Before I start I would like to get the positivity out of the way. I liked David Morrissey in this, he was good.
Right, now that’s out of the way on with the beating.
Another year and another Russell T Davies written Christmas Special, this year’s was hyped on the basis that it would contain the unveiling of the next Doctor. Of course that wasn’t something anybody would confirm. In fact they went to such great lengths to keep the mystery intact that they called it The Next Doctor.
For fuck’s sake, I ask you. Anyway that aside, time for a brief plot outline.
The newly companion-less Doctor lands in Victorian London, out for a bit of Christmas fun. Were made to understand that it’s Victorian London in the usual Russel T Davies manner by the heavy handed use of cliché.
To ensure that we get it, the first thing the Doctor strolls through is a Christmas market. It’s full of roast chestnuts, people walking home with turkeys, carol singers and cheeky scamps in flat caps. In fact the only thing it’s lacking is Queen Victoria, which for Doctor Who is a fucking Christmas miracle all of its own.
The Previous Doctor. Running.
However not even two minutes into his perambulations the Doctor hears a familiar cry. Doctor! Doctor! You may want to sit down at this point because this is where it gets really exciting.
He investigates, finds that the cries are emanating from a busty wench in an alley (we’ve all been there) but, and hold on to your hats folks, it not him she’s calling for! There must be another Doctor! Madness!
After a brief period spent watching David Tennant doing his trademark mini-gurn, the Next Doctor (David Morrissey) arrives on the scene proclaiming himself to be the Doctor, the one, the only, the best. A Cybershade bursts through a door and bingo we get the titles.
The Cybershades are a pathetic excuses for a lack of budget and will be getting their own post soon but suffice to say, they’re fucking awful. I mean look at them!
After a brief and unsuccessful chase scene involving a warehouse and some hilarious fucking about with ropes, we get to the bones of the matter. The Cybermen are in Victorian London and they intend to take over the world!
They’re going to make this happen with the help of the prickly Miss Hartigan (Dervla Kirwan) the Matron of the Saint Joseph workhouse, who, sick of the male dominated society she lives in intends to rule the world with the Cybermen.
Miss Hartigan and the Cybermen.
Meanwhile The Next Doctor, after a brief bit of bickering with his companion Rosilita (Velile Tshabalala), breaks into the house of Reverend Fairchild looking for clues to the Reverend’s death.
Naturally the Doctor has gotten there first.
After a brief chat about sonic screwdrivers, fob watches and a bit of comedy relief (complete with a ‘sproing’ noise, can you guess what happened?) the two Doctors find infostamps, that’s right, infostamps. They’re described as being like disks, Cyber-disks.
You see, because they’re in a different century the Cybermen have to carry all their data around on a series of USB memory sticks. Clearly the biggest they could find was 512MB, because they’ve got loads of them. Haven’t they heard of Drobos?
It’s just as well they knew they were coming to a different century too, otherwise they wouldn’t have had the chance to back everything up on to infosticks first. Although part of me thinks their time could heve been better spent on bringing something, anything, else back with them.
Actually I’m doing the Cybermen a disservice here, these infostamp things are a bit more advanced than USB memory sticks. They’ve got built in projectors and can also shoot bolts of electricity across the room (once you rip open the cyclo-Steinham core of course). Handy!
Of course where there are infostamps there are things that need infostamping. Cybermen!
There are Cybermen in the reverend’s house, eek! Chase, yawn, chase, chase, zap, boom. The Cybermen in the house are defeated.
You’d think after that, that they’d set about finding all the other Cybermen and despatching them in the same way but no. No that would be far too sensible. Besides, we’ve got a funeral to watch!
Across town (although it feels like it’s across the street) at said funeral Miss Hartigan, with the help of the Cybermen and a couple of Cybershades, is going medieval on a load of old blokes arses. The old blokes in question don’t really help themselves by running into each other like the Keystone Cops but hey, it probably wasn’t the done thing to run away in a straight line in the Victorian era.
Cybermen on a killing rampage.
