MSN's Ten For Tennant

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MSN's Ten For Tennant

Post by Patrick on Fri May 14, 2010 9:33 am

This morning, from the MSN main page, I followed a link to an article about Transformers-3. Yes, I know, as bad as the second movie was, I have hopes that the third movie might redeem the franchise. So imagine my suprise when, at the bottom of this article is a link to a photo-gallery article MSN put together a few months ago on the 10 best stories of the David Tennant era. I mean, Doctor Who never got this kind of coverage when the show was still in its 'classic' years.

I was therefore required to take a Wrinkly look at this list to see 1) if I agreed with it, and 2) if the writer knew his stuff. Take a look yourself and tell me what you think:

( LINK to MSN 'paralleluniverse' article)



Ten for Tennant: Best 'Doctor Who' Episodes
As David Tennant bids farewell to "Doctor Who," we recall his best episodes on the sci-fi show

By Kurt Geltz
MSN TV

As the old saying goes, "All good things must come to an end." And the end is coming for sci-fi icon Doctor Who. Well, the end is coming for, at least, this incarnation of the Doctor. "Doctor Who" is one of the longest-running shows in the history of TV. It started in Britain in 1963 and ran for 26 seasons with seven different actors portraying the main character, a 900-year-old Time Lord known simply as The Doctor. Producers found an easy way to keep the show alive for so long when they decided that, since The Doctor was an alien, he could regenerate himself when near death and become a whole new person. The BBC decided to revive the series back in 2005 with movie star Christopher Eccleston in the main role for its first renewed season. Since then, the show has become very popular not only in its home country, but also in many international TV markets, including here in the United States. Much of the credit goes to actor David Tennant, who has played the 10th Doctor for the past five years. But Tennant has decided to move on and may be appearing on American television in the near future. First, he finishes off his run as The Doctor in a series of specials that have been airing during the holidays. Tennant is expected to regenerate into newcomer Matt Smith at the end of the final special, "Doctor Who: The End of Time" Part 2. The show airs on Saturday, Jan. 2, at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on BBC America. In honor of his "passing," we recall the 10 best "Doctor Who" episodes during the Tennant era.

('Doctor Who'/BBC America)



10. "The Waters of Mars" (2009 Special)

This particular chapter in "Doctor Who" is part of the season of specials that have been airing throughout 2009. "The Waters of Mars" aired for the first time just a couple of weeks ago and made a definite impression on "Who" fans. The plot finds The Doctor traveling in the year 2059 to the planet Mars, where he encounters the first colonists, who have set up their base (named Bowie Base One in honor of the rocker) on an ancient Martian glacier. The Doctor knows the history of these colonists because they are part of an important landmark event in time that does not end well for the colonists, and as such he can't intervene. Not even to save them. The Doctor eventually betrays his own Time Lord code of ethics and changes history by saving some of the colonists. What makes this episode a worthy entry are scenes like this one, in which The Doctor has a very quiet and intimate conversation with the base's captain (Lindsay Duncan) about how her fate will inspire her family to greatness. Quiet conversations between characters are one of the things that "Who" and Tennant do best.



9. "School Reunion" (Season 2)

This is the big episode that truly ties new "Who" with old "Who" as The Doctor runs into a former traveling companion from his earlier years. Elisabeth Sladen played young investigative reporter Sarah Jane Smith, who traveled with the Doctor when actor Tom Baker played the role in the late '70s/early '80s. Their paths cross in 2006 when Sarah Jane bumps into Tennant's Doctor while investigating strangeness at a local school. Tennant and Sladen immediately have great chemistry and it feels like old times again when they're on-screen opposite each other. But, "School Reunion" also contains fun companion cattiness when Rose (Billie Piper) gets jealous as she learns that she wasn't The Doctor's first traveling companion. In fact, as another person in the episode puts it: "the missus and the ex ... welcome to every man's nightmare." Also, the great Anthony Stewart Head ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") is awesome as the leader of a nasty bunch of aliens called the Krillitanes, who eat students who don't perform academically.



