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Doctor Who for Newbies: The Tenth Doctor

In 2005, Doctor Who was back on television and a bona fide sensation. Fans new and old alike tuned-in in droves to watch the Doctor fight new creatures like the Slitheen and Gelth as well as returning villains like the Autons and the Daleks. But even before the first series had aired, its brand new lead actor, Christopher Eccleston, wanted out, and the brand new production team had to find a brand newer lead actor. Luckily, showrunner Russell T. Davies didn’t have to look too far for the Tenth Doctor.

David Tennant (cue fan girl squeals….NOW) had been a lifelong Doctor Who fan who’d done voice work for the Big Finish audio play range as well as the Flash animated “Scream of the Shalka.” The Scottish-born actor was also a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and appeared in various BBC productions, including the mini-series “Casanova,” written by none other than… KEVIN BACON. No, that’s not right.  I mean RUSSELL T. DAVIES. Tennant had the chops both as an actor and as a Who fan, and so was able to slip into the role on relatively short notice.

This was a rather interesting situation in the history of the show. Generally, in the past, when the lead actor has changed, many if not all of the cast and crew also changed, but this was still RTD’s show and Billie Piper was staying on as companion Rose Tyler. This meant the story could more or less continue with little to no interruption, but there was still the matter of figuring out what kind of Doctor Tennant would be. Luckily, there would be the chance to introduce him before the next full series began.

In Christmas 2005, Doctor Who offered up the first of what is now the obligatory Christmas special, “The Christmas Invasion.” In it, the Doctor is incapacitated due to his regeneration for most of the story and Rose is left having to try to save the world from an alien invasion while being totally unsure who this strange man who used to be her friend is. Eventually, though, the Doctor is up and at ‘em and we got a good glimpse of the kind of man he’d become. He even has a sword fight.

Starting out as the complete diametric opposite of his direct predecessor, the Tenth Doctor dropped most of the dour brooding (at least initially) and had a definite sense of fun. He approached every new adventure with a childlike amount of excitement and glee. He was the most outwardly “human” of all the incarnations, in that he had no problem relating to them and this resulted in much more human relationships with his companions. 10 was the first time the Doctor was, more or less, a romantic lead, freely locking lips with a number of attractive young ladies. While being incredibly whimsical, the Tenth Doctor nevertheless had zero tolerance for those who put innocent lives in danger. His style was often described as “Geek Chic,” consisting of tailored striped suits, Chuck T’s and a large brown raincoat.

I like the Tenth Doctor. For me, he was at his best when he was being the lighthearted, funny adventurer, which he did exceedingly well. What I wasn’t too fond of is when he had to be the authority figure, as I generally don’t think yelling the loudest is an analogue for being in control. The romance between the Doctor and Rose was a big factor in the show becoming popular, but I never entirely bought that after all the dozens of companions he’d had in his life, he’d fall for a shopgirl from London. But what do I know? He also teared up a great deal and even full on cried more than once, which I can’t recall any of the other Doctors doing. He was hailed as the most human of all the Doctors, but how human should a 900+ year old alien time traveler actually be? These nitpicks do not make me enjoy the episodes or performances any less, but when viewing the entire history of the show, it makes 10 stand out as the oddball.

I feel like most people reading this have already seen the David Tennant years and if they haven’t, have easy access to all of his output as, just like Eccleston’s season, all of the Tenth Doctor episodes are on Netflix Instant. And, truth be told, I like way too many episodes to try to write about in any short space so I’ve decided to just discuss my very favorite few. Just as a point of clarification, deciding which ones to leave out was pretty difficult so if I don’t happen to mention your personal favorite, it doesn’t mean I don’t like it. Know it was probably a finalist.

How many tin dogs do you spot in this picture?

Story 170 – School Reunion
Written by Toby Whithouse
The Doctor goes undercover as teacher John Smith to get to the bottom of strange occurrences happening at Deffry Vale School. The new headmaster there, Mr. Finch, has been implementing some interesting changes, starting with the inclusion of free school lunches and odd green chips. Rose, undercover as a lunch lady, has discovered that the chip oil reacts badly with the other lunch ladies, but it has made the students unnaturally intelligent. The changes at the school have drawn the attention of the media, in particular investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith. At first, the Doctor keeps up the rouse in front of her, but when she discovers the TARDIS, he is forced to reveal his identity. Sarah Jane is introduced to Rose and Mickey and the two women immediate start bickering that they know the Doctor better. A night patrol of the school uncovers a number of bat-like creatures in Finch’s office. Luckily, Sarah Jane has brought K-9 with her and after the Doctor fixes him up, the tin dog is able to determine that the chip oil is actually Krillitane oil. Krillitanes are an accumulative race that is cobbled together from the best attributes of the species they conquer and using the children’s heightened intelligence, they are attempting to solve “Skasis Paradigm,” which would give them unlimited control of time and space. It’s up to the Doctor and companions old and new to defeat the threat.

The actual plot of this episode is just okay, but the very fact that Sarah Jane Smith is in it makes it one of my favorites. Not only is it excellent that she’s returned to the show, but this was the episode that gave RTD the idea for her own spinoff show, “The Sarah Jane Adventures.” K-9’s in it too, which is pretty cool, I guess.

What else is interesting is that it finally addresses the rather obvious problems that would arise from leaving a companion behind. Sarah Jane was one of the few companions who didn’t really leave of her own accord, though she had been mentioning departing. The Doctor had been summoned to Gallifrey and had to leave her on Earth at the end of The Hand of Fear and then never came back for her. When Rose questions the Doctor about this, he (rather sappily) tells her she can spend the rest of her life with him, but he can’t spend the rest of his life with her and thus has to move on. While cheesy and played for sentimentality, this does bring up an important facet of the Doctor. He’s a nigh-immortal being who chooses to spend his time with the most mortal beings in the universe; if he didn’t leave them behind and never look back he’d be perpetually heartbroken.

