Saturday, August 23, 2014

Doctor Who--"New Earth"

All right. This may get a wee bit confusing to the uninitiated. I am still in the middle of reviewing the first season of Doctor Who which is only halfway through airing on the Sci Fi Channel Friday nights. The second season began airing on the BBC Saturday night. Although it is not yet airing in the former Colonies, I’ve seen it anyway and am offering up my thoughts on it. So in one week and probably henceforth, there are going to be two reviews, both considered brand new episodes, although they have different Doctors and one is actually a year old. Confused yet? At least you get a two week break from me gushing about Lost. That has to count for something.

This is our first adventure with David Tennant as the Doctor. We begin, yet again, with the two of them leaving Mickey and Roe’s mother and heading off to the far future. So far, they have gone beyond the destruction of Earth seen in last season’s aptly named, “The End of the World.” They arrive on a planet colonized by nostalgic human survivors. More specifically, they are in the city of New New York. Everyone has British accents, so it really should have been New London, but who’ counting? The Doctor has received a summons from a patient in a hospital in the city. That doesn’t stop him and Rose from lying on the grass and daydreaming for a few moments to soak in the sights. Tennant and Piper are still playing up some of the romantic elements between their characters, but it’s more Doctor Whoish here--a schoolboy/schoolgirl crush rather than the sexual tension in the first season.

When they finally enter the hospital, they discover it is run by catlike nuns. Why cats? Cats re not famous for being caring, nurturing animals. They are self-absorbing and whine constantly about how much they hate the world and everyone in it. Cat lawyers I can believe. Cat nurses? Hard to swallow. Little do the two of them know that Cassandra, the living skin from “The End of the World” has survived her last encounter with the Doctor and recognizes Rose. She wants revenge. While the Doctor discovers his summons was sent by a dying being known as the Face, Cassandra lures rose to a secluded part of the hospital. She explains to Rose that the Cassandra who died in "The End of the World" was the front piece of skin and she is now..well, her butt, I guess. Either way, she uses a device to transfer her herself into Rose's body.

The Doctor and “Rose” hook back up She’s acting funny, but at the moment, it doesn’t seem to bother him. The Face has yet to speak, so the doctor tours the hospital while waiting. Many of the patients have hopeless diseases, yet are being cured rapidly. The doctor wonders how that could be. The nuns seem to be miracle workers. After snooping around, the Doctor finds his answer--the nuns have created a breeding farm for humans. The humans are infected with every disease in existence in order to create vaccines. “Rose” doesn’t care, causing the doctor to confront the nuns about what they have done to these humans and what they have done to Rose.

Thy deny doing anything to Rose, but it doesn’t really matter since she reveals herself as Cassandra anyway. She knocks the Doctor out and places him in one of the pods ready to be infected with some disease or another. Cassandra threatens to blackmail the nuns for money. When they refuse, she releases every infected human in the pods, including the Doctor. The race is on to avoid being infected in several scenes reminiscent of Night of the Living Dead. Eventually, Cassandra switches bodies with the Doctor. She has to transfer herself into an infected human when they reach a dead end in order for the Doctor to use the sonic screwdriver in order to open a sealed lift. Cassandra jumps back into Rose and the two of them head for Ward 26, the place wear all the vaccines are kept. The Doctor empties the vaccines into a disinfectant spray and “Rose” lures several infected humans into the disinfectant shower. They are cured and urged by the Doctor to spread the cure to others.

The doctor remembers The Face an goes back to him. The face tells him he had grown weary of the universe, but the Doctor had renewed hi faith in it. He teleports away, saying that his message can wait for his final meeting with the Doctor. The Doctor turns his attention to “Rose,” demanding Cassandra leave her body. Cassandra transfer herself into one of her willing cloned assistants, but he begins to fail under the stress. Cassandra accepts her fate, but the Doctor gives her one last gift--he takes her back to a party at which was the last time someone told her she was beautiful. As the old Cassandra dies, the TARDIS sfades away.

An interested episode. I didn’t see any reason to have the Cassandra subplot other than to give her a more sympathetic send off. Yes, she was a cold villain, but the last time, the Doctor pretty much killed her in cold blood. At least this time her death was not a direct action of the Doctor and he did her a little favor at the end. Perhaps the first time he dispose of her isn’t terribly out of character with the historical Doctor, but it bugged me. I’m glad it was cleared up. I quite like Tennant’s Doctor as well. He’s just the right mix of goofiness but still on the ball with everything that’s going on around him. I’m looking forward to more.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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