8. "Love & Monsters" (Season 2)

This is a very poignant episode and one that hardly features The Doctor or then-traveling companion Rose Tyler. The story is told through a video blog by a young man named Elton (Marc Warren), who reveals that he met a mysterious man named The Doctor when he was really young. He discovers others in London who have had similar experiences with the same man, and they end up forming into a group called LINDA (London Investigation 'N' Detective Agency) as a way to track The Doctor. But, instead, they end up creating a secondary family with the members bonding in a more fraternal and social way. All is dashed when an evil alien disguised as a human interferes with the group and tries to use them to get to The Doctor. In the end, Elton and The Doctor stop the alien, but at the cost of most of his friends in LINDA. We eventually learn how and why Elton met The Doctor in the past, which turns out to be very emotional and bittersweet. Warren's performance as Elton is what really propels this episode, plus we get some real good ELO music throughout as they're Elton's favorite band.



7. "The Girl in the Fireplace" (Season 2)

Perhaps one of the most romantic of the modern era "Who" episodes. (At least my wife thinks so.) "The Girl in the Fireplace" is about how The Doctor meets and falls in love with Madame de Pompadour (Sophia Myles) during the whole of her life. Madame de Pompadour was a famous courtesan to King Louis XV in France. He first meets 7-year-old Reinette while looking through an authentic French fireplace on a spaceship in the 51st century. As it turns out, the spaceship has created "time windows" back to the 1700s, and The Doctor finds that he can use them to travel between centuries. Eventually, he meets up with an older Reinette and discovers who she really is historically. But, there's also trouble afoot in the form of clockwork androids who seem strangely interested in Reinette for some mysterious reason. The Doctor eventually rescues Reinette from the androids, but there's another fate that even he doesn't have the power to save her from. It's a very sad ending to a very romantic tale.



6. "Midnight" (Season 4)

Some "Doctor Who" episodes become epic in scope while delving into the show's rich mythology. Others are smaller, intimate affairs with a more "Twilight Zone"-like quality to them. "Midnight" is one such episode. The Doctor is on holiday on the planet Midnight, which is uninhabitable because of dangerous radioactive sunlight and is largely made of crystalline structures. While en route on a shuttle to see the Sapphire Waterfall, a strange entity assaults the cruiser and takes possession of one of its passengers. Nobody sees the entity enter the shuttle, but its possession becomes apparent when the woman possessed begins to repeat the words of everyone on board. It's one of the creepiest sequences you'll ever see in a TV series, and the dueling wordplay by Tennant and actress Lesley Sharp is a highlight with an ending that will shake you to the bone.



5. "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead" (Season 4)

One of the great writers of "Doctor Who" is Steven Moffat. He's a fan favorite among the "Who" faithful, which is good because he'll be taking over control of the show from outgoing writer/executive producer Russell T. Davies when it comes back next spring. Ever since "Doctor Who" came back in 2005, Moffat has been the writer to watch, as he always finds a way to thrill, scare, shine and laugh with his exceptional stories. And this two-parter is no exception. The Doctor and his traveling companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) travel to The Library, a planet-sized book repository in the future that contains every book ever written. While walking through the biography section (located near the planet's equator), they begin to notice that there's no one on the planet at all. As they begin to investigate, they run into a team of explorers who are also trying to figure out why the planet has been abandoned. Both groups begin to notice something moving in the shadows, but it's not in the shadows -- it is the shadows. They're alive and they're hungry. This is also the episode in which Moffat introduces viewers to archaeologist River Song (Alex Kingston), a woman who claims to not only know The Doctor, but also implies that they have a much deeper relationship. What kind of relationship? That would be spoiling things.



