Retrospective: Series 3 (2007)
As we countdown to Series 7, guest contributor David Selby continues his retrospective, this time looking at Series 3.
Series 3 was, in my opinion, one Doctor Who’s best years, but I also feel it was also one of the most underappreciated and underrated years. I’m here to remind you all why it was so brilliant.
Smith and Jones
Smith and Jones was everything you could possibly want in an opener. It quickly established a detailed equilibrium which showed you Martha’s family, and went straight on introducing the threat. Another thing that was great about this episode was that due to the fact that the hospital was transported to the moon, it meant that although it still felt like a present day story, it also gave a taste of ‘Doctor Who’ and alien planets. But best of all, the episode introduced Martha, who was one of the best New-Who companions; she was intelligent, brave, and more importantly put everyone in the hospital before herself – including the Doctor.
The Shakespeare Code
The Shakespeare Code was one of the best historical episodes; and having Gareth Roberts write it was a nice touch, as it meant there was a bit of humour too. After having studied Shakespeare, I now understand the jokes and references, a part of the episode which is missed by younger fans!
Gridlock is one of my favourite Doctor Who episodes and goes up in my expectations every time I watch it. I love the way that the Doctor and Martha realise that they are complete strangers to each other, along with the way that the Face of Boe’s death is handled – the way that whilst being sad, the Doctor is shocked to find out his secret. I also really enjoyed the futuristic setting, and it was a shame that the New Earth ‘trilogy’ was never continued.
Daleks in Manhattan
The Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks two-parter has been constantly criticised by fans, and whilst I enjoyed the second part, it has to be said that this was probably the weakest Series 3 story overall. All of the episodes in felt very individual, even the two-parters were split with very separate episodes, but Daleks in Manhattan didn’t really feel like anything special. It was Doctor Who nevertheless and had me entertained!
Evolution of the Daleks
So the Dalek in Dalek was allowed to feel Rose’s emotions but Dalek Sec becoming human isn’t acceptable? Why not? Imagine you were trapped inside a cold, empty shell all your life; you’d want to escape wouldn’t you? Think how the enemy thinks, that was the cult’s motto. So that’s exactly what they did. If anything, this episode shows how truly ruthless the Daleks were that they could go and kill their own leader. A highly underappreciated episode.
The Lazarus Experiment
Despite the fact the episode hasn’t been criticised, I feel that The Lazarus Experiment perhaps didn’t receive the praise it should have. Up until Lazarus’ first death, about half to three quarters of the way through the episode, it was pretty average really, but Lazarus’ resurrection gave it that extra ‘something’ and made it an episode which I’ve always remembered well. Some of the best quotes also came from this episode, for example, “Some people live more in 20 years than they do in 80. It’s not the time that matters, it’s the person.”
At first I always considered this one to be underrated, yet after discussing it with several fans I found many in my position who also enjoyed 42. The episode was slightly more suspense-building then I remembered and the real-time countdown had a really useful and unique effect, keeping all the viewers glued to the screen.
Whilst the threat of The Family of Blood was being established, I found this episode to be entertaining due more to the scenes between the Doctor and Joan Redfern, particularly the staircase scene. It was a great idea that the one thing that the Doctor hadn’t thought of was being in love.
The Family of Blood
The Family of Blood is my third favourite episode of Doctor Who. The episode (like my other favourites) was on a much larger scale, and felt more like a movie then a normal episode. I found this to be one of the saddest episodes, because of John Smith wanting to stay, but I also thoroughly enjoyed the ending with Banes’ monologue. This is an episode which should never be forgotten!
I don’t think I need to explain how excellent Blink or the Weeping Angels are as based on the majority of internet polls, most fans can safely say that they know! Blink as an episode had a lot of potential for sequels; you could bring back the Weeping Angels or even Sally Sparrow as a companion. I think this was one of the reasons why Steven Moffat was picked for show-runner.
Utopia used to be my favourite episode of Doctor Who for a long time. For a start, I’m sure most of you must by now know how much I love the far-future settings, so going to the year 100 Trillion was obviously something which I found exciting about this episode. I was also down in Cardiff Bay the day this episode was shown so the beginning (which is one of my favourite Doctor Who scenes) of the episode gave me a strange sense of deja-vu. The rest of the episode was also enjoyable; I for one was intrigued by the ‘end of the universe’ setting, and by the end of this episode I was so excited for the next that I continuously watched the red-button mid-series trailer!
The Sound of Drums
The Sound of Drums was probably my favourite penultimate episode (tied with The Stolen Earth) just purely because of John Simms’s excellent portrayal of the Master. The Master is by far my favourite villain, firstly because he is just so evil, and all those scenes like when the Jones family are pulled out the car and introduced to the Master, and in the opening scene of the following episode when you see how he treats the Doctor just make you hate him so much, which is something which a show like Doctor Who needs.
Last of the Time Lords
Another thing I love about the Master is that unlike the Daleks, Cybermen and most other monsters and villains, the Master knows that what he is doing is wrong and just does it out of pure evilness. And more importantly than anything else, for a whole year the Master destroyed the earth, and managed to stop the Doctor and his companions – something which a villain had never done before.
That’s why he reminds me a lot of Sherlock’s Moriarty; he wins for a while but in the end, the Doctor just has the edge. For those of you who say that the end of Last of the Timelords was cheated, the reason for time reversing was because Jack destroyed the paradox machine, causing things to revert back to the way they were. The only part that was perhaps unrealistic was when the Doctor started glowing and hovering into the air! Still though, this is possibly my favourite finale!
So, all things considered, Series 3 is my second favourite series after Series 1 because, once again, the episodes were consistently good without any which are dreadful. It also introduced Martha, who was one of my favourite companions. This series, like the first, will always have a special place in my heart.
Note: Christmas specials and mini-episodes will have their own separate article.