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Doctor Who Christmas Special “The Next Doctor” Summary and Analysis

Posted by Mister Random on December 27, 2008

Warning this post contains detailed spoilers for the 2008 Christmas Special of the new Dr Who “The Next Doctor”

One Sentence Review

Fairly average episode which yet again is let down by a weak ending

Episode Summary

The episode opens with the Doctor arriving in London on Christmas Eve 1851, and he soon hears a woman (Rosita) calling for the Doctor, he runs up to her and asks her whats happening but she doesnt recognise him as the Doctor and then a man appears also claiming to be the Doctor, a “Cyber Shade” (A cyber converted dog or similar animal) appears. “Doctor 2” then catches the Cybershade with a rope and both he and the Doctor are pulled up a wall into a building and through it by a wraith as they are caught up in the rope and it takes Rosita with an axe to free them before they are pulled down the other side of a building.

After a brief talk it becomes clear that “Doctor 2” doesnt recognise the Doctor and has big gaps in his memory. We see the cybermen review footage of the Doctors from the Cybershade and identify Doctor 2 as the Doctor we are also introduced to an uncoverted human “Miss Hartigan” who is allied to the Cybermen and goes to attend a funeral of Reverend Fairchild. The Doctor follows “Doctor 2” to the house of Reverend Fairchild where he finds out that “Doctor 2″‘s sonic screwdriver is just a normal screwdriver. He finds out that the cybermen infiltration first started with the death of “Jackson Lake”.  The Doctor then finds out that the Doctors fobwatch is a normal watch and then finds several “infostamps” belonging to the cybermen which have varied information stored on them, the Doctor then works out the cybermen must be short on power and possibly in the wrong century if they need to use infostamps. The Doctor then finds a cyberman hidden behind a door and both doctors run up the stairs with the Doctor trying to fend off the cybermen with a cutlass while offering them help. He is then rescued by “Doctor 2” who managed to turn the infostamps into a weapon.

At the funeral Miss Hartigan and the cybermen capture 4 workhouse owners as they are needed everyone else is killed, and Miss Hartigan tells them they were spared as their children are needed. We later see them partially cyberised controlled by headsets but otherwise normal looking

The Doctors return to their home base where the Doctor investigates the property of Jackson Lake which “Doctor 2” had confiscated, he then finds out that Rosita was rescued from the cybermen by “Doctor 2”.  The Doctor then asks to see “Doctor 2’s” Tardis and finds out it is a hot air balloon “Tethered Aerial Release Developed in Style”. The Doctor then has worked out how “Doctor 2” became the Doctor.

The Doctor tells how the cybermen were sent into the void, but due to the battle with the Daleks (end of Series 4) some managed to escape to Londons past. Jackson Lake then encountered them and found an infostamp with a copy of a Database about the Doctor on it which backfired into Jackson Lakes head making him think he is the Doctor. The Doctor tells Jackson that he must have had a wife and the loss of his wife put him into a fugue state allowing him to become the Doctor.  The Doctor then discovers a cache of infostamps that had been activated indicating the cybermen where on the move. The Doctor and Rosita then find the cyberised Workhouse owners escorting children under guard by cyber shades preventing the Doctor from intervening.

They then run into 2 cybermen and Miss Hartigan, the Doctor then tries to rescue Miss Hartigan who tells them she is doing this of their own free will, he then gives the cybermen the Infostamp with his database on it and they recognise who he is. Miss Hartigan then tells the cybermen to kill the Doctor, they are then rescued by Jackson Lake who kills the cybermen using some infostamps. Jackson tells them he encountered the cybermen in the basement of his house and this may be a way into the cybermens base. In the basement of the house the Doctor discovers a “dimension vault” which is Dalek technology and how the cybermen travelled through time.

In the base the cybermen bring up the scedule of their plan in order to prevent the Doctor from interfering. The cybermen then take Miss Hartigan to the Cyberking and tell her she is to be converted into the core of cyberking. The conversion does not fully work however as Miss Hartigan retains her emotions and takes control of the cybermen. As the power for the cyberking reaches 100% the Doctor and Jackson Lake rescue the children, including Jackson Lakes son.

As the Doctor escapes to the surface he finds the cyberking has risen and it is essentially a giant cyberman, towering over London. The Doctor then uses Jacksons Tardis (balloon) to rise up to the level of the cyberking that contains Miss Hartigan who is currently using the cyberkings weaponary on London. The Doctor then gives Miss Hartigan a choice to accept his help to use the Dimension Vault to take her to a new world or he will stop her. She refuses his offer and the Doctor uses the infostamps to break the cyber connection and open her mind, she then has a mental breakdown and the cyberking starts to self destruct, before it can collapse on London, the Doctor uses the Dimension Vault to transport it away.

Before the Doctor leaves he shows Jackson the real Tardis and accepts an invitation to a meal with Jackson, his son and Rositta

My Thoughts

Overall I found this to be a fairly average episode and again have too many elements of Deus ex machina present. 

Character wise I thought the other Doctor/ Jackson Lake story was well handled as I was suspecting it would be a con man of some sorts but the route taken of trauma combined with knowledge of the Doctor implanted was IMO a much better way to go, I did think the mystery could have been extended slightly as it was clear within 15 minutes that Jackson was not the Doctor and most of Jacksons backstory was revealed within 30 minutes. I was slightly dissapointed with  Jacksons companion Rosita as she was underused and to my mind aside from the first rescue of the Doctor had very little to do and only seemed to be there to provide a bit of exposition about Jacksons character.

As for the villians, I thought that the cybermen where intially used fairly well and how they got to London in 1851 fitted with the events of the previous series of Doctor Who, the cybershades seemed a bit pointless though as it was never explained properly how and why the cybermen created them. I liked the character of Miss Hartigan however, though I would have liked it to have been explained better why she was helping the cybermen as the impression I got from the episode was that it was simply because she hated men and also whether or not she was partly cyberised or not to begin with.

Once again though there was a bit too much technobabble/ deus ex machina for my liking. The first instance of this was with the infostamps being able to destroy cybermen this to me just seemed like RTD needing a way to kill cybermen in 1851 so he decided to make the infostamps be able to become weapons. I was also dissapointed with the way the cyberking/Miss Hartigan was defeated, as one of the main points of the episode seemed to be that Miss Hartigan initially had no cyberisation and was doing it all of her own free will, yet he somehow manages to defeat her by deactivating her cyber connections (connections to what? alsosprings to mind as she was still linked to the cyberking), it would have been more consistent with the plot to that point if after that she had simply retorted with something along the lines of “is having all this power supposed to upset me?” then have the Doctor use the Dimension Vault to get rid of the cyberking.

I also thought the episode was too long but too short at the same time, it was too long as I thought parts of it dragged, but it was too short as there was insufficient time to develop the characters and plot fully and would probably have worked better as a 2 parter rather than a 1 parter.

Episode Rating







2 Responses to “Doctor Who Christmas Special “The Next Doctor” Summary and Analysis”

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