Starring David Tennant as The Doctor
with Catherine Tate as Donna Noble and Freema Agyeman as
Martha Jones
featuring John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness and John Simm as The Master

182 The Runaway Bride

With another guest star, this might have been a forgettable piece of Christmas nonsense. However, Catherine Tate is truly horrible, basically playing one of her sketch characters with unrelenting gobbiness. Beyond her, there's very little to the thing - it's basically a terrible clash of character drawn out to infuriating length.


183 Smith and Jones

Martha gets a fine introduction that uses many of the same tricks as "Rose", but wraps them up in a much better plot. There are a couple of nice twists, especially the role of the Judoon, even if the actual villain is a bit poor. Not only is Martha pretty good, but her family aren't given much focus - much better than the Tylers already.


184 The Shakespeare Code

Well, wouldn't you know it - a historical story that just happens to centre on a well-known historical figure who's been featured in a successful film. This time there's a guy from Shameless as a truly repellent Shakespeare, and his grandstanding performance and some diabolical running jokes mask an entertaining, well-sourced plot.


185 Gridlock

Once again Russell T. Davies has to have a stab at broad satire with the mood patches, but once they're out of the way this is a cracking episode - nice and claustrophobic with two great twists. Firstly there's the Macra, a totally random return that's all the more fun for it being just about the last thing anyone was expecting, and then just when we're ready for moralising about the rich people who live above, there's the revelation of the dead city. Plenty of colourful characters help it along, and it's one of the best of the whole season.


186 The Daleks in Manhattan

Bringing the Daleks back once more has diminishing returns. They're largely wasted for much of the story, and their showing in "Army of Ghosts" feels like a distant memory as Dalek Sec goes through his hilarious transformation. Some very, very bad acting (including a genuinely painful accent from Miranda Raison) and the funny pig people don't help - if it wasn't so boring it'd be rather funny. But it's at least an episode overlong. Possibly two.


187 The Lazarus Experiment

Oh dear. The resurfacing of soap elements with the Jones family is rather unwelcome (and highlights how quickly they've already ran into a brick wall with Martha), and it doesn't help that the actual plot is so predictable you wonder if the twist is going to be that Lazarus' machine doesn't have any side effects. Add in a performance from Gatiss that's about as subtle as a nuke and it's another bad one, I'm afraid...


188 42

The living sun and the possessed crew member are decent enough devices, but the guest characters fall rather flat and there are just too many lazy conveniences. The real time gimmick doesn't work either - considering how pacy most of the revival series has been it tends to be not a million miles from real time anyway.


189 Human Nature

A real piece of beauty. A fine book is adapted into an excellent story, distinguished by a truly stunning performance from David Tennant - special praise to the scenes where the Doctor's personality begins to come back. Add in the period feel of the school, the superb Scarecrows, the terrifying Family of Blood and a worthy performance from Jessica Hynes. And then there's the spectacular ending. Not even Martha's stupidity can spoil this one.


190 Blink

While it's been ridiculously overpraised courtesy of its' quotability and modish pop tech references, "Blink" is still a well-constructed thriller that fully takes advantage of the possibilities of time travel. The angels are complete rubbish when you think about it (they kill you by... making you live a rich and full life in another era... huh...). It's a good way of getting around the filming schedule thing, though.


191 Utopia

A grim and grimy Mad Max influenced story that remains largely upbeat, and is superbly directed and acted. The return of the Master is actually quite well-handled, with Derek Jacobi turning in a stunning performance in stark contrast to the bumbling Yana. However, the last couple of minutes, with John Simm ranting like a small excited child, are a portent of doom, and Captain Jack's return for a couple of minor plot points is disappointing.



192 The Sound of Drums

If this was anywhere near as smart as it thought it was, it'd put the rest of the show to shame. But it isn't - Russell T. Davies' script lurches from unexplained plot device to unexplained plot device, the humiliations heaped on the Doctor are hilarious due to the complete stupidity involved, and John Simm's pantomime dame antics ensure any subtlety accidentally left in the script is totally obliterated. Probably very funny if you're under eight.