Ol' Scratch

Story 174 – The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit
Written by Matt Jones
Arriving at a Sanctuary Base, the Doctor and Rose encounter the horrifying yet seemingly docile race called the Ood, which turn out to be the servants for the base’s crew. The planet, “Krop Tor,” is an anomaly: A planet that orbits a black hole without being sucked into it. A gravity well exists around the planet that allows people to safely enter or leave the planet and such a phenomenon requires huge amounts of power that seems to be emanating from ten miles under the surface. The crew is drilling into the planet to discover this power. While the Doctor and Rose explore the base, the planet experiences a massive earthquake and the portion of the base containing the TARDIS falls into the open cavern.

With no other way of leaving, the travelers decide to assist the crew. As the drilling continues, a malevolent presence makes itself known. The Ood’s translation spheres begin proclaiming that “the Beast will awaken,” and soon Toby, the crew’s archaeologist, becomes possessed by it and kills a fellow crew member. Once drilling is complete, the Doctor and Ida, the science officer, spacesuit-up and head into the giant shaft (hehehe) the drill has made.

Traveling miles under the ground, they find a large disk inscribed with undecipherable markings which the Doctor believes to be a doorway of some kind. Suddenly, it begins to open and back in the base the Beast repossesses Toby and the Ood. Toby, in the Beast’s voice, proclaims that the planet is now falling into the black hole and now the pit is open and he is free. The Ood begin closing in on the crew members and their only chance is to move through the air ducts, shutting off the oxygen supply bit by bit until the Ood suffocate. Underground, the Doctor and Ida are cut off from the surface with only a small amount of air left. The Doctor decides to find out what’s inside the pit and travels down. What he finds is the prison of some ancient, terrible creature, and possibly the key to saving them all.

Doctor Who is no stranger to religious iconography, nor to ideas of Satan being in some fashion true (see: “The Daemons”) but this is the first time that the Doctor’s faith, or lack thereof, is explored in any substantial way. He is a man of science, first and foremost, and almost laughs off any religious connotations people make regarding the events of the story. What I also like is that it doesn’t take sides in the debate. What’s going on may be perfectly scientific, or it may be profoundly spiritual, or it may, as the episode suggests, be an amalgam of both. This episode also introduces the Ood, who work here very well as threats, but would later become nearly-religious figures themselves as the Tenth Doctor’s time drew to a close. This story is a nice throwback to both the Troughton and Pertwee eras and has some excellent suspense and a truly original story, easily my favorite of series 2.

Paul McGann counts? That IS impossible!

Story 185 – Human Nature/The Family of Blood
Written by Paul Cornell
The Doctor and Martha Jones are being pursued by unseen villains who chase them into the TARDIS. When the ship takes off, the Doctor sees that they are being followed and comes upon a plan. He hands Martha a fob watch and tells her it is his life, to keep it safe, and whatever happens… The Doctor wakes up in a bed wearing flannel pajamas in a large study. There is a knock at the door and Martha enters dressed as a maid. She addresses him as Mr. Smith and he tells her of these extraordinary dreams where he is an outer space adventurer called the Doctor who travels in time. Martha tells him it’s nothing but fantasy and hands him a paper with today’s date: November 10, 1913.

Mr. John Smith is a teacher at Farringham School for boys and Martha is his maid. Mr. Smith is nearly the exact opposite of the Doctor, being very timid and quiet, but flashes of this other persona show up in the form of text and drawings in his “Journal of Impossible Things.” John is infatuated with the school nurse, Joan Redfern, and the two engage in very chaste flirtation, John even showing her his journal. Martha, however, knows the truth: that the Doctor has placed his Time Lordiness in the fob watch so the beings chasing them, the Family, cannot find them. A student at the school, Latimer, who has ESP, finds the watch and steals it. The Family, meanwhile, has tracked the Doctor to Earth and possess various members of the small community while they narrow down their search. Latimer briefly opens the watch and experiences moments of the Doctor’s memory, enough for the Family to know he is near. When Martha discovers they’ve been caught, she goes for the watch only to discover it’s gone. Now she must attempt to awaken the dormant personality within the meek human and John Smith must deal with wanting to remain human while knowing he must become something else.

It’s really rare that we get a character study in Doctor Who, and even rarer that it’s a character who doesn’t actually exist. I’m sure at some point or other we’ve all thought about what it would be like to become a hero and usually in our fantasies we think it’s a great thing. If someone told me, “Guess what, dork, you’re actually the Doctor,” I’d probably say something resembling, “Yes! Finally!” Or, you know, something like that. This story goes t’other way with it. John Smith absolutely, categorically does not want to be a hero, least of all this hero that is so very non-human. Not only that, but if he goes forward with it, he will cease to be the man he is and leave behind everything he knows and everyone (or THE one) he loves. It’s truly a heartbreaking prospect and Tennant delivers one of his best performances.

Oh, just don't look at me.

Story 186 – Blink
Written by Steven Moffat
In 2007, Sally Sparrow enters an old, crumbling house called Wester Drumlins to look for things to photograph. Instead she finds strange angel statues, a key in the hand of one of them, and messages written behind peeling wallpaper addressed to her from someone called “The Doctor.” The messages warn Sally of “the Weeping Angels.” Sally returns to the house the next day with her friend Kathy Nightingale to explore. Kathy suddenly vanishes at the exact same moment a man appears at the house looking for Sally. He has a letter addressed to her written by his grandmother, Kathy Nightingale. The letter explains to Sally that, just moments ago from Sally’s perspective, Kathy suddenly found herself in Hull in 1920 and she met a man, fell in love, had kids, and lived to a ripe old age. She requests that Sally inform her nearest relative, her brother Larry, of the disappearance.

I’m not going to describe the story anymore for two reasons: 1) Because there are really no parts to glaze over like I normally do without jumbling up the narrative, and 2) it’d cheapen the viewing experience for anyone who’s never seen the episode. And if you haven’t seen the episode, stop reading this, go to Netflix, and watch it right this second. Then come back and we can keep going. Back? Good? Okay.

