Christmas Day 2008 wasn’t the best day for me.
I woke up with a 24 hour case of food poisoning, I could barely eat anything – meaning Christmas Dinner had to be put off until Boxing Day – and I felt terrible all day.
And to make matters worse, The Next Doctor was on TV.
Doctor Who – The Next Doctor Review: What’s This One About?
A man thinks he’s the Doctor but really isn’t.
And Dervla Kirwan is in league with the Cybermen in Victorian London.
Thoughts – Gimmick Over Storyline
In the lead-up to The Next Doctor’s broadcast, the hook to get people to watch was the potential that David Morrissey was actually the next Doctor and was making his debut before David Tennant left.
They even showed the opening scene during Children in Need to fan the flames further.
But the thing is, Morrissey wasn’t the Doctor, and that became very clear almost from the off, before being put to bed completely around 20 minutes in to an hour long episode.
So what was left?
A rubbish tale of Cybermen in Victorian London, in league with Dervla Kirwan.
The thing about The Next Doctor is that there’s no real story to it. It’s just a series of set pieces that probably seemed like a good idea on paper.
But there’s nothing that links it.
It’s all gimmickry; all style and no substance.
I mean, let’s take a look at the Cybermen’s motivation…
Why are they there? Who knows.
How did they get there? Using technology they stole off the Daleks in Army of Ghosts. Oh, that’s original.
Why are they in league with Dervla Kirwan? It’s not made clear, but they do intend on turning her into The Cyber King at some point. Again, wildly original stuff.
Why is Dervla Kirwan so evil? Again, there’s nothing obvious to explain it. She just is.
If any of these parts are explained, then I’ve missed them, and I have no intention of doing what some fans do by reading books or listening to commentaries after the fact to fill in the blanks and discover what the writer had hoped to achieve. That’s
not how these things should work.
It should be obvious what the story is about with the motivation for why things are happening made clear.
The Next Doctor is a terrible story. Yes, there are worse ones out there throughout the history of the show, but there are always different reasons for why they are worse. Bad acting, embarrassing plots or design, childishness or just being totally boring.
This story isn’t as bad as the likes of the Twin Dilemma and Time & The Rani, but it deserves probably more contempt because it has been written so lazily and without any effort beyond a thought of “It’s Christmas Day; it’ll do”.
It doesn’t deserve any more to be said about it.
The One Doctor
Why did they not just redo the Big Finish story, The One Doctor?
Rather than go for the stupid idea of having Jackson Lake think he’s the Doctor because he got pictures of him put through his mind, or whatever the hell the reason was, why not pay homage to one of the best Big Finish audios ever?
The One Doctor is about the Sixth Doctor and Mel meeting a Doctor imitator, who – along with his own companion – was fleecing a future civilization out of money by staging a false invasion. Only, once the false invasion was done and dusted, a real one happened and they had to join forces to vanquish it.
That one would have worked.
It’s a funny plot, it makes sense as a story without seeming paper thin, and it would have worked perfectly on Christmas Day.
Alas, it was not to be.
- You won’t hear me complain about the look of this story. That’s not the problem at all; it’s the lack of a story to go along with it.
- Actually, that’s not true, I will complain about one thing; the Cybershades. What they hell were they? They looked like something out of a school play.
- That giant Cyberman thing; there’s another gimmick that ultimately went nowhere.
- But wait a minute; these are supposed to be the same ones from the parallel universe aren’t they? So they are from the 21st century? So how do they have “Dreadnaught Class” spaceships? Or are we not supposed to care about such things, because it’s a Christmas Day episode and we’re just supposed to be thrilled to see the latest set piece?
- I suppose the problem with writing a Cyberman story is that these Cybermen have no character or substance behind them. They are just crap. Stomping around, saying “Delete” and occasionally electrocuting someone does not make for good TV.
- David Morrissey is such an overactor. He was rubbish in this and he ruined the Walking Dead. I haven’t even bothered to finish watching Season 3 of that yet.
- Are we to assume time has passed between the end of Journey’s End and this? The Doctor seems a lot happier.
- So weren’t the events of that day spoken of in history for centuries to come? The Doctor saying “Yeah, funny that” is not a good enough way to deal with it.
- Oh, and based on what Russell T. Davies has written in the past, should the Doctor not have been able to identify that Jackson wasn’t a future version of himself just by looking at him? Hmmm?!
- I think by putting up clips of old Doctors, RTD probably thought “That’ll satisfy the hardcore”. Well it didn’t.
- I had to spend about 45 minutes learning how to cut out a picture with precision on Paint.Net to get that Ironhide picture up. It was worth it.
- DWM Mighty 200 Ranking: #107
Doctor Who – The Next Doctor Review: Final Thoughts
This is a short review, because I don’t think it deserves much said about it.
It’s the laziest Doctor Who story ever written, with almost nothing in the plot to give it any flow between the big set pieces.
It’s as if the RTD era did end with the last story, and nobody bothered to tell the BBC.