Thankfully, Dr Who and the Waters of Mars was not a disappointment. I mean, not even David Tennant's irritating overacting wrecked the episode.
Of course, the story's total poppycock. Set in a red tinted quarry in deepest darkest Wales, the first Mars colony (Bowie Base) taps into alien water that takes over people's bodies and turns them into zombies. Albeit zombies with a case of badly chapped lips. After a bit of chasing, a lot of water (who'd have thunk water could be sinister?) and some hairy moments, we are forced to ponder the fatalism of history. It turns out the base leader, Captain Adelaide Brooke (Lindsay Duncan), has a granddaughter who will invent light speed and open the galaxy for human colonisation. But here's the catch. In the timeline, Brooke and her crew die in a nuclear explosion that also destroys 'The Flood', and it is her death that inspires her granddaughter to pursue her career.
Aware of this the Doctor avoids intervening and is all set to leave them to die. But in a change of heart he brings back the TARDIS and whisks the survivors back to Earth just before the auto-destruct erm, destructs.
Then we're hit with the philosophy. The Doctor, with a glimmer of megalomania in his eye more or less proclaims himself God, realising that he can control the laws of time rather than being shaped by them. The "you die today" declarations he made earlier to Brooke are now blithely dismissed. He feels exhilarated that he's snatched a historical figure from her fate, after saying he'd only chosen "little people" of no consequence before. But he soon comes to his senses after Brooke returns to her house and shoots herself, ensuring only the details of the timeline and not their consequences are changed.
And that's it really. If you fancy a spot of ideology critique you could say that despite itself The Waters of Mars reconfirms the 'great man' theory of history. Brooke herself may attack the Doctor at the end for arbitrarily deciding who is important and who is of little consequence, but still her suicide ensures the timeline plays out as it should (of course, you could say the Doctor himself is the very exemplar of such a great man, outside of history and yet possessing a greater knowledge of it than those who inhabit it, but I digress).
Wanky cultural readings aside, this episode was actually good and made up for the abomination that was Dr Who and the Planet of the Dead. But whether the Christmas Special delivers the jollies remains to be seen. But whatever the case, no doubt this blog will cast an eye in its direction.