New Earth

Region 1
box set

Region 2
box set
Region 2
plain 2-episode volume
(Doctor Who Story No. 172, starring David Tennant)
  • written by Russell T. Davies
  • directed by James Hawes
  • produced by Phil Collinson
  • music by Murray Gold
  • 1 episode @ 45 minutes
Story: The new tenth Doctor takes Rose to the galaxy M87 in the year 5 billion and 23, to the futuristic city of New New York on the planet New Earth. In a miraculous hospital run by a sisterhood of cats, Rose bumps into an old enemy. Determined to discover the cats' secrets, the Doctor soon learns he has helped unleash a horror that could wipe out the entire planet....

DVD Extras (box sets only) include:

  • Audio commentary by director James Hawes, visual effects producer Will Cohen, and executive producer Julie Gardner.
  • Doctor Who Confidential Featurette: New New Doctor (12 min.) adding David Tennant (The Doctor), Noel Clarke (Mickey),
    writer Russell T. Davies, and producer Phil Collinson.
  • David Tennant's Video Diaries

Buyers' Guide Review

by Martin Izsak

(A more in-depth analysis, containing "SPOILERS" and intended for those who have already seen the program, can be accessed here.)

Brilliant! I thoroughly enjoyed this story when it finally came out, the first real story for the most promising Doctor we've seen in 20 years. And this opener for the 2006 season proved to be far better than anything we'd seen the previous year, making one optimistically hopeful for continued improvement...

The opening sequence is really nice for briefly introducing us to the two main characters and the TARDIS, and showing us what the show is all about. The lead in to the title sequence, complete with TARDIS interior and dematerializing police box, is perfect, allowing the title sequence to double as part of the narrative itself. Sadly, the story fails to show us the subsequent materializations of the machine later in the story, but at least it remains understandable narratively speaking.

An Alien? Planet

And glory be, we finally see the Doctor and Rose setting foot on an alien planet, complete with futuristic visuals of a gleaming city tastefully teeming with exciting air car traffic. Murray Gold brings back some of his best music, helping to set a perfect mood for a pleasantly enjoyable exploration of a new culture.

Writer Russell T. Davies, however, still can't allow it to be a freely foreign culture, insisting on naming the planet after Earth and the city after New York. Why? Even when exercising his considerable imagination, he still seems to have a hard time letting go of his obsession with proclaiming humanity's goodness, repeating the sentiments of Tom Baker's Doctor's speech from "The Ark in Space" (story no. 76) in as many different ways as he can think of, and in as many of his Doctor Who stories as possible. Fine and dandy, but don't any of those other species out there deserve similar praise as well? Checking them out on their home turf for a change would prove interesting too, you know!

Music by Murray Gold
"Westminster Bridge", "Rose's Theme",
"The Face of Boe", "Cassandra's Waltz",
and "New Adventures" are available on:
Audio CD:
Doctor Who by Murray Gold
Silva Screen SILCD1224

More info & buying options

I did come up with a theory on what this might all be leading up to, which somewhat excused the copying of Earth, but I'll only share that if you're ready for spoilers for the entire season in the In-Depth Analysis version of this review.

Several characters from "The End of the World" (story no. 162) are back, this extra exposure allowing them to become more well-rounded characters. In the case of the Lady Cassandra, self-proclaimed last pure human, this is literal as well as figurative. Her previous obsession with becoming ultra flat is now mysteriously replaced with the desire to become fully normal physically. It seems flatness was just the fad of the moment, and a fad that she had a particularly bad experience with. Zoe Wannamaker brings the role to life once more, but this time the role is not hers alone, with Billie Piper, David Tennant, Sean Gallagher, and an uncredited extra all adding their own take into a great mix. Well done.

Also back for a second go is the Face of Boe, now sporting an aura of mystery and awe that was sadly unhighlighted in his first appearance. Murray Gold steps up to the plate and delivers the most awesome and memorable new piece of music in the story, anchoring that mood directly into Boe's theme. Boe also creates great anticipation for more revelations in future Doctor Who stories, and is a much welcome element to this story.

The exploration of the Earth/alien culture mix continues into a stunningly spacious hospital lobby and the sisterhood of cats running the place. Excellent concept, excellent prosthetic make-up for the cats, and excellent work from the actresses all help make the cat-nuns an outstandingly successful new species. (Yes, I'm a cat lover, and part-time cat whisperer.) It's just too bad the species doesn't have a specific name yet. And are they native to this "New Earth" planet, or did they also come from somewhere else? If they are native, what did they call the planet before the humans moved in? (Can you spot Adjoa Andoh as Sister Jatt, who would go on to play Martha Jones' mother, without the cat prosthetics, in the following season?)

The exploration naturally shifts from the general to the specific, as the Doctor, Rose, and Cassandra each get something different to investigate. The plot escalates well, until it is delivering revelations, action, and many character scene gems.

Billie Piper does a lot of good acting in this one, even without getting a lot of screen time as Rose. Her portrayal of Cassandra is excellent, totally believable, and very enjoyable. On the commentary, executive producer Julie Gardner suspects many old fans may be upset to see Cassandra/Rose smooch the Doctor. Not sure why. The only thing that might upset me is the Doctor falling in love with Rose romantically, not because things like that shouldn't happen in Doctor Who, but because I feel that Rose is just too simplistic and, to repeat Cassandra's accurate observation, "common" to be the Doctor's type. However, if Rose or Cassandra want to be infatuated with him (as Cameca was back in "The Aztecs" (story no. 6) in the pioneering days of the show), it seems a perfectly okay place to go.

And David Tennant really is great in this one as the Doctor. He gets to show a wide range of the Doctor's best characteristics, much wider than his limited screen time in "The Christmas Invasion" (story no. 171) allowed, and Tennant nails them all with tremendous charisma and impact. A super Doctor!

Regardless of what it may or may not have been setting up, "New Earth" works very well as a single story all on its own. It is brought to a very successful conclusion, allowing the Doctor to own a very heroic and non-violent climactic act, and wrapping up several plotlines with some very emotional and rewarding story beats.

Murray Gold's cue for the resolution of the main action plot seems to be reaching desperately for the right melody or chord sequence and not quite finding it, but hinting at the right mood. However, Gold's later final cue of the story is exquisite and perfect, and really defines the mood of the last scene where, without the music, it may have been much more ambiguous and left many audience members a bit emotionally lost. Well done, Murray!

"New Earth" is definitely an enjoyable story and an all-round big winner in the season. And, even better things are in store later on....

This story has become available on DVD.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

Region 1
14-episode boxed set
for the North American market:

Region 2
14-episode box set
for the U.K.
Region 2
plain 2-episode volume
U.K. format only

Note: The full season sets contain commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and other extras. The smaller volumes only feature the plain episodes.

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Read the Buyers' Guide Review for the next story: "Tooth and Claw"

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