So, when I reviewed season 3 of Dexter in one week, I wondered if it was possible that I’d review Season 3 of Doctor Who in a similarly speedy period of time. The answer to that question is no. Once again, this isn’t an indictment of the quality of Doctor Who but simply further proof that heavily serialized stories, where each episode leads directly into the next one, are much more likely to cause me to drop everything else I’m doing just so I can figure out what happens next. Dexter is like that and even when the season has weak moments like Season 3 definitely had, I just have to know what’s going to happen next. Doctor Who is a 14 (if you count the Christmas special) episode season series where, with the exception of the two-parters, there isn’t much overlap between any given story and you can watch it one self-contained story and not have this driving urge to see what happens next. However, this season of Doctor Who has definitely been enjoyable so far, and I might be willing to say that at this point (half-way through) that it may be the best season yet.

We had a four episode disc this time which is not the norm for Doctor Who on DVD. It started out with a two-parter where the Doctor and Martha travel back to New York City during the Great Depression. They quickly find themselves investigating why citizens living in Hooverville (a slum for laid off workers in Central Park) have been disappearing and quickly discover the machinations of the remnants of the Cult of Skaro, the Dalek group responsible for all of the trouble in season’s finale. The head of the cult, Dalek-Sek, successfully combines a Dalek and a human and creates the first human/Dalek hybrid. After enlisting the help of the Doctor with his pleas that this new form will no longer threaten humanity, the other Daleks who haven’t transformed themselves mutiny against this plan and kill their leader and try to create a new army of straight Daleks. The Doctor stops them but one of the Daleks still manages to escape. The third episode involved the Doctor and Martha returning to modern London where a man creates a machine that transforms him from a 70 year old man to a younger version of himself but it starts to horribly mutate his body. The last episode has the Doctor and Martha in the future on a spaceship that is hurtling towards a star while the crew tries to stop their imminent destruction as well as fight off a mysterious infection that is wiping out the crew.

“Daleks in Manhattan”/”Evolution of the Daleks” was awesome. First off, Andrew Garfield (The Social Network, the new Spiderman movie) had a big role as one of the side-kicks the Doctor and Martha pick up as they fight off the Daleks. Second, the philosophical/moral conundrum of the Doctor potentially helping his greatest nemeses survive reminded me a lot of the part of Mass Effect 2 where you effectively get to decide to destroy the Geth once and for all or brainwash them into being good. Also, the Daleks are generally the best recurring villains the series has (though I haven’t met the Weeping Angels yet who I hear are terrifying). “The Lazarus Experiment” was probably the weakest set of the series though once again it was interesting to see a philosophical discussion on immortality. Hearing the Doctor talk about how painful immortality can be really deconstructs the myth of this eternal adventurer in a more mature way than the show normally handles such things. “42” was done in the style of 24 as it unfolded in real-time with a clock regularly reminding viewers how much time was left. It was fun if not a great episode, but David Tennant really owned his scenes where he was infected by the star and you could easily believe that he was in incredible pain.

What’s up with this Mr. Saxon thing that I keep hearing over and over again through out the season? It must be the “Bad Wolf” of Season 3. If I were going to wager, when the Face of Boe told the Doctor that he wasn’t alone, he meant that there was another Time Lord still alive somewhere in the universe and that this Mr. Saxon is said Time Lord. The guy definitely isn’t good if he keeps trying to get Martha’s mother to warn Martha herself to stay away from the Doctor. I’m not sure what was the point of tracing Martha’s calls in “42” unless these people are actually able to do what the Doctor is which is work through time and space which just confirms my suspicions that Mr. Saxon is a Time Lord. He either has to be a Time Lord or under the control of the Daleks at this point. I’m sad that Martha is only a companion for one whole season. I love her so much. I know this was unrelated to the point of this whole paragraph but I have developed a major crush on Freema Agyeman.

This season of Doctor Who has been surprisingly consistent given the program’s erratic nature. While there’s been two just “ok” episodes (the Christmas special and “The Lazarus Experiment”), there haven’t been any bad ones and generally the quality has been over-all very good. There’s only been one truly classic episode (“The Shakespeare Code”) but “Blink” is on my next disc and I know a lot of people think it’s one of the best episodes of the entire series. Stephan Moffat wrote it so that should be a good sign since he’s my favorite Doctor Who writer. One last thought before I draw this review to a close. Doctor Who is supposed to be a children’s show, but this has to be the most terrifying children’s program ever. Like, most episodes end with a significant number of people dying and unbelievably horrifying things happening to our protagonists or the new friends they make. The Brits definitely aren’t afraid to scare the hell out of their children, and for that, Doctor Who, I salute you.

Final Score: B+

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