The Waters of Mars features the Doctor (David Tennant) as he travels alone to Mars. At first, everything seems normal, other than the colonists wondering how he arrived. Then colonists start getting infected by a water-borne sentient virus that wants to get to Earth, and the Doctor realizes he is at a fixed point that he can’t change.
This is one of the creepiest Doctor Who episodes. The way the virus works is both interesting and freaky. I thought all of the actors in this episode did a wonderful job. I was especially impressed with Captain Brooke (Lindsay Duncan), who becomes companion for the episode. She was excellent as the no-nonsense commander of the colony, and she didn’t put up with the Doctor’s usual wishy-washy answers to hard questions.
The practical effects were very well done. I watched a “Making of” feature for The Waters of Mars, and I can’t imagine working like that. Everything was so wet all the time for many of the actors. I really admire them for sloshing through it just to get the episode completed.
The outcome was known at the beginning of the episode, so it took a lot of work to make everything in between keep my interest. Of the specials, I think I liked this one the best (though both The Next Doctor and Planet of the Dead were also quite good). It did a good job showing just how lonely the Doctor can get.
The Waters of Mars was a great episode. I was engaged the entire time, it was exciting, the acting was wonderful, and the Doctor grew a bit. It was also the second-to-last episode featuring Tennant as the Doctor (not counting later guest appearances) and one of the last with Russell T. Davies as the showrunner. Too bad this wasn’t the final special, as the actual final was a bit weaker.
Original Air Date: November 15, 2009 (UK)
TV Parental Guidelines Rating: TV-PG
Network: BBC One
Language: 1 (brief, mild, deity)
Violence: 1 (some violence, water monsters, some intense peril, death)