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Lady Cassandra Returns
This is the first episode of Series 2 of ‘Doctor Who’ by Russell T. Davies. It’s not the most inspiring episode I’ve seen, but it sets the season off to a good start with David Tennant’s Doctor and Billie Piper’s Rose.
Rose re-joins the Tenth Doctor on his travels in the TARDIS as they go off for new adventures. Their first stop is to the year 5 billion where they visit the planet New Earth. They visit a hospital where a dark secret is kept.
This story is a sequel to ‘The End of the World’ where the planet Earth had been destroyed by the sun. Although the Earth is gone, the human race lives on as humans live on a new planet similar to old Earth.
I like the futuristic setting RTD depicts in this episode. It’s interesting how he presents the human race having moved on from their original Earth roots and what benefits and consequences there are in that.
The hospital setting is pretty stark and welcoming at first. But underneath, there’s something that’s going on as the Sisters of Plenitude hide batches of humans to create their medical cures for patients.
This episode, as I understand, suffered production problems with bad weather for the exterior sequences featuring the Doctor and Rose. You can tell that it’s very windy for them when they’re outside.
This episode features the return of Lady Cassandra (voiced by Zoë Wanamaker). She’s an old enemy of the Doctor’s from ‘The End of the World’. How she managed to survive does get explained in this episode.
There’s an element of body-swapping in this story, as Cassandra possesses the bodies of Rose and the Doctor for a bit. The body-swapping comedy is interesting if not at times a little silly to take seriously.
Billie Piper’s performance as Rose is lovely. Billie gets to do some comedy acting when she plays Cassandra in Rose’s body. It’s interesting to watch and it’s quite a shock when she kisses the Doctor.
David Tennant also gets to do some comedy acting when Cassandra possesses the Doctor for a bit. I like it when the Doctor is very insistent upon threatening Cassandra to leave Rose’s body at an instant.
The Sisters of Plenitude are a group of cat-like nurses at the futuristic hospital on New Earth. These include Doña Croll as Matron Casp; Adjoa Andoh as Sister Jatt and Anna Hope as Novice Hame.
Sean Gallagher guest stars as Chip, Cassandra’s loyal servant, whom Rose describes as ‘Gollum’ 😀 . It was sad when Chip willingly agreed to take Cassandra’s spirit into his own body at the episode’s end.
There is a breakout of infected humans of all kinds of diseases roaming about the hospital. I found those scenes terrifying when the infected humans came for the Doctor and Rose, intent on touching them.
The Face of Boe from ‘The End of the World’ returns in this episode. He has something important to say to the Doctor. But the Face says that it can wait when they meet again for the third and final time.
‘New Earth’ is an enjoyable episode for Series 2 with the Tenth Doctor and Rose. It’s not the greatest episode I’ve seen as the body-swapping comedy is way out. But it was interesting to watch at the start of the season.
The DVD/Blu-ray special features for this episode are as follows. There’s an audio commentary with director James Hawes; executive producer Julie Gardner and visual effects producer Will Cohen. There’s also the ‘Doctor Who Confidential’ episode ‘New New Doctor’. There are also outtakes from Series 2 and deleted scenes of Series 2. There are also ‘Billie’s Video Diaries’ from Series 2 to enjoy!
‘New Earth’ rating – 6/10
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