Category Archives: Christmas Special

Episodes of Doctor Who that were made specifically for Christmas and feature Christmas themes.

A Christmas Carol

Once upon a time, Doctor Who was a science fiction show. Oh, it was never a dryly accurate thesis on the mechanics of time travel, but nowadays (and particularly around Christmas), Doctor Who becomes little more than fairytale magic. With A Christmas Carol, any semblance of scientific plausibility went out of the window the moment a flying shark came in through it.

G'day, my name's Bruce.

G’day, my name’s Bruce.

I recall enjoying this episode when it was first shown, and even thinking it was the best Christmas special they’d yet done. Well, it’s certainly the most Christmassy, but it hasn’t held up very well on a second viewing. In fact, I was distinctly bored for much of the second half. Around the time when the Doctor visits Scroo-… er… Kazran as a boy, the plot loses any sense of urgency and lumbers along for twenty minutes or so, while the young lad develops a relationship with Abigail, the least-developed character ever, who does little more than come out of a box every so often and sing to some fish.

Young Kazran takes the Doctor to the freezer vault.

Young Kazran takes the Doctor to the freezer vault.

On the plus side, the story is occasionally rather clever and, frankly, makes me wonder why it took five years before A Christmas Carol was adapted for Doctor Who. The moment when the Doctor appears in the video that Kazran made as a boy is sheer genius, as is later using his present (old) self as the boy’s “Christmas future”. Michael Gambon is naturally rather good as Kazran (and his bearded father), and a pleasure to watch even though the character is thinly-written. The love story doesn’t have much substance but it’s nevertheless heartwarming.

One last day together because Abigail has a meticulously punctual terminal illness that doesn't manifest itself physically in any way whatsoever.

One last day together because Abigail has a meticulously punctual terminal illness that doesn’t manifest itself physically in any way whatsoever.

The Doctor’s plan is as contrived as the situation itself, but his goal is as noble as ever and he shows how he can see the good in everybody, even seemingly ‘evil’ people. But, my goodness, he doesn’t half ramble on, blurting out technobabble, talking to himself and spewing out as many words per minute as somebody hearing pips on a payphone. I’ve never really had a problem with Matt Smith before but he starts to grate here. Gillan and Darvill, meanwhile, are practically guest stars for all the screen time they get.

The visual design of the episode is excellent. A little bit Dickensian London, a little bit steampunk.

The visual design of the episode is excellent. A little bit Dickensian London, a little bit steampunk.

This may be a retelling of Dickens classic, but it doesn’t have half as good pacing or structure. I was probably more forgiving of its shortcomings at Christmas, but it’s far too early for that right now. Bah, humbug!


The End of Time

So, this is it. After three and a bit seasons and five Christmas specials, David Tennant’s turn as the tenth Time Lord reaches its dramatic conclusion. It’s Russell T Davies’ second chance to write the ultimate conclusion to end all conclusions, to wrap up the most popular incarnation of the character and to end his time on this show, and I’m pleased to say that he does a better job of it than the season 4 finale. Although a chimpanzee with a typewriter would have done a better job of that, so it’s not saying much.

The Ood elder tells the Doctor of his prophecy.

The Ood elder tells the Doctor of his prophecy.

And it’s my second chance to watch this two-and-a-quarter hour double bill, of which I have only the vaguest memories, mostly of the Master dressed like a scruffy hoodie with a glowing transparent skull and Timothy motherflipping Dalton turning up with his posse of Time Lords and spitting a lot. I had somehow erased the memories of the Master turning the entire human race into clones of himself (including a bad lookalike of President Obama) and the whole thing again with the drum rhythm, knocking four times, and the sound of a Time Lord heartbeat (ooh, nice touch, I’d almost think this was planned all along). There is a wonderful moment when, finally, after all the bluffs, the prophecy of the Doctor’s death (he will knock four times) turns out to be Wilf knocking on the glass door of the radiation chamber, asking to be let out, and a calm realisation spreads over the Doctor’s face. If I take away anything good from this episode, it will be that moment. It’s lovely.

Tap-tap-tap-tap, and it all makes sense.

Tap-tap-tap-tap, and it all makes sense.

