Timestamp: Tenth Doctor Specials and Tenth Doctor Summary

Doctor Who: Tenth Doctor Specials and Tenth Doctor Summary

The Tenth Doctor Specials were a great but short run.

The grouping ran from December 2008 to January 2010 – effectively, the year of 2009 – and helped to create David Tennant’s farewell tour. It was accompanied by the Doctor Who Prom (which included a mini-episode called Music of the Spheres) and The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith.

It was unique for exploring the darker side of the Tenth Doctor, following from the bittersweet victory of Journey’s End and evolving on what started in The Runaway Bride and the concept of the Time Lord’s unrestrained power.

In some fan circles, these episodes are looked down upon because they are so different in spirit from the zany friendly nature of the previous three series. I feel that they perform a great service in terms of a war veteran who is trying to make amends for the things he’s done while trying desperately to avoid any further destruction.

That’s where we are with The Next Doctor and Planet of the Dead. The Doctor has just lost Donna and closed the loop with Rose, and that cuts him to the quick. By the time we reach The Waters of Mars, he’s been traveling for a while without a companion, which we have seen established before as a really bad thing for him. Without the balance of a companion, the Doctor believes that he can solve anything with his power as the last of the Time Lords.

All of this culminates in his temper tantrum at the time of his fatal radiation exposure in The End of Time. He wants to do so much more. In fact, he needs to. It is a primal, emotional necessity to make up for whatever he did in the Time War. He still does the right thing in saving Wilf, and then turns his need on its head by using his remaining time to help those he loves.

In that, the Doctor is redeemed for his flirtations with darkness Time Lord Victorious, and presumably for his role in the Time War. He’s done so much good that maybe, just maybe, he can finally rest.

From that perspective, I love this set of stories with the exceptions that I have previously noted. Particularly with the portrayal of the Master in The End of Time.


The Tenth Doctor Specials collection comes in at an average of 4.4. That’s fourth all-time for the Timestamps Project, coming in behind the classic Ninth Series, the new era’s Series Four, and the Eighth Doctor’s run. It’s just ahead of both Series One and Series Three.

The Next Doctor – 4
Planet of the Dead – 5
The Waters of Mars – 5
Dreamland – 3
The End of Time – 5

Series One (Revival Era) Average Rating: 4.4/5


Timestamp Tenth Doctor

Following tradition…

The First Doctor was a wise grandfather, the Second a sly jester, the Third a secret agent scientist, the Fourth an inquisitive idealist, the Fifth an honorable humanitarian, the Sixth a squandered cynic, the Seventh a curious schemer, the Eighth a classical romantic, the Ninth a hopeful healing veteran…

…and the Tenth Doctor is a bargaining humanitarian.

The Tenth Doctor continues the work of the Ninth on Kübler-Ross model of grief. The Ninth worked through Denial and Anger, while the Tenth Doctor picked up with Bargaining and worked into Depression (with added bits of Anger since, let’s face it, this model is not perfectly linear).

He tried to stop the bad things from happening, always looking for a way out. But when those bad things finally happened, he was so very sorry. As mentioned before, he was always looking to even the score for watching Gallifrey burn, and he wanted to do so much more before his death.

We can only hope that the Eleventh Doctor finds Acceptance.

I started watching Doctor Who with the Ninth Doctor back in 2008, but the Tenth was always “my” Doctor. Watching these stories again with the full context of the franchise behind me has been a joy.


Series 2 – 4.1
Series 3 – 4.3
Series 4 – 4.6
Specials – 4.4

Ninth Doctor’s Weighted Average Rating: 4.34

Ranking (by score)
1 – Eighth (4.50)
2 – Tenth (4.34)
3 – Ninth (4.30)
4 – Third (4.00)
5 – Second (3.67)
6 – Fourth (3.67)
7 – Seventh (3.54)
8 – First (3.41)
9 – Fifth (3.20)
10 – Sixth (2.73)

Ranking (by character)
1 – Tenth Doctor
2 – Second Doctor
3 – Ninth Doctor
4 – Eighth Doctor
5 – Third Doctor
6 – Fourth Doctor
7 – Seventh Doctor
8 – First Doctor
9 – Fifth Doctor
10 – Sixth Doctor

I’ve mentioned this before: Those top seven spaces on the character ranking are really, really, really close. I have been tempted to make them a a tie for first place since I would gladly watch any of those stories at any time, but that would be taking the easy way out. It’s far more challenging to actually rank them.


Next up, we change Doctors and showrunners.

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour

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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.

