The second season of the new “Doctor Who” comes out on DVD January 16. Even if you’ve been watching the episodes on the SciFi Channel, it’s probably worth it to buy the set, because it’s very clear the series was edited for American television (we didn't get to see how Jackie escaped the Cybermen, for example). We’re enjoying the show immensely—the emotional content of “Doctor Who” is better than ever, and we’re going to miss Rose, Mickey and Jackie. David Tennant is turning out to be a fine successor to the line of Doctors, too. This season featured a few episodes that were too similar and may ultimately be throwaways, but the return of Sarah Jane Smith and K-9, plus Cybermen and Daleks facing off (is there any more rewarding spectacle for us scifi TV geeks) is worth the price of admission. In future seasons, we hope to see less of London and more historical episodes. What about you?
Unavoidably, these descriptions contain spoilers. The episodes are listed with their original British airdates.
“Children In Need Special” (December 18, 2005): Note: This mini-episode remains unaired in the U.S. It acts as a bridge between Series One and Series Two. The Doctor (David Tennant), after regenerating, tries to convince Rose (Billie Piper) that he is indeed the same man. However, he starts to exhale Time Vortex energy. Realizing that his regeneration is becoming unbalanced, he sets the TARDIS controls to take Rose home. Suddenly a cloister bell begins to ring, and the TARDIS is on a collision course with Earth.
”The Christmas Invasion (December 25, 2006): Mickey (Noel Clarke) and Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri) are surprised to hear the distinctive sound of the TARDIS, but the man who steps out with Rose—and then passes out—is not one they recognize. As he tries to recuperate in Jackie’s flat, it becomes clear that the Earth is being invaded by aliens. Mickey and Rose are attacked by Santa Clauses, then the three humans are accosted by a Christmas tree. The Doctor wakes up just long enough to stop the menace and to tell them these incidents involve “pilot fish”; they’re precursors to a much larger invasion. Meanwhile, the Mars probe Guinevere One is sucked up by an alien ship and broadcasts pictures of the Sycorax to Earth, and Prime Minister Harriet Jones (Penelope Wilton) goes to UNIT to investigate. The aliens have a rather formidable weapon: anyone on Earth with A-positive blood is compelled to do what they say. The Doctor, the TARDIS, Mickey and Rose are teleported to the Sycorax ship, where a not-quite-healed Doctor attempts to confront the Sycorax—and a real live swordfight ensues on the alien ship. Harriet Jones orders the use of an alien “defense” project called Torchwood, even though the Doctor has won.
“New Earth” (April 15, 2006): The last human, Lady Cassandra (Zoe Wanamaker) makes a return in this episode, as Rose and the Doctor leave on new adventures once again. They arrive five billion years into the future on New Earth, at a hospital run by the Sisters of Plenitude. The Doctor has been called by the Face of Boe. It turns out the Sisters have a rather diabolical secret; they breed humanoids and inject them with every known disease in order to make their miracle cures. Meanwhile Rose accidentally penetrates the nether levels of the hospital and discovers the hard way that Lady Cassandra has discovered a way to commandeer other people’s bodies. Cassandra releases all of the hospital’s victims, who then rampage and kill everyone in sight.
“Tooth and Claw” (April 22, 2006): The Doctor accidentally lands in Scotland, 1879, as the strange Father Angelo (Ian Hanmore) is leading a small force to a manor owned by Sir Robert and Lady Isobel (Derek Riddell, Michelle Duncan). He and Rose fall in with Queen Victoria (he tells her he’s a scientist) as she takes a trip to Balmoral castle. They stop at Sir Robert’s for the night, but it’s clear something is wrong there. Turns out the entire staff, including Lady Isobel, is being held under guard—which Rose discovers when she finds a woman hiding in her closet. The Doctor figures it out when a ghost story provokes Father Angelo. In the manor’s basement, the group watches a man transform into a werewolf. The Doctor realizes that this is the manifestation of a cellular consciousness that crashed to Earth eons ago, and shows itself once a generation. Father Angelo and his disciples worship it, but the Doctor is convinced there’s a way to destroy it. Using clues such as the fact that the werewolf will not go into the master study, he devises a plan. When all is over, Queen Victoria banishes the Doctor and Rose, saying that he brings death and destruction—and plants the seeds of Torchwood.
