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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

‘Doctor Who’: “The End of Time: Part One” — OMG

Well, you can’t ever really have too much John Simm, can you?

That ending? Yes, my head exploded, but not quite in a good way. I was afraid something like this was in the offing, and I don’t think it’s a direction the show should be going in. (In the same way that I wish the show would move on from the Daleks and invent some new villains, I wish it would cope with the universe it invented for itself and extrapolate from there. Move forward, that is, instead of moving back.) In the words of Mrs. Fox, if what I think is going on here is going on here, it better not be.

On the other hand, I have some ideas about how what it looks like is going on here may not be. I’ll discuss those in depth when I get to my full-blown Doctor Who blogging on this episode, which I hope will be tomorrow. (I’ve got some more holiday merrymaking to engage in today, so the Doctor will have to wait.)

Assume spoilers in the comments, and avoid if you haven’t seen the episode yet.



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  • Lisa

    I’m not sure quite what to feel about it yet.

    There are 2 clips up on the bbc website which are a bit spoilery for part 2 – sure they’ll be on blogter who / utube soon there’s the trailer and then a clip that comes after the theme tune (you can see the credits are still rolling)

    Part 2 looks amazing.

    Russell T. said part 1 is all about the master – part 2 will be all about the dr

    After a rollicking start it just sorted of stopped.

    Who the hell is Wilf? timelord? who’s Claire Bloom the white guardian?

    Was the master driven mad to become a weapon of war for the Timelords?

    Looks like they are out for the Dr’s blood it seems to be an episode where they have put a number of events in motion and part 2 is when they will take off.

    Was it Dalek Caan or the Dr’s decision to take the laws of time into his own hands that have precipitated events?

    I bet the timelords are going to want to stop time and the Dr’s not gonna like that, especially if his precious humans are in peril?

    Who knocks 4 times? Dr no 11? James Bond? someone else?

    I have only seen it once and will watch it again before next week. I can only judge it, I think, when I have seen both parts.

    oh well back to watching Hamlet.

  • Martin

    I think we can all agree that the scene in the cafe between the Doctor and Wilf was one of the better moments of the episode, hell, of new Who entirely.

  • Lisa

    yeah it was a great scene

  • Lisa

    how are they going to leave it for Matt Smith?

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    That cliffhanger… no, not so good, really, was it? It should have been all about the chilling idea of a planet of six billion people who all think like the Master, but the decision to make them actually look like the Master pushed it over into silliness for me. Being John Mastervich. And that Barack Obama non-lookalike was a bit cringey.

    Lisa – Wilf is the grandfather of the Doctor’s previous companion Donna Noble. He is awesome. His No. 1 Pensioner’s Detective Agency was one of the episode high points for me.

    I was spoiled ahead of transmission about the Time Lords coming back, so when the Master stepped into the immortality gate I thought his genetic material was going to convert the whole human race into Time Lords (which it did, sort of, but you know what I mean…). That would have been a bit better, I thought.

    On the plus side: Timothy Dalton!!!

  • Lisa

    yeah I remember Wilf! RTD said there’s more to him than meets the eye – plus have you seen him in the preview? what the hell is going on there? blasting the heavens to pieces – I didn’t know he knew how to operate a timelord’s warship! (I called part 2 Battleship Gallifrey on another forum)

    Is that why Donna is special? she’s part time lord because of Wilf? how come he’s the only one to remember the dreams there’s something special about him – like Donna it only took him 5 minutes to find the doctor when he started to look for him is that a white guardian thing? If so, why Wilf?

  • Lisa

    viewers outside uk should be able to see this

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFeIhic6wlg

    holy crap – Wilf!

  • Lisa

    I’m really hogging this thread sorry but try this

    http://blogtorwho.blogspot.com/

    for all three trailers / spoiler clips

  • Knightgee

    I’m cautiously optimistic about the conclusion. I predict that it will be riveting television, but I also predict that a number of beloved characters will die, perhaps in ways that are shocking, tragic, heart-wrenching and completely emotionally exploitative, despite being neither justified or called for by the plot. I’m of course going by the precedent that RTD has established.

    Do I seem bitter?

  • nel

    i honestly don’t know what to think yet either, and i’m trying to be optimistic but this is looking a bit like what i was worried about. i’ve never liked RTD’s finales (Doomsday excepted); he’s too in love with being epic. lots of sound and fury but the dr is getting lost somewhere in the muddle. hopefully part 2 will improve.

    loved loved the cafe scene with Dr and wilf. put DT in a good, dialogue-driven scene with another good actor and it’s magic (e.g. Lyndsey Duncan last week).

    oh and Lisa, where are you watching Hamlet. dare i hope it’s on-line…?!

