Welcome to the latest This Week In feature, This Week in Doctor Who. Because of the nature of Doctor Who specials, these reviews will be more like movie reviews than the typical television show reviews since the specials run for 60 minutes plus, as opposed to the standard 45 minute run time. It won't be until the start of the show's 5th series that this feature will resemble the standard TWi reviews. Let's get to it!
Special: "The Waters of Mars"
We may have waited an extra month to see it in America, but the latest Doctor Who special is finally here. Before I get into this episode though, I'd like to just share my thoughts about the previous two specials, "The Next Doctor" and "Planet of the Dead," while I think they were decent episodes, the show has certainly scene better days. If anything, I appreciated the way "The Next Doctor" incorporated footage of all the previous Doctors for the very first time, other than that.... ho hum. So, after watching tonight's new special, I must say I was gladly pleased to see that "The Waters of Mars" rank up with some of David Tennant's best episodes.
"The Waters of Mars" brings The Doctor to the titular planet, visit what will be the world's first human colony on Mars, Bowie Base One (a reference to space infatuated singer David Bowie perhaps?). But having previously learned in "Planet of the Dead" that his "time is up" and "he will knock four times" this special reveals a new version of Tennant's Doctor that we haven't seen before. This time around, The Doctor isn't his normal eccentric self, he acts very much like a death-fearing mortal, and upon realizing that the date he has arrived at, November 21st, 2059, is the date Bowie Base One is to have exploded, he learns that he may actually be powerless against the forces of time.
But what's Doctor Who without it's signature villains? This episode reveals a new enemy, which is actually in the form of a bacteria the Bowie Base One's water supply, but when the bacteria mixes with a clean water supply and is ingested by humans, well, it's pretty gross. The infected constantly drip (and even spray!) water, they lose color in their eyes, and their mouths become black and chapped like a dry desert; it's actually hard to look at for an extended period. And, even the slightest touch of the infected water will turn you into one of them, so The Doctor insist that the crew must die, and well, obviously that won't bode well.
I hate being vague, but I don't want to spoil anything for those who've yet to watch it (that's next week's job). What I can say, is that this was certainly a new side of The Doctor, and a side we probably won't see again due to Tennant's upcoming departure. But surely the effects of "The Waters of Mars" will carry into the appropriately named two-part special, The End of Time; which I'm both excited and saddened to watch.
Overall Score: 8.8/10
Next week will be a joyous event, not because it's the start of David Tennant's final storyline (that's actually pretty sad), but because next week marks the quickest time a Doctor Who episode will air between its UK and US airings: just one day apart! So be sure to look here next Saturday night for my review of the first part of Doctor Who: The End of Time.