In fact, that’s not quite true. The first of the two is actually the excellent 2005 Christmas special, The Christmas Invasion, which not only marked Tennant’s first full story in the role, but also proved to be an excellent way to spend an hour. Taking place during the festive season, the story finds Earth under imminent threat of invasion, at a time when the Doctor is still getting over his regeneration. That means extra pressure for Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler, but also offers a welcome return to the series for the terrific Penelope Wilton as Harriet Jones. Yet it’s the witty script and Tennant’s confident performance that define the episode.
The ‘proper’ start of the ‘second’ series was the slightly uneven New Earth, which scores well again in the humour stakes, but struggles a little more with the story itself. The Doctor and Rose find themselves billions of years in the future, called to a hospital where the feline nursing staff have a cure for every disease. Naturally, there’s something more sinister going on, and there’s the returning, unscrupulous last surviving human Cassandra (played again by Zoe Wanamaker) to deal with. But while it amounts to a fun episode, it’s slightly below the standard the show has set itself of late.
All considered though, as a kick off to the second series DVD collection, there’s plenty in the pair of episodes on offer here to enjoy, and plenty of potential in David Tennant as the Doctor. Now bring on the rest…!–Simon Brew