The Top Five Ten Moments

Posted on December 23, 2009

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With the Christmas episode of Doctor Who almost upon us, and so with it, the swansong of David Tennant, I felt, as a fan, that it was only fitting to take a look at Tennant’s stint in the iconic role and see how he fared out.

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When Doctor Who returned in 2005 with Chris Eccleston in the lead role, it was fresh, interesting and fun. It had a subtext you could spot if you so desired to but it didn’t go above the heads of kids or people who just watch TV for what it is, rather than what it’s trying to be. In all honesty, it was a treat for TV lovers and particularly sci-fi lovers.

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When Chris Eccleston quit the role after one series, David Tennant was largely unheard of, a fact which shows how TV culture has exploded when you consider that it would be difficult now to find someone who hadn’t heard of David Tennant.

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So bearing in mind that, for Doctor Who fans, we’re looking at the end of an era, I have decided to look back on Tennant’s life as the tenth Doctor (or Ten, as the multitude of fandoms refer to him), and pick the Top Five Ten Moments.

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Doomsday: The Doctor stands tearful in the TARDIS, having just said goodbye to companion Rose Tyler, when all of a sudden, Catherine Tate’s Donna pops in, in a wedding dress. The “What….what….what?” reaction is synonymous with Tennant’s time as the Doctor, a frequent suggestion in forum postings regarding “what will the doctor say when…” It’s an expression of sheer bewilderment and comedy juxtaposed onto a situation of extreme sadness for our lead character. It beautifully highlights the range and emotional ability of both character and actor.

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Family of Blood: Informed of his true identity, John Smith struggles to understand the man he really is, wondering how he could tell his companion Martha how to handle so many situations but neglected to mention falling in love. “What sort of a man is that?” he asks. A heart-wrenching moment showing the Doctor looking at himself through the human eyes that he doesn’t have and realising just how much of a burden being a timelord is. A lovely method of showing us the dark side and disadvantages of being the Doctor. And then they let him go and push all those buttons…

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Utopia: A memorable episode for more than one reason, Jack’s return, Derek Jacobi’s cameo, we also saw the return of the Master. Firstly as the brilliant Derek Jacobi and then as the wonderfully OTT John Simm, (playing Sam Tyler on speed, basically!) But the moment when the Doctor first hears that there may be another Timelord alive is brilliant. Consumed first by disbelief and shock, his emotion soon moves to wary and dreading as he realises that the only one who could possibly still be alive it the Master. And that means major shit hitting the fan. A little poorly dealt with in the final two episodes in my opinion but the exchange between Tennant and Simm at the end of this episode is pure gold. (Equalled only by the not-so-subtle-if-you-pay-attention phone sex they have in The Sound of Drums! Or the final scenes in Last of the Timelords)

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Fires of Pompeii: Although arguably more of a “Donna” moment, Tennant’s response to a distraught Donna that he can’t save anyone is made all the more striking by the performance of Tate as probably the most realistic and believable companion we have seen since the series restarted. The Doctor’s admission to Donna that he cannot save the people because of certain laws is beautiful, striking and poignant, especially considering he discards these laws at a later stage.

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Waters of Mars: The only special to make the list, it perhaps is a rushed entry as I’m sure I could have found another moment but this one is important in the grand scheme of things. Having followed the laws of time all his life, the Doctor realises now that being the only Timelord left, the laws are open to his interpretation and he promptly disobeys them. It’s a manic scene, filmed in such a style that it looks like the Doctor is simply going off the rails, and considering the foreboding prophecy hanging over him, it is perhaps no more than we might expect from a Doctor who has hit enormous emotional highs and lows in his travels. He has a personality that swings and shifts so rapidly that this scene works ridiculously well in conveying that fact. But he ultimately returns to his sombre state in the end when the laws of time are persist, despite his involvement. Finishing on a note that, no matter what he does, time is time and these things will happen with or without him, it leaves things set up very nicely for a finale, which, fingers crossed will do the Tenth Doctor justice.

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And while I’m on my TV hobby horse of Doctor Who, I thought I’d draw attention to a few other little tit-bits of Tennant’s time as the Doctor too. (I’m incorrigible I know but to hell with it, he’ll be gone in two weeks!)

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Best of the Episodes:

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I couldn’t pick a top five so I decided a few from each series instead!

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Series 2:

–         The Girl in the Fireplace,

–         Impossible Planet/Satan Pit,

–         Army of Ghosts/Doomsday

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Series 3:

–         Shakespeare Code,

–          Human Nature/Family of Blood,

–         Blink,

–          Utopia,

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Series 4:

–         Partners in Crime,

–         Fires of Pompeii,

–         Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead,

–         Stolen Earth/Journey’s End (Though I did feel they were a little bit lacking…)

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Best Guest Stars:

–         John Simm (Utopia, The Sound of Drums, Last of the Timelords)

–         Bernard Cribbins (Series 4)

–         Derek Jacobi (Utopia)

–         Colin Salmon (Silence in the Library. Forrest of the Dead)

–         Zoë Wanamaker (New Earth)

–         Lee Evans (Planet of the Dead)

–         Jessica Hynes (Human Nature/Family of Blood)

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Last but not least, I had to mention what I thought was the most pleasant surprise of the whole series since it returned. When I first heard Catherine Tate was taking over as the fulltime companion in series 4, I kinda went, yeah Runaway Bride was great but…could I handle Catherine Tate yelling for 13 episodes? Well, humble pie was eaten. I discussed her briefly in one of the moments above and so am not going into much detail here. I am also aware of the fact that this blog is already probably ridiculously long but hey, that’s what happens when I get on a hobby horse…

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Partners in Crime showed her brilliance in impromptu and visual comedy – the window/door scene, priceless. But it didn’t necessarily give us much of an idea of how she was going to fare out in the rest of the series.  After her performance in Fires of Pompeii, I never looked back.

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But I’m skittering off the point now. Main thing to remember is Christmas Day and New Years Day, Tennant bows out. Three years and a few specials to his name, let’s hope he gets one hell of an exit scene.

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Writer’s Note:

Subsequent to this blog, I accept any accusations thrown at me that suggest I am a wanky fan girl. You would, in fact, be correct in your accusations and I have no shame!

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Posted in: Reviews