Rather than a Christmas special plus a regular run of 13 episodes this year, we Whovians must do with a mere four specials over the next 18 months or so, including yesterday's, The Next Doctor.
Sadly, though the episodes starts with a delightful turn by David Tennant, newly arrived in early Victorian London and proceeds to an superb early action sequence, the episode soon bogs down.
Too much melodramatic pop-psychology, too much emphasis (again! Much as I appreciate Russell T. Davies' often brilliant revival, I am starting to think he's chosen the right time to move on) on The Doctor's tragic loneliness and far too pat a resolution to the "next Doctor's" origins. I'm not sure if the episode would have been better-served by being cut to a normal 40-some minutes or extended by an extra 20, but what's here left this viewer (somewhat) disappointed.
On the plus side, the designs (including a marvellous giant steampunkesque cyber-factory) and cinematography are first-rate and the performances are, as per usual, excellent. And Davies' once again pulled shamelessly on our heartstrings at the end, nearly bringing a tear to my eye during the coda.
So, not a disaster, but no classic. Pity, that. Those who love Who will like it, but don't use it as the episode with which to convert the Great Unwashed, you'll only embarrass yourself.
Ah well. Only another four or five months until the Easter special when, with spring (we can hope) The Doctor will bloom anew.