Bernard Cribbins does a fantastic job as Wilfred, even if he does look like he’s on the verge of tears in every scene (or maybe because of that!). Wilf is essential in keeping this story grounded in human drama while insane things are happening around them. His scenes with the Doctor where they do nothing but talk to each other in a café are some of the best. The rest of the story concerns itself with big but flimsy ideas like destiny, prophecies and, yet again, the death of the entire human race and the end of the existence of time as we know it. Because, obviously, you can’t have a finale without something ridiculous happening. I don’t know why Russell T Davies has to write so many stories involving “everybody in the world”, because it immediately loses its believability if you stop to think about it for two seconds. Every single person on the planet turning into a copy of the Master would wreak absolute havoc. Planes would fall out of the sky, cars would crash in the street, people of different sizes, like children, could be crushed to death in seats and harnesses, and what about pregnant women? Are there mini-Masters inside Masters, or did all the foetuses die? I feel like I’ve said this a hundred times now, but you cannot do such big events like this without thinking about the consequences.

"Look, ma, I'm the president!"

“Look, ma, I’m the president!”

Timothy Dalton is fantastic. Having previously appeared in Hot Fuzz, he was obviously deemed a good fit for the role of the villain again. He exudes charisma and presence both as the narrator to the events of part 1 and as the president of the Time Lords. This is the first time we see Gallifrey and the high council since the 1980s and the scale of these scenes is a vast improvement, beautifully captured by the VFX team without appearing overly “greenscreen-y”. The Time Lords have always been corrupt, but the time war has sent them over the edge of evilness. I was surprised to hear the council talking about the Doctor’s search for “the Moment” that will end their existence. I hadn’t realised the events of ‘The Day of the Doctor’ had been so explicitly foreshadowed. Side note: The Doctor travels a lot before coming to see the Ood at the start of the episode, during which time he marries Queen Liz!

The Time Lords, and Gallifrey, return. Briefly.

The Time Lords, and Gallifrey, return. Briefly.

It’s a shame the Master is a little wasted here, turned into a rampaging monster that wants to eat people. This would have been a good opportunity to cast a different actor and do a whole new take on the character, rather than bringing back John Simm. There’s a good chance this will happen in the upcoming series, given his fate at the end. As for the Doctor’s fate, the radiation chamber is as contrived a setup as you can imagine, leading to the most drawn-out death scene ever. There’s literally fifteen minutes of screen time after the accident in which every major character the tenth Doctor has ever met is bid farewell. To say it’s indulgent is putting it mildly. I suppose I can’t really blame Russell T Davies for wanting to add these scenes; this is just as much a finale for him as a writer as it is for the tenth Doctor as a character, but I must say, the way the Doctor clings onto his life is like a petulant child. He’s been through at least nine regenerations by this point, he knows the drill. He should have had more dignified last words than “I don’t want to go.”

I don't understand why Martha and Mickey are suddenly married. Wasn't she already engaged to somebody else?

I don’t understand why Martha and Mickey are suddenly married. Wasn’t she already engaged to somebody else?

While I enjoyed parts of this finale and felt it was quite cleverly wrapped up, there’s a lot that doesn’t work so well or doesn’t make sense if you think about it too much. The high stakes are implausible – why would a device capable of transforming the population of an entire planet (it’s basically a weapon of mass destruction) be so casually discarded, with only a pair of bumbling alien scientists to come and salvage it? The Doctor falling from their ship and crashing through a glass ceiling, and surviving with just a few scratches, is possibly the most ridiculous thing he’s ever done. He’s not superman!

The Doctor's explosive regeneration wrecks the Tardis.

The Doctor’s explosive regeneration wrecks the Tardis.

As this is the end of the tenth Doctor’s run, I will briefly comment on the character and David Tennant’s portrayal. I think David Tennant defined the character almost as much as Tom Baker did. Not just because he was really popular and stayed on for so long; he’s a fantastic actor, whether he’s doing his comedy thing, his angry shouty thing or his quiet solemn thing. You only have to watch episodes like The Family of Blood to see the sort of range he’s capable of. His style and characteristics became synonymous with Doctor Who. He’s a tough act to follow.

The tenth Doctor is more human-like than many of the others, excepting Paul McGann as the eighth. Like him, he’s got a romantic side but actually (more or less) falls in love, which is a first. It’s not a trait I particularly care for as I feel the Doctor should be more alien and weird (something Matt Smith nails). The Doctor has always been a caring character (that’s basically what he does) but, with Ten, this empathy is more explicit, leading to more instances of him being visibly rattled, distraught or affected by events. Like Nine, his cheerful comedy routine is just to cover up his true feelings.