  • Les Carr

    I think I loved this. I was a bit chary about it the first time I watched it (especially the head spinning), but having seen it a couple more times I think it fits. Some of it is comic and flimflam and Christmassy and some of it is dark and moving. It’s just that you can’t necessarily predict which bits are which. And the various previews and trailers for the final episode really show it coming together in an unexpected way. I’ve learned to trust RTD, because the child in me always ends up whooping and bawling and jumping with excitement in his finales, in a way that satisfies the adult in me.

  • Patricia

    would love to know if Hamlet is available on line to watch I think it’s unconscionable to make us Yanks wait so long for it to be shown over here.

  • AIUI Davies is handing the show over to Moffat the way Moffat wants it, and on the evidence of this episode, he’s doing it with his usual audacity and aplomb. I loved it.

  • Well, I liked it a bit better than the last episode. I’m not usually a big fan of unhappy endings but I’ll give this episode credit for having the most memorable cliffhanger since “Utopia” in Season Three.

    And yes, that scene in the cafe with Wilf and the Doctor was very good. (And not just because of a cameo appearance by Catherine Tate, but it was nice to see her again too and I’m hoping they’re not taking her character in the same direction as Adric.)

    And geez, have we posted enough spoilers about an episode that hasn’t even aired yet? I appreciate the fact that some folks here might want to know all that but I suspect a lot of folks would rather find all that out for themselves.

    That said, would a cyborg really need to eat?

    Could a cyborg be created by potions?

    Why does a British sci-fi show bother to reference so many American sci-fi works (X-Files, Stargate, The Matrix, etc.) in one episode?

    If Davies wants to write a sword-and-sorcery epic, why doesn’t he go ahead and do it? I’m envisioning a Davies reboot of Wizards and Warriors as I speak and I still haven’t figured out whether or not if that would be a good thing…

  • 1995dream

    Cafe scene: Doctor askes Wilf “Who are you?” Seems genuinely uneasy, almost scared. Wilf was able to summon the doctor easily, while it takes hundereds of year for others. Doctor nearly breaks down. “I’m dying.” Wilf: “So am I.” Doctor: “Don’t you dare.”

    Totally and utterly out on a limb here, but the first thing I thought of was that Wilf would somehow be involved in the regeneration. Like Sam became a Ring Bearer by carrying it when Frodo was all, uh, tied up.

  • Paul

    As a Trek fan, I sympathize with your desire for the show to move forward instead of looking at it’s own past. I wanted to see all sorts of things coming next in the Trek universe, but instead got “Enterprise” and that Star Trek reboot movie. The latter was well done, but still not what I really wanted.

  • Patricia

    I liked the show, though I don’t know if I understood everything. I know one thing, I am going to miss David Tennant as “my doctor”

  • Patricia

    I did have a question–does anyone know the music that plays in the background for the BBC America-HD spot where David flies the Tardis like a sleigh?

  • Knightgee

    @Paul:

    Star Trek suffers from it’s own fan base which refuse to let the show deviate too far from the source material lest it be called unfaithful. It’s bogged down by it’s won mythos. Look at how many people who still disliked the new movie, despite the makers bending over backwards to preserve it’s prior continuity while trying to find ways to start anew. I think Who is somewhat like this, but at the same time I think it’s also a limitation on the part of the writers or at least the show runner, who doesn’t seem comfortable with too much deviation.

  • H

    I was even afraid to watch the episode because of so many negative comments about this episode throughout the web when some was even stating that “TEOT part one” as the worst DW episode ever (did everyone forget “Planet of the Dead”?). Now after watching the episode I can not understand all the hate. No, it is not the best of DW, but far from the worst, imo. And except for resurrection scene (so silly) and the Master flying (so silly), I was actually enjoying it. Acting was superb from all actors involved. And I am looking forward to the part two.

    And why everyone is so hyped about Timothy Dalton??? I did not see anything grand about him in the episode. Although I maybe bias as I have seen him only in “Jane Eyre” and as Bond and couldn’t stand him in both productions.

  • Max

    Loved seeing Obama! Hope he becomes a fan.

    btw – I thought Claire Bloom is either the White Guardian, Romana, or River Song.

  • Alli

    No, it is not the best of DW, but far from the worst, imo. And except for resurrection scene (so silly)….

    Yeah, I giggled through most of that scene too. I couldn’t help but wonder at what point Wormtail was going to jump in and cut off his hand. Davies, I know you always wanted Jo Rowling in an episode, but you didn’t have to give The Master a freaking horcrux.

  • Paul

    Sorry, but that was a really really rubbish episode. Russell T. Davies writes the most ham-fisted crap. The Master returning from the dead (again) using a f-cking horcrux? Stupid and badly executed. The Master flying and shooting electricity out of his hands?? Stupid and badly executed. The Master replicating himself and taking the bodies of everybody on earth, exactly like Agent Smith? WTF? Give me a break. It was rubbish from start to end. I’ve begun to hate the characters that keep appearing in Russell’s overly-sentimental crap.

