‘Doctor Who’ blogging: “The End of Time: Part Two”

(tons of spoilers! don’t read till you’ve seen the episode! and no comments from party poopers — this is a love fest only / previous: Episode 4: “The End of Time: Part One”)
I thought I was gonna be sad, so sad, but instead I’m more… disappointed. It all seemed so overblown and yet somehow simultaneously slapdash. After all that stuff about “he will knock four times,” it was just Wilf trying to get the Doctor’s attention? And Wilf doesn’t turn out to be a Guardian or a Time Lord or anything special at all — which is a relief, actually — but then why was he so “special” all along? It’s like all the bits and pieces aren’t quite matching up.

Like this: Why the hell is Donna not dead?

That really feels like a copout on Russell Davies’ part. After all the warnings about how she can’t remember or her head will explode, it’s totally not fair on us to suddenly have the Doctor wink and say, “But really, d’ya think I’d leave my best friend without a defense mechanism?” Why has the Doctor been lying about this all along? What was the point of it?

I don’t want to think there was no point except that Davies painted himself into a corner and couldn’t get out of it. Because there was a way out: Donna dies. Not that I want to see Donna die, of course — I really, really hate that she’s left with nothing more exciting in her life than a wedding ring…

…but more important is being true to the characters and to the story. Why not have Donna remember, and use her final moments with her full memory back to do something for the Doctor, or for her mother or Wilf, or for Earth?

Okay, so Timothy Dalton wasn’t the Black Guardian but Rassilon, who’s kinda like George Washington-meets-Moses for the Time Lords, a figure from the far distant past, and when did he get resurrected, anyway? He was Lord President of Gallifrey during the Time War? Geez.

I don’t want to get too down on the episode, because there was some good stuff here, stuff that was neither too neatly matchy-matchy with bits of the tapestry of the story we’ve seen so far, nor too thrown in so that the David-Tennant-Doctor could do everything and meet everyone in his final moments. I mean, all the stuff on the cactus people’s spaceship felt like pure, cornball filler… except the bits between the Doctor and Wilf. The scene with Wilf’s gun, and his “I don’t want you to die, you’re the most wonderful man…” — that’s great stuff, and there should have been more like it here. That’s what Doctor Who has always been about, not space battles. If we wanted kick-ass FX, we wouldn’t be watching Doctor Who in the first place.

Look: the Doctor doesn’t merely accept Wilf’s gun finally after he hears that it’s the Time Lords returning: he snatches it from Wilf. That one little moment, after all his refusal to touch the gun before, says more about how really, really awful the Time War was than anything we’ve seen before. And then the confrontation with the Master and the Time Lords was brilliant. Not just the terrible dilemma — save the Master? or save the now-evil Time Lords? — but the irony of such a simple, low-tech weapon facing such power and such technology.

The Doctor was fighting the Time Lords, too, by the end of the war? That is a huge kick in the gut, for him to have to say it out loud and for us to hear it.

But wait: since when do the Time Lords listen to prophecies? Is this Macbeth? They’re Time Lords, for pete’s sake: they don’t need prophecies — they have TARDISes. Yeah, yeah, I know: Time Lords can’t travel back and forth in their own timelines. But Rassilon is supposed to be anti-superstition, pro-rationality. WTF?

And what the crap is the deal with the Time Lady who wasn’t the White Guardian?

I thought, at this moment, If he says, “Mother,” I’m gonna scream — and not in a good way.

(Did it mean anything when the Doctor responded to Wilf’s question — “That woman, who was she?” — by glancing at Donna in the distance? Is the woman a future incarnation of Donna, whose Time Lord side presumable manifests itself at some point in the future? I’m not sure I like that…)

I like the horrific irony of the Time Lords having created the Master (though I don’t see how it doesn’t contradict the “they can’t travel in their own timelines” rule). I’m glad the Time Lords appear to be well and truly gone, removed from the overall story, letting the Doctor get on with things and the universe get on with whatever it’s been doing. But I’m not sure if I wouldn’t like to have the Master still around, particularly if he can be a different kind of adversary to the Doctor. “Wonder what I’d be without you,” the Doctor says to him. It’s an interesting idea to ponder. A more interesting idea: I wonder what the Master would be without the drumming in his head. I doubt he could ever be quite sane, but he could be less insane, which could make for some new kinds of stories, perhaps…

God, I do love John Simm. Look at him, bringing the Master to the verge of tears, making us feel sorry for the Doctor’s biggest, archest archenemy:

But still: the Doctor leaps out of the spaceship without a parachute? Really? He knocks around Earth before regenerating for just enough time to say good-bye to everyone? The schmaltz was so thick I was choking on it. I didn’t feel moved. I felt manipulated.

This is when I finally teared up:

“I don’t wanna go.”