Any version of the Doctor (yes, even Tom Baker) wears thin over time. As I was rewatching his first season, I found him extremely likeable, but as time goes on, the character picks up annoying little habits (“weeeelllll…”), catchphrases (“allons-y!”) or traits that begin to grate (“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”). A lot of this is down to the writing, of course. I would have liked to see more of the tenth Doctor under the new writing team (when he reappears in the 50th anniversary special, he’s actually excellent). The Tenth Doctor is merciful, even to his greatest enemies, always looking for a solution other than killing, and he is fascinated by human culture to the point of coming across like an excitable space tourist.

Anyway, I’m not going to put David Tennant in ranking order with all the others, because I haven’t bothered doing those for the new series – the style of the programme is too different to compare them fairly with the old serials – but I will say that I like him more than I liked Christopher Eccleston.

Here’s my pick of favourite episodes from the past three seasons. Thanks for reading, and here’s to the next Doctor!

The Girl in the Fireplace.
A scary, sweet and clever adventure that crosses time and space.

The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit
Excellent visual design and another scary story in an impossible situation.

Human Nature / The Family of Blood
A tragic love story and David Tennant’s best performance.

The best Doctor Who episode doesn’t star the Doctor. Ingenious and frightening.

Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead
Moffat crams more out-of-this-world ideas and scares into this two-parter.

Turn Left
A wonderful “what-if” tale where the Doctor never saved the world.

The Next Doctor

With rumours of David Tennant’s departure from Doctor Who back in 2008/’09, Russell T Davies seemed to enjoy teasing the audience with things like fake regenerations and misleading episode titles… at least, that’s how I remember it. The Next Doctor ostensibly depicts a future incarnation of the travelling Time Lord, who is trying to solve a series of murders and kidnappings in Victorian London. It plays up to this ruse for the first half of the episode before finally admitting that, actually, he’s not the Doctor at all, he’s just a man named Jackson Lake (played by David Morrissey), who’s been infused with the Doctor’s memories in an accident that took his family.

The next Doctor shows off his "sonic" screwdriver by banging it against the wall.

The next Doctor shows off his “sonic” screwdriver by banging it against the wall.

On the basis of this performance, he would have made a pretty good Doctor had they decided to go that way – somewhat like Peter Davison’s fifth, grounded and human but brilliant and inventive. The scenes where the “two Doctors” team up and work together are fun, and the reveal of the new Doctor’s “TARDIS” raised a smile as well. The rest of the episode is, well… the usual routine.

Miss Hartigan is shown no "Mercy" as the Cybermen predictably betray her.

Miss Hartigan is shown no “Mercy” as the Cybermen predictably betray her.

Cybermen in a Dickensian setting at Christmas should be far better than this, but they’re just not very interesting villains anymore. They’re deadly and threatening when they need to be (zapping people with a touch) but useless when they’re fighting the Doctor (with a sword – why not zap him through it?), and their leader, Miss Hartigan, has only vague motives to support her pantomime villain routine. The “Cybershades” are supposed to look retro or something, but they’re just too fluffy and adorable and make little sense. The Cyberking looks amazing and has a great steampunk vibe to it, but it’s similarly implausible. How did something that big hide under the Thames? It’s just another “big threat” for the sake of, with a poor resolution – more magic weapons and silly save-the-day devices.

The Cyberking flattens London. Nobody ever mentions it again.

The Cyberking flattens London. Nobody ever mentions it again.

Still, it’s not too bad. Before it gets boring, the mystery of the Jackson Lake character gives the episode an intriguing focus (he should have had more to do in the final act – put him in the balloon instead, for instance!). It was nice to see the old footage of all ten Doctors projected from the infostamp (that’s the first time that’s happened, isn’t it?). It’s Christmassy, but the Christmassiness isn’t overdone – there’s no embarrassing scene like the Queen waving in last year’s special. But, it is still just a big budget special and these rarely rise above “okay”. Unfortunately, without a regular season and a regular companion, 2009 was all about one-off specials, and the Doctor getting increasingly whiny to the point where I was glad to see him go.

Voyage of the Damned

Voyage of the Damned follows on immediately after the events of Time Crash, a brief but charming interlude that takes place just after Martha leaves the Doctor in the Tardis but just before the Titanic smashes into it, in which the fifth Doctor (played by Peter Davison) appears aboard the Tenth’s Tardis due to some timey-wimey mishap. It’s also the only good thing I’m going to mention in this particular article because, by and large, Voyage of the Damned is a load of rubbish.

The spaceship Titanic orbits the Earth. It's a lovely-looking ship, I'll give it that at least.

The spaceship Titanic orbits the Earth. It’s a lovely-looking ship, I’ll give it that at least.

