The season with the Mariana Trench in episode quality

A guest post by Alex Bennetts (pictured above)
Dear Doctor Who Series Two,

With the rebooting officially out of the way in Series One (Daleks! A plucky assistant! Lots of corridors!), and Eccleston’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it tenure as the Ninth Doctor out of the way, you had the universe at your feet. All you had to do was run – and run you did! Okay, it was awkward sometimes, sure: you stumbled a few times, even trying to make us believe you were okay with an Olympic-torch sprint, and at one point collapsed on the ground in a heap. But you made it to the end, Doctor Who Series Two, and we’re glad we watched your legs bounce up and down along the way.

Let’s start where you started. Although The Christmas Invasion had that dumb, spinning Christmas tree, robot Santas, and a startling lack of the titular character, you’re the first instalment of an annual tradition. And finally – eventually! – you let us see David Tenant’s Tenth Doctor for all his wit and wonder. What splendour for us all. Coming from Nine’s post-war angst, Ten’s controlled vivacity is exciting to watch. Whatta guy! I can’t wait to spend more time with HIM.
And then from there, you had slight ups and downs, but it was generally pretty damn good, for a while. New Earth was fun, if a bit melodramatic; while Tooth & Claw gave us a solid historical with an odd decision by Queen Victoria, The Werewolf at the end. The Doctor has just saved your life, Vicki, give him a break! No need to set up an entire institute to oppose him, Wolfster.
In School Reunion, we get the return of past-companions Sarah Jane Smith and robo-puppy K-9 (yay!), before the needless destruction of K-9 (nay!) and the re-return of K-9 (yay?).  Martyrdom isn’t so dramatic when the character is brought back two minutes later.
Oh, and it seems like Rose Tyler gets trapped in less rooms this series, which is good character development for someone who gets trapped in rooms a lot. Congrats, Rose!
In The Girl In The Fireplace, we get a classic piece of storytelling from Stevie Moffat. The self-contained story is so tidy – a whole life in three quarters of an hour, a visually sumptuous adversary, and a horse on a spaceship. What more could you want? Well, maybe a better two episodes to follow it up…
The Cybermen return to Doctor Who, in a story that explores an alternate universe and all that entails. These modernised Cybermen are loud, clunky things – formidable simply because there are so many of them. And lots of Cybermen isn’t a bad thing! But if making noise and forming a metallic mob is your only way of inducing fear, then you’re a bit of a sub-standard spook.  When the gang are encircled by the freshly-minted Cybermen at the end of Rise of the Cybermen, that sure is a climax! But then the metal men are just disintegrated by TARDIS magic. Oh. Okay.
The Cybermen double-episode is important in reintroducing the species, but it does it in a really lacklustre way. Their inventor, John Lumic, is just a caricature of a mad scientist, and his motivation of “I want to live longer” doesn’t really line up with his actions of “I just made a bunch of robots and now I’m going take over the world and steal all the brains.” At least Mickey the Idiot gets a bit of development in that he becomes a badass and less of a dullard. Then he goes to France to with his hunky new boyfriend to “destroy” some Cyber factories which I think is terrible code for “making out with my hunky new boyfriend.” Important to note also is Pete Tyler’s return – or, really, Alternate Universe Pete Tyler’s introduction. Whatever. It’s Rose’s Dad, but not dead and he’s apparently friends with the Prime Minister and probably spends his holidays with the President of the U.S.A. skiing in the alps??? I dunno, he seems to have a better life when Rose is a dog rather than a human. Alternate Universe Jackie Tyler is also there but she dies because of REASONS.
After that uninspiring double, you give us Mark Gatiss’ sub-par The Idiot’s Lantern. Remember when Rose wasn’t getting trapped in rooms by herself anymore, Series Two? Well, hey, I know you’re fond of your old self, so it was inevitable you’d slip back into bad habits. I guess at least this time Rose is trapped in a conceptual room, that being a TV set? Okay, okay, still terrible.
You’ve stumbled, Doctor Who Series Two, but I’m not worried.  Because next you offer a good – if not great – two-parter. The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit, in which we meet the Ood in a dark mystery story and then The Doctor jumps down a big hole and speaks to the Devil! Cool! Maybe this series IS going to be really great
Oh. But let’s not get too excited. Because next up is that huge fucking dip in quality: Love & Monsters. Glob dang, Love & Monsters, why’d you have to go and do something stupid like exist? Forty-five minutes of dead air would have been preferable, let’s be honest. This is the episode in which a likeable minor character is forced to live the rest of her life as a slab of cement.  In fact, this episode is full of likeable minor characters who end gobbled up by a monster that looks like it was designed by a child. Wait – it WAS designed by a child? Okay, you get some kind of pass, Gobble Monster, but the script? A full grown adult wrote that script. Just let that sink in a bit.
You’ve got some explaining to do, Series Two. You could have done something to try and make us forgive you after Love & Monsters, like given us a good episode or shot us in the face. Instead, we have Fear Her, which is neither. It’s just a dud. Lots of cringing. Lots of parents who don’t really care that their children are missing. WEIRD.
Never mind. Army of Ghosts and Doomsday is a good jog to the finale. Also those REASONS from episodes ago are resolved: Alternate Universe Pete comes back to get all kissy kissy with Regular Universe Jackie. (Is referring to “our” universe as the Regular one offensive to all other universes? I dunno. SUCK IT, other universes.) The Cybermen prove themselves as pissy lil’ bull ants in comparison to the Daleks. And then Rose, after trying to save her father on his death bed last series, is reunited with her family! Mum AND Dad! Albeit, it’s in the Other Universe which we’ve established is a bit shitty in comparison to ours but she’s got her family! And even Mickey! What wonderful news! You should be thrilled!
Buuuut, she’s separated from The Doctor! Aww. The ending of the series where she gets locked in a (really big) room is pretty sad, but maybe just get a lil’ perspective, girl! Wake up and smell the Roses! (Ha, ha.) The ending is wonderfully nice in giving her so much of what she wanted through her story, it’s pretty damn sweet! The ending is emotional, too (if you forget about the times she returns later). But that’s not now, and that’s not you, Series Two, so I’ll give you a break.
We’ve had the best of times, Series Two, and we’ve had the blurst of times. Let’s pretend you never slaughtered our ability to implicitly trust you with that abusively bad drop in quality, and maybe we’ll stick around for the next series.
Yours sincerely,
A Fan By The Name Of Alex Bennetts Who Doesn’t Really Like The “Open Letter” As A Format Because He Thinks It’s A Done Thing But Whatever He’s Made His Decision And He’s Using It For This Blog Post, Just Deal With It

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year