A review by Nalini Haynes
The Doctor (Tennant) and Rose (Piper) land on a planet – New Earth – in the far future and plan a visit to New New York but first they visit a hospital. The Doctor’s psychic paper has a message for him (although why he looked at his own psychic paper is not explained).
A mechanical spider reminiscent of the trouble-makers on Platform 1 during ‘Earth Death’ (New Who s01e02) spies on Rose and the Doctor. A distant observer ascertains that Rose is pure human.
Reporting to his master – mistress has different connotations – his master demands to see Rose’s face. Lady Cassandra, asploded in s01e02, is back. Implausible explanations offered. A brain (or a face without a brain?) now – loosely – hangs in a trampoline frame.
The Doctor wanders around, finding Ward 26. Diagnosing people at a glance. Then he finds the Face of Bo. The Face of Bo has a message.
Rose misses the Doctor’s elevator only to find her elevator is hijacked, plunging her into the basement to meet Cassandra, who promptly takes over Rose’s body (queue innuendo, plunging neckline and Rose slapping her own ‘rear bumper’).
Later, zombie hordes.
Avoid examining the plot for this story. None of the stories in New Who stand up to close scrutiny but this one in particular is fundamentally flawed. For example, Lady Cassandra needs an illegal device to body-swap with Rose until she doesn’t. She flies from body to body until she suddenly – and inexplicably – stops.
I wonder if Camille Coduri and Zoë Wanamaker double as cat-nurses in this episode? Some of the voices sounded familiar and wouldn’t it be FUN as an actor…
‘New Earth’ is like fanfic of season one of Doctor Who coupled with a response to the fans in that the episode is off-Earth, featuring aliens. (When New Who was first coming out I recall criticisms of it being very Earth-centric.) As a family-friendly zombie story, ‘New Earth’ is eminently suitable.
For added Doctor Who goodness, listen to these podcasts starring author and Doctor Who writer Ben Aaronovitch, epic Doctor Who fan and funny man Adam Richard, and author Adrian Tchaikovsky who wrote a character with a spider on her back like in Doctor Who‘s ‘Planet of the Spiders’.
Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5 stars
Director: James Hawes
Writer: Russell T Davies
Stars: David Tennant, Billie Piper, Camille Coduri
My review copy is part of the Doctor Who series 1 – 4 box set on bluray; thanks to Roadshow.