The Next Doctor

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box set
NTSC Region 1

Standard DVD
box set
PAL Region 2
Standard DVD

See below for Blu-Ray options
(Doctor Who Story No. 204, starring David Tennant and David Morrissey)
  • written by Russell T. Davies
  • directed by Andy Goddard
  • produced by Susie Liggat
  • music by Murray Gold
  • 1 episode @ 60 min.
Story: Materializing in London in time for Christmas 1851, the Doctor suspects he has stumbled upon a future version of himself who is hot on the trail of the Cybermen. What mysterious incident has caused the new Doctor's memory to become scattered? Why have the Cybermen entered into an alliance with a vindictive woman in red? And what horrors await England should the CyberKing finally arise?

DVD Extras include:

  • Dr. Who Confidential making-of feature (55 min.) (box sets only) with David Tennant (The Doctor), David Morrissey (The Next Doctor),
    Dervla Kirwan (Miss Hartigan), Velile Tshabalala (Rosita), Paul Kasey (Cyber Leader), Ruari Mears (Shade), Tom Langford (Frederic),
    writer Russell T. Davies, producer Susie Liggat, director Andy Goddard, 1st assistant director Richard Harris, Lasso trainer Guido Louis,
    stunt co-ordinator Tom Lucy, and special effects supervisor Danny Hargreaves.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (box sets only, 3 min.)
  • "Doctor Who at the Proms" concert celebrating 4 years of Murray Gold's music, hosted by Freema Agyeman (59 min.)
    • (included in both box sets and single volumes)
    • includes the skit "Music of the Spheres" starring David Tennant, written by Russell T. Davies, directed by Euros Lyn.
  • English subtitles

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have
already seen the program. To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide version instead.

Russell T. Davies is back writing his fourth Doctor Who Christmas Special in as many years, turning out a fairly successful little adventure without it becoming anything too groundbreaking or extravagant.

The TARDIS starts the adventure off right for the first time in a long time, giving us a good solid materialization to begin with, and a proper interior/exterior demonstration later on. Full marks.

And the setting is largely an enjoyable success as well. After giving us a good dose of alien planets during the last few stories, coming back to London, England has regained its charming place in Doctor Who's variety. This tale also boasts the most successful Christmas atmosphere of any of the program's recent Yuletide specials, primarily by coming back to the industrializing Charles Dickens era of 1851 from which so many other Christmas stories and programs take their cue. It helps evoke the nostalgia for those simpler by-gone times when one takes a break from routine to focus on family and good will. We also get a decent dose of snow, both on the ground and freshly falling, something that appeared all too sparingly when previous specials were idiotically shot in the middle of summer.

David Tennant's Doctor nicely goes through a whole sequence full of the logical reactions to meeting future versions of himself that was usually denied other returning Doctors during previous multi-Doctor specials. New Doctor David Morrissey has a decent crack at embodying the title role here. I suspect he might make a good Doctor, yet not one of my top favourites as Tennant and the first five have managed.

And we do see some of the fun that existed in past multi-Doctor adventures. Sadly, it is a bit short-lived, as the idea of meeting a future Doctor turns out to have been a bit of a stunt, at which point the story struggles to find a new reason to sustain audience interest. In the end, I think Tennant's Doctor gets enough of an interesting arc responding to a new Doctor and working out what's going on to make the whole thing worthwhile, but I suspect there are a lot of audience members feeling disappointed and/or misled. Still, the stunt continues to work on subsequent viewing as a way of externalizing some of the issues currently bothering Tennant's Doctor - things he might not have talked about unless he believed he was talking to himself - and Morrissey's pseudo-Doctor becomes a very apt reflection and parallel. This story maintains a lot of heart at its core.

Our villains have a human co-conspirator in this adventure, as they often do, and not surprisingly Davies turns yet again to a woman for the part. Is he playing it safe once again? She certainly isn't the most interesting character we've seen on the show, and feels particularly out of place when mixed up with the CyberKing later in the show. Have the Cybermen not learned the word "Queen" yet?

Music by Murray Gold
A suite of original music new for this story is available on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who: Original
Music from "Series 4: The Specials".
2-disc Audio CD album

More info & buying options

The Cybermen make good returning villains in this story, well-matched to the industrialization theme in the story that opposes the Christmas ideal. And it's actually ironic now that we should actually want both, in order to get the nostalgic Christmas atmosphere right. The Cyber Leader has a new look to differentiate himself from the others, which is good. But I think it goes too far in showing the brain - we don't need to see it, and he doesn't need to boast about it visually.

The story's weakest point is probably in the new black furry cyber-creatures, mostly because they really don't make any sense whatsoever. The oh-so-obvious stamp of cyber-related identity on their metal face-masks not only gives away the Cybermen's presence before anything else in the script, but it prevents them from truly being the wild, random, unpredictable force that they seem to want to act as. Logic demands that they work as tools of the Cybermen instead, yet it remains unknown exactly how or why the Cybermen would want to bother creating such creatures in the first place. Are they wolves or bears or bizarre animal-creatures from the void that have been cyber-converted? Were the Cybermen just using what was available at hand when they made them, or did they do more deliberate design? These creatures just don't seem to be anything the Cybermen would want or be able to fit within their limited philosophy of usefulness.

Although suffering a bit of a slump in the middle sections, we do at least get some successful mid-story action stratagems during the sequence of rescuing the children, not to mention the Doctor attempting to bluff a Cyberman with a malfunctioning data-stamp. Not bad. But it really is the final sequence that pulls out the stops and makes the story really exciting once again, coming to a very satisfying finish that gives the Doctor all the right things to do. And the wrap-up is very satisfying as well. Good job.

In the end, this is a decent and modest little adventure. Although "Voyage of the Damned" (story no. 193) is still a better story, this one probably suits the notion of Christmas Special a bit better, noting also that Christmas Specials are not the ideal vehicle for good Doctor Who adventures in the first place. This story is miles ahead of both "The Christmas Invasion" (story no. 171) and "The Runaway Bride" (story no. 182), and proves once again that good Doctor Who Christmas Specials are possible. And to all a good night!

International Titles:

Deutsch: "Der andere Doktor"

Magyar: "A másik Doktor"

Français: "Cyber Noël"

Русский: "Следующий Доктор"

Italiano: "Un altro Dottore"

Interestingly, the Germans, Hungarians, and Italians all chose to go with the idea of an "other" Doctor. Only the Russians stayed literal with the idea of the "next / following" Doctor, while the French focused on entirely different elements of the story.

"The Next Doctor" has become available on DVD and Blu-Ray,
however it was NOT shot in high definition like the rest of the stories in the 5-episode box set.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

DVD NTSC Region 1
5-episode box set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
5-episode box set
for the U.K.
Standard DVD 1-episode volume
NTSC Region 1 - U.S.
NTSC Region 1 - Canada
PAL Region 2 - U.K.

Blu-Ray NTSC Region 1
5-episode box set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada

Blu-Ray PAL Region 2
5-episode box set
for the U.K.

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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "Planet of the Dead"

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