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Doctor Who: The End Of Time, 4.X4

I was going to watch both parts of Doctor Who again today on my proper telly, but it seems to have decided not to record the second one, so I might as well witter from memory. (It's repeated tomorrow night, I'm having another go at taping it...)

I loved it. This is kind of why I wanted to watch it again, because a lot of people whose opinions I often agree with hated it, but I thought it was awesome. I've been thinking about why, and it's related to something I read recently about judging on a holistic approach rather than on details. Because yeah, there was dumb stuff about "I have an enormous decision to make! I have to shoot Rassilon or the Master!! ..Oh, no, I can just shoot this machine", and the Timelords plot was wrapped up kind of hastily, and it had more endings than Return of the King, as many people have said. (Actually, I didn't notice this at all - I pretty much thought that the episode had an ending, then the era had a wrap-up ending. A half hour one? Fine. It's earned it.)

The episode: I can't actually point to that many moments that I thought were OMG AWESOME - Wilf knocking, Wilf Skywalker, Wilf and the Doctor's mutual adoption society. There's a theme there, but I also loved "Fixing the heating?!" and "That's racist!" and Donna being the Doctor's best friend. I quite liked the cactus people that lots of people hated, I thought they brought a different "human" face to the proceedings from the one Wilf was bringing. Wilf wasn't the companion in this, really, he was the hero, and it was nice to have other people to be doing the "No, really, leaving now would be a plan" scepticism and the "What the hell?" questions. Overall, I just liked the feel. It didn't drag like the start of last week's, it didn't have anything really facile like the locking-the-Tardis-like-a-car scene. It had the Doctor going through the five stages of grief, really, for himself. It was beautifully in line with his priorities, I thought, skewed as they can be - he couldn't shoot a gun and kill the Master in order to save the entire human race, but he'd save one elderly human at the cost of his own life. He's always been better at saving than killing. When Rassilon called him a coward it was a nice echo of the first series finale when the Daleks ask Nine if he's a coward or a killer, and he's proud to be a coward. (The sacrificing-yourself-to-save-a-human-from-radiation theme is an echo too; it's interesting that Nine did it with much less angst than Ten. Yay Nine. For all of the JesusTen stories, Nine has always had much more grace and generosity of heart.)

I did get snippy about the lack of planetary effect from Gallifrey popping in directly beside Earth, but then I remembered about the whole Tardis-pulling-Earth-through-the-universe thing last season, and got over it. Lack of conclusion to the Woman story - well, I had thought it was a set-up for Moff, but apparently RTD talks about Flavia or something in the Confidential? I have no idea, and I'm not really bothered. This episode seemed much more coherent than the last one (and some previous finales), and I think part of that was because he didn't bother about explaining every little thing. He's left some things open for fans to explore and discuss and write fic about; you'd think they'd be more grateful!

The era wrap-up: I loved it, but I always love things like these. I like the fourteen endings of Return of the King - I want to know what happens to everyone, in the end. Stories that finish at the plot climax always seem unfinished to me. I love books and films that have the little "John kept his elephants for seven years, but eventually realised it was impractical in a caravan, replaced them with geckos, and lived happily ever after as a lizardman" blurbs at the end.

Specifically, then. Martha and Mickey - OK, I'm not convinced by this. I don't know why they needed to be married; I would have liked seeing them be freelance alien hunters together, and the marriage smacks more than a little of both "pair the spares" and "pair the minorities". Everyone's talking about what happened to Doctor Tom, and Martha was on honeymoon during Children of Earth, but...did the script say it was with Tom? I wouldn't be all that surprised if it didn't specify, and the fans made a reasonable assumption - but then, I also wouldn't be all that surprised if RTD just decided to ignore it.

Sarah Jane - This one got to me, not because the execution was particularly amazing (although Lis Sladen's facial expressions killed me, as usual) but because the basis of the SJ storyline when she came back in School Reunion was her issues about the Doctor not saying goodbye and her not being able to let go, so the fact that he said goodbye this time? Awesome.

Jack and Alonso in the Cantina, I adored. Jack looked like he was drowning his sorrows, which is a nice nod to CoE, of course, but he's always covered his emotions with flirting. And who better to flirt with than George the werewolf? (Yay, Being Human back shortly!) All the different species - oh, so much love, even for the ones I hated. It was the equivalent of a musical or pantomime finale at the theatre, everyone coming forward for a bow. The baby Adipose made me laugh out loud.

Wilf and Donna - oh, Donna. Unlike almost everyone else I've seen commenting, I was overjoyed that she didn't get her memories back. One of my biggest problems with RTD has been his constant undermining of his most moving stories - Dalek is one of my favourite episodes, but its impact is decreased every time more Daleks reappear; and even if I liked Rose I'd have been furious at her reappearance after the tragic melancholy of her Doomsday exit, especially when she was given a "happy ending" with her very own sex-toy Doctor. Donna regaining her memories would have ruined the horrible heartbreak about the ~waste~ at the end of season four, and undermined that scene of grief between the Doctor and Wilf. If you're going to have a sad or bittersweet ending, for God's sake leave it that way. What the Doctor actually did, with the lottery ticket and Geoffrey Noble? Meh, but fair enough. Call it companion wages. (Sarah Jane might be pissed, but she doesn't seem too badly off.)