“School Reunion” (April 29, 2006): Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) returns! The Doctor is posing as a teacher at a high school where Mickey suspects something odd. Rose is there, too, working in the cafeteria. The Doctor is shocked to see his old friend, Sarah Jane, who has ostensibly come to the school to write a story on the headmaster (Anthony Head). That evening, Sarah Jane enters the school on a snooping expedition, and is there reunited with her old friend. She and Rose develop an instant rivalry, while Mickey feels an affinity with the newly-repaired K-9 (as both are always on the sidelines). They discover that the school is being run by Krillitanes, a race that over generations has taken on the abilities of other races. They have brainwashed the minds of the schoolkids into cracking the Scasis Paradigm, a universal theory that controls the building blocks of the universe. When the Doctor refuses the headmaster’s offer to join them, the Krillitanes go on the loose. A young student helps Mickey rescue the students, while K-9 helps to save the Doctor, Rose and Sarah Jane Smith. But the little metal dog sets off an explosion that gets him in the end as well.
“The Girl in the Fireplace” (May 6, 2006): With their newest companion, Mickey, Rose and the Doctor materialize on a deserted spaceship which contains many time portals—all leading to a girl who grows up to be Madame De Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV. It turns out the spaceship is “stalking” Reinette (Sophia Myles). The Doctor rescues her several times over her lifetime from androids, but apparently the androids don’t think she is “ready” yet. They are maintenance androids, and when they ran out of things to use to repair the ship they started to use the human crew. For some reason they think Reinette is their last chance to fix the craft. Rose goes back to warn Reinette that the attack will happen when she is 37, but when that time comes the androids have taken the precaution of closing the portals. The Doctor finds a way back anyway, but becomes trapped in time.
“Rise of the Cybermen” (May 13, 2006): When the TARDIS unexpectedly loses power, the Doctor, Rose and Mickey are thrown into a parallel universe. In this version of London, Rose’s father Pete (Shaun Dingwall) is still alive and working for Cybus Industries. Cybus Industries is run by John Lumic (Roger Lloyd Pack), who is confined to a wheelchair and developing a top secret project. Most people in this world wear earpieces, including the alternate Jackie Tyler—and her earpiece stops functioning normally. The Doctor and Rose realize that Cybus is putting out a signal to cause this malfunction, and crash the Tylers’ party as wait staff in order to figure out what’s going on. There they discover Cybus Industries’ project: Cybermen! Meanwhile, Mickey goes to visit his grandmother, who fell and died in his own timeline, and is mistaken for Ricky, a resistance fighter.
“The Age of Steel” (May 20, 2006): The Doctor manages to extricate himself and his friends from the clutches of the Cybermen and they escape with Ricky’s gang the Preachers, though Ricky himself does not make it. Cybus Industries sends a signal through the earpods that leads the entire population to facilities where they will be “upgraded” into Cybermen. Mickey and Jake (Andrew Hayden-Smith) attack the main Cybus facility while Rose and Pete don earplugs and walk in the front door. The Doctor and Mrs. Moore (Helen Griffin) enter through cooling tunnels, but she is killed and he is captured. He is able to confront John Lumic in his new form as the Cyber-Controller while Mickey and Jake take control of the zeppelin hovering above. With the Doctor’s help, they try to send a signal that will make the Cybermen realize what’s been done to them.
“The Idiot’s Lantern” (May 27, 2006): The Doctor and Rose land in London in 1953 (they were trying to see Elvis Presley in New York), where a strange ailment is taking away people’s faces. The queen’s coronation is coming up, and the victims are being bundled into trucks and hidden away to deflect any questions. When Rose investigates, she ends up in a TV store run by a man named Mr. Magpie. An alien who calls itself the Wire has taken control of him and is consuming souls—and soon Rose becomes the next victim. The Doctor, also looking into the matter, discovers that the Wire wants to turn a broadcast tower into a receiver so it can take as many souls as it wants.
“The Impossible Planet” (June 3, 2006): The Doctor and Rose materialize on a base studying a planet orbiting a black hole. This is a situation that should not exist in nature. The crew of the base is drilling into the planet to find its power source, with the help of a slave race called the Ood. An impact that hits the base sends the TARDIS out of reach and they are stranded along with the crew. Other strange things start to happen: archaeologist Toby (Will Thorp) hears voices, the Ood start to say things they shouldn’t and captain Zack (Shaun Parkes) sees a demon in the holograph tank. Then Toby starts to act strangely and the Ood become possessed by something sinister. The Doctor and scientist Ida (Claire Rushbrook) go down into the drill shaft and discover the ruins of an old civilization, along with a covershaft that starts to open.
