Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: The Next Doctor

In the fourth Doctor Who Christmas special, the Doctor meets himself in a future timeline. Maybe? Or maybe not? If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.

David Morrissey? IN MY DOCTOR WHO? There will be absolutely no protesting from me.

I was first introduced to David Morrissey through State of Play (WHICH IS SO FUCKING GOOD YOU SHOULD REALLY WATCH IT) and I’ve enjoyed him ever since. (On a complete sidenote, I just realized that both John Simm and Philip Glenister were on that mini-series and I just finished Life on Mars this past weekend, so excuse my mini freak out over here.) My favorite role of David’s is his work as Maurice in the Red Riding trilogy. He’s virtually unrecognizable in that role and he plays a character so wonderfully understated and conflicted that I quickly fell in love with him. Platonically, of course.

So the second he strolled on to the screen dressed in that utterly fabulous (and very classic Who) suit, I squealed. Thankfully, I’ve avoided the great number of spoilers that are floating around the Net and SOMEHOW FIND THEIR WAY INTO MY COMMENTS (I am looking at you and shaking my fist, FYI.) This episode is crafted in such a way that I thought that there was a real chance that Matt Smith wasn’t the Eleventh Doctor and that David Morrissey was actually number eleven. WHICH IS INCREDIBLY EXCITING TO ME BECAUSE I LOVE DAVID MORRISSEY, OK? DON’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME.

This is a really, really strange Christmas special and is kind of sad in a subtle way, but those are all compliments. On top of its weirdness and the all-too-convenient way in which the story is resolved, this special is just plain tons of fun. Seriously! It’s true!

(Thinking aloud: I thought Davies was done after season four? Why did he write this episode, too? Don’t tell me quite yet.)

The Doctor lands in London in 1851 and the real magic of “The Next Doctor” is in the first half hour or so. I know that, at the time, everyone was unsure when David Tennant’s reign as the Doctor would come to an end, so I watched this special with that context in mind. I wondered how anyone would know to call out to the Doctor since we’d seen him dispose of all of his companions in “Journey’s End.” Was the show bringing back someone else we might have known? Instead, we’re introduced to the rather feisty (and fiercely smart) Rosita Farisi, who balks at the idea that David Tennant is the Doctor. David Morrissey comes running into the frame, bedecked in a suit that would make Patrick Troughton and Peter Davison blush, an air of confident respectability surrounding him. (Granted, I’ve only been exposed to a few of the older Doctors, but David Tennant seems to be the silliest one so far.)

But the absurdity and excitement of this situation becomes a lot more worrisome as we learn more about this next Doctor. We know pretty quickly that the Cybermen are involved and let me just say this now: as silly as the Cybershade look, they creep me out. A lot. It’s the way they move. It’s too much for me. They look like shadows crouching just out of your line of sight and no thank you forever.

Anyway, back to the actual “Doctor.” It worried me that the next Doctor couldn’t remember why he regenerated and what it had to do with the Cybermen. (For the record, I did not actually guess the reveal. Bravo, Davies.) What had happened that was so traumatic to the Doctor that he might forget his memories? Or did someone steal his memory? Was it a way for him to forget what had happened to his past companions?

Regardless of this, the episode continued to get weirder. Why were so many of the things this specific Doctor had slightly (or wildly) different than what Ten used? (Two examples being the “sonic” screwdriver and the TARDIS: Tethered Aerial Release Developed in Style.) I thought that we had been watching the transformation and evolution of the Doctor. He does change with each regeneration, personality-wise, so why couldn’t other things change as well?

This is yet another episode of this show, however, where the character exploration between the Doctor and his “companion” (I don’t know what else to call David Morrissey) is simply far more interesting to me than the actual villainry going on. (“Villainry” is now a word. Use it sparingly.) I like the Cybermen. They’re not particularly scary to me, but they are an interesting force to go up against the Doctor. I don’t think they’re used poorly here and I actually really liked the explanation given for how they returned. It makes sense that the walls of the universe were weakened by the battle with Davros, allowing them to escape. Still, I found that I had no real desire to pay much attention to the story with Mercy Hartigan. I mean, I did, but it just wasn’t as captivating as watching David Morrissey and David Tennant interact with each other.

On that note, there was a part of me that wished we’d see more of David Morrissey. His story here is rather wistful. Upon the discovery of the infostamps, we learn that this next Doctor is actually a man named Jackson Lake. I can’t imagine how gutting it must be to see the Doctor’s life, to truly believe that you are the Doctor, only to discover that it’s a trick. That you’re not that person you believe to be. That you are someone else. Oh, and that someone else watched their wife die in front of himself. I would have loved Morrissey as the Doctor. Ok, DAVID Morrissey. Damn, it is unfortunate that his last name is also the name of Moz because I can’t refer to him by his last name, like I often do with actors and actresses, because then we all have to think about Moz being the Doctor and seriously that is one of the most irritating thoughts that has ever crept into my head.

I’m not really sure I liked the ending to the general story. I found the use of the Dimension Vault a little too convenient, though it does allow for the Cybermen to return. I mean…a giant Cyberman-shaped robot ship crushes part of London and NO ONE seems to remember that? What? However, it’s not all this way. I loved that the Doctor offered Hartigan a choice to live in peace. Would he have made such an offer without Donna Noble’s existence? I’m not really sure. Then I think about Donna and I get really sad and then I feel a strong urge to punch Davies in the face for doing what he did to Donna and this review has to have the most tangents I’ve ever written. Sorry. My brain is wandering today.

If anything, though, I appreciate the final scene between the Doctor and Jackson Lane. It’s not often that someone changes the Doctor’s mind, indeed, and Jackson proves to be a brave and resourceful person without thinking he’s the Doctor. I feel that there’s a subtext to what happens here: did Jackson make the Doctor think about his life in this (tenth) body? I’d like to think so. The Doctor’s quote at the very end is heartbreaking because, despite his fault’s, loneliness is not something that anyone deserves to experience.

“They leave. Because they should or because they find someone else. And some of them…some of them…forget me. I suppose in the end, they break my heart.”

As the Doctor headed off to enjoy Christmas dinner with Lane, I wondered: How much more heartbreak could the Doctor stand?


  • Rosita is grossly underused here. I wanted to see more. But I guess that also ties into my desire to see David Morrissey as the Doctor, too.
  • Does everyone who works with the Cybermen expect not to be converted? LOL.
  • I really liked the visual reference to all ten Doctors. We haven’t seen many references like this, have we?
  • “Don’t blink. Do you remember that?”
  • “It makes noise. That makes it sonic.”
  • Seriously, I would have loved for David Morrissey to be the Doctor. Seriously!
  • Classic Who is tomorrow. “Genesis of the Daleks”!!!!


About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in Doctor Who and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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