Following last year’s exciting Doctor Who Season Report Card, here comes the inevitable follow-up:
4. Daleks in Manhattan (Part 1) (4/5)
I maintain that this year was a lot more solid than Season 2. If I total up my scores I gave both seasons 39/65, but that doesn’t really reflect how I feel about them. Last year saw very few episodes that weren’t marred by a silly ending or some moment that felt embarrassingly juvenile. It was that awkward feeling of having to squint slightly to ignore the bad bits in otherwise enjoyable episodes. This year the episodes that were solid were consistently solid from beginning to end, and it’s surprising how much that lifts the ‘felt’ quality of the show. Martha’s occasional slips into unrequited love were also a lot less annoying than the cloying Doctor-Rose dynamic of season 2.
Then of course was the run of three superb episodes in a row from ‘Human Nature’ to ‘Blink’, which showcased everything that works about the series and without which I’d be feeling less charitable about the overall lack of excellence that surrounded them. I suspect that these three episodes are pivotal to my enjoyment of the season, but they’re not the whole story. I was already feeling more positive about the year before they aired.
As for the dregs, while there were a few episodes that required squinting of Olympic proportions, there were actually no more stinkers than last year, and even a nominally poor offering like ‘Evolution of the Daleks’ was sneakingly enjoyable and nostalgic; unlike, say, ‘Rise of the Cybermen’. Only ’42’ failed to engage me on almost any level, although even there Martha’s scenes in the life pod provided at least something of interest.
I’m still trying to decide whether ‘The Last of the Time Lords’ falls into the stupid-but-fun category, or was a full-on unwatchable stinker of the ‘New Earth’ variety. Martha did significantly help the episode, as did the epilogue, but as the season finale it ended the year on an unfortunately sour note.