What I Watched Last Night: Doctor Who, “The Stolen Earth”

Do you remember the movie Galaxy Quest? If not, its basic premise is that the cast of a once-popular sci-fi show is contacted by an alien race who believed the show to be a historical document, not fiction. They transport the cast to their ship, replicated from the show, and ask for help defeating an alien warlord. Knowing nothing about how the ship works, they instead contact one of the show’s super-fans. He not only knows the entire layout, but just about every detail about the show, period. Triumph ensues.

When it comes to Doctor Who, I’m on the verge of becoming that super-fan, squirreling away knowledge about the show. Just in case.

All other shows – and perhaps reality, since who can say for sure? – exist in The Doctor’s universe now, and the sooner we give in to this notion, the more awesome life will be.

I know I’m among my people here. You’re with me. You have Oods and sonic screwdrivers on the brain. Quantum theory is starting to make more sense. You know that it’s all wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey… stuff.

You know that Mrs. Isobel Crawley on Downton Abbey is really Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister, somehow having escaped Dalek demise.

And that’s where I’ve left off, “The Stolen Earth” – Adventure #198, according to this handy timeline. Daleks have conquered Earth, and I’m nearing the end of David Tennant. I’m dreading the end. He’s just started to regenerate and… damn. This show. For all its lower-budget effects (for which I have much affection), it sure knows how to crush your heart.

I’m enamored, and it’s useless to claim otherwise.

Original BBC Viewers – how exactly did you withstand waiting a week between episodes?

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Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

48 thoughts on “What I Watched Last Night: Doctor Who, “The Stolen Earth””

  1. How do we survive? By watching and re-watching. Every time a new series ends I start again from “Rose”. I adore both Nine and Ten, but only warm to Eleven sporadically, but I think that’s mostly because I despise Amy so much. I do tend to over-identify with the female companions (Rose! Donna! young Amelia! even Martha!) but there is nothing about Amy’s personality that’s particularly attractive, not least the way her relationship with Rory is portrayed.

    Wow, that got off-topic. Yes, “The Stolen Earth” is a heart-breaker. Now I shall I have to go and find Galaxy Quest and/or start from “Rose” again …

      1. Yeah, Donna gets less shouty and dim, and becomes much more interesting as the series progresses: you really can see the difference the Doctor makes to her character–especially once it’s all over :( . She repays repeated watching.

  2. Oh god this episode. The end has me in tears every time, and since I’ve watched this probably 10+ times, this is a ridiculous statement. Yes, it’s absolutely over the top, but that’s why I love it. (Also: Jackie & Mickey!) Russel T. Davies certainly knew how to write a sappy episode.

    Also, that timeline you linked is amazing.


  3. We train for our disappointment through the gruelling gauntlet of British TV, whereby you wait a year and a half for an eight-episode series.

    And god-damnit, you’re happy, lapping at whatever morsels you can find. We don’t get no comforting twenty-four episode run. We know we have to make eight episodes of Misfits last the WHOLE FUCKING YEAR.

    (Unless you watch Eastenders like I do, in which case you watch that every afternoon and smile when Said kisses his gay lover. Oh baby.)

    1. American shows might be more pleasing in season length, but our networks are determined to make us neurotic by having random ass release schedules. I am forever trying to figure out if my DVR crapped out and didn’t record something, or if there just wasn’t an episode of whatever this week. Was that show I like canceled, or have there just been no new episodes for four weeks? Did the season end, or is the show having some crazy sabbatical? How long must I wait until I get to know what happens next?

      I swear the execs are consulting a magic eight ball about if they put a new episode out on any given week.

      1. I suppose it’s the difference between a beautiful, oak-matured wine and a buttload of cider (literally, as in a cider butt). The cider still has the potential to be as satisfying, and it sure as hell doesn’t take as long as the wine, and there’s more of it, but damn is it uneven in taste even within the same butt.

  4. I love Galaxy Quest! Being a Trekkie who grew up on TOS and knew far more about the behind-the-scenes stuff than I probably should have, it was absolutely hilarious.

    I didn’t care for the last couple parts of Tennant’s departure. I just didn’t feel like it was true to the Doctor. I know it could be argued for why he felt that way at the time but…I just didn’t like it. At all. It honestly soured his whole reign for me a little bit.

    1. Sorta off topic, but have you seen the Trek special they’re running on the Science Channel? It’s fascinating, and made me think of Galaxy Quest when they were talking about Shatner being a shit to work with.

      Which parts didn’t you like? I had moments, especially during The Last of the Time Lords, that I cocked my head at, but overall I was pretty satisfied. And sad. I was sadisfied.

      1. Oh, do you know what that one’s called?

        And spoiler tags for Doctory things!

        [spoiler]I thought the bit where he starts just not wanting to die, and on, was ridiculous! Part of the Doctor’s whole self-concept (and of course, why the Master was such a bad person) was that everything had its time. So, why does he start becoming such a bastard about it? And especially to Donna’s grandpa. Arg![/spoiler]

            1. Yes! You know him? How cool is that! He looks a lot like his dad, I thought.

              He kind of broke my heart a little, talking about his dad and what it was like to grow up with him. There’s a scene where he’s interviewing Wil Wheaton about a time Gene stood up for Wil (and Wesley) at a con, and Rod talked about how he never got that kind of support from his dad.

  5. This is probably my favorite Who episode ever. Between Sarah Jane, Harriet Jones (we know who she is), Rose, Mickey and OMG DON’T DO THAT TO DONNA, it kills me every time I watch it. (Which, let’s be honest, has been at least twenty times now.)

    Come to us after you see the last of my imaginary boyfriend D. Tennant’s episodes, and we’ll hold you.  You’re going to love Matt Smith’s Doctor, too, but it’s so hard to say goodbye to Ten.

  6. Oh man. I always feel like such a super fan whenever I feel compelled to point out that for me the first big Doctor Who heartbreak came when I saw the War Games story line for the first time. Jamie and Zoe have to leave the Doctor? And they have their memories wiped? SO DAMN CRUEL! (Season 6B will forever be part of my head cannon. Nothing can dissuade me from that. Jamie and Zoe get their memory back. I don’t care how.) So when Tennant was coming to the end of his run and the same fate waited for Donna. Hooo damn. So much sad. (Are you deliberately picking on my favorite companions writers? What is this?)

    Also fun fact, the War Games story line was when we first learn that the Doctor is a Time Lord (This is six seasons into the show people, and we just now learn about the Time Lords). And that the Doctor stole the TARDIS.

          1. Not your fault. I realized I was being dense. Classic Who is glorious, and I have been watching for a long time. One thing worth knowing is that the story-lines are semi-self contained and do not need to be watched in order. So you can pick and choose at will with them.

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