Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

First up – the zombie count.


I say count. Actually I've stopped counting. Which is a shame, as there haven’t been any zombies in Doctor Who for two whole stories now. Yes, I know, I counted.

The Next Doctor gives the Doctor a new companion in the form of his future self. Except that even before we've reached the opening credits, they've already telegraphed the story's reveal. Taking his cues from the script, David Morrissey plays the part as a parody of the Doctor - specifically of the tenth Doctor - rather than with a fresh interpretation of the role. He certainly isn't intending to take over and do that for maybe five years.

Storywise, I thought there were a lot of unanswered questions as usual. For example, in the opening scene both Doctors use the phrase "Allons-y" in unison, to imply that Morrisey's character is indeed the future Doctor, although that's only a tenth Doctor-ism. When it later turns out that he's not the Doctor after all, Lake's having learnt of the Doctor through his data-stamp doesn't really explain his use of this term. Even the Doctor himself doesn't use the phrase very often.

The Diet-Cybermen return. They build a spaceship that's also a giant robot with a Diet-Cyberman factory inside it. (a vending machine?) This might have rung more true if they'd been the original Cybermen, who were accustomed to travelling through space, unlike these new ones. Likewise, the Doctor's recognition of the ship would also have made more sense.

The show's past also brings the biggest relief here though, as the Doctor projects his own data-stamp onto a wall. Blurring like a standard 8 ciné-movie, the images of Doctors 1-4 flash-up, at which point we cut back to him watching them. I think they were toying with us. We then cut back to the data-stamp and see clear images of all the remaining Doctors, including the ones who've been pussyfooted around in the modern series. That's Doctors five, six, seven and eight. (Nine was there too)

Back in history again: Doctors 5-8 with alien film-damage.

Although the Doctor remarks that these images must have been stolen from the Daleks, according to, they have nearly all been taken from stories in which the Daleks were not present. So let's all just assume that the Daleks stole the info from the Time Lords' Matrix, and say no more about it.

Anyway, it's a weight off this fan's mind to see the usual avoidance of the John Nathan-Turner years hopefully ended at last. It's a scene that really belonged four years ago in Rose though. (I still don't think the doodles in Human Nature bear any concrete resemblance, no matter what publicity-stills they may have originally been based upon)

Overall, I found this outing to be one of this author's better stories, although that's not paying it the great compliment that I would genuinely like to.

In a positive sense, I found the story to simply not be that strong, which is preferable to a story that is full of contradictions. For example, it made little sense to me for the Doctor to prove his identity to the Diet-Cybermen, but that's not an event that is impossible. Likewise, while the baddies' cessation of killing the Doctor in order to answer his questions is one of this writer's traits, it is still theoretically possible for such an event to take place over and over again. The zombies? Well.

The fact that this episode explained the Diet-Cybermen's absence from the void in Journey's End was a relief, although someone really should have asked that question at the time.

It was refreshing to see a mystery in Doctor Who again, and the final scene between the Doctor and his sometime namesake was a cheery one that made me smile.

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