“Blink” is pretty roundly considered the best new series episode and it’s certainly the best writing Moffat has done for the non-Moffat era. The Doctor shows up only in snippets to deliver exposition, making him the Obi-Wan Kenobi of the piece, but even the exposition is done incredibly cleverly. Moffat introduces us to the truly terrifying Weeping Angels and the concept of “Timey-Wimey,” which is a good way to describe most of Moffat’s output. For a show about time travelers, it’s pretty rare that it explores the actual concept of time traveling and how it can appear from an outsider’s perspective. The central character here is Sally Sparrow, portrayed by future Oscar-nominee Carey Mulligan and it’s because she does such a good job that the episode’s odd themes play so well. One almost wonders what a Sally Sparrow spinoff show would be like. At least I do.

Pyrovile letting them stand next to his fire.

Story 190 – The Fires of Pompeii
Written by James Moran
The Doctor takes Donna Noble to what he believes to be Rome in the first century AD, but after an earthquake and witnessing a mountain begin to smolder, he realizes that they are, in fact, in Pompeii close to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. They try to depart and find that the TARDIS has been sold to a local marble sculptor. The sculptor’s daughter is clairvoyant and destined to become part of the Sybilline Sisterhood, a coven of weird ladies. The Doctor is upset by the accuracy of the Sisterhood’s reading on he and Donna, as well as by the local auger’s new marble circuitboard.

The Sisterhood and the Auger are under the control of the Pyrovile, a nasty race of giant molten rock people, and they are using Vesuvius to turn the entire population of Earth into Pyroviles as well. The energy converter they are using stays the volcano from erupting. The Doctor explains to Donna that some moments in time are fixed, but that this one is in flux, meaning that just because, to her, Vesuvius did erupt doesn’t mean that it will now. The Doctor can turn off the machine to stave off the alien takeover.  The question is: Is it worth killing thousands to save billions?

There are three reasons I like this episode: 1) It’s a pseudo-historical, meaning it takes place in Earth’s history but has some kind of crazy sci-fi element to it. This type of story is arguably my favorite in the DW oeuvre and this story marked the earliest in Earth history New Who had gone. 2) It addresses the Doctor’s morality in time traveling. He could if he wanted save every single person in Pompeii, but where would the line be drawn? What’s to stop him from changing all of history whenever he wants? Is it braver to save everyone or allow everyone to die? It’s things like this that make the show so great. And finally, 3) Donna. Donna appeared in the 2006 Christmas special where I found her kind of annoying and then she became the permanent companion in series 4’s first episode “Partners In Crime” where I still found her fairly annoying. This episode did an amazing job in not only making me begin to like Donna Noble as a character but also cemented her relationship to the Doctor. Since, thank Christ, she wasn’t fawning over or pining for him, she was free to call him on his bullshit. This is the episode where I bought them as a team.

The scariest monster of all... a commuter bus.

Story 196 – Midnight
Written by Russell T. Davies
While visiting the crystalline resort planet of Midnight, the Doctor wants to go on a long bus trip to see the Sapphire Waterfall but Donna does not. He decides to go by himself and leave Donna by the pool. The Doctor is like a kid on Christmas in the shuttle bus as the other vacationers get to their seats. Initially, the passengers want little to do with each other, but when the Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to blow the TVs, they are forced to talk to each other, which the Doctor relishes.

While en route, the shuttle suddenly stops; the pilot thinks it’s an engine problem and issues a distress signal. The Doctor requests that they take the radiation shield up momentarily to get a better look at the view and the technician claims he sees something moving out there, despite the unlivable levels of radiation on the planet. Soon a rhythmic pounding begins on the hull of the ship which eventually begins to mimic the passenger’s various tapping. The pounding moves around the ship toward where Sky, a female passenger, is cowering. She is sure the whatever-it-is is out to get her and soon the shuttle rocks and the lights go out. When they come up again, the cockpit has been torn away and the pilot and technician are killed and it appears Sky has been possessed by…something. The Doctor begins to talk to her and finds that she is only able to repeat things he and the other passengers say, causing a rising level of paranoia amongst everyone. Soon, Sky is saying what the Doctor says right along with him. The next step after that is…

This is a truly original episode in my opinion. Since its return in 2005, the show has been all about enormity, in both story scope and scenery. Hardly an episode went by without the Doctor running through massive buildings or down empty streets. They had the money, and dammit they were going to show it to us. This story on the other hand, nearing the end of both Tennant and RTD’s times on the show, is as intimate as can be. Almost the entire episode takes place in the main cabin of the shuttle and the tension comes from the growing sense of panic amongst the passengers even more so than whatever’s trying to get them. It shows how mob mentality works, even on such a small scale. Tennant again gives a great performance, as does Lesley Sharp as Sky/Thing. Watching these characters overreact to an obscene level and then have to deal with their choices once the crisis is over is one of the best moments of humanity the show’s produced.

This is the 50th episode of New Who, and truly a brilliant one at that. Interesting cast note, the actor who portrays Professor Hobbes (telling philosopher reference) is none other than David Troughton, son of Second Doctor Patrick Troughton, who also played King Peladon in the Jon Pertwee classic “The Curse of Peladon.”

In May of 2008, in the middle of Series 4’s airing schedule, Russell T. Davies announced he would be stepping down from his role as executive producer and showrunner of Doctor Who and that Steven Moffat would be taking the reigns. Davies’ swansong would consist of four Bank Holiday specials in 2009 to allow ample time Moffat to ready himself. In October 2008, David Tennant announced he would be stepping down from the role of the Doctor, though he would appear in all of the 2009 specials to leave when Davies left.

At the end of Series 4, the Doctor was without a companion, believing himself to be better off on his own, and making it easier for guest stars to take a more central role in the Specials. The Specials were mildly entertaining, though almost categorically poor stories, with the exception of the Thanksgiving special…

Anti-hero shot?

