Starring David Tennant as The Doctor
with Kylie Minogue as Astrid Perth, Catherine Tate as Donna Noble
and Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones

193 Voyage of the Damned

Despite hitting many of the revival's more tiresome quotas (funny fat people, funny brightly-coloured small people, evil businessmen, celebrity guest-stars, messianic cheese) this is actually a great homage to disaster movies (and thus feels more Christmassy than anything actually involving Christmas). Astrid's manufactured character falls a little flat, but really it's more than the sum of its' parts.


194 Partners in Crime

Tate's return isn't quite as dreadful as expected, thanks to a slightly bizarre plot. It might be another dull, pious lecture on The Society We Live In Today, but the Adipose are absolutely darling, so fuck it. There's some good slapstick in there as well - a guilty pleasure, but in this season any pleasure is to be taken.


195 The Fires of Pompeii

While there's no historical celebrity, there's still plenty of ham and dross to go around. The script takes up too much time showing us that the Romans are just like us at home (obviously), distracting from a passable cult/monster storyline. And the ending is genuinely sickening in its' pretensions.


196 Planet of the Ood

The aliens from "The Impossible Planet" are dragged back and forced down our throats in another tedious lecture that'd sound naive coming from a student's mouth. Reliant largely on ridiculous stereotypes (the psycho with the forklift) and ludicrous plot twists (how does something evolve into a biped while carrying it's brain in its' hand?) to hammer its' message home, and deeply irritating to boot.


197 The Sontaran Stratagem

The basic storyline of the alien invasion is good, and the Sontarans themselves work nicely. However, as usual it's surrounded by rubbish - the awful performance of the guy playing the (unnecessary) Rattigan, the tacky ATMOS plot devices, more bloody lectures and a Doctor who's frequently a bit of an arse. Nice to see UNIT's comeback in the second part, though.


198 The Doctor's Daughter

Dreadful attention-seeking is deployed, successfully decoying small children, tabloid journalists and idiotic fans desperate for details of Time Lord reproduction. Grown-ups, however, might notice that the actual plot makes no sense whatsoever and that once more the show's preaching is insulting. That said, Martha managing to drown a friendly alien that breathes through a tube of liquid is spectacularly funny.


199 The Unicorn and the Wasp

A virtual remake of "The Shakespeare Code", right down to recycling the same old terrible joke. Repeatedly. Tate impressively manages to reach new lows, and while the period ambience is fine, it's about all that is. And I do love the way that because the Unicorn isn't a high society lady, she's got to have a comedy Mockney accent. Yet it's still one of the better episodes of the season.


200 Silence in the Library

Stephen Moffat remixes his previous stories (meme-tastic soundbites, slow-moving aliens, everyday things made hostile) to poor effect. The off-the-shelf 'real' characters don't help matters, and the idea that Donna is actually being protected is very obvious. The whole thing is artificial and soulless, especially the consciously fannish River Song.


201 Midnight

A suspenseful and harrowing bottle episode that benefits hugely from Tate barely appearing. David Tennant shows he's still got it when he isn't being smothered in Tate's schtick, and while the (now customary) morality lecture is heavy-handed at least the thing's interesting in getting there.


202 Turn Left

This episode perfectly sums up the handicap of the season. The alternate universe/butterfly effect stuff is fun, if a little obvious and comic book-y, but the script is very finely honed - witness the beautiful work on the Italian chap in only a few lines. However, whenever there's a chance of some genuine pathos and drama, up comes Tate's lisping gobbiness and we're dragged back to the grim reality that the show is a complete mess.


203 The Stolen Earth

There aren't many writers out there self-satisfied enough to produce a homage to themselves, but then Russell T. Davies is a unique case. A crammed, jumbled mess of incestuous references, cod set-pieces and plot devices, all tarted up with a smug edge. Both the Daleks and Davros are lost in the love-in, and it's a shocking waste of resources.