“You should have promoted me years back!”
1. Cathica learns something.
In the beginning, Cathica is ordinary. She is a journalist who doesn’t ask questions. She has a good job, she obeys the rules, she vies for promotion just like everyone else. She lives her life, keeps her head down, and doesn’t question how – or if – the system works.
By the end, Cathica is beginning to ask questions. She is digging for the truth. She is standing up for what she thinks is right.
2. Cathica saves the day.
Cathica’s interference distracts the Editor, allowing Rose and the Doctor to escape. She kills the monster and liberates her people. She does it using her skills as a journalist – discovering and applying information – and her new-found courage.
3. Cathica lives to fight the next battle.
So often, those ordinary souls who step up to help the Doctor give their lives in the process: Jabe, Gwyneth, De Maggio, Pete Tyler, Lynda Moss, even Captain Jack. Cathica comes through unscathed, and like Harriet Jones, takes the Doctor’s place as hero in the aftermath.
A while back I considered whether S9 might be my new favorite. The writing, particularly of the first two and last two stories, seemed to reach new levels of depth and richness. The season is not without its flaws, but its best bits stand out brightly.
As my meetup group progresses through S1, for many years uncontested in its top spot, I find little to criticize. While its peaks may not reach the heights S9 achieves, nor does it suffer its slips.
Most recently we watched the first New Who two-parter, “Aliens of London/World War Three.” Best remembered for its farting aliens, the episode did not endure in my mind as anything great. On the rewatch, however, it turns out to be the showcase of some excellent material:
- The development of Rose’s relationship with Jackie and Mickey, and the grounding of her character
- The introduction of Harriet Jones, “MP Flydale North”
- The first New Who appearance of UNIT
- “Mickey the idiot” saving the world from his home PC
- The beginning of trust between Mickey and the Doctor
- The foundation of a friendship between Mickey and Jackie, which endures throughout the RTD era.
- The Doctor’s confession of the truth behind his adventuring:
“This is my life, Jackie – it’s not fun, it’s not smart, it’s just standing up and making a decision because nobody else will.”
- Rose’s courage and quick thinking in the face of death
Even the farting aliens, something I imagine RTD dreamed up to satisfy his internal (and eternal) nine-year-old, have a scientific reason for their ridiculousness: the gas exchange that allows their enormous bodies to fit inside a suit of human skin. Not only that, but the fact of the farting helps the Doctor determine the nature of the enemy in time to save Mickey and Jackie – or in time to help them save themselves. This balance of horror, silliness, and heart is one of Doctor Who‘s strongest features. I can’t find fault with Russell’s choice.
We haven’t rewatched S9 yet, and we’re only a little way into S1. Time will tell if Nine, Rose, and Russell will retain their throne or if Twelve will manage to unseat them.
Edited: The original video has been deleted, because “Donna’s Suite” is full.
Instead, here’s a little teaser:
“Donna’s Suite” is imminent. Stay tuned.