4. "Doomsday" (Season 2)

"Doomsday" was the second-season finale, and in some ways may have been a nerd dream come true, as it pitted the villainous Daleks against another of The Doctor's rogue's gallery: the Cybermen. Both alien races were looking to subjugate the human race to their evil whims, and this left The Doctor and a band of interdimensional freedom fighters to defeat the twin threats. This also proved to be the final episode for Billie Piper, who played Rose Tyler, the first companion of The Doctor since the show was brought back from cancellation. Along with Tennant, she helped to propel it to new heights of popularity. In this episode, it appeared that she might perish with the Daleks and the Cybermen, as both end up being pulled into a black hole-like fissure. But her father (well, it's her father in another parallel universe) jumps into our reality and saves her as the fissure closes up for good. Unfortunately, this traps her in the other universe and away from her beloved Doctor. The final scenes involving the duo talking on a beach through holographic projection are very touching, but to some Whovians who liked to write dreamy fan fiction about The Doctor and Rose being in love and all that, it was devastating. But, for the rest of us, we would survive and move on, as The Doctor did, to a new companion.



3. "Journey's End" (Season 4)

The dreaded Daleks remain an eternal pain in The Doctor's backside, and they tend to make an appearance every season. Russell T. Davies, the man behind the curtain at "Doctor Who," has said the iconic villains need to be there to challenge the venerable Time Lord, and that was the case in the fourth-season finale. The Daleks had stolen the Earth and 26 other worlds to create a reality bomb that would destroy everything in the universe. This episode is notable for several reasons. First, it features the return to the series of Dalek creator Davros, played with wonderful moustache-twirling glee by actor Julian Bleach. Second, it saw the return of almost every companion or friend of The Doctor's, including Martha Jones, Rose, Mickey, Captain Jack Harkness, Sarah Jane Smith and the rest. It was thrilling to watch all these characters appearing in one episode against impossible odds. Lastly, it features a truly sad ending for his companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate), who experiences Time Lord overload when knowledge from The Doctor's brain downloads into hers, almost ending her life. To save her, The Doctor is forced to wipe all her memories of him, and after watching Donna go from vapid and annoying to interesting and heroic you see how tragic it truly is. It's especially sad and poignant when The Doctor has to tell her family about what he had to do, but her sweet grandfather tells him that he'll honor her and him by looking for him in the skies every night. It's enough to make even the most hardened sci-fi cynic shed a tear.



2. "Human Nature" and "The Family of Blood" (Season 3)

The Doctor and companion Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) are on the run from The Family of Blood, a malevolent group of aliens looking to steal The Doctor's life-force as theirs begins to run out. These are real persistent villains who follow The Doctor in his time-traveling ship, the TARDIS, back in time. In order to keep them from their goal, The Doctor turns himself into a real human being and instructs Martha to keep watch over him as he assumes the identity of an English boarding school teacher in 1913. Martha knows how to handle almost every situation but one: What to do when The Doctor falls in love with another human. That's trouble enough, but when the Family of Blood finally figures out where and when The Doctor has been hiding, they show up with a vengeance. These two episodes have everything you could ever want in a TV watching experience. Thrills, chills, romance, action and one of the greatest endings of all time, as we find out what the Doctor really does to the Family when he stops their campaign of terror. It's a nerdgasm of the highest order! After seeing these two episodes, I became a big fan of novelist/TV/comic book writer Paul Cornell. He would probably have more episodes on this list, but these two were the only ones he wrote during Tennant's run on "Doctor Who." I was hoping to see more of his handiwork on the upcoming season, but Cornell recently revealed he wouldn't be writing anything for the new Doctor. "Who" producers need to change that ASAP!



