Timestamp #173: New Earth

Doctor Who: New Earth
(1 episode, s02e01, 2006)

 

The adventure continues with a rather pointless return.

Just after saying goodbye to her mother and Mickey, Rose Tyler joins the Doctor in the TARDIS as they go further than they’ve ever gone before. They end up on New Earth, a planet similar to its long-dead namesake in the year 5,000,000,023, located in Galaxy M87. Their arrival is witnessed by a spider-drone, which (of course) belongs to Lady Cassandra.

There’s no surprise in that reveal at all.

Following a message on the psychic paper – “Ward 26. Please come.” – Rose and the Doctor visit the New New York Hospital. They find nuns that look like cats, an extensive disinfection protocol, and a diversion named Chip that splits companion from Time Lord. The Doctor talks with Sister Jatt, a member of the humanoid feline Sisters of Plentitude, before reuniting with the Face of Boe. It seems that the Face is dying of old age, which is something that the Sisters cannot cure.

Rose explores the basement, pipe in hand as a weapon, and encounters Lady Cassandra. She was reconstructed from another piece of her former body’s skin – see: plot armor – and as she tells her story she traps Rose and transfers her consciousness into the woman’s body. After a phone call from the Doctor, Cassandra stuffs a small vial in her new cleavage and heads upstairs.

The Doctor sits with the Face of Boe and Novice Hame. The attendant relates a story that the Face has lived for thousands, perhaps millions of years and that he will give his dying message to a lonely god, a wanderer without a home. Surely she means the Doctor because the look on his face and the lingering camera tell us so. While he waits for the Face to awaken, the Doctor investigates the medical ward and the mysterious rash of miracle recoveries. He’s also suspicious of Rose’s return with her strange voice, the knowledge she shouldn’t have of the hospital’s inner workings, and some lusty kisses beside. Together they hack their way into the intensive care unit and find patients infected with every possible disease in the universe. These patients exist as human lab rats, a farm from which to harvest cures for the greater good.

The Doctor is incensed. He confronts Novice Hame, but the nun insists that the artificial humans are nothing more than mere flesh. He turns the tables, demanding to know what happened to Rose. Novice Hame says she has no idea, and Cassandra drugs the Doctor with the perfume vial she secreted away. The Doctor awakens in one of the pods, on the verge of being pumped full of the disease cocktail. Cassandra attempts to blackmail Matron Casp, the leader of the hospital’s order, but they refuse with the threat of claws. Cassandra turns to Plan B and releases all of human slaves, which promptly turn on their feline captives with gruesome results. Matron Casp escapes and quarantines the facility as Cassandra, Chip, and the Doctor run for their lives. Well, Cassandra and the Doctor do after the former fleshy trampoline leaves Chip behind.

The Doctor confronts Cassandra and demands that she return Rose. Cassandra obliges by jumping into the Doctor’s body in a humorous fashion. They continue to run as the diseased horde breaks through, and Matron Casp is killed by her own creation as they climb. Upon reaching a locked elevator door, Cassandra bounces from the Doctor to Rose and one of the infected – quickly learning about their life of loneliness – as our heroes escape. Cassandra returns to Rose as they reach Ward 26, and the Doctor hatches a plan with a quick descent down an elevator shaft with a large batch of the intravenous cures strapped to his body. He fills the disinfectant tub in the elevator with the solutions and lures the infected into the empty car. The spray cures the horde, and the Doctor celebrates with a confused and enlightened Cassandra in tow.

As the police arrive, Matron Casp is taken away, and the Doctor finally communicates with the Face of Boe. The Face promises to meet the Doctor for the third (and last) time and also promises to share his secrets at that meeting before teleporting away. Apparently, they ran out of time for that plot thread. The Doctor turns to Cassandra and orders her to leave Rose. Cassandra refuses until Chip (miraculously) returns, upon which time she jumps into her willing slave. Unfortunately, Chip only has a half-life and is dying, but Cassandra accepts this as her just end.

The Doctor offers Cassandra one last gift: He takes her back to the party she was watching on film, allowing her the chance to tell her past self – a fully human self – of her beauty before collapsing. With that, the Doctor and Rose say farewell and return to the TARDIS.

 

On the plus side, both Tennant and Piper are amazing in their performances. It is plainly obvious that they’re having a ton of fun as they explore their new chemistry as series leads. Also on the production side, the cat makeup is fantastic. Storywise, the ending is poignant and continues the Doctor’s character theme of redemption over vengeance.

Unfortunately, the rest of the story doesn’t meet those high points. There’s a clear lack of villain here, and the plot spends too much time on Cassandra’s plans for revenge than on the abuses of the Sisters of Plentitude. That element is resolved too quickly with a chemical shower that comes across as more miracle than anything else. It would have worked if more time was invested in the story, but there was no empathy, and that made the story boring.

 

 

Rating: 2/5 – “Mm? What’s that, my boy?”

 

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Tooth and Claw

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

 

 

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