I bet you don’t. So why go? Imagine what you and Steven Moffat could have done together…

Random thoughts on “The End of Time: Part Two”:

• How come all those Masters aren’t fighting among themselves for power?

• Has Russell Davies been watching Star Wars?

(Nice shootin’, Wilf. Don’t get cocky.)

Yup, Star Wars:

• Gallifrey’s a big-ass planet, ain’t it?

Soon, this will be part of the weather reports on Earth: “partly cloudly, with a chance of big-ass alien planets”:

Must everything be so freakin’ epic for Russell Davies?

• Martha and Mickey are married and fighting Sontarans? Where? When? How did that happen?

• Big shock: Sarah Jane is still in love with the Doctor:

• Wait, Rose doesn’t remember this guy just a year later, when her first Doctor regenerates?

“Two thousand and five, January the first.” Wow, has it been five years already?

• I’m thinking Steven Moffat wanted a new console room set:

• Umm, no:

Sorry, Matt Smith, no offense or anything, but I ain’t feelin’ it. I’m gonna have to hope that Moffat’s writing carries us through. Or else that it’ll be like it was when Tom Baker regenerated: I was already in love with Peter Davison after All Creatures Great and Small, and I still didn’t want to see him as the Doctor… but I did grew to love his Doctor eventually. Of course, that was my first regeneration — I might have been expected to be leery. Now, I’m an old hand at this. *sigh* I guess I’ll just have to wait and see if I can adjust to Doctor Who without David Tennant…

• Great quotes:

“Worst. Rescue. Ever!” –the Doctor

“He loves playing with Earth girls. Ugh!” –the Master, about the Doctor, of course

“You don’t need to own the universe. Just see it.” –the Doctor to the Master

(next: Season 5, Episode 1: “The Eleventh Hour”)

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Tue, Jan 05, 2010 1:57am

We’ve already seen what a sans-drums Master looks like. He looks a lot like Robert Delgado, in fact, or perhaps Anthony Ainley. You know, the Masters from the original series that never once so much as alluded to there being constant drumming in their heads.

The Jacobi and Simm Masters were anomalies whose histories had been retroactively altered during the Time War. Since this alteration seems to have been undone it just means that the next time the Master shows up he’ll be closer to his classic persona than to John Simm’s version.

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 3:27am

Longest..regeneration..ever. The radiation the Doctor absorbed looked like it was worse than when he got zapped by the Dalek in Stolen Earth and he started to regenerate then in less than two minutes. Looks like he had quite a bit of time to, er, put his affairs in order this time. Yes, fairly heavy handed on the manipulation for Tennant’s “send off.”

All the human Masters seemed to really be only extensions of the master Master (one Master to rule them all). This is why they didn’t fight among themselves. The Doctor told Wilf that killing the Master would “break the template” and everyone would revert to themselves. Not the same as six billion Master clones. That would be chaos.

I agree with Maryann about Davies seemed to have painted himself into a corner with Donna.

Got the feeling they were hinting at the mysterious woman being a relative of the Doctor, possibly mother. They certainly knew each other, with her aiding the Doctor in secret, and emotional enough to shead tears for the Doctor. Though ultimately we are left to wonder and it doesn’t look like they’ll ever need to answer that question with the Time Lords stuck back in the Time War.

The scene with Capt. Jack in the cantina made me laugh.

The quick bit with Matt Smith wasn’t enough to form much of an opinion. I’m eager to see the new episodes begin, especially after the lean year that was 2009. Apparently they saw something special in Mr. Smith. Hopefully, we’ll see it too once his adventures get underway.

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 3:32am

Ah – shmaltz or no shmaltz (and oh yes there was plenty) I still had to have a bit of a sob. Mainly because I’m pathetic when it comes to crying at stories, but also because David Tennant has been completely kick-arse brilliant and I’m going to miss him. Actually, I probably cried more at the Doctor Who Confidential episode about this last performance than I did during the episode, which probably isn’t a good thing. . .

There were things I really enjoyed about the episode, though – the whole scene with the gun and the relevation of what the Time Lords were really like, and the Doctor having his rant about not wanting to have to die for Wilf (although you know he will). Maybe I’m just particularly susceptible to corn but I actually thought that the Wilf-knocking-four-times thing was a really nice touch – David Tennant as the Doctor has been about him being quite human and falling in love and etc, so it made sense to me that it wouldn’t be the big thing that got him in the end, but the ‘small’ sacrifice for someone he’d learnt to care about. Anyway.

Got extremely nostalgic for the David Tennant years after watching The End of Time and have been rewatching Season 2. Fab. Can’t we just have David Tennant and Billie Piper for ever?

And I know this is supposed to be a love-fest but I’m really not feeling Matt Smith either. He’s just too young!

