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Review: 'Doctor Who' - The Stolen Earth

The following contains MAJOR SPOILERS for "The Stolen Earth," the twelfth episode from the fourth season of BBC?s "Doctor Who."

This isn't an episode of "Doctor Who," this is the end of all things and the continuation of the legendary Time War.

As Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd) very quickly confirms, "The Stolen Earth" is "a little bit bigger than south Wales." There is chaos on a global scale as the new Dalek Empire very quickly emerges from a pocket in time and begins its invasion of Earth and all of The Doctor's (David Tennant) hidden army are called forth to do their bit to protect the Human race.

At times, the episode is almost a Doctor-lite episode, but thanks to the all the companions of the modern day series, it works wonderfully as "Doctor Who," "Torchwood" and "The Sarah Jane Adventures" all come together for an epic crossover adventure. And remarkably, the episode is very well balanced between The Doctor and Donna (Catherine Tate), the other companions on Earth, their families and also the return of Rose Tyler (Billie Piper).

From the beginning of the invasion, "The Stolen Earth" never fails to deliver and acts as a tribute to everything Russell T. Davies put in place when he resurrected the series in 2005. Complete with a fast-moving story bursting was excitement and everything you would expect to see from an adventure comprising of all companions and a new Dalek empire, the episode acts as the ultimate climax to four years of storytelling and will leave you with goose bumps for the full 42 minutes.

The reunion of The Doctor and Rose was the most moving scene of all, as the two defenders of Earth run through the deserted streets of London ... until that lone Dalek makes his appearance and ends the episode on the highest of cliffhangers. As Rose said, it?s only just beginning.

What Worked

"Torchwood" in "Doctor Who" is a crossover that should never have happened. As a base for adult viewing, the ensemble series was intended to be a completely separate entity to the mother series and deal with more adult issues. Sadly the spin-off series was toned down in its second year (and according to reports will be continued in season three), but the silver lining to that decision is this episode. "Torchwood" has now reached the point where complete crossovers are possible.

And the best bit about it is that all of the characterisms of the series are left in tact. Ianto watching "The Paul O'Grady Show" and Gwen?s (Eve Myles) concern for Rhys were lifted straight out of the "Torchwood" playbook and even some of the moments in the hub seemed a little more adult than the usual "Doctor Who" antics (Jack?s story about meeting a soldier in a bar, for example). Then again, with a story as dark as Davros? (Julian Bleach) evil plan to harvest the Earth, you would expect no less.

Davros himself was even scarier than his previous incarnations and was actually far more petrifying than any featured creature of "Doctor Who's" past. He may only have been present on-screen for a few minutes, but they were enough to send children running for the back of the couch once again.

Amongst all the fantastic effects (most notable is of course the fall of Manhattan and the destruction of the Valiant), there were some wonderful character moments ... Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) and Jack?s (John Barrowman) response upon hearing the message of extermination from the stars above being one of the best. Their cries of fear, apologies that nothing more can be done and the hopes of a brighter afterlife were all made more poignant with the operatic overtones of Murray Gold's score that carried the episode through the infinite darkness.

What Didn?t Work

Fantastic though it may be, the episode included a few continuity curiosities, such as who "time locked" the Time War -- with the Time Lords all but extinct, who would have the technology and/or knowledge to lock off a segment of time? There are also the added questions associated with the apparent death of Davros in the first year of the Time War, particularly given the number of times he was presumed dead in the original series.

And like Mr. Smith, I contacted The Doctor via an SMS text message ... only I didn?t receive a response.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

"Doctor Who" stars David Tennant, Catherine Tate, Freema Agyeman, John Barrowman, with Elisabeth Sladen and Billie Piper. It airs Saturday nights at 7 p.m. GMT on BBC 1, and then on Friday nights on The SciFi Channel at 8.30 p.m. ET. "The Stolen Earth" was written by Russell T. Davies and was directed by Graeme Harper.

Alan Stanley Blair is the assistant news editor for Airlock Alpha and its sister site Rabid Doll. Contributing from his home country of Scotland, he is currently studying for a diploma in freelance journalism and can be reached at anytime at

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About the Author

Alan Stanley Blair is the news editor for Airlock Alpha and assistant news editor for its sister site, Inside Blip. Contributing from his home in Scotland, he is currently studying for a diploma in freelance journalism and feature writing. He can be found on Twitter @Alanistic.
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