The Next Doctor
The Next Doctor was the 2008 Christmas Special. It is considered one of the 2009 Specials, and was released in the DVD and Blu-ray box-sets along with the rest, despite airing in 2008. The special featured the return of the surviving Cybermen from Pete’s World that crossed into N-Space and the guest appearance of David Morrissey as what appeared to be a future incarnation of the Doctor, but in actuality, was a red herring. However, it made the Tenth Doctor ponder his eventual demise and set the wheels in motion for his final story arc, which eerily foreshadowed his death.
The Tenth Doctor lands in London on Christmas Eve, 1851, and promptly hears a woman frantically calling, “Doctor!” He rushes to the scene of the disturbance, where he encounters a woman called Rosita Farisi, who does not believe his claims to be the Doctor she is calling for. Another man, also calling himself “the Doctor,” races forward and produces a device he refers to as a sonic screwdriver (actually an ordinary screwdriver). A strange creature, with a bronze face like that of a Cyberman but a hunched and furred body, bursts into the alley. The three give chase, but the creature eludes them. In the aftermath of the chase, the two Doctors talk: the Tenth Doctor believes the other to be his next incarnation, but the other Doctor doesn’t recognize him; the next Doctor explains that many of the memories are missing, and that he cannot remember anything “since the Cybermen.”
Nearby, a group of Cybermen observe the footage gleaned from the Cybershade (the creature pursued by the trio); however, the Cybermen recognize the next Doctor, not the original, as their foe. They discuss their plans for the next attack with their ally, Miss Mercy Hartigan. The attack is scheduled for 14:00 hours — the same time as a funeral whose procession the next Doctor and Rosita observe.
While the funeral takes place, the two Doctors are investigating the house of the deceased, Reverend Aubrey Fairchild. As they investigate, the next Doctor explains that the Cybermen’s presence is linked to a number of murders and child abductions across London, starting with the death of a man named Jackson Lake and culminating in the Reverend’s death. It seems the Reverend was found dead and there were burn marks on his head; the cause of death was some advanced form of electrocution. The next Doctor begins to show signs of remembering the original Doctor, but before he can delve further, the Tenth Doctor finds, hidden in a roll-top desk, a pair of infostamps: devices that allow the storage of large amounts of information. The Doctor activates one, discovering it contains information on the history of London from 1066 to 1851.
The Doctor realizes the Cybermen have been using the infostamps to update their knowledge of history. However, the next Doctor remembers he was holding an infostamp the night he lost his memory, which he also proclaims to be the night he regenerated. Their discussion is cut short when the Cybermen attack; the original Doctor fends them off with a cutlass, but the Cybermen are not interested in him — only the next Doctor. Before they can kill the pair, the next Doctor overloads the core of the infostamp and opens it. The energy released destroys the Cybermen.
At the funeral, Miss Hartigan arrives with a platoon of Cybermen and Cybershades in tow. The mourners are subsequently attacked. She spares a number of the mourners, who are owners of workhouses and orphanages, but the others are “deleted” by the Cybermen. The survivors are fitted with EarPods and dispatched by Miss Hartigan. The two Doctors return to the next Doctor’s home base, which holds all of the luggage belonging to the first victim, Jackson Lake. Rosita and the next Doctor show the original Doctor their TARDIS: a hot-air balloon (Tethered Aerial Release Developed In Style). The Doctor tells the next Doctor he can explain what happened to him, which the next Doctor agrees to. The original Doctor tells him and Rosita about the Battle of Canary Wharf and how the Cybermen were cast into the Void.
However, they managed to escape from the Void when the walls of the universe were weakened in “a greater battle”, and found themselves in London in 1851. They soon came upon a man, Jackson Lake, a mathematics teacher and the first person to disappear. The Cybermen attacked his home and killed his wife. In desperation, Lake grabbed an infostamp to defend himself, one containing information on the Doctor gleaned from the Daleks; though the infostamp destroyed the Cybermen, it backfired and overwhelmed Lake’s mind. In his fear and despair, he came to believe he was the Doctor. The Doctor then reveals his final piece of proof: the fob watch the next Doctor carries with him is engraved with the initials JL. Lake, remembering who he is and what has happened to him, is overcome with emotion and breaks down sobbing.