Story 201 – The Waters of Mars
Written by Russell T. Davies and Phil Ford
Traveling alone, the Doctor wanders the Martian landscape in his spacesuit, but is soon apprehended by the humans of Bowie Base One, Earth’s first Mars colony, under the leadership of Captain Adelaide Brooke. While he is interrogated, he learns that the date is November 21, 2059. According to future history, that is the exact date the base is to be destroyed in an explosion that kills Brooke and her entire crew. This is a fixed moment in time and the tragedy is the catalyst that inspires mankind, including Brooke’s own descendants, to explore outer space and make peaceful contact with extraterrestrials.

The Doctor wants no part of the events here and decides he must leave Mars. Unfortunately, bad stuff has already started to happen; two colonists have been infected by a strange life form which causes their body to gush copious amounts of water. The virus soon spreads to a third colonist and a quarantine must be issued. Adelaide and the Doctor determine the virus came from water taken unfiltered from the underground glacier used for the biodome portion of the base and the Doctor conjectures the virus was imprisoned there centuries ago by the Ice Warriors. The crew decides they must evacuate and before he leaves himself, the Doctor informs Adelaide that she is supposed to die today, on Mars, if history is to unfold properly. As he walks the long way back to the TARDIS, things begin to go pear-shaped for the crew and the infected colonists infiltrate the rest of the base and water begins pouring in. During the ordeal, the colony’s security officer, infected but not overcome, initiates the escape shuttle’s self-destruct, keeping the virus on Mars, but leaving the surviving crew with no means of escape. Overcome by anger and defiance, the Doctor turns back to save them even if it means changing a fixed point in time, because he is the Last of the Time Lords; no higher authority than he.

This is easily the best of the 2009 specials and foretold a much darker ending to the Tenth Doctor than what we actually were given in “The End of Time.” For some reason, it took the Doctor all that time to realize he wasn’t just a SURVIVOR of the Time War, he won the damn thing and to the victor go the spoils, including the ability to bend time to his will. However, he soon sees the horrible consequences such blatant disregard for the “rules.” For the first time, the Tenth Doctor shows us the real darkness inside of him, what might happen if a being like the Master were the last of his kind.

The Christmas/New Year’s special of 2009/2010 was the two part “The End of Time,” in which Davies literally threw a planet’s worth of incomprehensible plot elements together for the Tenth Doctor’s final hurrah. The story featured, among other things, the return of the Master, the Ood, the Time Lords, Gallifrey, Donna Noble, Wilfred Mott, some woman who may or may not be the Doctor’s mother, every other companion the Tenth Doctor’s ever had, spiny green alien people, a Star Wars-inspired dogfight, Barack Obama, and the Doctor crying more than he’s ever cried before. “The End of Time” is a mess and it was sad for me to see such a great Doctor go out on such a sour note. Tennant did a whole hell of a lot for the longevity of the show and for that he deserved a better departure point and if his regeneration could have somehow been fitted into “Waters of Mars,” it would have been brilliant. But the RTD era was all about character, and no ending of his would be complete without every single person ever to be a supporting character showing up. But that’s neither here nor there.

At the tail end of “The End of Time,” the Tenth Doctor weeps his last and regenerates in a massive, fiery KaBoom sending the TARDIS ablaze and hurling through space. The Eleventh Doctor appears and shows us but a small glimpse of the off-the-wall adventures that were to come.

Only one Doctor left, folks. Can you believe we’ve made it this far? Stay tuned for the next installment, in which I discuss Matt Smith, Steven Moffat, and the future of the series.

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  1. Clara says:

    I started with the 11th but then I decided to watch the Tenth and have almost forgotten why I started with the 11th. I have to say out of all of the Doctors he is the darkest, yet so cheerful and happy. He was so human which actually made me love him more. The fact that he felt so sad. But I still have to say I love Matt Smiths acting. He’s a great Doctor being so sad and older than he is. And the newest Doctor looks so much older than he is. My dad’s that old and he doesn’t look older than 50. He’s okay to me. I have to say the 11th and the 10th stole my heart. Not wanting to regenerate and persisting no matter the odds. Oh gosh. Wish there was more 10th though.

  2. Bella says:

    The tenth doctor is MY doctor. He makes me fall in love with him over and over, but also disappoints and scares me at times- which I always forgive….. I actually was introduced to Doctor Who with CE “Rose”. I actually looked at my husband and said, they’ve gotta be joking with this. I was not impressed and almost decided to abandon watching the series. Luckily I was several years behind the beginning of the reboot and just skipped ahead to Season 2 to see if it got better. Boy was I confused when there was already a completely different doctor! Tennant sole my heart right away, and I never stopped watching. (I’m working through the classics right now.) I did stop about half way through season 2 and decided to give CE another go, but that was really because I needed the back story to fill in my plot holes. By the time CE regenerated into DT I had grown to like him, but I was excited to get back to the tenth doctor.

    My favorite episode that made me hooked on Steven Moffet was Blink. When that episode ended, I just sat with my jaw dropped and said out loud- now THAT was brilliant! After that I really noticed that I tended to really enjoy those episodes the best. But you need Davies character building episode to balance out those plot driven gems ( a big flaw that I believe is present with SM at the helm. But I digress.) I also loved The Girl in the Fireplace (more brilliance) and I really enjoyed The Empty Child and Fear Her.

    I’m a big fan of writers that have great character development and boy was there character development with the tenth doctor! By the end of his run he was such a mess, your heart ached for him. Every time I see him drop Rose off on that beach (x2) and when he says but I don’t want to go… I turn into an absolute sobbing mess. It’s rediculous. I think Tennant is an amazing actor. Such a range! Anyway- point is that even when I was reading on here about how others felt when he regenerated, I started tearing up again! I just have to think about it and I tear up. It’s funny- on the Farewell to Matt Smith episode Chris made a great point- when DT was gone and Matt appeared it was like dude, I’m not sure I can trust you. And then some comedian said – it’s like You’re not my real dad! I totally totally agree with both of those statements because it’s SO TRUE. When DT is your doctor, it’s really hard to let anyone else on that Taris. But Matt did a pretty good job. Hopefully Peter will too.