Quite honestly, I don’t even remember much about it from the first time I watched it. It’s not that there’s anything insultingly bad about it (like, say, a robotic Anne Robinson zapping contestants with a deadly laser), it’s just so mind-numbingly bland and by-the-numbers. I think this is true of most Christmas specials. They can’t dare to be interesting or different because the audience is likely to be stuffed full of turkey and alcohol and unable to parse a challenging plot. So everything happens in a boring and routine way. The Doctor arrives, someone is plotting something, there are some baddies to beat, there’s a crisis to avert, and would-you-believe-it, it’s averted in the nick of time by some babbling reason explained in passing. And now it’s snowing. The end.

Kylie Minogue as Astro... Asterix... Astra... Aspirin... Astrid!

Kylie Minogue as Astro… Asterix… Astra… Aspirin… Astrid!

Kylie Minogue plays the hastily-introduced and killed-off sort of maybe love interest for this episode. Apparently Russell T. Davies really wanted to cast her and wrote the part of Astrid specifically for her, but I can’t tell why. She’s a perfectly fine actress and I can’t blame the shortcomings of the character on her so much as the writing, which is just so bland and forgettable that it’s a waste of her talent and (presumably) high salary. Her death scenes (yes, plural) are supposed to be tear-jerkingly sweet but I found it all sickly and horrible. Wikipedia insists Astrid is an official Doctor Who Companion™, but I’m hesitant to count her as such because she never travels in the Tardis or survives past one episode or is ever mentioned again. She’s no more a companion than Bernard Cribbins’ character is.

IT'S WILF!! London maybe deserted, but Wilf's going nowhere, sunshine.

IT’S WILF!! London maybe deserted, but Wilf’s going nowhere, sunshine.

Voyage of the Damned certainly doesn’t help itself by reminding me of one of my all-time favourite serials, The Robots of Death. In that, robot slaves kill off wealthy travellers, but that had a cracking story, well-written and believable characters and robots that were actually quite frightening. These robo-angels are not scary, the cast of characters are more like caricatures and the writing leaves a lot to be desired. It’s very one-dimensional, the villain plotting from below deck (why?), the insurance scam, the bribed captain, no-one has any substance to them. Everyone has one or two personality features and then just runs around for an hour getting killed. Weapons conveniently present themselves and the ship is saved in a way unrelated to anything that they’ve been trying to do for the past hour (something-something atmosphere, something-something-reignition). Pure fluff.

Bannakaffalatta, the smartbomb cyborg, dies heroically.

Bannakaffalatta, the smartbomb cyborg, dies heroically.

But hey, you know, it’s Christmas. It’s a time to be silly and not worry so much about things like plot and character and drama. We want to slouch in front of the telly on Christmas evening and watch the Doctor doing cool stuff, like walking away from explosions in slow motion (this actually happens) and flying through the air carried by angels like a Jesus figure (this also actually happens). We want to see the Queen waving to him as the Titanic flies over Buckingham Palace (this, inexplicably, also happens). We want “funny” jokes about the UK going to war with Turkey and eating them at Christmas. We want cackling evil villains with stupid plans and no morals. We want to the message of Christmas to be “money solves everything; here’s a credit card, go away and don’t bother me anymore”. That’s what we want at Christmas, apparently.

"Information: this episode sucks."

“Information: this episode sucks.”

Well, it’s not what I want. Christmas is not an excuse for sticking any old rubbish on the telly. These should be stand-out episodes, the best of the best, but I am annually dismayed by how poor they are, and this is something that continues to happen even on Steven Moffat’s watch. Maybe they should stop making these so-called “specials” if they’re going to be anything but. Voyage of the Damned Poor, more like. Thank you, I’m here all week, try the veal.

The Runaway Bride

‘Tis the season to be… invaded, apparently. Earth doesn’t have much luck at Christmas, having narrowly escaped the Sycorax the previous year and now under attack from a Racnoss Empress’s spaceship and her legions of spidery children buried deep within the heart of the planet. The Doctor doesn’t get a tea break either, as this story follows directly on from the season 2 finale, and a mysterious bride has materialised aboard the Tardis. Which is impossible! Except where ancient ‘huon particles’ are involved. Right.

The robo-Santas' services must be cheap for any passing would-be alien invaders to hire.

The robo-Santas’ services must be cheap for any passing would-be alien invaders to hire.

