Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars
Instead of a full season this year, the revival of Doctor Who has been showing a spread out series of specials before the Doctor’s tenth regeneration. This series started with the 2008 Christmas Special The Next Doctor and proceeded to the 2009 Easter Special The Planet of the Dead. This past Sunday was the first airing of the third in this series of specials, The Waters of Mars.
As I’ve never reviewed anything Doctor Who on this blog before, let me give you some information on my Who background. Like my knowledge of Star Trek, most of what I knew before the revival of Who came from being around the show. It was one of those shows that would occasionally run on PBS during weird hours of the day, and my dad has been a fan of Tom Baker’s Doctor for as long as I can remember. So I knew what the TARDIS was and I knew who at least one of the Doctors was, and a couple of years ago I heard that there had been new episodes, which really boomed in popularity with the casting choice of David Tennant for the Tenth Doctor. I decided to give it a go.
I watched through all four seasons of New Who in one week, just in time for the airing of the series four finale, and I was hooked. I re-watched the episodes I was particularly attached to and sought out The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood to feed my Who addiction. When I ran out of New Who shows, I went back and started watching The Classics. It’s taken me almost a year and a half to watch through the first four Doctors (nearly finished with Tom Baker’s run), and I’ve loved every single one of them.
So when I say that The Waters of Mars was an awful piece of nihilistic drivel, you won’t write me off as simply one of the Torchwood Hysterical Nine on an anti-RTD rampage. The story line was hopeless from the very start of the episode. Within the first fifteen minutes, you knew that everyone aboard the Mars station was going to die; they showed the newspaper headlines to prove it.
That wasn’t even the part that really bothered me. I just felt that it had already been done with the Pompeii episode in series four and the other ‘trapped on a space station’ episodes. The part that bothered me was the senseless hubris that the Doctor adopted during this episode. He’s always been a bit arrogant (being the only alien among humans would do that to anyone, I think), but it’s never been at the expense of his own morality. In this episode, the Doctor decides that he is God and his actions cause a woman to kill herself.
I do not know what this episode was trying to achieve, but it left me with a very bitter taste in my mouth. There was no hope. There was no redemption. There was nothing in this episode that even resembled the things that I love about Doctor Who.