Doctor Who: The Rusty Years

Category: , By Rev/Views

[A Short Note before Starting: Initially I did indeed write about the two part special "The End of Time" just a few days after I saw both parts on television. What started out as a slightly harsh critique of the flaws in the special degenerated into a vicious rant filled with harsh language and when I boiled it down it came to two essential points. First of all I'm really going to miss David Tennant's Doctor and second that he was almost criminally wasted with Russell T. Davies at the helm. "The End of Time" was pretty much a classic example of Rusty's work - while he can write phenomenal emotional scenes which are touching and brilliant they are unfortunately buried between scenes which are filled with such terrible sci-fi hack work that they're almost impossible to find. Like twenty four carat diamonds hidden in rancid turds. So I decided to shelve that rant and take some distance from the mild disappointment which was Tennant's swan song and instead take a look at the Russell T. Davies run as a whole.]

So the Tenth Doctor is no more, and with him departs the man who brought back Doctor Who - a man who (despite all his flaws and deficiencies in the science fiction field) has gifted the world with the return of a cult favourite and helmed it to a point where it can at times be one of the greatest things on television.

I still remember watching Doctor Who when it first returned and the initial reactions I had. Including such classic lines from myself as "Who's this idiot in the leather jacket? Didn't he go mad in Shallow Grave and drill holes in the ceiling?" and "I hate this Mickey chap, I prefer the plastic version of him!" But on the whole I was thrilled to see the show back on the air- I personally grew up with repeats of Peter Davison alongside Sylvester McCoy. McCoy remains my favourite Doctor (Sorry Rob!) mostly due to the utterly Machiavellian nature of him once Ace turned up and he settled into a mix of clown on the outside and "well devious" on the inside. I adored the seventh Doctor in "Remembrance of the Daleks" which still remains an amazing story to watch.

So the new Doctor had a lot to prove in a short time and while Eccleston's portrayal wasn't amazing he did participate in some spectacular episodes and more importantly blazed a trail for the Tenth Doctor. The best Doctor.

What follows is a representation of my personal enjoyment over the Rusty Years - starting with the first episode and including everything apart from the short ten minute specials which personally never felt like a proper part of the story, but the feature length specials are included. I'm afraid it's pretty long so you'll need to click on the image to see it properly.

Each episode is rated within the whole Doctor Who framework - that is I'm just comparing each episode within the context of the show, I'm not comparing it to other shows out there. Even given that you can see that on average I have indeed enjoyed watching Doctor Who with a solid average score of 5.8 and you can also see that I found the Ninth Doctor's run to be more consistent but never quite reaching the heights (or lows) of the Tenth.

The highest rated episode in this lot is (unsurprisingly) "Blink", the episode which manages to single handedly demonstrate why Moffat is the man for the job and why he'll most likely turn the Eleventh Doctor into something even better than the Tenth one.

The best solid run is in Martha's season and starts with Human Nature - sadly it's let down by the quite, quite terrible "Last of the Time Lords" but every single episode until that one is just golden.

Other highly enjoyed episodes include Army of Ghosts - which is the episode where I found myself cheering Mickey's return - no other character in the history of television has ever won me over as much as Noel Clarke's portrayal of Mickey, as I mentioned earlier I hated him when he was first on the screen. But I adored him when he departed in the Cybermen two parter "Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel", especially after his mini rant in the superb "Girl in the Fireplace".

While there are single episodes which stand out as utter rubbish - Voyage of the Damned plus Love and Monsters come to mind - for myself the worst part of Doctor Who is the sup-par run from "The Shakespeare Code" all the way to the failure that is "42". That's the lull where I was considering stopping watching the show because the episodes just stank. (Which was fortunately rectified.)

Still,for myself Doctor Who has been incredibly inconsistent - but also outstanding. When it's good it's very good, but when it's bad it's 'carrot juice, carrot juice, carrot juice'. I think it's fair to say that I will miss Tennant, but as his departure comes linked with the removal of Rusty from the franchise I can accept it.

To round up, here's a short list of my personal highs and lows.

Best Companion: Donna
(Honorable mentions: Mickey and Wilfred)
Worst Companion: Captain Jack Harkness
Scariest Episode: Blink
(Honorable Mention: The Empty Child)
Best Episode: Blink
Worst Episode: Love and Monsters
Best New Race: There wasn't one
Worst New Race: The Ood
Best Conversation: The Doctor and Donna miming through the glass at each other
(Honorable mention: The Dalek/Cyberman conversation)
Best Writer: Stephen Moffat
(Honorable mention: Paul Cornell)
Most moving moment: Wilfred and The Doctor talking in the diner
(Honorable mention: Father's Day)
Most awesome moment: The Master's regeneration into John Simms
Most embarrassing moment for John Simms: Almost the entire of "The End of Time" where his performance was crucified by terrible and pointless CGI.
Best Character: Sally Sparrow
(Honorable Mention: Donna, but she's already been mentioned)

Best Quotes:
"Stupid Apes!"

"Lots of planets have a north!"

"Who looks at a screwdriver and thinks 'Oooh, this could be a little more sonic'?"
"What? you never been bored? Never had a long night? Never had a lot of cabinets to put up?"

"From the day they arrive on the planet, and blinking, step into the sun, there is more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than... no. Sorry, that's The Lion King."


"This is my timey-whimey detector. It goes ding when there's stuff."

"State your name, rank, and intention!"
"The Doctor... Doctor... FUN."

And I think that's enough about the first few years of Doctor Who's return, but I think it's fair to say I'm looking forward to Eleven's first season greatly.


3 comments so far.

  1. Aaron 20 January 2010 at 09:51
    *Pssssst* It's Davison. I don't know who this Peter Davies is...

    Nice write up of the period though!
  2. Lisa Rullsenberg 20 January 2010 at 10:44
    Great review - and LOVED your graph! I don't entirely agree with your marks or all your best/worst but its a wonderful overview of the RTD years.

    You're right of course: he does great on the emotional stuff, but in terms of sci-fi the years of DW fandom have clearly not stuck much awareness of sci-fi in his head.

    Here's to the new regime!
  3. Rev/Views 24 January 2010 at 10:03
    Lisa, surely you at least agree that Love & Monsters is the worst Doctor Who episode even if you disagree with everything else!

Something to say?