Donna is… well, Catherine Tate. Almost exactly as excruciating as you might imagine. I say “almost” because, when she’s not blustering and yelling and being obnoxious, she’s sort of okay. If nothing else, she’s completely down-to-Earth, less concerned with the impossible things happening around her than she is by her own life and love. She has no idea about the Sycorax invading last year (she had a hangover), and no idea about the Cybermen and Daleks battling it out over Earth (she was scuba diving in Spain), which is pretty funny actually, and it sums up humanity in the new series of Doctor Who quite nicely – oblivious, ignorant, self-absorbed.

The Doctor and Donna infiltrate the secret facility where the huon particles are being manufactured.

The Doctor and Donna infiltrate the secret facility where the huon particles are being manufactured.

I’ll have more to say about Donna in season 4, but for now, it’s noteworthy that she’s not a Rose replacement. This isn’t a doe-eyed young potential love interest. Donna is her own person, here for her own reasons, and is not afraid of bossing the Doctor around. After fifty years of Doctor Who, a new companion doesn’t seem like a significant event, but bear in mind this was the first change of supporting cast since the show’s revival. Rose was Doctor Who for a large part of this new audience, and now that focus has to change. Thankfully, David Tennant plays a strong enough role to carry it, whomever he’s paired with. Donna tells the Doctor he needs somebody to stop him from doing terrible things, and as we’ve seen and will continue to see, that much is true.

Donna makes a leap of faith.

Donna makes a leap of faith.

As this is a Christmas special, it has a bigger budget to play with. This has produced some impressive sequences such as the Tardis chasing the taxi along the motorway and the formation of the Earth from bits of rock in space. The Empress’s make-up and prosthetics are similarly-impressive. The whole planet may be in danger again, but the collateral damage is isolated to a small area of London (the residents of which will probably dismiss the spaceship as a Christmas themed stunt). The order for the tanks to fire on the ship comes from Prime Minister Saxon, who will be very important in the next season, but for now is just some subtle foreshadowing.

The Racnoss Empress. It is mandatory for all spider-like species to be called "rac-something".

The Racnoss Empress. It is mandatory for all spider-like species to be called “rac-something”.

The Runaway Bride hasn’t improved with age, but it’s not terrible either. It’s a solid and well-paced adventure that successfully introduces a new companion without feeling too contrived. It’s good-humoured but with some emotional moments too. There is, however, far too much use of the sonic screwdriver. I know that it’s shorthand for “move the plot along”, but it’s overused now. The villain is striking, but never evolves beyond a carnivorous monster with a disregard for life. Her origins speak of darker times in the ancient universe, and the beginnings of the Earth itself. Like anything else, though, this is brushed off and will likely be forgotten about. For Donna Noble, life goes on… until they meet again.

The Christmas Invasion

Following on from his recent regeneration, the Tardis lands back on Earth on Christmas eve, but the Doctor’s residual regeneration energy has attracted some unwanted attention, and he’s in no fit state to fend it off.

Residual timey wimey energy escapes into outer space while the Doctor recovers.

Residual timey wimey energy escapes into outer space while the Doctor recovers.

When I first watched The Christmas Invasion, I didn’t like it at all. I found it far too simplistic and boring. I had hoped the invasion would be a clever cover for something else, hoped the Sycorax would be more interesting than just a bunch of space warriors, wished the resolution would have involved more than just a one-on-one fight to the death, and generally found the “big global threat” angle to be tiresome.

The Sycorax leader uses his "blood control" party trick.

The Sycorax leader uses his “blood control” party trick.

In retrospect, I found more to enjoy this time. What we have here is an episode where the Doctor isn’t around and we see how the people of Earth deal with that. We see how threatening a race of aliens can be when the Doctor isn’t there to call their bluff. And we see just what a cocky and confident man the Doctor actually is. He ridicules the Sycorax, he shows up their technology for what it really is, and he wins a fight in his pyjamas using a satsuma. Brilliant!

The Doctor's severed hand falls to Earth before a new one regenerates in its place. Someone ought to find that, it might be important.

The Doctor’s severed hand falls to Earth before a new one regenerates in its place. Someone ought to find that, it might be important.

But not to be fooled by his jovial Arthur Dentian ways, his darker side comes through as well. His “no second chances” to the fallen Sycorax leader is particularly harsh, and his reaction to what Harriet Jones does at the end suggests his positive opinions of humanity can change. Earth is beginning to step out into the Universe. This is the first time Torchwood has had some (off-screen) involvement in events, and the Doctor is not very happy about it. Don’t worry, Doc, nobody else likes Torchwood either.

