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The Next Doctor

ShowDoctor Who / Series IV / Episode 15
First Broadcast2009/01/25 - 19:30 (Link: ABC Details)
Related LinksWikipedia
Previous EpisodeJourney's End
Next EpisodePlanet of the Dead

The 2008 Christmas Special, shown Down Under exactly one month after Christmas - a real bonus as we normally have to wait six months. The episode itself was pretty solid, with just the annoying silliness of the CyberKing spoiling it a bit.

The title is no doubt meant to intrigue. Prior to screening in the UK, David Tennant had announced he was leaving the show, but at the end of 2009. So what was this all about? Further, between the screening in the UK and Australia, the 11th Doctor was announced as Matt Smith.

The reality was the "next Doctor" was a character who believed he was the Doctor. His language, mannerisms and behaviour initially suggest to the 10th Doctor that he must be a future regeneration who had lost part of his memory. Eventually the Doctor figures out his identity: Jackson Lake, a man partly infused with the Doctor's memories via a Cyber infostamp; and also in a fugue state caused by his mind retreating from a terrible memory.

The story centres on the Cybermen aided by Miss Mercy Hartigan (played by the delicious Dervla Kirwan). They have teamed up for their own goals. In the end, the Cybermen betray Hartigan and force her to become the Cyber King. But she turns the tables on them. More powerful than they anticipated, she re-writes the Cyber King's software and destroys the Cyber Leader. But, of course, in the end the Doctor destroys them all.

There was some cool stuff in this episode: the Cyber Shades and the Cyber Leader with his visible brain matter; the dalek technology - stolen by the Cybermen; their escape from the Void as it collapsed during the previous episode presumably. The giant Cyber King however seemed ridiculous to me.

Not a bad episode overall. However, it would be nice if they improve; it seems we'll only get four specials this year. So they'd better be good.