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-fro
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-univers
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.