Timestamp: Sarah Jane Adventures Series Three Summary

Sarah Jane Adventures: Series Three Summary

Series Three slid down a notch.

The series started strong with Prisoner of the Judoon and had a high note with The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith, but the rest of the series seemed to hit a middle of the road status quo in a year packed with Doctor Who universe productions.

It makes sense that something had to give. The main show was concerned with wrapping up David Tennant’s run as the Tenth Doctor and introducing his replacement. Meanwhile, Torchwood was running full steam with a well-received series in what might be considered the golden age of the modern era.

On the other hand, if something had to give in terms of quality, this show was a good choice. The core audience was children and the standards for that demographic are typically lower. It’s just a shame considering how high the quality had been for two series preceding.

Series Three comes in at an average of 3.3. That’s the lowest so far for The Sarah Jane Adventures. In comparison to Doctor Who, that’s on par with classic seasons Six, Fifteen, Seventeen, and Twenty, ranked in a four-way tie at twelfth overall.


Prisoner of the Judoon – 4
The Mad Woman in the Attic – 3
The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith – 5
The Eternity Trap – 3
Mona Lisa’s Revenge – 2
The Gift – 3

Sarah Jane Adventures Series Three Average Rating: 3.3/5


The Timestamps Project is still proceeding in airdate order, so we’ll finish off the David Tennant era next with Dreamland and The End of Time, then move into the Eleventh Doctor’s era with Series Five, the fourth series of The Sarah Jane Adventures, and then the sixth series of Doctor Who.

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Dreamland

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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.

Timestamp: Torchwood Series Three Summary

Torchwood: Children of Earth (Series Three) Summary

 

Torchwood‘s third series made us consider darkness in acts of salvation. The world is safe once again, but the prices paid were severe.

There’s a certain amount of creepiness in this series of five episodes since the invaders were trying to leverage the world’s most vulnerable population for their own addiction. The rest of the world did everything they could to save them from a fate literally worse than death, but politicians and Jack fell on the side of logic: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Facing and defying the darkness that led to that logic sold the drama.

In true Torchwood tradition, the family is shattered in the end, and the magic is in how the logic is fulfilled in the process. The needs of millions outweighed the needs of Torchwood Three.

Just beautiful.

We’ve been through this twice now, so we’re familiar with the drill: We can’t make a direct comparison between Torchwood and Doctor Who, but we can look at the scores so far to get an idea of how it fits within the Timestamps Project’s scope.

Torchwood Series Three earned a 4.8 average. That places it even with the classic Ninth Season – the third season with the Third Doctor – which is the top-rated season in the history of the Timestamps Project. It’s also, by far, the highest rated series of Torchwood.

 

Day One – 5
Day Two – 5
Day Three – 4
Day Four – 5
Day Five – 5

Torchwood Series One Average Rating: 4.8/5

 

The Timestamps Project is still proceeding in mostly chronological order, so the path forward contains the third series of Sarah Jane Adventures and the remaining David Tennant specials, with a goal of completing both before the end of the year.

 

UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: Prisoner of the Judoon

 

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.

Timestamp: Sarah Jane Adventures Series Two Summary

Sarah Jane Adventures: Series Two Summary

 

Another solid run for the Bannerman Road Gang.

The series had its ups and downs, though. We met Rani, a new member of the family, after an emotional send-off for Maria. I was very pleased that Maria wasn’t killed off – it is a children’s show, after all – and that she got to return as a meaningful guest for a couple of adventures.

The negative was how repetitive the first four stories of the series were. All of them focused on mind control as a plot point, and it dragged down the performance of Secrets of the Stars and The Mark of the Berserker.

The series did spring back with the magnificent The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith and the loose-end tying Enemy of the Bane. I really liked the character development for Sarah Jane Smith, the fresh take on the predestination paradox, and the clean slate leading into the next series of this show.

Series Two comes in at an average of 4.1. That’s lower than the first series, and in comparison to Doctor Who, that’s on par with classic seasons Five and Eighteen and Series Two in the revival era, just inside the top ten. It still beats both the first and second series of Torchwood.

 

The Last Sontaran – 4
The Day of the Clown – 5
Secrets of the Stars – 3
The Mark of the Berserker – 4
The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith – 5
Enemy of the Bane – 4
From Raxacoricofallapatorius with Love – 4

Sarah Jane Adventures Series Two Average Rating: 4.1/5

 

Since we’re still proceeding in airdate order through the material from 2009, the Timestamps Project lands next on Planet of the Dead before diving into Torchwood: Children of Earth. After that, we’ll swing back to the third series of Sarah Jane and the end of the Tennant era to wrap up the calendar year.

