Doctor Who: New Earth

Rose: 'I love this. Can I just say—travelling with you. I love it.'

If memory serves me correctly, this is the first Nu-Who adventure to take place on an alien planet. We made it into outer space last year with 'The Long Game' and 'The End of the World,' but I don't recall us landing on alien terra firma. The visual effects team certainly went to town this week making 'New Earth' look as futuristic as possible. Good job guys!

Rose's opening dialogue basically served to draw a line under the doubts she's been having about the regenerated Doctor. That's all in the past now. We have achieved normality—whatever normality is for this show. Of course, we've still got cat people, robot spiders, and the Face of Boe. So it's normality with a caveat.

As soon as I saw the robot spider, I thought 'Ah... Cassandra!' and indeed it was. She hasn't changed much. She's still the same old self-obsessed harridan. I'm really not sure where she gets her self-confidence from. No disrespect to ZoĆ« Wanamaker, but even before Cassandra became a stretched out wash leather, she wasn't exactly beautiful. Attractive, yes—but beautiful? I wonder if her future self somehow managed to convince her past self that she was. Or was that Chip talking? If it was Cassandra then she's more narcissistic than I thought.

Although for much of this episode Cassandra was as superficial as it gets, her life ended on a surprisingly poignant note. Did her possessing a clone somehow help her to sympathise with them? Is that how she feels inside too—alone—like she's never been touched? Taking her back to a happy moment in her life to die was a nice touch from the Doctor—a sad, but fitting end to a tragic character. If indeed this is the end. I though her exploding last season was the end, too. You just never know.

It was hard to judge Tennant's performance tonight, as he spent a hefty portion of the episode prancing around, pretending to be a woman. I know some people hated the silliness of this episode, but I'm a pretty shallow viewer, and if it's funny, I laugh, so I found Cassandra camping it up as the Doctor rather amusing. Similarly, I had a discreet chortle at Rose's 'Oh God, I'm a Chav comment'. True, it was a piece of clumsily inserted popular culture that served no grander purpose than to give us a cheap laugh (I mean, how would Cassandra even know what a Chav was?), but this is popular entertainment after all.

In addition to seeing Cassandra's stretched out mush again, this week also saw the return of the Face of Boe. There was some tasty dialogue on offer here, but I can't help but feel they failed us by having him regain consciousness. All that 'lonely god' business sounded cool, so it was annoying to have no further elucidation. Oh well, postponed, but not forgotten. All that 'we'll meet for the third and last time' stuff has really whetted my appetite for more.

I'm not entirely sure how you 'pass on' a cure. Was it because those who entered the elevator were still wet from the medicine and simply transferred it to others via physical contact? Or was it something to do with the Doctor saying 'I know a bit about medicine myself'? Did he do something to the formula to make it more effective?

The most controversial scene of the episode had to be Rose kissing the Doctor. Tennant's face was hilarious after she pulled away, and him muttering, 'Yeah, still got it,' to himself, was the icing on the cake. Unexpected, hilarious and superbly timed.

Other Thoughts:

—Why did Cassandra not need the psycho-graft to move from Rose's body to the Doctor's?

—Some obvious Cockney rhyming slang this week. We had 'apples and pears' for stairs, 'boat race' for face, 'would you Adam and Eve it' for would you believe it, and British slang term 'Wotcher', which simply means 'what are you' (and is generally short for 'what are you up to?').

—In 'The End Of The World', Cassandra told Rose that she used to be a boy, yet her past self in this episode was female. So presumably this was after her sex change operation?

Billie says...

You know, when I see an episode like this one, I have to keep saying to myself: "Yes, but it's Doctor Who." There's still a touch of the children's show in this current version. It's not big with the logic, it isn't hard sci-fi, and it isn't even grown-up fantasy. Body-switching at will. Pouring a bunch of different medicines into a big vat and having it turn into an instant magical miracle cure. The overused plot of a victimized slave underclass enabling an oblivious overclass.

But still, if you can put your suspension of belief aside, there were things to like about this episode. The cat sisters were just fun to look at; the make-up was great and looked oddly appropriate with the sister costumes. The pods of sick clones looked very Matrix-y. The body-switching had its moments, too. I thought Billie Piper did a very good Cassandra. And yes, David Tennant was way over the top, but Cassandra was an over-the-top character. In fact, I liked Cassandra a lot more this time. Having Cassandra die in her earlier self's arms was a tiny bit touching. It was also the ultimate in narcissism, which was fitting for her character.