    Btw- my fav companion will always be Rose. In my mind she will always be the ultimate.

  3. Hani says:

    Love all three reboot Doctors, however Tennant’s stole my heart.

    Yeah, maybe some of that might have something to do with how ridiculously attractive he is (rawrrr), but he was talented enough to make me believe that shades of 9 were still inside (at least initially). He uses every tool in his arsenal during his performances, notably his incredible facial expressions and vocal abilities. His best moments were those in which he seemed touched by a little bit of madness (Human Nature/Family of Blood/Waters Of Mars) and when he allowed himself to appear vulnerable (Midnight, Doomsday).

    While I enjoyed the tough exterior/soft interior of 9 and the alien clumsiness of 11, 10 sold me on the idea that this brilliant prince of time was not perfect. He was flawed, beautiful, and saw far, far too much in his life.

    We were lucky to have such a gifted actor in the role for as long as we did, but I know I’m not alone in missing Ten terribly.

  4. Steph says:

    In the first episode with the 10th, I have to admit I thought that 10 was quite a jerk, leaving Rose to save the world by herself. That was the only time I ever really disliked 10. Cuz now he’s my fav 🙂 🙂 🙂

  5. Steph says:

    I love 10 and I call him “my Doctor” even though the first Doctor I saw was 9. Good screwdriver. GREAT hair. I did think the dark side was disturbing but it was always there and he has more reason to have a dark side more than any other atom of the universe in my opinion. But still he was the FUNNIEST Doctor and yes I think Geek Chic describes his style very well. The converse just GO with the suit and tie… 🙂

  6. Arisa says:

    For me, Ten is my favorite doctor, he was my first doctor, and that is partly the reason that he is my favorite.
    But, Ten is also my “hero” he’s so brave and childlike and willing.
    He taught me what was right and wrong in the episode “The Doctor’s Daughter” and that just ’cause your 900+ years old, doesn’t mean you can’t act like a child. He also showed me that a terrible past can make you into something better in the future and that it’s okay to run off with all these… people.

  7. Ayen says:

    I started watching Doctor Who about a month ago. Damn Netflix. Of course I was hooked, it only took about half an episode to get me.
    Now, four seasons later, I’ve just had to say goodbye to the Tenth Doctor and I’m utterly sad.
    How difficult can it be to part from a fictional character? Painful. Devastating. Sad, so so sad.

    I’ve had so many laughs, can’t even count. But holy crap there have been episodes scary as hell. My personal top three would have to be Blink, Midnight and Silence in the Library (and surely Forest of the Dead).
    Blink was actually so good it had me thinking about it for days. Thinking of the time line. And Midnight is one of the scariest I’ve ever seen.

    The good thing, I think, is that I still have three more seasons to go. If I pace myself I might be on time for the eighth season to start. Although if I’ve understood correctly it actually means I’ll get attached to yet another Doctor and I’ll have to say goodbye to him too.. But oh well…


  8. gracie says:

    Is the tenth doctor the second as well?

  9. Aria says:

    Waters of Mars was epic truly. Parters in Crime was so cute, but freaky… cute/sharp teethed adipose!

  10. L says:

    David Tennant’s Doctor is my favorite. I love the others too, but some more than others. This is because I like seeing silly!Doctor. Silly!Doctor warms my heart and cheers me up. My favorite five episodes are:
    1) School Reunion
    2) The Shakespeare Code
    3) The Unicorn and the Wasp
    4) Time Crash
    5) Music of the Spheres
    I first saw 10 before I even got into Doctor Who. I was just flipping channels when I came across it. I’d heard about it, of course, but I had little background so when I saw the obvious villain of the episode turn into a freaking psycho and gas his fellow co-workers to death I was scared and confused and what was all that tapping!? I changed the channel. It was only years later, after getting into Sherlock that some friends online who were also into Sherlock recomended Doctor Who and guided me in the right direction to start with 9’s first episode “Rose”. Then I learned, through watching it with my family, that what I had seen had been the beginning half of “The Sound Of Drums”.
    Mom and Dad love 9 and I like him too, but, like I said, 10’s my fave. Of 10’s episodes, they seemed, from what I remember them saying, to like “The Girl in the Fireplace”, “Love and Monsters”, “Gridlock” and a few others I can’t think of right now. I particularly remember Mom wanting to watch “The Girl in the Fireplace” twice each time we rented the second series from the library. They also liked “Music of the Spheres” and didn’t mind “Fear Her”. Mom and I also liked “The Idiot’s Lantern” because of that scene where the Doctor gets furious when he finds out how Rose was treated by the antagonists and is all protective of her.
    We also enjoyed watching some classic stuff after we finished up the sixth series with Matt Smith’s Doctor (11). Unfortunately we haven’t seen much of William Hartnell’s stuff but we love Tom Baker. Dad saw some of 4 when he was a kid. Him and…was it 3? Yeah, some reruns of him, I think.

    • Bloke says:

      That is so awesome! Sound of drums was also my first ever episode which I found while flicking around, and then I went back to the same program again and again until I convinced my mum to get me series 1 and 2 of new who! Now I’m completely obsessed, and am working my way through the old ones, but ten remains my favourite. Best ten episodes: human nature/family of blood, blink, sound of drums/last of the timelords, army of ghosts/doomsday, and partners in crime because it was just so hilarious. I love so many episodes, it’s hard to choose! Favourite companion will always remain Rose.


  11. Lagunalex says:

    Loved Eccleston/Tennant/Davis.
    Hatin’ Smith/Kingston and Moffat series (not the stand-alone episodes, I love them).