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead

 

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.

Timestamp: Series Four Summary

Doctor Who: Series Four Summary

 

The Doctor-Donna adventures were molto bene.

The story of Donna Noble was an amazing and heartbreaking journey. Her first meeting with the Doctor displayed their beautiful chemistry, and their adventures together this season showed us just how magnificent they were together.

Her humanity and his experience made a great pair, and they helped save one another in the course of their relationship: The Doctor needs a companion to counter his vast knowledge and challenge his limits, and Donna needed to see that there was a universe beyond her own self.

The fact that their relationship wasn’t romantic – countering the Rose Tyler arc and defusing the tension developed in the Martha Jones arc – was the icing on the cake.

The heartbreak, of course, is that Donna doesn’t remember her travels at the end of her time with the Doctor. The consolation is that the universe remembers her and every life she saved.

In that respect, she is indeed the most important person in the universe. A legend in her own right.

 

Series Three comes in at an average of 4.6. That’s second, only coming in behind the Ninth classic season. That is good company to keep.

 

Time Crash & Voyage of the Damned – 5
Partners in Crime – 5
The Fires of Pompeii – 5
Planet of the Ood – 4
The Sontaran Stratagem & The Poison Sky – 5
The Doctor’s Daughter – 4
The Unicorn and the Wasp – 4
Silence in the Library & Forest of the Dead – 5
Midnight – 5
Turn Left – 4
The Stolen Earth & Journey’s End – 5

Series Three (Revival Era) Average Rating: 4.6/5

 

The path forward takes a few twists and turns from here as David Tennant’s era comes to an end. Looking ahead from now to the end of the year, the Timestamps Project will proceed in airdate order and visit the second year of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the third year of Torchwood, and the third year of The Sarah Jane Adventures, with five remaining Tenth Doctor adventures interspersed throughout.

It is one great way to spend the back half of 2020.

Allons-y!

 

UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: The Last Sontaran

 

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.

Timestamp: Torchwood Series Two Summary

Torchwood: Series Two Summary

 

Torchwood‘s second series took the messages and meanings of Series One to greater heights of humanity, compassion, and companionship.

From tales of family and friendship to a mission to save what was effectively a space whale from a life of torture, we saw the next evolution of empathy and compassion mixed with the dark and gritty atmosphere that made Torchwood so distinct from its parent franchise. That darkness reared its head with multiple deaths this round, including an exploration of what lay beyond with Owen’s trilogy of stories in the middle of the run.

Like Series One, what remains is a shattered team, but this time around we see a stronger resolve among the survivors. Jack, despite the gaping hole in his heart from the dark resolution of his brother’s story, remains as a stronger leader this time around and anchors Ianto and Gwen going forward. Owen and Tosh will be missed, from their combined medical knowledge to their respective acerbic wit and technical expertise. I loved Tosh from the start, but Owen grew on me as time went on. Their unrequited love is the grand tragedy.

As with last time, it’s obvious that we can’t make a direct comparison between Torchwood and Doctor Who, but we can look at the scores so far to get an idea of how it fits within the Timestamps Project’s scope.

Torchwood Series Two earned a 4.0 average. That places it on par with the classic Twelfth Season – the debut of Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor – which is the ninth highest in the history of the Timestamps Project. It’s also slightly higher than the first series of Torchwood, which is a good sign going forward.

 

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang – 4
Sleeper – 4
To the Last Man – 4
Meat – 4
Adam – 4
Reset – 4
Dead Man Walking – 4
A Day in the Death – 3
Something Borrowed – 4
From Out of the Rain – 2
Adrift – 5
Fragments – 5
Exit Wounds – 5

Torchwood Series One Average Rating: 4.0/5

 

Since I’m approaching the revival era from a (mostly) chronological order, we’re headed back to Doctor Who proper with the return of Donna Noble and Series Four. After that, the second series of Sarah Jane Adventures and the third series of Torchwood, with bits of David Tennant’s final year specials sprinkled throughout.

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Partners in Crime

 

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.

Timestamp: Sarah Jane Adventures Series One Summary

Sarah Jane Adventures: Series One Summary

 

This was a pleasant surprise.

I mean, yes, the headline is Elisabeth Sladen reviving her iconic role as Sarah Jane Smith, one of my absolute favorite companions in Doctor Who. But I have also seen so many franchises falter when trying to cater to a younger crowd. All too often they water down the property to make it more – shall we say? – palatable for children, and that tends to carve away the support structure. Everything that made the material strong gets lost in an attempt to gain more eyes.