Torchwood fires its destructo-beam at the Sycorax ship. The Doctor is not impressed.

Torchwood fires its destructo-beam at the Sycorax ship. The Doctor is not impressed.

For a Christmas episode, it’s not overly Christmassy. I suppose that’s to its advantage in some ways, as future Christmas specials have all tried to “capture the magic of Christmas” at any cost, often to their detriment. The Christmas Invasion tries to be a big “event” type story, and goes too far with it. A third of the population being mind-controlled should have had far more devastating effects on the world than what we saw. Wouldn’t cars crash into each other? Wouldn’t some aeroplanes start falling out of the sky? Doctor Who needs to stop doing global disasters and then shrugging them off as if it’s nothing. Oh, and Mickey hacking into the government network on his modem and laptop again? Come off it!

This is about as Christmassy as it gets. A remote controlled Christmas tree attacks Rose, Jackie and Mickey. Oh dear.

This is about as Christmassy as it gets. A remote controlled Christmas tree attacks Rose, Jackie and Mickey. Oh dear.

One part disaster, one part comedy, The Christmas Invasion is the sort of surreal concoction that only Doctor Who can pull off. I can’t say I totally enjoyed it, but it was okay, and funnier than I remember.

The Daleks’ Master Plan

Only four of the episodes exist in completed form, but due to the good audio quality and the large amount of visual material available, the reconstructions are the best I’ve seen so far. They even made some CGI Dalek sequences.

As for the plot, it is a long-winded one, entirely hinging on the Doctor stealing a core component of the Daleks’ new time-destructor weapon, thus halting their invasion of the universe and causing them to chase him through time and space for a bit.

The Doctor steals the Daleks' crucial and irreplacable McGuffin.

The Doctor steals the Daleks’ crucial and irreplaceable McGuffin.

There is a low-point in the middle, a dreadful Christmas special shoved into the story, which is the worst episode of Who I’ve ever seen, taking its cues from those awful parts of The Chase but somehow even worse, and ending with the Doctor turning to the camera and wishing us all at home a merry christmas. I guess it was supposed to be charming and whimsical, but in the context of an epic disaster serial, it really didn’t work.

"And a merry Christmas to you at home as well!" 'The Feast of Steven sets the trend for awful Christmas specials.

“And a merry Christmas to you at home as well!” ‘The Feast of Steven’ sets the trend for awful Christmas specials.

The time-meddling monk from a few episodes prior makes an unexpected return near the end, perhaps to pad out the story some more, but this is handled rather well, and I suspect he will return again in later stories for his revenge (I hope so, anyway).

Also, the galactic council, previously seen in the one-off Doctorless episode Mission to the Unknown, returns, headed up by the ruler of the solar system (turned power-hungry traitor) Mavic Chen, who provides backchat for the Daleks and is generally enjoyable to watch in all his scenes. Obviously, he’s betrayed by the Daleks in the end.

Mavic Chen and the Daleks. An alliance that cannot last.

Mavic Chen and the Daleks. An alliance that cannot last.

Again, the scale of the plot is laughably unbelievable. The rulers of the other galaxies are planning to invade the solar system (sol). That’s like the leaders of Asia deciding to invade the inside of my shoe.

Still, despite its length (and awful sagging in the middle), this was an enjoyable serial, with the Daleks at their most ruthless and evil. Plenty of deaths, too. I was hoping Space Police Officer Sara Kingdom would survive for more adventures, but she died rather spectacularly to the ravages of accelerated time. Interestingly, the Doctor did not, suggesting for the first time ever that he may age considerably more slowly than everyone else.

Space Police Officer Sarah Kingdom doesn't live for long. Shame.

Space Police Officer Sarah Kingdom doesn’t live for long. Shame.

As Katerina departs, I will summarise and comment on her (brief!) role.
A temporary companion, she believes the Doctor is the god Zeus. She helps him out of duty, but also fascination at the Doctor’s miraculous ‘temple’. She’s not in it for more than one story, and she doesn’t have much of a character to speak of. It could have been interesting to have an ancient human as a regular, but it never went anywhere this time. She ends up dead, unfortunately. Although her sacrifice was not in vain – she intentionally jettisons herself and her assailant from an airlock of a spaceship, to stop him from taking over. The Doctor had the Daleks’ secret weapon component in his possession, and needed to get away quickly. She basically saved them all, in her service to her ‘god’. Since she thought she was in the afterlife anyway, I suppose it didn’t matter too much to her!