Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/12/2009 (4325 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
AS it turns out, even a Time Lord needs to be aware that the clock is ticking.
David Tennant's third-to-last turn as the Tenth Time Lord arrives on Canadian airwaves this week, giving Doctor Who- o-philes something of an early Christmas present but also a bit of an early reminder that this immensely popular incarnation of the Doctor's time is almost up.
Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars (which airs Saturday at 8 p.m. on Space) is an engaging and action-packed hour that allows Tennant to explore the outer fringes of the Doctor's morality as he comes to the realization that his control of time is becoming absolute.
The Waters of Mars takes place, of course, on the Red Planet, in the later days of the year 2058. The Doctor arrives, with the usual Tardisinduced clatter, and has hardly begun to tour the surrounding area when he's apprehended by the human inhabitants of a large, self-contained settlement complex.
Once inside, the Doctor begins to glean clues from his captors' questions, and soon figures out where (and when) he is -- inside Bowie Base One, the first human settlement on Mars. He identifies stern-voiced Adelaide Brooke (Lindsay Duncan) as the colony's commander, and quickly determines that the day he's in is the very day history will list as the one on which Bowie Base One was destroyed.
Meddle or exit? Exit or meddle? The Doctor finds himself on the horns of a dilemma, even as the events that put the base in critical danger begin to unfold. One of the crew members becomes infected with a bizarre parasite while working in the facility's greenhouse pod, and is suddenly transformed into a scaly faced, dripping-wet, water-craving murderous Martian zombie.
Before Capt. Brooke has time to react, another crew member is attacked by the first; soon after, yet another makes the startling man-into-monster transition.
The Doctor knows what must be done -- in fact, what will be done -- but is reluctant to share his insights with Adelaide. It doesn't matter much, though -- things spiral out of control quickly, and it isn't long before the captain is left with only one option -- the one described in the Doctor's fully detailed flashback.
Tennant continues to be a treat to watch as the Doctor, and this second of four specials that will mark his exit from the role allows him to flirt with a version of the character's personality that is more perilously ambivalent than ever before.
The last 10 minutes of The Waters of Mars are absolutely riveting, filled with equal measures of tortured inevitability, simmering arrogance and defiant but ultimately self-serving heroics.
At one point, Capt. Brooke casts an amazed glance at the Doctor and asks, "Is there nothing you can't do?"
His answer is swift and blunt: "Not any more."
But this realization of perhaps-limitless power carries with it a big question: has the Doctor finally gone too far, and is it time for him to die?
It'll take at least two more of these Doctor Who specials -- slated to appear on Canadian cable in 2010 -- to figure that one out.
One can fairly safely assume that Doctor No. 10 isn't going to go quietly.
TV WORTH WATCHING
Nature: Christmas in Yellowstone (Sunday at 8 p.m., PPTV) -- It's decidedly lacking in elves, flying reindeer and red-suited fat fellas, but this 2007 documentary examination of Yellowstone Park's wildlife in wintertime is one of the most visually stunning specials of the season.
Peak to Peak (Wednesday at 8 p.m., Discovery) -- This new hour-long special examines the challenges, dangers and deadlinedriven stresses involved in realizing the long-held dream of Whistler, B.C.'s ski set -- the construction of a 4.4-kilometre-long ski lift connecting the resort community's two mountain peaks, Whistler and Blackcomb.
TV ON DVD
Sherlock Holmes: The Collection (A&E Home Video, release date: Dec. 15) -- A bit of a rare gem for deerstalker devotees, this set contains the only five surviving episodes of the 1960s BBC version of Sherlock Holmes starring Peter Cushing as Holmes and Nigel Stock as Dr. Watson. The set leads off with The Hound of the Baskervilles and also includes The Sign of the Four, The Blue Carbuncle, A Study in Scarlet and The Boscombe Valley Mystery.
After three decades spent writing stories, columns and opinion pieces about television, comedy and other pop-culture topics in the paper’s entertainment section, Brad Oswald shifted his focus to the deep-thoughts portion of the Free Press’s daily operation.