Review: Doctor Who – The Waters Of Mars (SPOILERS)

So, anyway, yesterday saw the preview of Doctor Who – Waters of Mars for the press. And one of my Little Bleeders was in the audience. Naturally the following review contains spoilers, but not that many – if you want to remain a spoiler virgin, look away now.


So… this might be spoilery. Only read on if you want to take that risk. (Me, I like to know nothing before I see a show for the first time, as last night should have evidenced.)

Definitely one of the best episodes ever. I mean top ten. Seriously.

Both an action adventure, base under siege, story, plus an enormously powerful emotional story. I was choked on more than one occasion and actually thought I would cry at one point. (Ben Stephenson from BBC Drama, assured us we would have "wet turkeys" when we watch the newly-completed Xmas eps, but more of that later.)
This ep puts you through the emotional wringer. Perhaps it's not so hopeless-feeling as the Torchwood Children Of Earth but without doubt Waters Of Mars is mining the same sort of territory and it's the closest Doctor Who will ever come to nihilism. Well, fatalism is probably a better word.

On the other hand, there's some class comic dialogue. When asked "Name, rank and intent" the Doctor answers "The Doctor, doctor, fun", which Tennant delivers brilliantly. Plus there's some nice to-ing and fro-ing with Linsday Duncan's character. And a funny robot. (The Doctor doesn't like funny robots… though he does admit that ones shaped like dogs are different.) And some of the darker stuff is good too. Watch out for the line, "As consolation". It hits you like a punch to the guts.
A lot of the plot hinges on the same issues of time, consequence and fixed points that were referenced in Fires Of Pompeii, but with rather different consequences. Another obvious influence was 28 Days Later, including one direct lift of a memorable scene from that film. You could also argue that the funny robot is a tribute to Johnny Five or WALL-E.

The Ice Warriors, unsurprisingly, get a mention in a good, plot-reinforcing way, and there's more than one old enemy that puts in an appearance, either in flashback (not necessarily from The Doctor's life) or… dare I say, premonition. We never really get to know the nature of the threat, either. Very Midnight.

There was a preview of The End Of Time confirming much of what we already knew but let's just say that Waters Of Mars ends on such a mood that you wouldn't want it going out on Chrimbo Day. The last two eps are scheduled for then and New Year's Day.

Oh, and it's in HD, so I'm assuming the titles have been re-rendered. It certainly looked amazing. You could see every pore on Tennant's face in the close-ups. And the CGI was impressive, even on a big screen. Also, I dunno where they went to shoot the Mars surface but it was pretty fucking cool. Graeme Harper's done a bang-up job. So many jump-y moments and creepy direction, plus it all hangs together well. There were so very few moments when you thought "Hang on, this isn't Mars, it's a warehouse in Llandaff."
So, that's that, then. I envy you seeing it for the first time. I'm very pleased I did see it before all the previews come out. If I were you, I wouldn't have read this review at all! Ha ha.

Doctor Who – The Waters of Mars will air November 15th on BBC One

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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