Doctor Who – The Ninth Doctor

Played by: Christopher Ecclestone

When: 2005

Significant contributions to the Whoniverse:  The most obvious contribution to the Whoniverse with the start of Ecclestone’s reign as the Doctor is that he started the second, more successful, attempt to reboot the franchise.   More successful in that this is the reboot which is still running today and that has us all excited for the 50th anniversary coming in November.   Ecclestone only stayed for one season, citing his displeasure with the team behind the cameras as a major reason why.   So it was already a known fact to the audience part way through the season that he was not sticking around.

That said, he helped establish what Doctor Who has become from then until now.   The serial structure of the show was dropped for a more episodic structure with a single story normally lasting only one or two episodes.   The idea of an overarching story for the season was also established though, despite the fact that not every episode may speak directly to this overarching theme.   For instance, in this series, the repeated use of the term Bad Wolf in a number of episode ended up feeding directly into the season conclusion.   This type of structure and theme has remained until today.

It is also made evident that some time has passed since we last saw the Doctor.   Many references are made to a Time War, in which all Daleks and Timelords aside from the Doctor himself were obliterated.   It is clear that the Doctor had to act to cause this genocide of one race and personal isolation as a result of the near genocide of the other. In some episodes it is made very clear is suffering from having had to make that choice.

Finally, there are a few other firsts for the Doctor in Ecclestone’s sole season.   Eve Myles and Naoko Mori both appear in episodes, both of whom go on to become cast regulars in Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood.   Their appearances in these episodes even get written into the plot of the latter show.   John Barrowman also gets introduced as Captain Jack Harkness, whom will later go on to lead the Torchwood team.   [SPOILERS] It is indeed as a result of events at the end of this season that lead to Captain Jack’s immortality, which makes a very important plot point of the Torchwood series.

Ninth Doctor

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Torchwood: Miracle Day Episode 1 – The New World

Created by: Russell T. Davies

Cast: John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Mekhi Phifer, Alexa Havins, Kai Owen, Arlene Tur, Bill Pullman

Synopsis: Gwen (Myles) and Rhys (Owen) are in hiding after the events of Torchwood: Children of Earth, which, among other things, resulted in the disbanding of the Torchwood Institute.   Just as a virus hits the CIA flashing the word Torchwood, everyone on Earth stops dying, despite fatal injuries and illnesses.   They survive with the pain of the damage inflicted on their bodies.   One agent (Phifer), himself fatally injured makes the connection and seeks out Gwen and Captain Jack Harkness (Barrowman).

A review by Film Nerd.

It was with great excitement I started up my recording of the first episode in this series, which first aired in Australia last weekend on Foxtel’s UKTV.   It has been way too long between drinks since the last Torchwood miniseries, Children of Earth.   I am delighted to say that the episode delivered, and I can only hope it maintains the pace and quality established in this first episode.

The exposition that starts and new series is present and correct, but it does not lack for enough tense moments to keep interest.   We open on the execution of Pullman’s Oswald Danes, a rapist/paedophile/murderer.   The lethal injection goes horribly wrong, from the simple fact that as a result of Miracle Day, he does not die.   The next new character also gets a thrillingly fatal introduction.   Phifer’s CIA agent Rex Matheson is in a car accident in which he is impaled through the chest with a metal bar.   He also will not die, but is in constant immense pain.   It is through fellow agent Esther Drummond (Havins) he makes the connection with Torchwood, and seeks them out.   Drummond is the key to the CIA (and any new audience members) finding out exactly what Torchwood was all about.

Gwen and Owen are in hiding, but after Miracle Day, they cannot escape their past.   Thankfully, the Torchwood virus/malware that alerted the CIA also called Captain Jack back from his intergalactic roamings.   Interestingly, it seems Miracle Day has also affected him.   He is injured during his introduction by an explosion, and does not immediately heal.   It seems that the literally death-defying Jack is actually now mortal.

As mentioned above, the exposition is handled really well.   The downsides of global immortality are spelt out quite succinctly, introducing the potential for global anarchy as food supplies should run out in four months, leading to global, deathless starvation.   Everyone would fight over simple scraps of food.   The horrors are most vividly represented in one scene observing the victim of an explosion, who remains conscious despite being a charred shell of what was once a human being.  In a word, horrific, and the stakes are immediately set high.   Without giving too much away, the episode ends with a thrilling, effects laden chase which reunites our Torchwood elite and draws them into Matheson’s radar.   By choice or not, Torchwood now has a role to play in solving the mystery of Miracle Day.

This was a great first episode that had me on the edge of my seat for a good portion of it.   With nine episodes left it is yet to be seen whether this quality can be maintained for the entire run, or whether there will be a mid-series lag.   Regardless I will be watching, and reporting my opinions in each case.   I can say with certainty however that I look forward to tomorrow night’s episode.

4 stars out of 5.

 

Torchwood: Miracle Day – The New World on IMDB

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4JXRiLdZq0]