Starring David Tennant as The Doctor
with Billie Piper as Rose and Noel Clarke as Mickey

171 The Christmas Invasion

David Tennant saves the day. The first two thirds have all the bad stuff from the previous series - the council estate, the bad jokes, the muddy concepts, Harriet fucking Jones, et cetera. But when the new Doctor steps out of the TARDIS on the Sycorax ship, it all comes together and kicks into gear. Shame about that dreadful "Doesn't she look tired?" rubbish, though.


172 New Earth

A steady, rather than spectacular, season opener covering some old business. The slight plot does give Tennant chance to really put his stamp on the role, though the involvement of Cassandra is an embuggerance (it's also hard to feel any empathy for such a piece of work even if she is dying). Still, at least some of the jokes are funny this time around.


173 Tooth and Claw

Once more an excellent mix of history and science fiction isn't helped by a Big Name, in this case Pauline Collins' mannered performance as Queen Victoria. Rose is rather annoying and some of it's over-directed, but the story still manages to be a decent thriller, and the well-researched plot is quite ingenious.


174 School Reunion

Shamelessly feel-good, even if the actual plot isn't particularly interesting. Lis Sladen effortlessly slips back to playing Sarah Jane, and Mickey is finally starting to come good. Anthony Stewart Head is rather wasted (as are some nasty-looking monsters), but K-9 really steals the show - which is ironic as he was something of a pain when he was a regular; the script here manages to persuade us otherwise though.


175 The Girl in the Fireplace

Some great ideas, but they're very badly explained, relying on momentum to keep the questions away. Flashy visuals are chosen over a clear narrative, while the Doctor hasn't been this smug a bastard since Pertwee left, while Tennant and Myles have no believable chemistry. The clockwork robots are great, and Mickey continues to grow into a likeable bloke, but this is glossy rubbish.


176 Rise of the Cybermen

Full of dead weight due to the frivolous alternate universe setting and the mawkish return of Pete Tyler. The Cybermen themselves are generally very good (despite the dodgy catchphrase they're given), but so much of the rest of the story lets them down. Roger Lloyd Pack's performance as Lomax is downright embarrassing too.


177 The Idiot's Lantern

Another leaden lecture from the production team, not helped by the script being so damn chuffed with itself. There are a few good ideas at work and a spooky concept, but the whole thing is just too busy being a not-so-scathing satire on media consumption and domestic abuse to make the best of them. It's very boring too.


178 The Impossible Planet

The first real classic of the revival. Matt Jones' script actually fills its' screentime perfectly, meshing a fascinating mystery with well-developed guest characters. The direction gives it a wonderful atmosphere, and the moral dilemma about the Ood doesn't take over the story. Superb performance from David Tennant too.


179 Love and Monsters

Russell T. Davies' self-satisfied take on fandom isn't actually as unbearable as it might seem, thanks to a carefully feckless performance from Marc Warren. Even Kay's not too bad as Victor Drago, but when he reveals himself as the pathetic Absorbaloff it all goes completely wrong, with a stupid, borderline-insulting ending and the usually celebrity indulgence.


180 Fear Her

Nearly a neat little story - it starts off with a disconcertingly creepy atmosphere effortlessly transposed to a modern street, with a staggering performance from Abisola Agbaje, and a genuine sadness. However, the need to amp up the stakes with all that rubbish at the Olympics robs the episode out its' heart and ends up looking rather stupid.


181 Army of Ghosts

Russell T. Davies discovers how to write. There's the usual council estate trash and ham-fisted pop culture satire at the start, but it kicks up a gear when the Cybermen arrive, and then ratchets up another four or five when the excellent Daleks turn up. As well as being fun, it also converts the dead-end of the alternate Pete into something worthwhile. The ending might be a little mawkish, but overall the story's an absolute blast.