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