Hornets Nest to follow as I have yet to listen to the final disc. Plenty of stuff to get through in the meantime though.
First up a quick reflection on the RTD Era now that it has ended. Fantastic. Well I did say quick!
More seriously, the Waters of Mars was almost flawless. With the possible exception of the fate of humankind as depicted at the end of season 3, this was one of the grimest stories the TV series has done. Not since the Hartnell era has the show gone to the lengths of showing the cost and pain of the Doctor being unable to interfere in history. The only faults I can find are "Gadget Gadget", WHY would you build in a character to be irritating; it doesn't make it any less irritating that the "character" was obviously intended to be irritating. Anyhow, that was pretty minor, the bigger flaw was that this episode should have taken the place of Planet of the Dead so that we had an episode to deal with the fall-out of the Time Lord victorious, rather than the somewhat glib conclusion we got here. I didn't mind the suicide as such, it was a pretty balsy move for a "family" show to have the hero basically cause the death of the heroine. But something like that was worthy of an episode itself. Still if I was a fellow to give scores it would get at least a 4 out of 5.
Next up we have Dreamland. I wasn't expecting much from this, but its really quite good. It's obviously hugely derivative, even to the point or recycling Murry Gold's music from previous episodes in lieu of a proper score. But its got spectacle and rattles along at a great pace. The animation is a big step up from the Infinite Quest too. The jokes were great too. Basically this is Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks done much better, with more focus (albeit lacking Daleks and Dobbsters).
Then we come to the finale and to be fair things hit the skids a little. The problem is that RTD appears to want to basically redux season 3 in a mere 2 episodes. Season 3 is the absolute peak of the RTD era and probably the strongest TV season in the history of the show so that was always going to be over-ambitious. The other problem is that RTD is, like most of us fanboys, clearly still scarred by the problems of the show in the 80s and 90s. This has been beneficial for the most part because he kept on trying to increase the quality and audience of the show. Despite what some fans would have you believe this is not a bad thing! However it has resulted in RTD constantly trying to employ "bigger" season finales. This worked up to and including season 3. However, you can't really get much bigger than the utopia arc, so season 4 ends with an everything but the Kitchen sink finale and just about gets away with it. That left the problem that there was nowhere left to go for the final end, but RTD was clearly still determined to top season 4 anyway. So what we got was a finale with no real story, but lots of great moments and some terrific performances too and everything from Wilf 4 taps onwards is utterly wonderful.
Anyway Byzantium, Shadow in the Glass and Hornets Nest together with some other stuff will follow shortly.