TODO alt text

SPOILER FREE REVIEW! Doctor Who "The Next Doctor"

Well, spoiler free unless you’re a massive spoilerphobe who's been avoiding the trailers, because it references things given away in them. Are you ready for a Cyber-Christmas?

SFX is just back from the preview screening of The Next Doctor. So yes, now we know exactly who the David Morrissey Doctor is, and no, we're not telling you, because that's part of the fun of the episode.

And it is only part of the fun. There's a hell of a lot of fun to be had here. Once again, the Christmas episode is not an out-and-out classic episode, but it is great Christmas entertainment. And it does have a few classic moments.

The odd thing is, for much of its running time, it feels surprisingly small scale, both in terms of its plot ambitions and its imagery. Indeed, it barely feels like a Russell T Davies story for a long while, as there are few of those quirky moments that divide fans (but which the general audience laps up). While it's very funny in places, and has some patented RTD character moments, for a long time this Victorian based story is more "Evil of the Daleks" than "Voyage of the Damned" - it's very trad Who, and quite wordy in places. Nothing wrong with that, but it leaves you wondering where the budget went...

And then it becomes obvious in the last 10 minutes when the episode goes very big and completely bat's arse. It's pure RTD and jawdropping. Jawdroppingly brilliant or jawdroppingly stupid really depends on how much you like New Who. Gotta admit, I loved it unreservedly, but then I unreservedly loved the TARDIS towing the Earth.

Morrissey is great, and there's a lot more to his role than just pastiching the Doctor. The Cybershades are also surprisingly effective - they may look a bit naff in the trailers, but they prove worthy successors to the Cybermats. The Cybermen themselves aren't exactly on top form; they're more like Ciphermen much of the time, and come across a bit stupid. They also seem a lot weaker than usual. What happened to their super strength? And if you've heard that there's an Oliver Twist element involving lots of kids, well, there is, but don't worry - it's more Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom than the Baker Street Kids.

Andy Goddard directs with a lot of style, atmosphere and an eye for striking imagery, though he does seem out of his depth in a couple of the the action scenes which lack a certain oomph. However, a set-piece scene in the graveyard is shot very effectively and the opening encounter with a Cybershade is hilarious. The production design is stunningly good, really bringing to life a snowy, Victorian London and providing some wonderful cyberpunk additions.

So, yeah, there's a lot of lightweight fluff here, and one very cheesy moment, but the Next Doctor mystery provides the emotional core of the episode. Other than that I'm saying no more, as any discussion of it will give away too many clues.

Overall, though, it's enormously entertaining. Even if you don't plan on watching it, tune in for those last 10 minutes. It's something you'll definitely want to have an opinion on.

Oh, and Morrissey's TARDIS is brilliant, plus there‘s a very, very sweet final scene, and a (possible) visual allusion to Earthshock.

More Info

Available platformsTV
We recommend