Tonight, the premiere episode of The Doctor’s Finest, the six-week series that higlights the best in the past several years of Doctor Who. It’s co-produced by BBC America and Nerdist and hosted by Hannah Hart who, on top of introducing the episodes in question, is interviewing fans and luminaries about these episodes. They’re all great and/or important in some way, so why not talk about them?
To kick things off, Hannah will be interviewing internet superstar Jimmy Wong to talk about two huge episodes from the David Tennant/Tenth Doctor era: “Blink” and “The Waters of Mars.” All that airs tonight starting at 8:00pm ET/PT on BBC America!
These two episodes are enormously important to the show and the character, and here’s why…
For many people, Series 3’s “Blink” is THE episode that got them interested in Doctor Who, and it’s the one a lot of people show to their not-We friends to entice them to watch more. It’s hard to argue with that; it’s an episode that’s as exciting and brilliantly plotted as anything the show’s ever done, or has even been done on most sci-fi television programs, I dare say. But it’s also a real outlier because, well, the Doctor’s barely in it, existing mainly on a TV screen as a DVD Easter egg. I see it more as a treat, a perfect little nugget for fans of the show to celebrate.
“Blink” was written by future showrunner Steven Moffat and he rightly won a Hugo Award for it. It tells the story of Sally Sparrow (played by a pre-all-the-fame Carey Mulligan) as she unravels the weird mystery of the Weeping Angels. The Angels appear in and around an old house, stone statues with wings that most of the time cover their eyes. But they aren’t actually stone statues; they’re strange time creatures which feast on a person’s potential life energy by sending them back in time to live their life to death. The Doctor and Martha Jones are stuck somewhere, but they need to be able to communicate with SOMEONE who can help. Maybe via DVD glitches.
This episode rightly gets named as one of the series’ best, and it shows.
The Waters of Mars
This is the Tenth Doctor’s pen-penultimate story (if we count “The End of Time” as one story altogether, which I do) and it gets DARK. Having been on his own for awhile, the Doctor starts to lose himself in the power inherent with being a Time Lord, and not only that, the Last of the Time Lords. “The Waters of Mars” is the episode that really hammers home just how dangerous and egomaniacal the Doctor can be if left unchecked, and he pays a real price for it. If shame could have caused a regeneration, this would be the episode where he’d have changed. Russell T. Davies and Phil Ford co-wrote this story and they won the 2010 Hugo Award for best dramatic short subject for it.
The Doctor ends up on Mars, just hanging out and looking at stuff, but he’s actually very near to Bowie Base One. It’s the first human outpost on Mars, in the near future to us now. The Doctor’s excited to meet the crew, especially Captain Adelaide Brooke (Lindsay Duncan) whose story he knows very well. But he’s also very wary because he knows that some disaster befell them and there were no survivors, so he tries to get out of there as quickly as he can… but with water-based critters that turn people into smiling zombies, that’s easier said than done. But this is a fixed point in time; the Doctor can’t just change history, can he? Or CAN HE?! Yeah, like I said, things take a real dark turn.
Both of these episodes are a major blast to watch and an excellent way to kick off BBC America’s The Doctor’s Finest specials. Come back next week when I’ll be talking about Week 2’s choices, “The End of Time,” and Hannah Hart will interview guest Sara Schaefer!
Kyle Anderson is the Weekend Editor for Nerdist.com and is the resident Whovian (yes, he likes that term). Hit him up on Twitter!