Our first trip to another planet since the series restarted in 2005 was good, but it could have been a lot better. Sometimes, dark and camp can work together really well to produce something ever more menacing (check out review #7), however for me, this story had too much Cassandra and, while she was good in The End of the World, she ‘undarkened’ what could’ve been a decent dark story.
Firstly, I’ll begin by talking about New Earth as a planet. Like practically every other planet in Doctor Who, I love New Earth and imagine it as very clean and futuristic (ignoring what we’ll later see in Gridlock). I also love the hospital as a creepy setting because I’ve often felt a little creeped out in hospitals, so straight away I was fearing over what might be going on behind the scenes. The Cat Nuns are a pretty cool idea too.
Keeping with the positives, the scenes in which all the pods burst open and the unsettling and horrifying diseased patients are let loose like zombies, I could feel my palms starting to sweat. I also like the reappearance of the Face of Boe, especially when you consider the fact he didn’t have a big part to play in The End of the World. His few lines of script and vanishing act at the end made me even more intrigued into who this mysterious character is, and what is his big secret that he can only tell the Doctor when he’s dying?
For the parts of the episode I’ve talked about in the last two paragraphs, I would give this story an 8/10. However, the story is let down majorly by Lady Cassandra and her servant, Chip. I don’t think they needed to be there at all this time around and their over-the-top ways of doing things ruined some of the dark and terrifying scenes. The switching of her consciousness between characters wasn’t exactly pleasant to watch and her servant could be pretty annoying too. Saying this, I did like seeing her in human form at the end, before she was spiteful and villainous; that was a nice touch.
This story was only David Tennant’s second and he certainly already feels like the Doctor. However, it’s also the story where Billie Piper’s betrayal of Rose begins to get a bit annoying (which is a shame considering how much she developed the character over the course of the first series). I’ll probably write more on that in a future article.
All in all, this story was scary, I give it that. It was however, as I’ve mentioned, unbearably camp in places, and ruined some of the darker scenes that could’ve been gruesome, behind the sofa material. It’s not a terrible story, because elements of this story are great, however, it gets a bit lost when you consider how good the stories are around it are.