  12. Elly says:

    I remember when I first saw Doctor Who. It was a time at my grandma’s and I was extremely bored. I was going through the channels and got to SciFi (when it was still spelled that way) and saw Doctor Who. I normally didn’t watch it but anyways I shall quit my stalling. The first episode I saw… I don’t remember the name, but it was the one where their ship was kinda messed up and their were like time portals throughout the ship. And there were these robots running on human organs cause there weren’t any more parts(?). And the Doctor was trying to save the Princess in France (forgot her name -_-) since the robots were trying to get her brain or somethin… I got sad when it was over ~__~ 😛 now that the new Doctor is out I’m kinda mad cause I liked this Doctor better :3 mwahaha

  13. Tara says:

    “He also teared up a great deal and even full on cried more than once, which I can’t recall any of the other Doctors doing.”

    Doctor Who should never, ever, EVER be limited to what it has done in the past. Never. Ever. That’s the beauty of Doctor Who. Before Pertwee, how many Doctors actually performed martial arts? Before Davison, how many of them were sports fans? Before Colin Baker, how many Doctors actively tried to murder their own companions in cold blood?

    I see no reason why having strong emotions is the one thing we have to draw the line on. It seems to be a very arbitrary and ridiculous barrier.

  14. Fjord Prefect says:

    @Sean > Those are some of my favorite episodes too. Did you notice that 3 of those four were written by Moffat?

    I enjoyed Baker’s Doctor Who when I was a kid, but I blew off the Eccleston series halfway through. It just didn’t hook me in for whatever reason. But when I happened to catch an episode with Tennant, I began to love the show. He somehow managed to turn all of the bad effects, the recycled monsters, the gaping plot-holes and the ridiculous pseudo-science into fun rather than an embarrassment. He effing owned that role. Owned it. Sorry Tom.

  15. pacman says:

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  16. Bri says:

    I absolutely agree that the end of the Tennant Era was not well played. I disliked it for different reasons, though, specifically in the way that they basically set it up as poorly for Matt Smith as possible. I actually wrote a blog about it on my own website if you’d like to read…

    Also, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for all these fantastic Doctor Who posts. They’re a great resource for me because I host a weekly radio show for my college and one of my segments is always Doctor Who related. 🙂

  17. @Doug Evans: Sorry, I’m awful about remember to check in on threads after I commented. “The Writer’s Tale” is available at all major booksellers (or was when I bought it) and in my original post I linked to the Amazon page. Just click the title. 🙂

  18. Lallybroch says:

    Love reading these! I’m just sad that there is only one more Doctor for you to cover!

    I discovered and fell in love with Doctor Who because of 10. David Tennant is a brilliant actor (and gorgeous too… which doesn’t hurt now does it?).

    I was heartbroken by End Of Time and not because of the reason one would have expected to be: was I the only one who thought that the End Of Time was going to be a consequence of his actions in Waters Of Mars? All along we were told that certain moments were fixed in time and that if you interfered with them then… wham-o! Where’s the wham-o moment after he interferes on Bowie Base? I cried so hard at the end of WOM because it was, or so I thought, showing the fall from grace of a beloved hero. Unfortunately all was forgotten before EOT even started! I felt cheated by EOT.

    I just keep hoping that Moffat has picked this up and is running with it (i.e. “silence will fall”)

    Sigh… wishful thinking.

  19. Shawn Belew says:

    I was so curious to see what you were going to say about “Blink”, and you hit the nail on the head. Stop reading this if you haven’t seen it and go watch it now. That is easily the best example of science fiction I have ever seen. A friend of mine will use that episode as the gateway into Who, showing it to people to get them hooked.

    Also, I will admit that I am like some of the others that have commented in that I was crushed at the end of “The End of Time” I was left as nothing but a depressed weeping baby when he regenerated. I started tearing up just thinking about it now while reading this article. Needless to say, I rather enjoyed Tennant. Matt Smith has had quite the un-enviable job of filling that roll after Tennant, but I’d say he’s done a quite well. But that’s for next article.

  20. JM says:

    I loved Tennant’s last line, “I don’t want to go.” Reminded me of Fred’s last line in Angel, “Why can’t I stay?” In the Doctor it was an awareness that although the Doctor himself might go on for a lot longer, this personality would not, which is essentially his death.

  21. Abbey says:

    I have no idea what my favorite would be (It would be a daunting task to have to choose), and “The End of Time” really isn’t one of them BUT I still really really REALLY enjoyed it.

    Maybe It’s because I am a fan of Master’s most recent regeneration, or because anytime we get to learn more about Time Lords/the Time War/ect. I love it. I felt it was a fitting ending. Better then 8’s, imo.

  22. Galadriel says:

    Great choices! I completely agree with most of them, except I would’ve substituted the Hugo-winning “Girl in the Fireplace” for the Hugo-winning “Blink”. Now, I know I’m in the minority, and if you didn’t include “Blink” its fans would’ve gone nuts, but though it was interesting, it just wasn’t a standout episode for me. Unlike the incredible “Midnight”!!!! OMG–terrifying!!!!

    (I also would’ve substituted “Silence ITL/Forest OTD” for “ImpPlanet/SatanPit”.)

    Loved that “Fires of Pompeii” was included! It truly represents what this TV show is all about. I consider it as a Part I, with “The Waters of Mars” (another deserving Hugo winner) as its perfect Part II. Watch them one after the other and see what I mean.

    And as for Tennant’s 10th Doctor: much love!!! He portrayed beautifully how even TimeLords, like humans, can get overwhelmed by too many tragic events. Everyone battles through hell sometimes, and if we’re lucky, we come out afterward with new, wiser, somewhat happier outlooks (11th Doctor!). Talk to senior citizens… former drug abusers… cancer survivors… or people who escaped from abusive relationships for some real-life regeneration stories.