    As proof that you just need a good story, watch the “Blink” episode. It’s probably the best Doctor Who from any series, giving edge of the seat drama without cheesy special effects or overly sentimental acting. It was written by Moffat. I really can’t wait for him to take over the next season. It’s just such a pity that David Tennant had to act in so many awful episodes under Russell, because I really liked him as the Doctor.

  • Eugen

    The billions of Simms? I bet they are the canvas for the eventual restoration of the time lords.

    I predict the doctor would be forced to choose between saving the human race and the restoration of his own. He will choose us and he will die, leaving us with the scruffy kid. :)

  • Eugen

    Oh, and Moffat succeeding Davies is the absolute best thing for this show.

    Let’s hope he delivers another episode like “The girl in the fireplace”. That episode made me love Dr. Who.

  • Zoe

    @Lisa: Donna is part timelord because in a previous episode, Donna was thrown into, lava basically, while she was the only one on the Tardis. Now, The Doctor always carries around his hand, which he got cut off during regeneration (and he grew a new hand also since he was in the middle of regeneration.) The hand was in the glass case. Anyway, it basically generated another Doctor that was part human, and turned Donna part timelord, which is how they ended up not dying, but she doesn’t know because The Doctor took her memories because her mind couldn’t hold all of the knowledge, and would burn up and die if he didn’t.
    Does that make sense?

  • chuck

    I have to say that I honor RTD for the work he’s done bringing the Doctor back, well done. But with that said I am so glad he’s almost gone.

    Over the last few series I’ve really learned to dislike his writing style. DW started off SO strong in 2005, actual thought being put into each and every story. Not so as time marched forward. I know he is writing for children as well as adults but really, even children know better when it comes to down to it. The last few season finales and most of the Christmas specials have not been the best of the Doctor.

    Is it just me or do all the Christmas specials share background music that has just really gone off the tracks. Music that just does not fit. Like it was written for some other really low budget show. DW has some really fine soundtrack, The Doctor’s Theme, Rose’s Theme, Doomsday etc. But the Christmas specials just make me want to tear my ears off, fingernails on the chalkboard would be way better. Really, think of it, and hour of Simms and fingernails on the chalkboard, it really would be brilliant.

    RTD goes for the massive world ending we’re all going to die build-ups, usually predicated on some trumped up notion that he pulled out of his ass at the last moment, and then solved with a bit toilet paper and toothpick. Really unsatisfying.

    Still there are the absolutely great moments. The Doctor and Rose against the wall at the end of Doomsday. DW and Wilf in coffee shop. The Dalek suicide in Dalek. Davros, absolutely, irrecoverably out of his gourd mad, just the way he should be.

    There are plenty of good episodes not written by RTD, Fathers Day, The Family of Blood / Human Nature, by Paul Cornell. But out of all the series, the shows I hold most dear,

    The Empty Child
    The Doctor Dances
    The Girl in the Fireplace
    Blink
    Silence in the Library
    Forest of the Dead (Hey who turned out the lights?)

    All written by Steven Moffat, and written with respect for the audience no matter their age. Good times are coming.

  • chuck

    OOPS! Just remembered, it was Rob Shearman who wrote “Dalek”. Sorry Rob, one of my favorites.

  • Lisa

    @ Zoe – yeah I saw that episode too – I just meant if Wilf is a timelord does that mean Donna won’t burn up? I hope Wilf isn’t cos that’s been done but I know there is something more going on with him. Somebody needs to get to Donna quick before she explodes and the Doctor is otherwise preoccupied and she’s surrounded by the bad guys (guy?) too. I would imagine they will try and wrap up the cliffhanger pretty quickly – they usually do.

  • Matthew

    I don’t want to get too much dragged into the rather tedious “RTD is rubbish” argument, except to say that plenty of people don’t think so, including me and most of the audience that watch. His style may not be for you, but it works on its own terms. Plus Moffat is a big fan of RTD and is likely to follow a similar pattern when writing a series as a whole, rather than one story a year.

    I’ve a feeling that the “Moffat is the messiah” crowd are setting themselves up for a bit of a disappointment.

    My random, and probably wrong, prediction for part two: Claire Bloom is the inquisitor (last seen in The Trial of a Time Lord).

  • RogerBW

    Zoe: no, actually, it doesn’t make sense, it’s random shinies thrown in to take the place of competent writing. And that’s my objection to New Who as a whole, but particularly the recent stuff: it comes off like bad fanfiction.

    Eh, it’s not as though I had a television, so Davies and Moffatt won’t listen to me – and they probably shouldn’t anyway.

  • @Matthew

    Thank you for saying what I felt like saying but couldn’t be bothered to. This site used to be a haven from the “RTD is rubbish” crowd, and yet as soon as MaryAnn posts something vaguely negative, out of the woodwork they come.

