The Doctor: Rose! No!
Production Code: 1.8.
Doctor Who Season: S27 (Ep8).
Story Number: 163.
“Emotional 21st Century Doctor Who” – it’s one aspect of the show that’s now at the forefront thanks to the RTD era, (and it continues with Moffat’s version of Doctor Who)…
This should be a big emotional story but is it really, isn’t it more confusing than emotional? The confusing aspects are the time-travel elements. Previous to this story, there was a slow accumulation of Doctor Who “time-travel rules” – that were mainly if not always consistent – but this throws in a lot of new concepts into the mix. That the Time Lords have gone is an in-story explanation as to why nothing like the Reapers has ever happened before, (and the Doctor mentions that two sets of himself-and-Rose being there contributed to the problem).
It was wooly and vague at the time, the “reason” for the Reapers, but recently broadcast stories from the era of the Eleventh Doctor have just made the story even more wooly (characters meeting themselves, changing time. Why no Reapers?) A lot of other stories of this 2005 season just seemed more successful in being emotionally moving (it is drama after all, it’s supposed to conjure a response), this story seemed mawkish. Cornell’s other script, his two-parter in 2007, was superb Doctor Who though, and very emotional. This earlier story has some good elements such as the onscreen realisation of the Reapers, the performance of the cast.
There’s a lot of “gimmicky” scenes in this, such as the ghostly telephone voices and the TARDIS becoming just a box, though the one that’s a gimmick too far is a scene of the Doctor actually dying (a grandiose moment, it’s treated as just another plot development), the “Death of the Doctor” as he’s eaten by a Reaper (before time is vaguely “reset”).
So yes the cast perform superbly – all in all though there’s just too much of the Science Fiction going on that’s vague to let any sort of emotional drama flourish.