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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Time Travel > British TV > Doctor Who: The Next Doctor (BBC DVD)

Doctor Who: The Next Doctor (BBC DVD)

B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B     Episode: A+

Since the Doctor Who series was re-started in 2005 BBC 1 has aired Christmas specials on December 24th as both a celebration of the show and a present to the fans in the UK. Fans in the United States have never had the pleasure of seeing a BBC 1 Doctor Christmas special on its debut night. Watching The Next Doctor last Christmas Eve would have been a wonderful present indeed, as it will be thought of as perhaps the best holiday offering so far in the new era of one of the longest running shows in television history.

Set in London on Christmas Eve, 1851, the story finds the Doctor (brilliantly played by David Tennant) arriving shortly after the bitter-sweet events that ended series four.
He is alone and a bit maudlin, but finds himself immediately thrust into the center of the action when he hears a woman scream. After meeting a man who claims to be the Doctor (wonderfully played by David Morrissey) and his lovely companion, Tennant's Doctor must unravel the mystery of this next Doctor while opposing one of his deadliest foes, the Cybermen. Writer and series creator Russell T. Davies delivers a wonderful story that moves at break-neck speed and offers an ending that that is both satisfying and saddening.

This story marks the beginning of the end for Mr. Tennant's run as the Doctor, as only two episodes and the 2009 Christmas Special remain.
There are no direct hints in this special about just how Tennant's Doctor will transition into his replacement (called "regeneration" in the parlance of the show), but it is clear that the Mr. Tennant's Time Lord is tired. He no longer has a regular companion because, as he reveals at the end of The Next Doctor, "they break my heart." Despite this, Tennant's nuanced performance never allows the Doctor to dwell on the sadness, and makes the special an immensely satisfying experience.

Picture and sound on this disc measure up to the usual high standards for new BBC productions.
The extras are a little thin, but the lack of content is made up for by the amazing feature, "Doctor Who at the Proms", which features a packed house at Albert Hall and a live orchestra playing the music of the show. With master of ceremonies Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones from Doctor Who Series 3) and a host of special guest stars, pyrotechnics, and some surprises, this show makes for riotous fun. Perhaps most enjoyable is watching the reactions of many of the children in the audience. Looking at the wonder in their eyes reminds you that Doctor Who is a show that isn't just for adults, and is spawning a whole new generation of science fiction and fantasy fans in the UK and abroad.

The Next Doctor now takes its place as one of the finest single episode stories in the incredible run of the new show.
This bodes well for the remaining three installments of the David Tennant era.

- Scott Pyle


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