Doctor Who, ‘The Waters of Mars’ (15th November 2009)

There will be  a change in the Doctor we kept getting told.  What did we think before ‘The Waters of Mars’ aired?  Possibly that the Doctor will give up and fail to save those he was sent to help.  That his failure leads to tragedy on a grand scale and that he feels so bad he just gives up and because he can’t face it anymore he moves towards his death.  No – it’s the opposite…..

….so the Doctor thinks he is invincible and he sees himself as the victorious Doctor.  At the end of the ‘The Waters of Mars’, we leave him in the snow with a kind of death knell hanging over him and an ood looking with those sad ood eyes at him.  The end is on its way.  How exciting…..and how emotional!

It’s good to spend a little time with an idea and I felt that this was the strength of this episode. It was an interesting idea in that the people who are doomed are in our future and not in our past (such as in ‘The Fires of Pompeii).  

It felt that, despite scary monsters and all the usual ‘crew of a spaceship about to be doomed stuff” the production team worked really well to build up a narrative that looked forwards and backwards at the same time.  The dilemma here is that if  the Doctor saves the people on the space station, time will be changed for ever.  Rather  than going hi tech, the programme played with the idea that things are undeveloped in this future world.  I liked the idea that progress was the to grew vegetables for a Christmas dinner and this gave the episode a really simple naive and raw feel.   I really liked the Doctor in his space suit just thinking, as all around him try desperately, and a little clumsily to survive, but we know they are doomed.  We’ve seen their lives flash before our eyes.  The old fashioned space suit makes the Doctor see vulnerable.  It reminds us he needs air to survive.  The production team could make the scene of the crew collecting boxes, scrambling around and trying to leave as long as they wanted, because we just know that is the end for them unless the Doctor interjects.  At that point we think the Doctor’s strength will be that he leaves the people to die.  In many ways there are some echoes of ‘Children of Earth’ here.  In the Torchwood series, Captain Jack let the children die to save mankind, will the Doctor let these people die to save mankind.  Whatever the Doctor does, he is not in a good place.  As we watch the audience is placed in a position clearly wanting to know is will the Doctor save this small group of people or leave them to die?  Without his companion, he is truly on his own and the decision is his own.  Will he do what captain Jack did and have to come back to face the end of time, knowing  the enemy was within himself.

The Doctor chooses to save the crew.  Such an act of bravery, but so wrong as well….   

Did we think that by this act we would see the chaos of the future that the Doctor had caused?  No the time is set back and it all seems well….except that the Doctor seems to be a different person…

 ….the trailer at the end shows a man rising from the rubbish tip and as he turns his head we see a/the blond Master. 

I still kind of secretly hope the Doctor turns into the Master and John Simm is the next Doctor.  The Doctor/Master thing is just a really interesting idea …….

so we’ll have to wait for Christmas, and all the interviews – teasers, trailers tasters – the pre show hype that positions us an audience so carefully to think one thing and what we see is another.

David Tennant Doctor Who

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