Once all the old blokes that aren’t useful (the ones that ran pie and mash shops and opium dens rather than work houses) are suitably zapped to death it’s back to the two Doctors and the reveal of the Next Doctor’s TARDIS. That’s right his motherflipping TARDIS! Except it’s not a TARDIS is it. No, oh no. It’s a hot air balloon.
A fucking hot air balloon.
Why call it a TARDIS then? Well that’s easily explained, it stands for Tethered Aerial Release Developed In Style. What a bunch of jizz cocks, who the fuck thought that up, was that you Davies? What about Tethered Aerial Reconnaissance Dirigible In-flight System or in fact anything else.
Anyway, let’s move on quickly, I’m getting bored and this really isn’t worthy of my time.
So the old blokes that survived the graveyard massacre round up the children from their workhouses, hand them over to the Cybermen who put them to work inside the belly of their, their, well it isn’t really clear at this point where they are. Still we find out soon enough.
Miss Hartigan against her will becomes the CyberKing and starts wearing full eye, black contact lenses. Here’s a tip for any invading alien races out there. If you must insist on making your chosen leader wear contact lenses, make sure that they don’t blink and squint with them in. It detracts somewhat from the overall menacing air I imagine they were intended to generate.
Where was I? Oh yes, the two Doctors find a load of Dalek time travel gadgetry in a basement, the Next Doctor remembers he had a wife and child (wife deceased, child part of the Cybermen’s mini-pops army) and the new Doctor fathoms out what the Cybermen are up to.
Queue lots of child saving and Cybermen blasting, cut to a long shot of London and a massive, what can only be steam-powered, CyberKing with Miss Hartigan at the controls, bursting out of the Thames.
The Next Doctor and the ‘previous’ Doctor.
So after a bit of stomping around and lot’s of screaming from the masses the CyberKing is confronted by the Doctor in a hot air balloon (the TARDIS, yeah?) and Miss Hartigan gets blasted with an infostick. Clearly being made of sterner stuff than mere Cybermen who’s fucking heads explode when this happens to them, it has no effect on her.
Except it does, her contact lenses are evaporated in the blast (the Cyber-connection being broken), her mind is opened, she realises exactly what freaky shit is going down around her and starts screaming like a fourteen year old, all the Cybermen and Cybershades explode and the CyberKing starts stumbling around like Britney Spears in a 7-Eleven parking lot.
Oh no, we all cry, all those poor people are going to be crushed under a bad special effect!
Don’t worry! The Doctor simply points his Dalek time wand at it and it disappears conveniently into the time vortex, where somehow it gets safely disintegrated. Although exactly why or how that happens is anyone’s guess.
And that’s it. Everyone’s happy. The Doctor goes for dinner with the not Next Doctor and the end credits roll with the joyous information that the Doctor will return in Planet Of The Dead. I can’t wait.
This wasn’t good television, it was terrible. The problems with The Next Doctor are legion.
Do the Cybermen really need Miss Hartigan? They don’t, they could have done everything that she did on their own, or at the very least topped her once they got what they wanted.
The whole Next Doctor thing was pointless and cheap. A gimmick designed to get ratings and nothing else. It had absolutely zero relevance to the story and was almost entirely unnecessary.
What was the purpose of the Cybershades, why were they called Cybershades and what could they do that Cybermen couldn’t?
Children? A workforce made entirely of children doesn’t seem like a particularly practical solution to the problem. Surely Cybermen are stronger and altogether more motivated?
While we’re at it, doesn’t murdering people and stealing workhouses full of children draw a little bit of unnecessary attention to your plan?
Rosita? Rosita? Please…
Speaking of Rosita, do companions always have to be mouthy gobshites?
Why does everything have to be Cyber-something. Why?!
The CyberKing looks like a Cyberman. Why? Probably not the best shape for a spaceship really is it?
The powerful and together Miss Hartigan becomes yet another weak screaming women at the end. Go empowerment.
Why don’t they spend more time developing cohesive plots instead of going for cheap gimmicks and overuse of existing villains all the time?
The sooner Davies leaves the helm the better. God help us if he gets the movie gig.