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Doctor Who: Waters of Mars
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Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars (DVD)
Something terrible awaits the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) on the surface of the Red Planet in The Waters of Mars, the second 2009 Doctor Who special in the handful of shows that brought Tennant and producer Russell T. Davies's tenure on the venerable UK science fiction series to an end. On one hand, the hour-long story is an unsettling hybrid of horror and science fiction, with the Doctor joining forces with human colonists on Mars to fight a life form that turns its hosts into zombie-esque creatures (younger fans should be forewarned that the infected colonists are quite alarming). But The Waters of Mars is also about a schism that develops within Tennant's Doctor as he approaches the end of his current form (Tennant closed out his run on the series with the two-part special that followed, The End of Time): his knowledge of the fate of the colonists and his inherent need to help others results in a decision to use his powers over time and space, with devastating consequences. The result is one of the most dramatic stories in the long history of Doctor Who, and it's highlighted by powerful turns by Tennant and Lindsay Duncan as the leader of the Martian outpost. Extras are unfortunately limited to an episode of the informative but lightweight Doctor Who Confidential that covers the making of The Waters of Mars, and stands in stark contrast to the supplement-heavy archival Who discs. --Paul Gaita
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All in all, it's going to be interesting to see how they bring the Tennant era to a close, to the heartbreak of a multitude of fans, and I hope it lives up to the expectations. But even if it does or it doesn't, it ain't gonna be easy. David Tennant has completely endeared himself to the Whoniverse and it's going to be hard to watch him leave and watch that first episode without him. But that is the nature of the Doctor Who beast, I suppose. Change is never easy, but the next chapter in the life of our favorite Gallifreyan awaits. As for Russell T. Davies? The Whoniverse owes him a debt of gratitude for resurrecting our beloved time traveler and returning him to our screens and hearts with such brilliance and care. Bravo to all!
The Doctor pays a visit to Mars where he meets a group of people he knows well from history, and that he knows are doomed. He knows that this isn't one of those times when he can intervene and that the best thing to do is just to leave. He knows all this. But he stays, and in staying winds up showing the audience just how very few the steps are between the Doctor and the Master.
The overall problem of weird alien things at the Mars base isn't that interesting. We're told up front everyone's going to die, so there's not much tension there. What we get instead is a fascinating example of how the Doctor's mind works and just how dark he can be at times. We see how close he is to the Master and, going even farther back, just how he might end up as the Valyard.
This wasn't a perfect story, but it was very, very good, and I'm really looking forward to owning it on DVD and to seeing the last two specials. I feel much more confident about them being good than I had after watching "Planet of the Dead".
I also suggest that after you watch the episode itself (and only AFTER), you then watch the making-of documentary. It could easily have been condensed into half the time, but it does offer some good commentary on The Doctor by Tennant and Russell T. Davies.
TV is not the most important thing in the world; that said, I am very, very sad to see Tennant and Davies departing the series. With only one more Tennant episode to go (as was publicly announced ages ago, so this is no spoiler), we can only hope they are leaving The Doctor in good hands.
Right off the bat, we get a Titanic like feel going in, knowing the fate of the occupants of this Mars outpost. This gloomy episode features a strong supporting cast, which certainly helps the viewer on this ride toward impending doom. Unlike another reviewer, I did feel it still had tension and suspense. Even though we were given the premise and apparent ending right up front, you just never know what the doctor was going to do, and how he may have affected the outcome. An enjoyable watch, right up to the surprise ending, but a little darker than I would have liked. I enjoyed the previous two specials a lot more.
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