It’s insulting, really. It’s almost as if creators are asking children not to think or analyze, but just consume.

The Sarah Jane Adventures did not do that. It tackled issues important younger audiences – who could readily identify with the stars of the show – while not pulling any punches with the Doctor Who style. It was refreshing for the genre.

The characters are strong overall, and while I fault the BBC for removing Kelsey Hooper because they thought that there were too many women on the show, Clyde Langer is a decent enough replacement. I’m really enjoying the mentoring relationship between Maria and Sarah Jane, and the evolution of Sarah Jane Smith as she builds a family on Bannerman Road is beautiful.

(Other sources claim that Porsha Lawrence-Mavour was fired due to being rude and difficult to work with, but I haven’t seen anything definitive on that.)

When I was coming up to this show in the Timestamps Project, Michael French of Retroblasting told me that he enjoyed it. That was a strong endorsement, and it’s one that I agree with. I’m also glad that he didn’t spoil the big twist with Mr. Smith because that was fun to watch without knowing about it beforehand.

Series One comes in at an average of 4.3. In comparison to Doctor Who, that’s on par with Series One and Series Three near the top of the stack. This series easily beats the first series of Torchwood.

Invasion of the Bane – 5
Revenge of the Slitheen – 4
Eye of the Gorgon – 3
Warriors of Kudlak – 4
Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane? – 5
The Lost Boy – 5

Sarah Jane Adventures Series One Average Rating: 4.3/5

 

From here, the path for the Timestamps Project continues on a mostly airdate order. Next up is Time Crash and Voyage of the Damned, followed by the second series of Torchwood and Series Four of Doctor Who.

We’re also on the verge of the holiday season, so Timestamp releases may take a break here and there over the next month or so. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for the most up to date scheduling info.

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Time Crash & Doctor Who: Voyage of the Damned

 

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.

Timestamp: Series Three Summary

Doctor Who: Series Three Summary

 

Tennant’s sophomore year is a winner.

The big arc for this series was the story of Martha Jones. She starts as a medical doctor and ends up saving the world, and I consider her one of the best companions in the history of the franchise. It’s easy to see her as the Rebound Rose, particularly since that’s how she feels for the entire run, but I think that her presence on the TARDIS is so much more important than that.

Martha is enamored with the Doctor, but she’s perpetually perplexed by the unrequited feelings. The Doctor doesn’t romantically love her, but I saw that he develops a different type of love for her over the span of adventures. Her journey starts as a thank you for saving the Doctor in Smith and Jones, but by the time that we reach Human Nature we see a different side of the Doctor. She’s gained his confidence and respect, and he trusts her with his life, even though guarding his identity will be one of the most trying things she’s ever done.

She faced abuse and racism because of the Doctor but she kept to her mission because she loved him. He loved her enough to place his life (and the fate of the universe) in her hands. It’s a good reminder that not all love is romantic and that platonic love can be a force far stronger than sexual attraction.

When we get to “the year that never happened,” he shows that trust and respect once again, and Martha comes through to save the universe one more time. Martha’s character grew even more when her family got involved with the Saxon campaign, providing her a choice between saving her loved ones or saving all of existence. It was a clever move from the Master, and a brilliant choice to present to Martha. The entire time, Martha remains Martha. She doesn’t change herself to win the Doctor’s love, and she has enough self-respect to walk away when she knows that her efforts are futile.

It’s a far better relationship than we saw with Rose, the woman who melted for the Tenth Doctor and changed course from the shop girl we met way back in Rose. I know that fans love her, and that’s their prerogative, but I felt that she became less of a companion and more of a groupie as she went on. Rose had an important role in helping the Ninth Doctor heal after the events of the Time War, but Martha definitively showed the Tenth Doctor that there was more to life than death.

 

I don’t want to take away from Donna Noble’s debut in The Runaway Bride. She was amazing and took no nonsense from the Doctor. I’m glad that we get to see her again.

 

Series Three comes in at an average of 4.3. That’s a tie for third with Series One, coming behind the Ninth classic seasons and the Eighth Doctor’s run.

 

The Runaway Bride – 4
Smith and Jones – 5
The Shakespeare Code – 5
Gridlock – 4
Daleks in Manhattan & Evolution of the Daleks – 4
The Lazarus Experiment – 4
42 – 4
Human Nature & The Family of Blood – 5
Blink – 5
The Infinite Quest – 2
Utopia & The Sound of Drums & Last of the Time Lords – 5

Series Three (Revival Era) Average Rating: 4.3/5

 

As the Doctor Who universe continues to grow, the path for the Timestamps Project gets a little wibbly-wobbly. Next on the agenda is the first series of the Sarah Jane Adventures. We get back to Doctor Who for a brief moment with Time Crash and Voyage of the Damned, but then dive into the second series of Torchwood before returning to Donna Noble in Series Four.

