I finally got around to watching the rest of Christopher Eccleston's run as Doctor Who about a year after I recorded it, beginning with The Long Game, featuring a great cameo by Simon Pegg. I've got mixed feelings about the series. There seems to be a focus on Rose and her family/friends which distracts from the Doctor himself- the whole series might have been called Rose. As it progressed and we kept coming back to Rose's cohorts, it began to feel more like a soap opera than a sci-fi show. The Doctor himself seems relegated to a supporting character at times.
Some spoilers ahead.
And then there's the quality of the writing- which is not always of a high quality. The problem seems to be that the show's creators aren't well versed in science fiction- or science for that matter (not to mention history, something of a requirement for a series about a time traveller- during the middle of a German bomber attack on London in World War 2, Captain Jack stands at an open window, lights blazing behind him. He also switches on lights to illuminate the faces of Big Ben's clock- no blackout for him).
Another problem is that the show doesn't always display consistent logic. In the episode Father's Day, we're told that because Rose intervened on the day her father was supposed to die, a group of terrible creatures called Reapers (original name, eh?) come and begin attacking everyone, wiping them out of existence. When Rose counters that the Doctor interferes in time all the time, he says, "But I know what I'm doing." (And don't even get me started on the fact that about three creatures have wiped out the rest of London, possibly the world- they could at least have had the skies swarming with masses of them.) That's a funny kind of argument- and one which is blown out of the water in the next episode when rogue time traveller Captain Jack crashes an alien vessel in London during the war and again a few episodes on in Bad Wolf- when the Doctor learns that he himself has rewritten about a century of Earth history by intervening in events. Surprisingly, none of the Reaper creatures turn up to "heal" time.
In Boom Town, we again get to have Rose meet up with her on-off beau Mickey- and we again encounter a Slitheen, although thankfully without all of the schoolboy farting jokes this time around. Here's the story in a nutshell- the Slitheen has taken on the persona of the local mayor and has pushed through the building of a nuclear power station right in the middle of a city! I can suspend my disbelief when it comes to Time Lords and a space/time vehicle bigger on the inside than the outside but please- are we really supposed to buy that? It gets worse- the power station has been deliberately designed to explode when it becomes fully operational. Only one person seems to have noticed and he's quickly dispatched. Good thing that local mayors are able to design nuclear reactors now. Anyway, Rose and co. turn up and the Slitheen is quickly captured. No one seems to think it's a good idea to notify the authorities that the nuclear power station they have slap bang in the middle of the city will blow up when it's turned on. Oops.
Another element that was introduced in Boom Town is the concept of the Tardis as an all powerful entity- when the Slitheen gets the upper hand the Tardis itself takes matters into its own hand and regresses her to an egg. The Slitheen, you see, was sentenced to death on her own planet- this way, the story is wrapped up quickly (without the Doctor having to display any brilliant or original thought) and we get to avoid the messy concept that the Slitheen will be executed for its crimes (when the Slitheen are first encountered they are trying to wipe all life off the face of the Earth). I'm not a fan of this Deus ex machina device at all. Yet again the Doctor is relegated to bit part in his own show. It's as if the writers don't quite know what to do with him, or if they aren't quite clever enough to outwit their own plot lines.
The idea of the Deus ex machina is used again in the climactic episode The Parting of the Ways. The Doctor and a handful of people are on a space station orbiting Earth in the year 200,100 approximately . An entire Dalek fleet is on the way, after spending generations infiltrating Earth to render the inhabitants powerless to resist them (and consequently eradicating a grand Earth 4th Empire- oddly enough, no Reapers turn up to set things right). Rose is tricked into returning to Earth, where she quickly attempts to access the "heart" of the Tardis and convince it to take her back to try and save the Doctor. Meanwhile, the Doctor's companion Captain Jack is trying to muster a defence. Although we saw that the Dalek in the episode Dalek had an energy shield to defend itself with, these examples don't seem to be quite so well equipped- Jack quips that the gun's plastic bullets will be able to blind the Dalek eyestalks if his band of journalist heroes aims for the same spot. Incidentally, in the year 200,100 the Heckler and Koch G-36 assault rifle is apparently standard issue. This might seem like a trivial point to some viewers but imagine if you're watching a science fiction show set thousands and thousands of years in the future and the bold pilots set off to do battle in Spitfires, or they drive to their starfighters in a Ford Focus. Kind of spoils the effect, doesn't it? The same rifle was used in Doom- but they at least thought to dress the weapons a little to make them seem like something else. The FX people of Doctor Who could have done the same- to just not bother is more than a little lazy.
Anyway, the Dalek's proceed to exterminate everyone. I'm sure a cheer went up when Captain Jack, an annoying amalgam of Tom Cruise smarm and Han Solo cockiness, neither of which he manages to pull off, is killed. The Daleks then close in on the Doctor. Yet again, he's outwitted and it seems as if the Daleks have won; and then Rose shows up. It seems that she is "possessed" by the power of the Tardis- she proceeds to wipe out the entire Dalek fleet with the blink of an eye and then to resurrect Jack- again, no Reapers show up to fix time; fickle creatures that they are.
Once more, the Doctor completely fails to win the day- and we're left with a big build-up to Dalek invasion, only to have it sorted out by another Deus ex machina device. It's a massive let down, and a disappointing end to a series that was mediocre at best. It also leaves us with the question- why did the Time Lords get wiped out in the Time War with the Daleks? If a single Tardis, a device let's remember that was created by the Time Lords, can wipe out all of the Daleks, then why can't the combined technology of the Time Lords have won the Time War? And the Doctor's Tardis isn't even the most advanced model around?
Incidentally, Wikipedia has very detailed coverage of all the Doctor Who episodes.