In the previous series review post, we took a look at the first series or season of the rebooted “Doctor Who” series. It successfully introduced new viewers to the main concepts of the series, gave them reasonable expectations, and introduced a Doctor that was very different from the Classic Who Doctors. Now with this, they were able to take all of that, and build more on it with the show’s second series.
This series saw the debut run of the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), alongside last series’ companion, Rose Tyler (Billie Piper). It also featured Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke), as a more prominent character in the show as compared to the last series, and it also saw the return of one of the most beloved companions in the show’s long history- Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) (of course, we can’t forget K-9, can we?)
Also, this series allowed for the creations of the show’s two spin-off shows, “Torchwood” and “The Adventures of Sarah Jane”. “Torchwood”, which starred John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness, was the one that had more mature, dark and more adult themes, and began airing in October 2006. “The Sarah Jane Adventures”, which catered to a more tween and teenaged audience, starred Sarah Jane Smith, and premiered on January 1, 2007.
Series 2’s stories were penned by Russell T. Davies, Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Tom McRae, Matt Jones, Matthew Graham and Toby Whithouse; while the episodes were directed by Euros Lyn, James Hawes, Graeme Harper, Dan Zaff and James Strong. Again, the music was composed by Murray Gold, although, for me, he had not yet reached his peak when it comes to the music of “Doctor Who”. In this series, Gold’s best was seen in the tracks entitled “Rose’s Theme”, “Madame De Pompadour” and “Doomsday”.
Generally speaking, I think that the writers had a lot of fun with this series, and I think they were given a little bit more room to run wild with things, since they were building upon the foundation that was series 1. Some of them were hits, some of them were misses, but the one thing that really made up for everything was the amazing chemistry that Tennant and Piper had on screen together.
More than Rose, this series really laid the groundwork as to who and what kind of Doctor the Tenth Doctor would be, such as his quirks, his particular skill set, and his main and core fundamental personality. Of course, this would grow and develop over the course of his run, but this series showed the viewers of who he really is.
Also, they were able to flesh out the characters of Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri) and Mickey more than they did in the last season.
This was also the start of having the Doctor regenerating or still recuperating from regeneration during a Christmas Special, and it was also the beginning of having “Doctor-lite” episodes (episodes which didn’t really feature the Doctor prominently in the episode).
All in all, this wasn’t my favorite series among nine full series that we have had so far. In fact, both prior and after my rewatch, it still lands in the bottom and tied with series 5, based on how many episodes I really liked and enjoyed in the series. However, despite all of that, series 2 was a fun watch and it also contained “The Girl in the Fireplace”, one of my favorite episodes of Nu Doctor Who, as well as “School Reunion”, which I enjoyed more now because of Sarah Jane Smith AND the reappearance of K-9.
(Also, just a note, I’m including the Christmas Specials that aired per series before the series proper in each of my series reviews here.)
Now before delving deeper into what I liked and didn’t like about series 2, here’s your warning to turn away because there will be spoilers!
Technically, the first real episode that did feature the Tenth Doctor wasn’t “New Earth”, but the Christmas Special, “Christmas Invasion”. This special does have many issues, especially with the wasted potential of the Sycorax and the first appearance of the “pilot fish” aliens; but it did manage to treat us to some shots of UNIT, Prime Minister Harriet Jones (Penelope Wilton), it was our first mention of Torchwood, and it also began informing us as to what kind of Doctor the Tenth Doctor would be. (A talkative genius who likes pushing big glaring buttons, and is a hero in every sense of the world. Also, he’s still “not ginger”, and was appalled at how rude he can be at times.) So, for all of its faults, I still like going back to this special, and watching all the UNIT bits, and all the parts in which the Tenth Doctor is properly awake and being the Doctor.
As I mentioned earlier, I feel that the writers had more fun and ran wild a little bit more than the first season, although they were also careful enough to lay the foundations for the spin-off shows “Torchwood” and “The Sarah Jane Adventures”.
Torchwood, an institute founded by Queen Victoria to go (aggressively) against aliens and the Doctor, of course, was the main recurring theme of this series, and it was more in your face as compared to the Bad Wolf recurring theme, right from Christmas Special. The pay off this time around during the series finale, “Army of Ghosts/Doomsday” was alright, but it didn’t blow my socks away, and I also kept wondering why there was no UNIT presence at all during the events that transpired. (If someone can answer this, I would be very grateful!)
My absolute favorite episodes of this series were “The Girl in the Fireplace” and “School Reunion”.