[Edit: Oh, I forgot about Joan Redfern's daughter, or whoever she was. I did like that scene, though it doesn't seem to made much of an impact on me! I mostly liked that she was given the name Verity Newman. And I wonder if we'll get her story as a novel in that cover.]

Rose, of course, most likely to make me swear. But I thought it was pretty well done, actually - I'm so glad it was in her past, rather than yet another interdimensional rip, even if they did do odd things to Billie Piper to try and make her look younger. (And a Jackie appearance!)

The regeneration: Hurrah! I'm not complaining that it blew up the Tardis and Eccleston's didn't - I expect almost every regeneration has been inconsistent with the next, and starting to bitch now seems to miss the point, rather. I'm just going "Whoo, new Tardis!", and Matt Smith looks like he'll be great. He was a little bit too Tennant-like at the end of the episode, but I'm sure that's just bleedthrough. The trailer looks fantastic. Roll on the spring, Matt Smith and Stephen Moffat. And thank you, Russell and Julie, for bringing Doctor Who back.



( 10 comments — Comment )
Jan. 2nd, 2010 11:23 pm (UTC)
Good point about Donna. At the beginning of the episode, I was hoping that she would regain her memories and help to save the world, and in a different story altogether that could still have worked. But as things were, if that had happened early on, it would have shifted the focus from the very poignant interactions between the Doctor and Wilf, and, as you say, also then have undermined them if it had happened later.

I agree that Matt Smith's first scene had a strong flavour of Tennant to it, but actually I found that quite comforting, in the same way that I find it comforting that Peter Davidson's first few scenes still feel quite Bakerish. It helps to reassure me that it is still the same man, and then I don't mind so much if the new personality emerges more distinctly later.
Jan. 3rd, 2010 12:18 am (UTC)
Yeah, there probably could have been an amazing story with Donna getting her memories back and sorting the Doctor out, and I would have loved it. It's one of those things - you can bring people back from tragic endings sometimes, but RTD just seems to do it all the time :S

Someone on doctorwho mentioned there's been a bit of post-regeneration hyperactiveness and insanity before, so that all makes sense, and yeah, I like it as a blending of the incarnations. And hopefully because we've got new showrunners he will develop a distinct personality.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed it too, although I had a raft of issues with it. I didn't like how RTD failed to tie-up all his loose ends which I really, really wanted him to do because I felt that Moffat should be given a clean slate. I felt the "mystery" stuff with Wilf in Part One was left hanging completely (unless it was all about him knocking which is a bit feeble), ditto the identity of the second "weeping" Timelord. The identity of the Timelady I like to think was meant to be left mysterious but I can't help but think it's intended to be something for Moffat to follow up *sighs*.

Overall, I'd say "The End of Time" was terrific as spectacle, character and emotion but weak on delivering a satisfying story. Also, despite absolutely loving the Tenth Doctor's last words, I thought the regeneration was a bit weak. I didn't mind the drawn-out nature of it (that was pretty understandable and right given Tennant's popularity with the viewing public and the fact that this really was the End of an Era) but the way the thing that killed the Tenth Doctor seemed a bit of an anti-climax. Not a battle with the Master of Rassilon but radiation poisoning.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 11:48 pm (UTC)
Master or Rassilon, I meant (I'm not going to delete and repost just for that).
Jan. 3rd, 2010 12:24 am (UTC)
It's always good for there to be some loose ends, I think, or at least it's real. And it's possible Moffat asked for some of them, I dunno. The stuff with Wilf and the Woman was one of the reasons I wanted to rewatch, yeah. I think it was just that Wilf's four knocks would be the cause (or the realisation of the cause, anyway) of Ten's death. For me that ties into the thing you saw as anti-climax - I thought it was unusual subtlety and small-scale storytelling from RTD! I've been getting really annoyed with his constant need to one-up himself and destroy Earth/the galaxy/the universe/every alternate universe/time itself, you know? And it seems right for Ten with all his delusions of grandeur and godhood to end up dying for one elderly human.

Bit irritating that Nine and Ten both died from radiation, though.
Jan. 3rd, 2010 09:36 am (UTC)
I thought Nine died from the Time Vortex, not the radiation?

I liked this much better than the first part, although I have to admit that after that and Waters of Mars I was only half watching. I was pleased Donna didn't get her memories back, too - I hated what happened to her but I would hate it even more if it turned out to have been just a cheap bit of emotional manipulation and easily undone.
Jan. 4th, 2010 04:28 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, you're right about Nine - that's OK then, heh!

And yes, exactly. You have to have some consequences that stay done, or you lose the impact of all your big tragedies because everyone assumes there'll be a reset button on the way. (See: Heroes.)
Jan. 3rd, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC)
Yes, I thought the Wilf-knocking was an unexpectedly deft touch. That was nice. But I thought that Bernard Cribbins was very nearly everything that was good in the episode.
Jan. 4th, 2010 01:41 pm (UTC)
I don't think I even have anything to add to you review - very well put, all of it. Actually, one complaint! No love for John Simm? The way he delivered "Would it stop, then?" was stunning. He let the "I'm the evil, maniacal Master" thing drop for a second and asked his friend a sincere question. Brilliant.
Jan. 4th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
I realised afterwards that I hadn't mentioned him! I dunno, some bits were great and some bits I thought were horrible and overacted, but I think that was the character overacting rather than the actor, IYSWIM. Must rewatch.
( 10 comments — Comment )


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