  23. juliaL49 says:

    Thanks again for this write-up. And also for a fairly balanced view on Ten. The first time I watched his tenure I did not know any of this drama and thorougly enjoyed oit. The second time I had heard all the bashing (esp from old time fans) and it really spoiled my enjoyment. The third time I was finally able to make up my own mind and although there are some misgivings I do like the tenth doctor.
    The point – well one of the points – of the series is the versatility both of the stories and of the different doctors. That is the reason why I like it and why I like each and every doctor. (Although I have to admit that I know Colin Baker mostly through his Big Finish adventures.)

    On the 50th episode with David Troughton: He was also in the 50th of the classic series (the sixth or seventh of The War Games). RTD and Ben Cook discovered this when they had their email conversation for their book.

  24. Doug Evans says:

    I always love these articles, and I love every doctor I’ve seen, and I go back to the Pertwee era (admittedly, I missed the Colin Baker and McCoy years, so factor that in). @biblioholic29: Where might one go about finding this “Writer’s Tale” of which you speak?

  25. As expected, I agree with some of your picks (Blink, Waters of Mars and Midnight are definitely all favorites) and would have gone for others over some of your other picks. I actually enjoy the overblown finales, but on a decidedly more superficial level than the great episodes.

    As I was reading your Midnight section, I found myself wondering if you’d read The Writer’s Tale. It’s basically the email/texting transcript of Russell T. Davies and a writer with Doctor Who magazine over the course of production for series four, starting with “Voyage of the Damned”; specifically exploring Davies’ writing process. It’s an interesting read, complete with early drafts of several scripts; and the process of writing Midnight is particularly fascinating. I’d highly recommend it to KAnderson and any die hard Whovian.

  26. Scott says:

    It took till Tennant’s “Gridlock” that I felt an episode was really like the original show, and I started liking the new ones more. But the end-of-series shows are always such big, overblown shows, that seem more like American shows than the original show. I don’t remember many of the last shows of the original show’s series seeming so important, but that could be because I watched them all together, as stories rather than episodes, on Iowa Public Television. Watching them in England, one 25 minute section at a time, then having to wait for the next series to start up again might give a different impression.

  27. Sean says:

    Kyle, I agree with all your listed episodes as good except School Reunion. I found it weak and generally blah. ( this could be on account of not having the nostalgia of Sarah Jane, though I am watching all of the classic episodes in the form of a gigantic 230GB torrent!)

    My personal list of must watch “10th” episodes is:

    1)Blink (the best episode I have ever seen)
    3Girl in the Fireplace
    4) Silence in the Library/Forset of the Dead

    If you are new to Who and can only watch 4 episodes watch these, you may not understand any backstory but you are sure in for a hell of a ride!

  28. Lincoln says:

    Loved Tennant. And I actually said, “Wait, whaaa?” when I read KEVIN BACON.

  29. Rebecca says:

    I have to admit, I’m one of the David Tennant fangirls (and a ten/rose shipper to boot), but you present very valid points. I do agree that Waters of Mars was the best special, and that, while I loved the doctor getting to say goodbye in part 2, The End of Time was DREADFUL. Actually, I think the Waters of Mars was the only special I really liked.

    I wish 10 had stuck around for some of the Moffat era, because I feel as such a drastic change between the producers was a bit jarring (11 is very nice, but I mean, we lost the familiar companions, doctor, Tardis, chucks and even the God forsaken SCREWDRIVER in ONE episode).

    I know we haven’t gotten to the 11th doctor yet, but the Moffat era needs to stop forgetting it came from the RTD era (WHY IS IT OK FOR PEOPLE TO TOUCH THEIR PAST SELVES NOW?!).

    Credit goes to the ‘Shakespeare Code’ being my first intro to Doctor Who shown in my theatre class!

  30. Lisa G says:

    Team Moffat!

    I’m so glad others mentioned “The Girl In The Fireplace.” It’s probably the most brilliant hour of television I’ve ever seen. From premise to acting, writing, directing, music and designs — everything about it blows my mind. I’ve watched it dozens of times and that final “Citizen Kane” moment always gives me chills.

    “Midnight” is also right there at the top. I couldn’t believe how much terror, pathos and genius RTD crammed into that small space. It’s also the first Tennant (*obligatory squeal*) episode I ever saw and the one that got me addicted to the show.

    I didn’t mind Ten’s moments of yelling or crying. His running theme of loneliness/living too long balanced it out for me (as well as DT’s brilliant acting). Someone who’s been around for 900 years probably has a very short fuse when it comes to certain things.

  31. Annecoultersadamsapple says:

    This and the next “Dr Who for newbies” should just say, ” 95% chance one of the reruns is on BBC America right now, just go watch it”.

  32. Danlek says:

    I have never cried over something fictional before, but man, when he was regenerating I lost my goddamn mind! I can’t even listen to Vale Decem without drowning in my own tears. I mean it was like a close personal friend of mine was dying, and dying scared and alone :'( Even with all that, I am very grateful for the time spent with Ten and would rather have my heart broken than have never experienced this journey at all. Also I now have a go to make-myself-cry thought i can bring up that isn’t so painful it will ruin my day in case of needing tears for whatever reason, so theres always that.

    Also David Tennant is absolutely my Doctor as the first episode I ever saw was The Christmas Invasion. I remember thinking oh man these special effects are bullshit, and what the hell is with this christmas tree attacking these cockney folk about? But once he emerged from the TARDIS and went on his little post regeneration rant i was fucking hooked and hooked hard! (are there varying levels of hookedness?) I shall never forget him… unless i go senile or get amnesia or something.


  33. Gabriel says:

    One of the other things I liked about the tenth doctor was how we got to learn about what happened to characters that we wouldn’t have learned about with other doctors. Micky and Captain Jack became so much more than what they started out as. The same with Donna, Rose and Dr. Jones.

