The new series of Doctor Who started last night with the episode New Earth. It isn’t a spoiler at all to note that this episode features the return of Lady Cassandra (the stretched piece of skin representing the last of pure blooded Humanity in the year 5,000,000) and The Face of Boe, providing a comforting link into the previous series for fans… but providing enough exposition to allow for anyone who only just started watching.
New Earth (the name of the planet) provides a home for an hospital where the resident felinesque nuns provide incredible cures for every disease. The Doctor provides a clue that something’s amiss when he highlights a certain disease – that causes petrification – won’t have a cure for another thousand years… and yet, moments later the patient has undergone a miraculous return to full health.
Both Rose and the Doctor have plenty of moments for camp acting, perhaps the only thing that might put a newcomer off. The story demands some thoroughly out-of-character moments that might leave many viewers reeling; not out of confusion, but out of an uneasy sensation that we’ve returned to the slightly uncomfortable moments at the start of the Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy regenerations, when somehow the script made the Doctor a blithering idiot or an outright clown for no reason at all. You might wander whether the instability of regeneration actually amounts to nothing more than an excuse for an odd script.
Otherwise, a good story with some entertaining and engaging moments, a little rushed (rather like the Auton story of the last Doctor). The special effects work sometimes (great landscapes, huge rooms), sometimes don’t (you’ll know when you see them).
Also, I could swear at one point they reuse the set from the when the Ninth Doctor met the Nestene Consciousness to provide a backdrop to the intensive care unit of New Earth.