“The Satan Pit” (June 10, 2006): The Beast tells the crew that he is every version of the Devil, imprisoned before the creation of the universe. They try to find a way to solve the Ood problem, which requires travel through a ventilation shaft with Zack opening pockets of atmosphere as they go. After the Ood have been neutralized, Zack decides they must all leave the planet, but Rose refuses to go. Zack gives her a sedative and loads her on board the rocket. The Doctor decides to go into the Pit and sees a huge demon chained to the cavern wall—it is the body of the Beast. The Doctor realizes the Beast needs him for something and its captors want the Doctor to stop it. But doing what he needs to do will endanger the rocket, where a still-possessed Toby bides his time.
“Love & Monsters” (June 17, 2006): Told from the point of view of a man named Elton Pope (Marc Warren), this unusual episode tells the tale of a group that rallied around the legend of the Doctor. Elton himself first saw the Doctor in his house when he was a child, but also encountered traces of him during the Auton, Slitheen and Sycorax invasions. The meetings of this group became social gatherings until Victor Kennedy (Peter Kay) comes along and commandeered it. They start to search for the Doctor in earnest, but as they do members of their group keep disappearing. After one short encounter with the Doctor, Elton locates Jackie Tyler and befriends her. One night Jackie seduces him, but that same night she finds a picture of Rose in his pocket. Elton storms back to confront Victor and to ask his friend Ursula (Shirley Henderson) out, only to discover that Victor is an alien and has absorbed all of their friends. Then the Doctor and Rose, tipped off by Jackie, appear..
“Fear Her” (June 24, 2006): Here to watch the start of the Olympics, the Doctor and Rose land in 2012 London, in a deceptively quiet neighborhood where children have been disappearing. After witnessing a few odd incidents, they start to suspect a little girl named Chloe (Abisola Agbaje). Her mother Trish (Nina Sosanya) reluctantly lets them into her home, hoping the Doctor can help. He deduces that she has a power to trap people in her drawings. In her closet, she’s drawn a picture of her dead father that seems alive. Turns out the girl has been possessed by a lonely being called an Isolus, who is only trying to provide new friends. After he leaves to find a solution, Chloe draws a picture of him and the TARDIS and the Olympic stadium. Rose figures out where the Isolus’ traveling pod is located so it can reunite with its millions of brothers and sisters, but a heat source is needed and time is short—Chloe has started a picture of the entire Earth.
“Army of Ghosts” (July 1, 2006): Rose and the Doctor visit Jackie, but Jackie surprises them by saying that she’s expecting a visit from an uncle who’s been dead 10 years. At midday, ghosts appear all over the place, and the Doctor decides to find out the truth. After triangulating the ghosts’ source, he ends up at Torchwood with Jackie and Rose. He and Jackie are taken away as prisoners while Rose sneaks out on her own. She encounters a sphere that the Doctor later identifies as a Void Ship—and finds Mickey, posing as a Torchwood scientist. After some major bluffing the Doctor gets Yvonne Hartman (Tracy-Ann Oberman) to stop the next ghost shift; unfortunately, some of her employees are being controlled by an outside source and they continue. The ghosts, supposed by-products of Torchwood’s work, turn out to be Cybermen coming from the parallel world where the Doctor first encountered them. To make matters worse, the sphere starts to open. Daleks come out.
“Doomsday” (July 7, 2006): The Cybermen proceed to upgrade the human race, while Rose, Mickey and scientist Rajesh (Raji James) convince the Daleks that they know all about them and should therefore not be exterminated. However, the Daleks kill Rajesh when they probe him for his knowledge. Meanwhile the Cybermen have detected the Dalek’s technology at the same time the Daleks realize another race has come to Earth, and two Cybermen confront a Dalek. The Cybermen propose a truce to defeat the humans; the Dalek refuses and kills the two Cybermen. Jake appears and wisks the Doctor off to the Cybus Earth, where Peter Tyler explains how the Cybermen left their world and broke into his Earth. Now both worlds are in trouble. The Doctor crosses back, declares a truce with the Cybermen. He discovers that these Daleks are part of the Cult of Skaro and escaped the war with a Genesis Ark that is “Time Lord science.” In the ensuing struggle, Mickey inadvertently puts his hand on the Ark, activating it—and millions of Daleks come streaming out. It is a prison ship, bigger on the inside than the outside. Peter says this universe is a loss and takes everyone to the Cybus Earth, though Rose comes back to help the Doctor reverse the ghost ship. This action will, he hopes, suck all the bad guys back into the Void. Rose can’t keep her grip on the lever, but Peter leaps in and saves her life, whisking her back to the Cybus Earth for good. Months later, the Doctor’s image appears to Rose and they say their goodbyes.