It felt to me like the flirtation between the Doctor and Rose just got a lot flirtier. The romantic chemistry between them is quite a bit stronger than with Rose and the previous Doctor. And I don't think it's just the age difference in the actors.

What's a chav?

Quotes:

Rose: "So where are we going?"
Doctor: "Further than we've ever gone before."

Doctor: "So. The year five billion, the sun expands, the Earth gets roasted."
Rose: "That was our first date."
Doctor: "We had chips."

Rose: "They're cats."
Doctor: "Now, don't stare. Think what you look like to them, all pink and yellow."

Cassandra: "Peek-a-boo!"
Rose: "Don't you come anywhere near me, Cassandra."
Cassandra: "Why? What do you think I'm going to do? Flap you to death?"

Rose: "Right. So you're talking out of your..."
Cassandra: "Ask not."

Doctor: "Just let Rose go, Cassandra."
Cassandra: "I will, as soon as I've found someone younger and less common."

Doctor: "I'm the Doctor. And if you don't like it, if you want to take it to a higher authority, there isn't one. It stops with me."

Doctor/Cassandra: "Goodness me, I'm a man. So many parts, and hardly used. Oh! Two hearts? Oh baby, I'm beating out a samba."

Cassandra: "You're completely mad. I can see why she likes you."

Cassandra: "Oh sweet Lord, I'm a walking doodle."
---
Four moor peaces eye rote, sea hear.

8 comments:

Mark Greig said...

What is a chav? I’m a northerner, we practically invented charvers, or chavs as posh southerners call them, and even I not really sure what one actually is. Basically, a chav seems to be a moron white lad who dresses in tacky tracksuits with enough bling to put Mr T to shame and then acts like he’s from a hood in south central LA instead of council estate in Jarrow. Hope that helps although, word of warning, I could be completely wrong.

Matthew said...

I'm not sure a North American equivalence to a chav exists, in fact I'm pretty sure they're confined to England (chavs), Scotland (neds) and Ireland (spides and nackers). Perhaps the closest thing would be white trash? Think of the Vicky Pollard character in Little Britain. Basically it's one of those modern stereotypes that's demeaning, insulting and snobby but also 100% devastatingly accurate!

Paul Kelly said...

Mark and Matthew pretty much nailed it. Wiki defines a chav as.....

"A derogatory term applied to certain young people in the United Kingdom, in particular, England. It is the equivalent of the Scottish term "Ned". The stereotypical "chav" is an aggressive teenager or young adult, of working class background, who wears branded sports and casual clothing, who often engages in anti-social behaviour, and is often assumed to be unemployed or in a low paid job. It first appeared in English dictionaries in 2005. The term Charver is more widely used in North East England".

Anonymous said...

Actually I don't think Cassandra ever thought she was beautiful. You don't have plastic surgery after plastic surgery if you feel good about your looks. In fact, I think she said she only felt beautiful once in her life, the night she died in her own arms.

shawnlunn2002 said...

This was a very silly but at the same time, a very enjoyable season premiere. Liked seeing Cassandra, Face Of Boe and cat nuns are creepy in any world.

David Tennant certainly could outcampl Little Britain when the Doctor was possessed by Cassandra but I think Billie Piper really outdid him when she was Cassandra/Rose.

The romantic stuff with the Doctor/Rose was hinted at in the first season but RTD and company really go overdrive with it in the second season.

shawnlunn2002 said...

This was a very silly but at the same time, a very enjoyable season premiere. Liked seeing Cassandra, Face Of Boe and cat nuns are creepy in any world.

David Tennant certainly could outcampl Little Britain when the Doctor was possessed by Cassandra but I think Billie Piper really outdid him when she was Cassandra/Rose.

The romantic stuff with the Doctor/Rose was hinted at in the first season but RTD and company really go overdrive with it in the second season.

Bob said...

Looking forwards to your Tennant reviews guys. I did like Eccles cake but Tennant is by far my favourite Who. Great review.

Michael Colvin said...

While not the most plot heavy episode, it hit some great notes. Tennant doing "new new new..." york was hilarious, and I think that I the connection between Rose and the new doctor was really cemented in this episode.