The Doctor and Rosita head out to investigate. They discover that the converted workhouse owners are marching the children of their establishments through a sluice gate to the Thames, which is guarded by Cybermen and Cybershades. The Doctor and Rosita try to sneak around and are confronted by Miss Hartigan. She explains that she has not been converted, and that the Cybermen offered her her liberation. The Doctor returns the infostamp to the Cybermen, who download it, confirming he is their foe, not Lake. Miss Hartigan explains that the children are a workforce, to bring about the birth of “it,” but refuses to say what. She orders the Cybermen to delete the pair, but Lake arrives and provides a distraction with another infostamp and they are able to escape. Miss Hartigan furiously announces that “the CyberKing will rise tonight!”
Lake tells the Doctor he and his family were moving to London so he could take up a teaching post, and that he discovered the Cybermen in his basement. The Doctor realizes there may be a way into the Cybermen’s base through Lake’s house. Inside the house, they find a Dimension Vault, a piece of technology stolen from the Daleks that allowed the Cybermen to escape the Void, as well as a tunnel connecting to the sewers. In the Cybermen’s base, the captive children are put to work generating power to allow the “Ascension of the Cyberking.”
In the throne chamber, Hartigan is told by the Cyberleader that she will be the Cyberking, not the Cyberleader as she assumed. The Cyberleader explains that by becoming Cyberking, Hartigan will receive her liberation from the anger, hatred and rage in her mind. However, Hartigan proves too strong-willed for the conversion; her mind is too powerful to control, and she uses her new powers to obliterate the Cyberleader when it tries to intervene.
The Doctor, Rosita and Jackson infiltrate the Cybermen’s base and discover a meter displaying the facility’s power capacity. The Doctor theorizes that when the machine reaches 100% power, the children will be disposed of. As the trio evacuate the children, Jackson Lake recalls the one last missing fragment of his memory: after killing his wife, the Cybermen kidnapped his son. The pair are reunited during the rescue, and all of them flee as the engine begins to explode. However, the Cyberking — a colossal Cyberman-shaped walker containing an on board cyber-conversion factory, referred to as a “Dreadnought-class ship” — emerges from the Thames, commanded by Hartigan and an army of Cybermen, and begins to lay waste to London. After sending Rosita and Jackson to safety, the Doctor grabs the Dimension Vault and commandeers the hot-air balloon, rising until he is level with the head of the Cyberking.
The Doctor offers Hartigan a deal: to take her to a place where she and the Cybermen can live in peace. She refuses, and the Doctor attacks her with the combined force of dozens of overloaded infostamps. Though Hartigan initially taunts him for failing to kill her, the Doctor replies that it wasn’t his intent: instead he has severed her connection from the CyberKing, setting her free. Hartigan, realizing what she has become, screams in horror as the broken connection destroys her and the Cybermen and causes the CyberKing to begin to self-destruct. However, before it can topple on the crowds below, the Doctor uses the Dimension Vault to transport the CyberKing into the Time Vortex, where it will be harmlessly destroyed.
In the aftermath, Jackson thanks the Doctor for what he has done and offers him a place at his Christmas celebration with Rosita and his son. The Doctor refuses, but offers Jackson a look inside the TARDIS. Lake is overwhelmed with amazement, but quickly decides that he has had enough adventure for one lifetime. He again thanks the Doctor, but points out that in all the information he saw, the Doctor had companions present. The Doctor explains that in the end, they all leave, for a variety of reasons, and that ultimately, they break his heart. Jackson says that his request for dinner is no longer a request but a demand, in honor of all those who have been lost. The Doctor solemnly agrees. He then tells Jackson that, of all the people who could have been the Doctor, he was glad it was Jackson. He closes the TARDIS door and they leave together to celebrate Christmas.
The Tenth Doctor