I’ve been infected by The Apprentice.

My reaction to last night’s Dr Who – Silence in the Library – was pure Lee McQueen.

I felt an overwhelming urge to proclaim: “Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!”

It has been a long time coming this series, but Dr Who finally started to hit the spot again last night.

No coincidence that Silence in the Library was written by Steven Moffat, the new executive producer who will take over from Russell T Davies for the next series.

The man behind Blink, the best of the adventures since the Time Lord reappeared on our screens, delivered another imaginative and gripping installment.

What’s more, we have to wait until next week for the conclusion to a storyline that was much darker (in every respect) than anything else we’ve been served up this series. Even Donna was more watchable.

Playing on our fears of the dark and what lurks in the shadows – something which stretches through time and space, according to the Doctor – Silence in the Library was tremendously entertaining.

It was a storyline that planted the type of irrational seeds of doubt that make you hesitate for a second on that first trip to the bathroom once darkness falls.

Although such fears aren’t irrational, so the Time Lord informed us. We have every reason to fear the shadows – yeah great, thanks Doctor.

It was such a return to form it begs the question why we had to wait so long for it to arrive this series.

There almost seems a preoccupation with scene setting for the future. Clearly the shift in power from Davies to Moffat was being planned a while ago behind-the-scenes, but has it also been less than subtly played out on our TV screens too?

Planting the odd trailer and marker is a trick used to good effect on Dr Who since its return, but this series we’ve been bombarded with them.

The list includes the woeful Donna herself, the reappearance of Dr Martha Jones for a couple of shows, the emergence of Dr Who’s “daughter”, fleeting glimpses of Rose, now we have Professor River Song who obviously plays a massive part in the Doctor’s future life.

The fact an A-List actor like Alex Kingston plays the flirty Prof suggests we can expect to see a good deal more of her, maybe not for the rest of the series but probably next year.

There is something mouth-watering about all these hints and pointers, but at what expense?

I very nearly didn’t stick with the Doctor. Indeed the unthinkable happened a couple of weeks back – we were away on Saturday night and thought long and hard about whether we should bother recording Dr Who. We did, obviously.

Having negotiated the notoriously difficult second series after his revival with a massive flourish, Dr Who seemed to be setting course for greatness. But it has now faltered badly as it gears up for what is increasingly looking like major changes.

Will Russell T Davies be followed out of the Tardis door by David Tennant as the Doctor?

If so, who will become the next Doctor? The answer to that is undoubtedly known already to a select few and I’ll confess to a ripple of excitement about what the next series has to offer.

But that means, Silence in the Library aside, I’ve all but given up on this series as major blip.

Other promising shows have fallen apart after an impressive debut series:

  • Heroes is proving far more plodding and uninteresting second time around;
  • I got lost with Lost after the first series and haven’t bothered since;
  • even 24 failed to ignite again for me after the initial series set such a high standard;
  • on an altogether more lightweight level, ITV’s Primeval showed a certain degree of promise as a slice of Saturday evening silliness in the first series, but the second attempt was just awful.

Is the fact that Dr Who has hooked me over several series the reason I’ve given it so much more leeway than these other shows?


Does it have to come back with a really big bang next series?


In the meantime, I must dig out a few more of those night lights.


6 responses »

  1. milkcartoons says:

    I agree with you, this series has been quite a let down to be honest. I did like the Agatha Christie episode, but that was about it. Even last night’s episode was a bit disappointing – it was good, but had too many similarities with Blink, which was absolutely amazing. I also think it’s a bit mean even, purely trying to scare children: in Blink it was fear of the unknown, this year it’s ingraining a fear of the dark.

    So on the whole I agree, and it’ll be interesting to see where it goes with the new guy, but it’d better improve.

  2. Wietske says:

    Last night episodes was the best so far this season I reckon.
    But why doesn’t anyone seem to like Donna?! I think she is absolutely great! A lot better of a side-kick that Martha. At least Donna doesn’t want to get the Doctor into bed all the time! And yes, she is not a pretty face on a young hot body; she is actually funny and a bit critical. And you can just see how much fun Tennant and Tate have acting together! I think it was a wise choose to put martha mostly aside for this series, to me she always seemd to just be there for her looks.

  3. Paul Groves says:

    My criticism of Donna is all about the character and the writing. I was looking forward to seeing Catherine Tate, but they try too hard to play things for laughs at the expense of keeping everything tight.

    Dr Who’s strength was always the writing and direction, the two major failings of this series.

    I agree that it is refreshing there is none of the OTT tension that was between the Doctor and Martha, but instead of a grown-up relationship we’ve got a fairly juvenile pairing.

  4. Sid Langley says:

    I’d like to think Alex Kingston could be the next Doctor if they can sort out the anomalies … but I do think going for fear of the dark in a kids’ show is VERY irresponsible, although the Grimms etc have some equally heavy stuff. Paul’s right, though, this is the most promising/intriguing episode yet. Trouble with Donna is that her Tate Show persona has been allowed to come through too strongly. Bet she’ll get in a ‘bovvered’ before she leaves – or has she already gone now?

  5. Paul Groves says:

    Sid: I take what you say about feeding on the fear of the dark, it is something that doesn’t end with childhood for some people. But, I think there are far more irresponsible shows out there than Dr Who (you know good will triumph and there will be a soothing message attached to the ending).

    Ms Creative thinks we’ve seen the last of Donna, I’m not convinced. There’s bound to be another twist and you’re spot on, she hasn’t said “I ain’t bovvered” to an alien yet.

  6. fairportfan says:

    “I’d like to think Alex Kingston could be the next Doctor if they can sort out the anomalies …”

    Nope. It’s obvious that she’s someone who *knows* the Doctor – possibly biblically – and has knwn him through more than one incarnation, but she’s not the Doctor.

    And she’s not Jenny, because she tells us he was older when she’s going to meet him.

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