Review: The Doctor Dances

Last Alteration: Monday 19 September 2005

Twenty Years to Pop Music ...


Fine but something of a let down following last week’s first instalment.


So basically all ‘The Doctor Dances’ needs to do is explain quite why people are turning into gas-mask zombies and then resolve the whole situation. Actually, it would be nice if it justified the title by having the Doctor do some dancing too. Well, it successfully manages all of the above- but not much else.

The obvious comparison I’ll make is with ‘World War Three’- after ‘Aliens of London’ spent an episode building things up nicely, it concluded with a frantic, fast-paced episode bringing things to a breathless finale. In contrast ‘The Doctor Dances’ spends most of its time running on the spot.

Following an incredibly weak resolution to the cliffhanger, we get more shambling legions of the undead, plenty more pleading of ‘Are you my mummy?’ the Doctor & Captain Jack comparing the size of their sonic hardware, Nancy and the kids, a uncomfortably ‘feel-good’ ending, and a drawn out post-episode wind down.

The problem is that last week’s set up seemed fresh, intriguing leaving you desperate to see more. This episode unfortunately offers little new, the novelty of both the setting and the menace are weakened by previous familiarity and there’s a real feeling that this is all so much elegant padding.

Without the thrill of set pieces such as the air-raid blitz, the initial appearance of the zombies or Richard Wilson’s weird transformation little here will stick in the memory…except perhaps Eccleston’s attempts at tripping the light fantastic.

We learn a little more about Captain Jack though not quite enough yet to make his supposedly tantalising, mysterious past all that interesting. I am however still keen to see quite how he’ll work as a character travelling with the Doctor & Rose.

As always the execution of the script is top hole, but having conjured up such a fabulous story last week, this feels like an episode marking out time. I can’t help but think that with a little careful editing the entire two-part tale could have worked equally well in one forty-five minute lump.

If ‘The Empty Child’ was one of my favourite episodes of this season, then sadly ‘The Doctor Dances’ languishes near the other end of the list.

Jim Hall

  • Read Jim's review of the previous episode, The Empty Chlld, and the next episode Boom Town.