  34. Gabriel says:

    I enjoyed Tennant as the Doctor. I liked his exuberance and his arrogance. I particularly liked The Girl in the Fireplace (my favorite, episode of the new era, perhaps ever) and Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead. I’ve never understood the weeping angels. If I can keep my open they are screwed. All I need is a couple of friends and some sledge hammers. A couple of people look at them while a couple of more hammer away. Sure they might not die but how much danger is a living pile of rubble? I loved Rose. My favorite since Leela. I thought the Family of Blood was intersting. I loved when the Doctor wept for the life that he couldn’t have. I loved the watch and when the young man who was possessed asked the headmaster if he thought the youth would thank them for world war one. Knowing that they were on the verge of an insanely bloody war that would deystroy a generation made this very poignant. I think his tenure was a success and I think he helped save the franchise so I love him.

  35. Melissa says:

    The first time I saw Dr Who I was flipping channels and landed on the Gridlock episode. The story line kept my attention and by the end of the show I wanted to see more. RTD episodes are more campy and Moffats seem to be dark but very witty. One of the things about Who I love us just watching a episode I can tell who wrote it which is not the case for most shows! Sidenote loved the nerdist podcast with Matt Smith! Total fan dream interview

  36. Amerah says:

    tennant’s pretty rad.

  37. Jackfan12 says:

    I sobbed my way through every series finale with the 10th doctor. I think I cried more then he did in the last episode ( especially when he heard the three knocks and you, as the viewer, realized it was the end of his reign as doctor, I just became a bundle of snot and tears). Tennant was a great doctor !!!

  38. uncanny expat says:

    Tennant’s a great actor and I generally enjoy the 10th Doctor, but I get where the dislike comes from. As mentioned in the review and comments, he got almost unbearably smug, cocky and twee, especially when with Rose. Then there was the overuse of the angry-shouty. Part of the blame probably also falls on RTD and his increasingly over-the-top fanwank stories.

    As essential viewing, to the above list I would also add Girl in the Fireplace, the Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead two-parter, which introduced River Song and was nicely creepy, and reluctantly, the Utopia/Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lord story, which until the third part was a pretty great story.

  39. Eric says:

    Great article with some great points made about the nature of 10. Tennant is an absolutely brilliant actor which makes it my dislike of 10 so frustrating. Throughout the series he shows a blatant disregard for the reality of death for individuals (“Love and Monsters” is the worse display of this as he “saves” Ursula while essentially damning her to a false-life). RTD did 10 and Tennant a disservice through his cliched and lazy writing. The best episodes of RTD’s era did not end with easy answers, and “The End of Time” was just another sad attempt at complex storytelling without knowing how…it was like most Stephen King novels: great buildup that the writer does not know how to conclude.

  40. Arieh says:

    Some of my favourite episodes were missed out here, but becuase they were pretty much all written by Moffat, well its understandable that there should be a break before what I am expecting to be bigger sophistry than Hardwick over AMC. One Moffat story written that hardly gets credit is the children in need special he wrote in 2007, where tennant’s doctor met davison’s.
    And when Ten goes “you know what Doctor, you were my Doctor” I really do feel like that was Tennant at his finest. You see him as the obvious Who fan he was, and also just how well, brilliant, he was at being the doctor, with his voice all pitchy and being the cleverest person in the room and showing off with the hint of the dramatic.
    He really did deserve a better send off than “I don’t want to go” That wasn’t the Doctor we knew, and because of that it hurt that much more when he left.

  41. John Seever says:

    My personal favorite episode of the Tennant Doctor would be Blink, followed by The Waters of Mars and The Next Doctor. In Blink, you have the introduction of a race that is creepy, and make you think and look at the stone angel statues in the same manner of like, is that something that goes bump in the night? Even when Matt Smith brings them back, you can see the fear in the Doctor’s eyes of the Angels and that they can be right next to you, and you would never realize it.

    The Water of Mars was the dark side for Tennant, and it was the only time, where you could see him becoming sort of like the Master. In that when he says when they are trying to fight the creatures, ‘But there are laws. There are laws of time. Once upon a time there were people in charge of those laws, but they died. They all died. Do you know who that leaves? Me! It’s taken me all these years to realize the laws of time are mine! And they will obey me!’ That there was the moment where all the power and the knowledge that the Doctor has can do great good or great harm. Moreover, when The Doctor saves Adelaide, Mia and Yuri and the conversation that occurs, shows the phrase, ‘With great power, comes great responsibility.’ A different take on what we saw through Tennant’s course as the Doctor, and one that can make the Doctor a very scary person.

    The Next Doctor was just pure comedy, with him and the other ‘Doctor’ facing the Cybermen and laughing about the trouble they got into. It was the not so serious special, similar to a majority of the episodes that Tennant did. It was a side where, yes things are going sour, but you have to have fun. And that is what the special of The Next Doctor was.

    I myself hope we get many more episodes like those of Tennant’s with Matt Smith and any future Doctors.

  42. Sussudiokim says:

    I do not understand Ten hate. Tennant’s portrayal of a human, fun engaging docter is what sold the series to me. I understand the stark contrast between the New Who and Classic and it is truly embodied by Tennant. The other doctors do a good job of reminding the audience that they are truly alien and carry themselves with an air of superiority. But how can you connect with a character that is so condescending. It is true that Ten would sometimes fall into this tendency but he always marveled at how capable and independent his supporting cast was. I commend RTD for understanding the new nature of programming and sci-fi that appeals more to action and character development then the dry and “correct” appeal of the classic series.

  43. Erin says:

    Nice piece, Kyle! I’d been looking forward to it.
    A few of my favorite episodes even made it in. “The Impossible Planet/Satan Pit” excluded. 😉

  44. CEB says:

    “Waters of Mars” is by far my favorite. I have a lot of friends who found Ten’s darker side disturbing, but I thought it fit. It was always there under the surface, we got glimpses every now and then but that was the first time it was shown so blatantly. Time Lord Victorious indeed.

  45. Chelsea K says:

    I know that not everyone is crazy about Ten, but he’s the reason I kept watching Dr. Who.