We also have a rapidly approaching holiday season on the horizon.

Allons-y!

 

UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: Revenge of the Slitheen

 

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.

Timestamp: Torchwood Series One Summary

Torchwood: Series One Summary

 

Torchwood was dark and gritty, but its core message emphasized humanity, compassion, and companionship.

The first series took full advantage of its post-watershed television position, complete with adult themes, nudity, and mature language. The franchise itself is hit and miss with fans because of these elements, but the core mission of the first chapter in the show’s run is something that we should all pay attention to. Each of the characters, including Suzie, tried to balance the darkness and secrecy of their clandestine jobs with the need to talk about it with anyone who would understand. This common thread wove around each of Torchwood Three’s team members and slowly pulled them apart.

That is until the tension snapped them back together with the mutual understanding of where they stood and what they needed to do.

The stories may have varied in quality and entertainment, but the message that we all need empathy, compassion, and friendship to help us make it through the darkness makes Torchwood‘s first series worth the journey.

Now, it’s obvious that we can’t make a direct comparison between Torchwood and Doctor Who. The themes are similar, but the content and feel are markedly different. But we can look at the twenty-nine season/series grades so far to get an idea of how it fits within the Timestamps Project’s scope.

Torchwood Series One earned a 3.8 average. There are six seasons of Doctor Who, all of them from the classic era, that met that bar: The Seventh, the Tenth, the Thirteenth, the Fourteenth, the Twenty-Fifth, and the Twenty-Sixth.

Of course, we will be able to compare each series of Torchwood as they are reviewed here.

 

Everything Changes – 4
Day One – 4
Ghost Machine – 2
Cyberwoman – 4
Small Worlds – 3
Countrycide – 5
Greeks Bearing Gifts – 4
They Keep Killing Suzie – 3
Random Shoes – 3
Out of Time – 4
Combat – 3
Captain Jack Harkness – 5
End of Days – 5

Torchwood Series One Average Rating: 3.8/5

 

The Doctor Who universe continues to grow from here. Since I’m approaching the revival era from a (mostly) chronological order, our next stop is the first episode of the Sarah Jane Adventures. That series is all new territory for me since I haven’t seen a single episode.

After that, we’ll dive headfirst into the Series Three and meet Martha Jones.

 

UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: Invasion of the Bane

 

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.

Timestamp: Series Two Summary

Doctor Who: Series Two Summary

 

The revival and the franchise continue to burn bright.

The Tenth Doctor’s freshman outing was entertaining and, with minor stumbles, about on par with its predecessor. David Tennant has really taken the role and run with it, bringing enthusiasm and energy that buoys up every story.

The big arc in this series was the story of Rose and her family – those the Doctor leaves behind – and its (current) resolution at Bad Wolf Bay. As I mentioned in Doomsday, it was time for Rose to leave the TARDIS. While they worked well as a team, her infatuation with the Doctor began to consume things and stymie her growth as an individual. For her to evolve, she needed to leave and apply what she had learned. It hurt, but it was necessary.

Series Two also developed the world around the Doctor Who franchise, properly introducing Torchwood and re-introducing Sarah Jane Smith, as well as opening the door for new adventures for both.

Series Two comes in at an average of 4.1. That puts this series in a three-way tie for fifth overall – its comrades in arms are the Fifth and Eighteenth classic seasons – and places it behind the Eleventh and Ninth classic seasons, the Eighth Doctor’s run, and Series One.

 

Born AgainThe Christmas Invasion – 4
New Earth – 2
Tooth and Claw – 5
School Reunion – 5
The Girl in the Fireplace – 5
Rise of the Cybermen & The Age of Steel – 4
The Idiot’s Lantern – 4
The Impossible Planet & The Satan Pit – 4
Love and Monsters – 4
Fear Her – 3
Army of Ghosts & Doomsday – 5

Series Two (Revival Era) Average Rating: 4.1/5

 

From this point, the Doctor Who universe gets a little bit larger with the adventures of Captain Jack Harkness and his team. I’ll be proceeding (for the most part) in chronological order in order to keep the mythology straight.

As such, the next stop is the first season of Torchwood.

 

UP NEXT – Torchwood: Everything Changes

 

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.