“The Girl in the Fireplace” as it was just a strong and beautiful science fiction story, which showcased the Tenth Doctor at his best when it comes to being heroic, and at the same time, I like how Rose was showing Mickey the ropes of being a time traveler. Not to mention that the music was great, and the acting, especially during the quieter and more poignant scenes, was great.
I love “School Reunion” because it returned Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) back to the show, and as it explored the realities of “what happens next” to the companions once their run is done. For Sarah Jane, I’m glad that she was able to get some sort of closure, and although she had made good for herself already, she left with more of a spring in her step. Also, I think that the Doctor does regard Sarah Jane as one of his dearest companions, because of the way that his face beams up with fondness and pride when she enters the picture. (Also, K-9 is awesome. Never forget K-9). So all of the cheesiness of the plot and aliens, for me, is forgiven because of this.
“Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel” is actually a pretty solid two-parter, and I honestly was terrified and later on saddened, by the Cybermen. (Honestly, I feel like the Cybermen in this series and in series 9 were the best runs that these Classic Who villains had in NuWho). For all of it’s faults, I liked this two-parter even more on the second watch because this was the episode that Mickey really shone, and it also an episode in which we see the definitive Tenth Doctor- someone who talks his enemies down, making up a plan on the fly, but executing them well with his mechanical skills and not so subtle hints at friends who are outside the room of where he is. Mickey also was able to find his rightful place, as he did recognize that he wasn’t needed with Rose and the Doctor.
“The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit” not only introduced us to the Ood, but it was just a great science fiction story. However, I skip this one because possession stories and anything related to the Devil scares me.
“Army of Ghosts/Doomsday” was a solid finale, nowhere near as epic as the series 3 finale, but it was good. It was a good adventure and science fiction story with the Daleks and Cybermen going against each other (whoever wrote that script for when those two species meet is a genius as I found it hilarious), but I feel like there was too much Doctor and less of Rose, who, at the end of the two parter, ended up in a parallel universe to which the Doctor could never get to. Because of this, I feel that there should have been more for Rose to do so that it could be a proper send off. However, despite that, Piper shines bright, especially at the very, very end of the finale.
“New Earth” and “Tooth & Claw” were better upon second viewing, but “Love & Monsters” and “Fear Her”, I still didn’t like.
Now, let’s talk about the Tenth Doctor.
Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, is every inch the charming, yet geeky, hero. He’s got great mechanical skills, and is more nimble and more physical then Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor. He also TALKS a lot. However, you can still detect a tinge of darkness and harshness in him, especially when he feels that he has given his adversaries the two chances that he has allotted for them.
This Doctor was born out of love, thanks to Rose, and you can see the hints of romance here. He was laid back, comfortable, happy, and did everything to make sure that Rose was happy, while still being the Doctor. In fact, I feel that this was the most that Ten had in his adventures. Sure, he had fun with Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate), but it was different with Rose. er, as the seasons progressed, he did
Rose, on the other hand, I began not to like. I felt that she was becoming too clingy to him, and that her character growth had somehow run its course. However, she was proving herself to be a very capable person when the Doctor wasn’t around. She was still grounding him, yes, but not as much as she did in the first series.
I still get sad over the series finale, but honestly, I believe that Rose had run her course as a companion, and her leaving that way would also push Ten in a different direction and be more dynamic in terms of character growth and development. If it weren’t for this, the different emotional arcs and journeys he would take would not be there, and I think that that is also what makes him an interesting character to me. (I’ll be talking more in depth about the Tenth Doctor in my Character Guide on him later on.)
Series 2 was a little bit hit or miss for me, and is not my favorite of all the NuWho series/seasons, and is ranked in my bottom three (which also include Series 5 and Series 7). However, I have a lot of fondness for Series 2 mostly because it was Tennant’s debut as the Tenth Doctor, Mickey had a lot of character development, and I got to see Sarah Jane Smith.
However, it did lay the groundwork for Tennant’s incarnation of the Doctor, and it was just enjoyable to see how well the Tenth Doctor and Rose work with each other, as well as the amazing on screen chemistry that these two had. Aside from this, it didn’t shy away from just having fun, and it also laid the groundwork for “Torchwood” and “The Sarah Jane Adventures”.
What did you think of series 2? What were your favorite episodes? Do you think that Rose had run her course as a companion during series 2? Let me know what you think in the comments below! (And once again, please be reminded to be nice, and respectful, and present intelligent arguments while discussing things.)