Starring Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor
with Billie Piper as Rose, Noel Clarke as Mickey and John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness

161 Rose

As an opening episode, this isn't too bad, though the strong focus on Rose at the expense of the Doctor is a little irritating. However, Billie Piper does very well, and despite a few big wobbles (gurning with the Auton arm) Eccleston makes a passable start. Some well directed action scenes are weighed down by some terrible toilet humour, though.


162 The End of the World

This wants to be a Douglas Adams homage, but his jokes were actually funny and this isn't. Bad acting, ham-fisted stage-managed 'emotion' and general stupidity combine to obscure a story that isn't without some promise. The stuff with the reset button is an insult to the audience, though.


163 The Unquiet Dead

Desperately overpraised on broadcast through simple dint of featuring next to no toilet humour, "The Unquiet Dead" would actually be a passable slice of gothic horror if not for the needless grafting of historical celebrity Charles Dickens (played with pantomime subtlety by Simon Callow) to the story. The grinding references undermine most of the good stuff and obscure everyone else's good work.


164 World War Three

Despite the needless soap opera of the Tyler family and Mickey, this one starts off with some neat ideas, notably the distraction spaceship obscuring the real enemy. However, once the Slitheen reveal themselves it loses any serious purpose and the fart jokes and other bad comedy (the punchable Harriet Jones) takes over. And there's two episodes of this rubbish.


165 Dalek

A fine, tense episode that throws everything in. There's some passable angst from Eccleston, stunning action sequences and the Dalek itself is fantastic. There are a couple of stupid bits of course (notably Rose and Adam taunting the Dalek on the stairs, which is far too self-aware), but generally it's all well executed.


166 The Long Game

This one stands out as the cheap episode of the series, but what really hurts it is the preachy script full of bad jokes and tacky moralising. Casting Simon Pegg in a would-be sinister role he plainly thinks is beneath him doesn't help, but really this one was never going to hold the interest and you can see where he's coming from...


167 Father's Day

After the over-reliance on musical cues to signpost apparent emotion, it's great to finally have some real feeling here thanks to careful performances from Piper and Shaun Dingwall. The script makes Pete sympathetic while avoiding excusing his flaws, and the Reapers and the rest of the plot flesh out the episode nicely. There are also lots of great little touches for other characters.


168 The Empty Child

Probably the high point of the season (and the only two-parter to really make good use of its' screen time), Steven Moffat's debut blends spooky gasmasks with a terrific plot, lovely period detail and a genuinely feel-good ending. Captain Jack makes a wonderful debut, with Barrowman actually playing the character rather than himself, and at this point is a welcome addition.


169 Boom Town

A very uneven episode. It starts off with some appalling comedy, with Jack already becoming a caricature and the regulars at their most annoying. It then becomes a fascinating moral dilemma, at which point Russell T. Davies loses his balls and have the alien turn out to be lying all along, preventing any difficult decisions from being made as instead a fatty tries to destroy the Earth so she can ride a space surfboard. And it's not as interesting as that sounds.


170 Bad Wolf

Davies attempts to play plot master and fails spectacularly. The leaden pop culture stuff takes up far too much space in the first half solely so the Daleks can be hoarded for the cliffhanger, they're then basically wasted, and the second half is a rushed parade of plot devices. Even the regeneration scene is flashy rubbish.