5 December 2018: It Takes You Away review added.
26 November 2018: The Witchfinders review added.
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CHILDREN IN NEED SPECIAL 2006
We're a bit surprised this piece of Doctor Who history was chosen for the not-universally-available Children In Need special, because as far as we're concerned, the Tenth Doctor's first few minutes after regenerating are compulsory viewing. Of course, we would never advise our readers to download the special illegally. Over P2P. Where it's freely available. So since you won't be doing that, you'll just have to take our word for it: it's stellar.
We thought David Tennant totally nailed the role in a couple of lines at the end of The Parting Of The Ways, and here he proves that wasn't just some freak accident. When he tells Rose "I'm the Doctor!", we believe him. Oh, yeah. After an entire series with us struggling to accept Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor, it's almost eerie the way David Tennant is so instantly convincing.
This little snippet is less than seven minutes long, and that includes the regeneration recap and the credits. In that time, it manages to stuff in humour, intense emotion and deadly peril. And it does 'em all brilliantly. Some of that's the writing, some of it's Billie Piper, but most of it's David Tennant. He ping-pongs from drop-dead funny (we particularly liked "Love the mole!" and "Hopping for our lives!") to pathos-ridden to dramatic without missing a beat, and he's stunning at all of them. We're in love.
We've seen a fair few regenerations in our time, but this one still manages to be fresh. The close relationship Rose has with the Doctor gives her shock and confusion an extra poignancy no other companion's ever managed, and her loyalty to the old Doctor and her suspicion of the new one are dead on. The regeneration going wrong isn't exactly forging new territory, but we don't care because David Tennant does the doubling over and the weird noises so beautifully. Sometimes the Doctor going manic's all a bit embarrassing (that's you we're talking about, Colin), but this just isn't, and David Tennant switches between bellowing and logic with total believability. And we adore the little detail of the Cloister Bell, which makes sufficient sense to the casual viewer without being named while simultaneously bringing a fuzzy glow to the hearts of fans.
Yes, we know we're sounding like a stuck record. But what can we say? We really can't think of any way this could have been improved. And that's the first and very probably the last time we're going to say that. See it.
MORAL: And the greatest of these is hop.
IF YOU GO DOWN TO THE WOODS TODAY
Didn't they miss a trick here? Empty children in need? They could've slapped a gas mask onto the bear and had it running around growling for its mummy before turning the entire BBC into Pudseyalikes.