Doctor Who retro review: The Stolen Earth (Torchwood/Sarah Jane Adventures crossover)

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The Doctor joins forces with all his friends and companions to face one of the greatest threats he’s ever faced!
(Photo credit: Doctor Who/BBC.
Image obtained from: BBC.)

The Stolen Earth was an epic Doctor Who episode that was incredibly ambitious. Ten years later, does it still hold up as a major episode in the series?

When it was first broadcast, The Stolen Earth was big. Doctor Who, Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures crossing over – there hadn’t been anything like it. In fact, Russell T Davies pretty much aimed to have one of the biggest Doctor Who finales ever.

It’s not hard to see why. His run on the show, as well as virtually the whole team he had been working with, was coming to an end. Series Four was the last series that he’d be working on. So it was important to go out with a bang, and really celebrate everything his era had achieved.

So there are a lot of call backs across his entire era with this one. Even the Shadow Proclamation, referenced all the way back in his first episode Rose, make their first actual appearance.

Of course, with this amount of continuity in an episode, there’s a risk of putting in too much that it drowns out both the story and the characters. Does this happen in The Stolen Earth?

Not quite. It comes close to it, but it arguably avoids that problem. Everyone, from the major Doctor Who characters, to those appearing from spin-offs for the first time, get their fair share of focus in this one.

It helps that the Doctor isn’t there to save the day. In fact, that’s what brings everyone together. Focusing on the former companions and how they try to find the Doctor is a great way of giving everyone their due.

The new Dalek Invasion of Earth

Having the Daleks show up was a smart move. Having them show up in a full-scale invasion was an epic one. Ten years on, and it’s still incredibly satisfying to see hundreds of Daleks ships flying through London and New York. The whole episode feels satisfyingly epic.

It’s also fantastic that Russell T Davies references The Dalek Invasion of Earth so heavily with this one. There’s a lot of dialogue lifted from that key story, particularly with the Daleks. Even the Doctor acknowledges that the Daleks trying to move the Earth had been done before. (Twice, in fact.)

However, all the homages feel appropriate, and avoids overwhelming the story, at least. Focusing on such a large cast of characters certainly helps.

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