Sometimes it? the little things in DOCTOR WHO that make you realise what a gift this series is and how lucky we are to have it back on our screens, full of life and vitality and thriving even its third series, a series by which, history dictates, even the freshest formats should start to look a bit tired and jaded. But DOCTOR WHO, as diehards know, is a format unlike any other. So it is that, in an episode full of beautiful CGI cityscapes, talking cats, thousands of aircars stuck on a motorway, giant crabs?here were a handful of beautiful, affecting emotional moments which rose about the visual spectacle and, like the very best of this new DOCTOR WHO incarnation, remind you what good drama can be all about.
The first ?here? something in my eye?moment features ?he Old Rugged Cross?in the background. It? as simple as that. In a story about people trapped in little boxes going nowhere, this one scene, with thousands ?maybe millions ?of living, breathing souls trapped in the living, breathing Hell of the ultimate Gridlock. In the middle of the chaos and the confusion and the choking exhaust fumes, the whole of what? left of the human race on New Earth becomes one in this one mournful song, this wonderful moment of quiet. Who but the very hardest of hearts couldn? react at the sight of a tear rolling down Martha? face and the look of respect on the Doctor?, trapped as they are, miles apart? But there? more ?Martha? wonderfully-played realisation that if she dies here on New Earth, billions of years into the future, her family on 21st century Earth will never, ever know what? happened to her. Yet more ?the death of the Face of Boe, moments after he? finally passed on his portentous last message to the Last of the Timelords? Can this be right? Should an audience feel suck a huge surge of emotion at the death of a big rubber head in a jar? This is what new DOCTOR WHO can do and it? really quite, quite extraordinary.
And finally, just as you?e reaching the bottom of the tissue box, we see the Doctor and Martha finally having a heart-to-heart, the Doctor finally telling his new companion (not assistant, please!) that he? the last of his kind, his voice quavering as he remembers the Time War, the death, the devastation. Then the camera sweeps away, the Doctor joyously remembering the splendour his long-dead world, to the city of New New York, alive once againz/p>
?ridlock?is an episode where the Doctor begins to realise that whilst Martha will never take the place of Rose in his affections (another glorious scene, at the end of the episode, where Martha tentatively suggests that Boe? ?ou are not alone?message refers to her; the Doctor gives her a smile and says ?o, sorry, no??effectively, I? imagine, ruling out to both Martha and the audience any chance of romance between the two) she has a very important place in his life. Where she? only been with him until now so he could show off how cool he is, he suddenly begins to realise that Martha matters. She? a real person too and she? his responsibility, whether he wants one or not. Maybe now he realises he does. His desperation to rescue her runs through the episode like blood and Tennant has never been better here, energised and possessed and who could fail to punch the air when he starts leaping between aircars, another triumphant Murray Gold score pounding away in the background?
As an episode ?ridlock?is high on concept and what? so remarkable about this script ?easily Russell T Davies? finest for the show so far (and let? not forget this is the man who wrote ?ove and Monsters?and ?oomsday? please) ?is that it? the emotions and the people that matter. Its forty-five minute running-time is crammed with characters we can care about because they?e so beautifully written ?Davies at his strongest. From cocky cat captain Thomas Kincaid Branigan (O?anlon having a ball) complete with flying headgear, his long-suffering human wife Valerie and his kitten offspring (best not to dwell on that one!), Milo and Cheen, desperate to escape the smog of the city for a new life out amidst the open air and the applegrass, Alice and May the tired old married couple. Added to the mix are reformed evil nurse Novice Hame (from last year? season opener ?ew Earth? and the Face of Boe, back for his swansong appearance in new WHO. We seem to know these people so well by the end of the episode that we feel their elation at finally escaping the Hell of the Gridlock by the Doctor? simple expedient of opening a door so they can get out into the fresh air at last.
?ridlock?has become my favourite episode of the new series since its resurrection in 2005 and while it? becoming increasingly difficult to marry this bold new series with the classic series I? probably go as far as to say this one would be right up there with the very best episodes ever made. Visually it? astounding; the Mill are right at the top of their game here, providing FX work rivalling the best Hollywood studios, from the Gridlock itself, New Earth and, for drooling long-term fans, the return of the Macra, crab-monsters first seen in a long-lost 1967 Patrick Troughton four-parter. This is the way to reintroduce old elements to the series without baffling a new audience. So far this year the Doctor has encountered both the Judoon and the Carrionites ?and it? quite clear he? met them both before in adventures we?e not seen. So here, when the Doctor gazes down through the fug and proclaims ?acra!?it doesn? matter a jot to new viewers who?l just assume that these are creatures he? familiar with but the old guard can feel a swell of excitement knowing that Davies has cleverly used his plot to slide in an old enemy which is never going to make the cover of ?adio Times?but which serves as a nice reminder that, at the end of the day, this is still the same old series it ever was.
I really could gush on and on about ?ridlock?for hours. It? a touching, powerful, exciting episode of DOCTOR WHO and, frankly, I? be willing to stand up and bare-knuckle box with anyone who doesn? agree. ?ridlock?has it all; it? about humans and being alive, it? a cautionary anti-drugs story (Bliss ultimately brings about the downfall of the human race on New Earth),it? about the madness of the motorway. Oh, it? about dirty great big crabs too but that? just the monster boy in me getting carried away. Season three of DOCTOR WHO is starting to take this series to unexpected new heights with Tennant finding his top form and Freema Agyeman a joyous addition to the cast. Ten episodes to go, Daleks next week?an it really get any better than this? Stay tunedz/p>]]>