"The Christmas Invasion" filming is well underway and the second season of new "Doctor Who" seems to be shaping up nicely. Best news is that Graeme Harper has been allocated the two Tom MacRae written Cybermen episodes. When I heard Harper would be working on the programme again, twenty years on from "The Caves of Androzani" and "Revelation of the Daleks", I kept my fingers crossed hoping he would direct this story and it has come to pass! Wise move, Russell!! I hope Graeme retains the style and flair visible in his two Eighties classics. There is a tendency to homogenise these days and I just hope they allow him free reign within the structure of the series. He is also directing the second two-parter, which opens with an episode called "The Satan Pit" by Matt Jones, the first story to be set on an alien planet since the show's return.
The organisation of the second series is slightly different from the first. The aforementioned two two-part stories have been pulled towards the centre of the season so that the first one is an episode later than in the first season and the second an episode earlier meaning they are separated by a single episode at the exact middle of the series, set in England during the 1940s/50s, to be written by Mark Gatiss ("The Unquiet Dead"). "The Long Game", regarded by many as the weakest episode of the first season, occupied the central position of Christopher Eccleston's year and it seems as though Russell is aware of the need to strengthen the midpoint of the run judging by the revised structure.
Returning directors from the first season are those that made the strongest stories, not surprisingly! That may have more to do with who is available or who wants to work on the programme again more than the design of the executive producer but you never know. Russell isn't stupid and I'm sure he wants to harness all the strongest elements to make the best series possible. Regardless, it is good to know James Hawes ("The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances") is returning who, as well as directing the Christmas special, is also working on episodes one and three. The first is tentatively titled "The Sunshine Camp" and written by Russell who is writing five of the thirteen episodes for the second season, three less than in the first year, including the season's two-part finale which opens with an episode entitled "Army of Ghosts". The other James Hawes directed episode, "School Reunion" by Toby Whithouse, features the return of Elisabeth Sladen as Pertwee/Tom Baker era companion Sarah Jane Smith and co-stars Anthony Stewart Head, Giles from "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer", promoted from librarian to headmaster of a very strange school!
The second returning director is Euros Lyn ("The End of the World"/"The Unquiet Dead") who will helm episodes two and four. The first of these, written by Russell, is entitled "Tooth and Claw" and features an evil race of cat women. The other is set in 18th Century France and penned by Steven Moffat ("The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances") who is writing just one episode this time round. Writers new to the fold include comedian and actor Stephen Fry who is scripting episode eleven.
All in all, the second season looks very promising and I wish detractors, both in fandom and the press, would keep their mouths shut until they have something to criticise. Personal attacks over David Tennant's appearance are infantile. I think he looks the part, the unbuttoned shirt collar behind the tie reminiscent of Troughton and the footwear suggesting Davison. There is a lot to look forward to.