NuWho 10th Anniversary: What Is Your Most Underrated Series 2 Story?
This year, Doctor Who has been back on our screen ten whole years. It feels like yesterday that the TARDIS materialised once more; suitably, it also feels like forever.
So join us as we celebrate a decade with the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Doctors. Let’s find out which serials are our favourites, and shine a light on the underrated ones too. Watch us run.
And then vote on your favourites. At the end of the year, we’ll find out which serials showcase our beloved show at the height of its game.
Back in 2006, a new Doctor was on the block. We’ve taken a look at the firm favourites, but what’s the most underrated serial of Series 2?
Becky Crockett: Fear Her
Many fans don’t care for the episode and find it either unintentionally funny or just plain bad, but aside from the weird crazy voice they give Chloe when the alien inside her is speaking, the episode is quite good, and very Doctor Who. A lonely alien that finds a lonely little girl and gives her the power to trap people in her sketches is an interesting premise and themes of being afraid and feeling lonely are ones that kids watching can easily relate to.
The gags in the episode, like having to re-park the TARDIS and Rose talking to the cat (but the Doctor thinking she’s talking to him) are quite funny as well. Just wish they’d been able to have Tennant run with the Olympic flame in real life!
James Whittington: Love & Monsters
A Doctor-lite story and a soundtrack by ELO? It can only be one thing: the much debated Love & Monsters!
One of Series 2’s finest, it’s packed with wit, pathos, and wonderfully over-the-top moments of pure sentimentality. Come on, who didn’t have a bottom lip wobble when the end chords of Mr Blue Sky was playing as lead character Elton Pope (Marc Warren) realises what really happened to his mother? He is ably support by Shirley Henderson and Simon Greenall as a gang who get together to look for the Doctor and instead find themselves – well, for a short time anyway.
The Abzorbaloff (Peter Kay) is a forgettable pantomime monster – let’s be honest, Kay was a piece of stunt casting the JN-T would have been proud of – and here only as a metaphor for the footprints the Doctor makes in time; how people are sucked into his life and then forgotten about.
The music grounds the adventure and gives us a clue as to what is all about. There’s nothing wrong with being normal or different or loving someone, or in this case, something who are different to others or what society dictates as “normal”. It’s about being yourself, and being comfortable doing so.
Not to mention probably one of the only times a very naughty joke slipped by innocent viewers…
Alex Skerratt: The Christmas Invasion
It seems very strange to me that The Christmas Invasion is often overlooked. In a sense, it is one of the most important episodes of Doctor Who.
For a start, it was the first ever Christmas special, unless you count the obscure Hartnell episode of the 1960s. In addition, it had to establish a new Doctor, with actor David Tennant facing a similar problem to Patrick Troughton in 1966, when he took over from the first Doctor, William Hartnell. In this instance, the 2005 re-launch had been a success, but there was a nagging feeling of doubt that the show could survive without the man who had made it possible (that is, Christopher Eccleston). So it had to tick a lot of boxes, whilst being a ripping yarn in its own right, and I think, on the whole, it succeeded. The particular highlights for me are the killer Christmas tree, Billie Piper’s awesome performance, the sword fight, and the famous wardrobe scene. So yes – I look back on this episode very fondly!
Philip Bates: The Idiot’s Lantern
Series 2 is quite an underrated series, but there’s one episode in particular that I feel is overlooked far too often. The Idiot’s Lantern isn’t anywhere close to the very best of Doctor Who, but then again, it’s far from being The Twin Dilemma as well. It’s probably about average, yet it remains an episode I always look forward to revisiting.
The thing is, I can’t think of anything particularly bad about it. Sure, it doesn’t especially make sense that the victims of the Wire have no faces, but let’s put that down to artistic license. Because really, they’re horrible images: just think of that scene where the Doctor’s in a cage full of them. They’re just stood there, Auton-like – then suddenly, they become aware of him, and they turn towards him. Their bodies arch with frustration. Hands grasp at the darkness. That’s proper horror.