1. "Blink" (Season 3)

Hands down, the best 60 minutes of the Tennant era and maybe, dare I say, in the history of "Doctor Who" itself. In fact, I would be so bold as to put this episode up against anything from "Lost," "Battlestar Galactica" or any other well-respected, critically-praised TV show. "Blink" is so well made, so tightly put together that no second of it feels wasted. And the funny thing? The Doctor is merely a background player as it's really the story of Sally Sparrow (Carey Mulligan), who seems to be getting warnings from The Doctor, who is stuck in the past, about a grave threat in her present. That threat? A collection of statues in the form of angels weeping, and they are terrifying. Who knew a TV show could make inanimate statues so scary? Also, Mulligan, who's getting noticed as the lead in "An Education," really carries the whole episode like a pro and is so good as our main character that her name keeps popping up on wish lists for The Doctor's next companion. If you've never watched "Doctor Who" in your life or if you're skeptical about the quality of this show, then I dare you to watch this episode and not end up renting the rest of the series.

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Re: MSN's Ten For Tennant

Post by barnaby morbius on Fri May 14, 2010 10:06 am

i'd swap 3 and 5 with last of the time lords and gridlock.

and how was "Blink" 60 minutes? did i miss some of it?
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Re: MSN's Ten For Tennant

Post by The Co=Ordinator on Fri May 14, 2010 10:16 am

As ever with these subjective lists, I agree with some, but vehemently disagree with others!


Last edited by The Co=Ordinator on Fri May 14, 2010 10:18 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: MSN's Ten For Tennant

Post by Graymalkin on Fri May 14, 2010 10:17 am

A few odd choices in there - particularly the tedious 'Silence in the Library'. Not too bad, all in all, although anyone who thinks Paul Cornell wrote 'Human Nature' clearly hasn't seen or read any of his non-RTDbrushed work...

Since I love a little list, my top-ten Tennant tales¹ would probably be:

10) 'Gridlock'
09) 'Tooth and Claw'
08) 'Love & Monsters'
07) 'Midnight'
06) 'The Shakespeare Code'
05) 'The Runaway Bride'
04) 'The Girl in the Fireplace'
03) 'Smith and Jones'
02) 'Blink'
01) 'Human Nature/ The Family of Blood'

@Barnaby Morbius 'how was "Blink" 60 minutes? did i miss some of it?'

The adverts²?

1) Since we're apparently talking complete stories there'll be no place for the awesome 'The Sound of Drums'. Which is a shame.
2) Not the band, obviously.

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Re: MSN's Ten For Tennant

Post by Patrick on Fri May 14, 2010 10:35 am

@ Barnaby Morbius
and how was "Blink" 60 minutes? did i miss some of it?

@ Graymalkin
The adverts²?

Graymalkin is correct. You have to remember that the author of that article was watching these on BBC-America. On BBC-A, Doctor Who, like all other imported shows, is wedged into a 60 minute time slot that allows for a few commercial breaks.

My own personal list of Tennant's 10 Best would be:

10. Voyage of the Damned
9. The Stolen Earth/Journey's End
8. Gridlock
7. Partners in Crime
6. The Girl In The Fireplace
5. Utopia
4. Turn Left
3. Human Nature/Family of Blood
2. Midnight
1. Blink

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Re: MSN's Ten For Tennant

Post by stanmore on Fri May 14, 2010 10:47 am

barnaby morbius wrote:
and how was "Blink" 60 minutes? did i miss some of it?

You blinked.
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Re: MSN's Ten For Tennant

Post by Rich Flair on Sat May 15, 2010 4:58 am

MY top ten for Tennant list would be, in no particular order:

Utopia/Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords
Love & Monsters
The End of Time
The Stolen Earth/Journey's End
Partners in Crime
The Girl in the Fireplace
The Christmas Invasion
Voyage of the Damned
Turn Left
Human Nature/Family of Blood
Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead

That's 11, ain't it? And Gridlock makes 12!
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Re: MSN's Ten For Tennant

Post by The Co=Ordinator on Sat May 15, 2010 12:34 pm

Right now, my top ten (in order of transmission) are:

Christmas Invasion
School Reunion
Love & Monsters
Human Nature/Family of Blood
Blink
Utopia
Fires of Pompeii
Midnight
Stolen Earth/Journeys End
Waters of Mars

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