I am late in updating my continued exploration of the rebooted Doctor Who. I've already written about my impressions of Season 1 and how I believe the TV Threshold can be found in the fourth episode of season 2, "The Girl in the Fireplace."
I have also completed my Season 2 review.
So now here are my impressions of the 3rd Season (SPOILERS BELOW).
1. Martha Jones was Big Improvement.
I was very relieved to see that Catherine Tate would not be the companion after she appeared in the first episode of the season. Having watched her on the American version of The Office, I very much did not like her.
Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) was chosen to be the companion and I hate to say it, but she is much better than Rose Tyler.
While Rose and the Doctor had chemistry, I couldn't see anything wonderfully special about her. She did not convey the intelligence that Martha does. Martha comes across as much smarter and more sophisticated in a good way. She seems more of an intellectual match for the Doctor. She and the Doctor also had good chemistry, but it was completely one-sided. I am actually glad about this, because even though I like Martha better, it wouldn't feel right for the Doctor to simply throw away his affection for Rose.
2. Great Single Episodes
I was so impressed by the single (or two-episode) stories this season. Not all of them were great, but the ones that were still stick in my mind. Here are a few points:
a. The Shakespeare Code - I loved the thematic relationship between stories and magic. And this is one of my favorite depictions of William Shakespeare I have seen
b. Gridlock - I thought this episode would be a silly lark, but the second half turned me for a loop and it moved me deeply with those last words: "You are not alone."
c. Human Nature and The Family of Blood - Again, I thought that this episode was just going to be a lark about the Doctor living out a human life. But the last half of the second episode is heartbreaking. It was a powerhouse performance by David Tennant.
It was an episode that showed everything that was best about the Doctor and at the same time his worst. I understood then that the Doctor is a man who has vengeance and cruelty always bubbling under the surface. Watch the terrifying, almost evil expression on his face as he doles out the final punishments. That is why he tries so hard to be a man of goodness, to be a doctor.
d. Blink - Pure brilliance.
An example of science-fiction writing at its finest. And what is amazing is how tangential to the story the Doctor and Martha are and yet this is a quintessential Doctor Who story that introduces the most terrifying villains: the Weeping Angels. The montage at the end is particularly disturbing and it is wonderful in the way it gets you to feel something different about everyday objects in the real world.
3. The Anti-Doctor
The re-introduction of the Master was fascinating. It would have been better if there had been some anticipatory build up to this, but I thought Derek Jacobi was marvelous. For me, the best part of the story was delving into the Gallifreyan culture and the horrible ritual that had the children look into the time vortex. It was at times like these that I could understand how the Doctor could love and hate his own culture.
4. Still Cheap.
I have commented much on the cheapness already, and this season was a bit of an improvement. But not much. I like how Blink got around this by using creative directing techniques to make tangible intimate objects visually stunning and scary.
Overall, I found this season to be big on unexpected emotion, which was a real treat. I found this season even more enjoyable and David Tennant really owns the character in a way that is becoming indelible.
Stay tuned for my reflections of Season 4.