When Russell T. Davies revived Doctor Who in the mid-2000s, he turned the long-running sci-fi series into event television. Its return was an unqualified triumph, first with Christopher Eccleston as the 9th Doctor and, then, with David Tennant as the beloved 10th Doctor.
One of the hallmarks of RTD’s time in charge of the show was an obvious love for dramatic horror, and no episode was scarier than ‘The Water of Mars’, one of Doctor Who‘s greatest and most shocking adventures. The episode (one that helped to cement Doctor Who among the best TV series of the 2000s) sees The Doctor encounter the first human colony on Mars and a water-based lifeform that threatens them.
The Doctor is left with a moral decision that will change history: to save the colonists and rupture the flow of time, or let them die and preserve it. It’s all very Star Trek, or Loki. In a move that breaks his own principles, he saves the colonists and discovers he enjoys the power. He declares himself to be the Time Lord Victorious, with the ability to change the fate of the universe.
The episode culminates in the now-famous, chilling scene where he’s confronted by Adelaide at the peak of his arrogance. David Tennant and Lindsay Duncan do phenomenal work as we witness The Doctor’s transformation (and quick regret) against her anger and conviction. It’s truly chilling to witness this beloved character, a hero, become infatuated by a lust for power, and it proves why Doctor Who is one of the best sci-fi series ever made when it’s on top form.
You can watch the clip below:
This is why we’re so excited for RTD’s grand return, alongside David Tennant as the 14th Doctor, with the Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials. More than any other showrunner in the modern era, he understood the darkness within The Doctor, and the character’s innate arrogance. These are the kind of scenes that make for great drama, and it’s what Doctor Who has been missing for quite some time now.
While the prospect of Tennant’s return does get us all tingly, our anticipation is even higher (if that’s possible) for the start of Ncuti Gatwa’s rein as the 15th Doctor. The specials will be like an appetizer before the show really kicks back into gear with season 14, which will begin the Sex Education star’s adventures.
With RTD at the helm, expect Doctor Who to become appointment viewing, and to be bigger and better than ever before. Now partnered with Disney Plus, the series boasts a huge budget and will air across the world on one of the biggest streaming services around.
For more on Doctor Who, check out our guide to the TARDIS, and see our picks for the scariest Doctor Who episodes. Or, see what else is new on Disney Plus this month, before finding out everything we know about the upcoming Doctor Who season 14.