Ms. Hartigan: The Cyberking will rise. How like a man.
Episode star rating:***** (out of a possible five)
And so Nu-Who returns, after The Unquiet Dead and Tooth and Claw, to the Victorian Gothic type stories made popular in Doctor Who fandom by the early seasons of Tom Baker. The Cybermen look great in the snow, a shout-out to The Tenth Planet. The Steampunk quotient, present in Tooth and Claw, is cranked up for this episode for the outrageous finale which almost – almost – comes out of nowhere. The phrase “The Cyberking will rise”, repeated by Dervla Kirwan with varying levels of sauciness foreshadows it however.
Dervla Kirwan’s Miss Hartigan with the various subtexts of the performance adds some depth to the glossy Christmas spectacular. If Dervla Kirwan is the highlight of the story, the lowlight is the resolution of the Cyberking event. Morrissey’s Doctor laughs it up and explains what’s going in a vaguely meta way, his Doctor an enjoyably layered creation too.
The sheer spectacle onscreen and the energy of the performances mean it’s a superb story despite any quibbles regarding the plot.
UPDATED AFTER 2017 RETHINK: one * added to rating