  • Lisa

    @ nel/ Patricia – Someone in the comments of Illuminations blog gave 28 April 2010 as the American date of the PBS Hamlet screening – that seems like quite a long wait, unfortunately. If you are a fan of David’s Hamlet, you should really take a look around that blog as it details the tv film’s production.

  • chuck

    Also, I think the black and white he’s rubbish or he’s wonderful does not apply to me at least. As I said above I honor him and admire what he has done for DW. I just don’t want him writing anymore DW, unless it appears that he put’s some effort into it.

    Writing and episodes that puport to be the end of everything or ultimate destruction episodes gets tiresome, especially when the solution to the problems turns out to be weak, or reversable. Having main characters die or get lost only to return for a brief bit or cameo, is weak. Making arch vilians appear stupid and weak is, well, weak.

    In the end the characters only matter if they are dispensible, forever. The arch vilians only matter if they are as good as the hero and not fools.

    Matthew, SM may be a “big fan of RTD” as I am, but so far he has not shown any signs of writing like RTD. I’ve met and spoken with SM and I found him to have a very strong sense of what he wants to do.

  • Thank you, Chuck, for saying a lot of what I wanted to say but never got around to.

    I suspect no one here really thinks RTD is literally rubbish. Some of us, however, have issues with some of his scripts just as a lot of people who don’t think James Cameron is rubbish nevertheless had issues with Avatar.

    It’s too soon to say whether Moffat will be all that when he takes RTD’s place. After all, I’m young enough to remember when DW fans were encouraged to have similar hopes concerning John Nathan-Turner’s work on the original series. But that didn’t quite work out as expected.

    I do sympathize, however, with those who want to like DW but get tired of having to put up with bad writing and unoriginal stories.

    Granted, DW has attracted so many different types of fans over the ages that it would be almost impossible for anyone–even our dear hostess–to write a script for this show that would please everybody.

    Then again it makes no sense to keep the series going if you’re going to drop the elements of wit and imagination and originality that attracted so many of us to the show in the first place.

    Anyway, constructive criticism isn’t a bad thing and it shouldn’t be taken as a bad thing. Indeed, I suspect that if the RTD critics who post here truly believed the show’s writers were incapable of doing better, they wouldn’t bother to post here.

  • Joanne

    A question for those who think RTD is generally a bad writer – what did you think of “Midnight”? I think that episode is one of the standouts of New Who simply because of its writing. It’s almost a theatrical piece and the plotting and characterisation are, IMHO, stellar. (Plus it works excellently as a showcase for Tennant).

    I agree there have been some weaker episodes penned by RTD during the past five years. But the general quality of what we’ve seen has been exceptional. I liked part one of “The End of Time” but I think perhaps it’ll stand up better when we’ve seen part two; the very names indicate to me they’re supposed to be viewed as a whole and not two separate stories.

    Also, I’ll forgive the resurrection and the Master flying about (which was a bit daft) for that café scene, which was simply perfect.

  • Patricia

    @Lisa, what is the Illumination blog? Also, does anyone know the music in the Doctor Who BBC commercial with the snow and the reindeer?

  • MaryAnn

    This site used to be a haven from the “RTD is rubbish” crowd, and yet as soon as MaryAnn posts something vaguely negative, out of the woodwork they come.

    Just want to chime in and say that *I* don’t think RTD is rubbish, even if I once in a while have some minor issues with his writing. :->

  • Lisa

    http://www.illuminationsmedia.co.uk/blog/index.cfm?start=1&news_id=371

    that’s where all the main Hamlet news for the production of the film is but if you poke around you will find more out – it might be spoilery. Illuminations is the company that produced the film – it’s a really good read.

    I think the music is just a xmassed-up version of the normal BBC Channel ident music.

  • A question for those who think RTD is generally a bad writer – what did you think of “Midnight”? I think that episode is one of the standouts of New Who simply because of its writing. It’s almost a theatrical piece and the plotting and characterisation are, IMHO, stellar. (Plus it works excellently as a showcase for Tennant).

    Well, I don’t believe RTD is generally a bad writer but I do have issues with a lot of the stuff he writes.

    That said, I’m grateful that he revived my beloved Doctor Who. I’m grateful that he gave us Jackie Tyler, Martha Smith, Donna Noble, and a host of other favorite characters. And of course, I liked “Midnight” and think it’s one of the best episodes of the fourth season.

    That said, I don’t necessarily feel obliged to feel everything he writes. Just as my genuine admiration for Steve Moffat doesn’t mean I don’t have issues with his much-quoted “sad is happy for smart people.”

    Anyway, if I got off on only echoing the same things every other fan of a certain show felt, I’d be much less of a Doctor Who fan and more of a Trekkie…

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