It also has one of my favourite scenes of the Tenth Doctor era, when the Doctor is being interviewed by DI Bishop. Some really witty, clever dialogue and the tables have turned. “Start from the beginning. Tell me everything you know.”
There are other lovely little nuances, like the excellent Maureen Lipman glancing off-screen with contempt as she says, “I shall regain the corporeal body, which my fellow kind denied me” – almost as if they’re producers, forcing her to go through with this grotesque performance.
Everything about The Idiot’s Lantern is different: the style, the monster, the idea, the Doctor slicking his hair back and riding around on a scooter. It’s the 1950s! Doctor Who doesn’t often do the Fifties! But here it is, feeling bright, and fresh, and just that little bit sinister.
Here it is, ready to rip your face off. Surprisingly brilliant stuff.
Jonathan Appleton: Tooth and Claw
This one rarely seems to feature in ‘best of…’ lists, perhaps because it represents a solid, well-told type of episode that tends to get eclipsed by the more noteworthy, game-changing ones and the big, bold season finales.
Like Horror of Fang Rock, to which it’s been compared, it was apparently written quickly (in this case when The Runaway Bride was dropped back to form the 2006 Christmas special), and that sense of pressure and urgency comes through in this pacy story. Good performances from the guest cast, a nicely realised period setting, and one of those wonderfully Doctor Who-ish plot turns that don’t really stand up to close examination (wouldn’t Prince Albert just have urged his wife to stay away from that part of Scotland?) combine to form an atmospheric tale that grips from the get-go.
Queen Victoria’s banishment of the Doctor and Rose undercuts their larking about rather well – an early indication that things won’t always turn out well for these two.
And does anyone else feel as I do that, terrific as David Tennant was as the Doctor, it would have been great if he’d used his Scottish accent throughout his time…?
James Lomond: The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit
In the preceding article, my top rated Series 2 story was The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit. And sticking to the title criteria I am putting forward my most underrated Series 2 story as… The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit. Simply put – it’s hard to give this story enough credit.
Head, shoulders and a lithe, rippling torso above the rest, this is sublime Doctor Who. But casting a quick eye at its Series 2 companions it seems to be free from a lot of what *doesn’t* work in other episodes. It doesn’t suffer from panto performances, failure to scare, failure to look awesome, failure to intrigue, failure to sustain our attention, and failure to look utterly beautiful. Sarah Jane and K9 were laboured with a childish storyline, New Earth was laboured with forced comedy, the werewolf was laboured with pointless European Samurai monks (just a hint of explanation is all we needed), the Cybermen were burdened with rewriting Spare Parts (impossible- it’s too good), the Wire failed to grab us, Love & Monsters failed to take the show seriously, Fear Her failed to keep the pace up, and the finale let us down with the ultimate Dalek-Cyberman-meeting-fangasm turning into a bitch fight.
Ladies and gentlemen: Only Beelzebub and his chorus of red-eyed spaghetti men emerge from Series 2 unscathed.
Drew Boynton: Love & Monsters
I’m going to do it. Yep, I’m gonna do it. Okay, here goes nothin’! Love & Monsters is the most underrated episode of Series 2.
Only people who have something against having fun could not like at least something in this episode: It features Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri) at her most likable, winning guest performances from Marc Warren and Shirley Henderson, a funky ELO soundtrack, a goofily bizarro performance from Peter Kay (I will never think of “eczema” the same way), and a jam-packed Doctor-lite Russell T. Davies script.
I think one reason that Love & Monsters gets so much hate is because it is SO different. Except for brief appearances by the Tenth Doctor and Rose, it really has the feel of a completely different show. And yes, I have to admit, the Abzorbaloff is pretty embarrassing, with his rubbery costume, Fat B*st*rd attitude, and sumo-wrestler attire. But a person has to remember, he was designed by a child… for a TV contest!
To sum up, Love & Monsters is the most underrated episode of Series 2 because it is an absorbing slice of fun and entertainment. Don’t take it too seriously, and it definitely won’t bring you down.
That’s what we think. Now it’s your turn! Vote below for the most underrated serial of Series 2, and we’ll find out the overall winner later this year…