Doctor Who

The Waters of Mars (19 Dec. 2009)

TV Episode  -   -  Adventure | Drama | Family
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Ratings: 8.7/10 from 2,396 users  
Reviews: 20 user | 9 critic

In a Mars base the inhabitants are being infected by a mysterious water creature which takes over its victims. The Doctor is thrust into the middle of this catastrophe knowing a larger one is waiting around the corner.


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Aleksandar Mikic ...
Maggie Cain (as Sharon Duncan Brewster)
Alan Ruscoe ...
Lily Bevan ...
Adelaide's father (as Charlie De'Ath)
Rachel Fewell ...
Anouska Strahnz ...


The Doctor arrives on Mars in the year 2059 and joins the first human Earth colony led by Adelaide Brooke. The day he arrives is also the day history records the entire settlement destroyed in an unknown cataclysm with all members of the settlement being killed. Everyone soon realizes that colonists are being infected by some unknown agent and are being transformed into zombie-like creatures. For reasons that are eventually explained, The Doctor is not prepared to save them and tells Brooke that she has to die. He quite torn by this decision and eventually chooses another path, one that will have other repercussions for him in the future. Written by garykmcd

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19 December 2009 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


The space suit the Doctor uses is from 'The Satan Pit'. See more »


Water and objects are seen falling at the same rate as on Earth but the gravity on Mars is only 38% the gravity on Earth. See more »


Adelaide Brooke: It can't be stopped. Don't die with us.
The Doctor: No, someone told me just recently, they said I was going to die, they said, he will knock four times. And I know what that means, it doesn't mean right here, right now, cause I don't hear anyone knocking, do you?
[Andy knocks on the metal door three times]
The Doctor: Three knocks is all you're getting!
[the Doctor electrifies the door and Andy]
The Doctor: Water and electricity, bad mix!
See more »


Featured in Doctor Who Confidential: Is There Life on Mars? (2009) See more »


Doctor Who Theme
Written by Ron Grainer
Arranged by Murray Gold
Performed by BBC National Orchestra of Wales
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User Reviews

Ultimately a passable if underwhelming and frustrating outing for Tennant
18 November 2009 | by (Clydebank, Scotland) – See all my reviews

After a gap of seven months, the long awaited "The Waters of Mars hit UK television screens. The second of Russell T. Davies planned one hour specials, this latest outing which marks David Tennant's penultimate story before his successor Matt Smith is left to carry to carry the baton marks a daring attempt to put an unforeseen slant on the iconic time lord protagonist. Set, wouldn't you know it on the planet Mars in the year 2059, Tennant's Doctor arrives at Bowie Base One, a research station run by no nonsense Adelaide Brooke (Lindsay Duncan). Understandably concerned if not not a little unnerved by the unforeseen presence of the enigmatic stranger, Adelaide and her crew's concerns soon shift to greater things as a water based virus make it's malevolent presence known and proceeds possessing the bodies of the inhabitants of the station. Transforming them in to zombified monstrosities. The Doctor would usually rise to the challenge of defeating the alien threat were it not for his knowledge of what were to come.

Visually striking and typifying the bold new step that the BBC made when it chose to delve once again in to the science fiction genre while it's gorgeous backdrop is a testament to the production crew, "The Waters of Mars" feels a little uninspired and lacking in originality. Indeed it is unquestionably one of the darkest and most challenging story's in the show's long history and has readily been blasted by some die hard fans, alienated by it's rather unsettling denouement, leaving viewers divided. My personal criticism with RTD's bold masterstroke is with the heavy handed and self indulgent manner in which it's delivered. Lacking anything in the way of subtlety, a short coming that had unfortunately become a hallmark of Davies who in his own right I'm sure is a good writer given the critical acclaim he garnered for "Queer as Folk". With Science fiction or at least family friendly science fiction he appears to be less at ease. With a habit of overstating the emotions and thoughts of the main character it feels as if he's spoon-feeding his audience and doesn't afford the mesmerizing David Tennant the opportunity to let his physical acting do the talking.

The water induced abominations, undoubtedly the worst personifications of any eight years olds worst nightmares never the less feel like knocks off's that have emerged from Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later". Also given the presence of the similar virus carrying clones of series two's "New Earth" which was also penned by RTD, typify the executive producer's imaginative laziness.

Never the less the performances on display are first rate with Tennant arguably giving his best performance of the legendary time lord to date, honing his talents to give his best portrayal of the time lord. This is a very adult turn in a series which has narrow mindedly been la-bled by it's obtuse detractors as a children's programme. The crisis of conscience which the lonesome, melancholy wanderer and the actions he takes bring the characters moral ambiguity to the fore and are conveyed with unflinching effortlessness. Stirring support is on hand from Duncan who while excellently understated as the tough Adelaide Brooke also conveys a more fragile side concealed behind her steely veneer. Former "Neighbours" and "Casualty" star Peter O'Brien also offers solid support.

Perhaps too ponderous and padding seemingly meant to be seen as a build up of tension, "The Waters of Mars" is a brave if some what underwhelming attempt to put a chilling new spin on the Doctor who's arrogance and less savory side isn't totally unprecedented. RTD seems content to tease his audience and taking in to account that one of the trailers seemed to promise that more would be revealed about who will "...knock four times", some fans might be left frustrated. Never the less "The Waters of Mars" is a passable affair and with the trailer for "The End of Time" thrown in just before the end credits role, promising the return of John Simm's Master and what should hopefully be an awe inspiring, show stopping swansong for Tennant. I can hope it won't be something of an empty promise.

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