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 3:44am

It was satisfying to see the Master finally get his revenge on the Time Lord President, and in so doing, save the Doctor’s life–reminded me of Gollum and Frodo on Mount Doom. The part that really got me, though, was what happened next…

It could have gone a lot differently. If the Doctor was more like me, I’m ashamed to say, he would have told Wilfred, “I’m sorry, I am so, so sorry, but that enclosure is about to flood with radiation, and there’s no way to get you out…. But we had the best of times, didn’t we?”

What makes the Doctor so wonderful and so unforgettable for me is that, even after that long, bitter monologue where he lists all the reasons he can’t be expected to die for Wilf, he can still say convincingly, “Wilfred–it’s my honor.”

I guess it’s open to interpretation, but I think the Doctor’s “reward” is to lay down his life for his friends.

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 5:03am

I’ve heard grumbling around the net about why it took him so long to regenerate, but, I don’t know, I had no problem with it. He had radiation poisoning, which, from my limited understanding, doesn’t necessarily mean an immediate death. In season 4, he was *shot* by the Dalek. I didn’t get the sense he was irradiated?

As for knowing how much time he had left to make his final rounds? Well sure, he’s a smart guy, why wouldn’t he have at least a guestimate, knowing how much radiation he absorbed and his own biology, of how much time he had before his body really started to break down?

As for those final rounds, I wavered for a while on whether it worked for me or was overly sentimental, but I came down on the side of it worked, and i did tear up when he got to Rose. Part of me knew i was being manipulated but I think it also felt in character for the Doctor. This is a Dr who adores humans and adores his human companions. I think they’re what makes him feel his life had value and I think seeing them again, and not just seeing them but appearing in their lives at a moment when he can save them (at least Luke and Martha), reminding himself that he didn’t just ruin their lives, as he’s mentioned before.

did i want something better for DT’s final ep.? yes, but frankly, this ep was such a huge relief for me because the muddle that was part 1 left me confused, disappointed, and sorely afraid Tennant’s swansong would be completely ruined by RTD’s love of the epic (so agree with you there MaryAnn). I don’t hate on RTD as much as so many fanboys seem to; I’ve actually enjoyed most of his eps *except* for the season finales of 3 & 4, which was what had me worried.

Perhaps it’s my lack of knowledge of classic Who (Rassilon what?), but i was able to suspend disbelief enough, thought the escape and spaceship battle were actually fun, and didn’t mind the flying leap through a skylight. I’ve sort of had the impression that, while not a superhero, the Dr can withstand a lot more banging around than a human. I also liked that he didn’t just hit the floor and then get up right away. In fact it was almost comical; he comes crashing in heroically with a gun and then can’t even lift his arm off the ground to do anything.
and of course what really raised this ep. above all were those scenes with Wilf and the Dr. Just watch the look on Tennant’s face right at the moment when he goes from sobbing in relief at being alive to hearing the 4 knocks. that’s some brilliant acting.

and I so adored that the 4 knocks came from Wilf. just Wilf the ordinary human and not a Time Lord. perfect.

agree with you on Donna, Maryann. I’m not sure why she even needed to be in this ep, other than that I suppose we’d have to at least see her if Wilf is there.

The one minute of Matt Smith? I thought he was channeling Tennant. which perhaps was intentional. I will probably give him a try but I don’t think i have ever seen an actor and a role so perfectly matched as Tennant and the Doctor, so it’s going to be a hard change.

Sorry for the long post, but damn, I’m going to miss Tennant.

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 6:16am

For Davies,I think this was good work – I did not really care much for the whole Master/Time Lord story line. In fact, I loved the distraction because the Doctor was looking in the wrong place for the threat; more often than not, the Doctor has to regenerate because of self-sacrifice, rather than actually being bested by his enemies.

The whole 20 minute goodbye sequence – I don’t think it could not have ended any other way, not for DT and not for the way RTD created his Doctor. On this occasion, the Doctor has no on-going companion, as his previous incarnations did – like Sarah-Jane passing from JP to TB, and Peri from PD to CB. He was going to die alone (for Moffatt’s clean slate) and had to say his goodbyes in advance,
and even though there were annoying contrivances (Mickey and Martha, I suspect, were lumped together for time constraints), I liked the idea of the Doctor visiting the people who played a great role in his life. DT in my view is the most human-like of the Doctors – and this was like the dying father figure putting his affairs in order to see that everyone is going to be ok; that was enough for me to overlook the gaps and schmaltz and suspend disbelief.

In all fairness, I don’t think Matt Smith was helped by the emotional intensity of DT’s departure – the tear-jerking delivery of the “I don’t want to go” line momentarily followed by Smith’s hyper-active arrival seemed to jar badly.

It would have been better if DT had said the line, collapsed, regenerated and then left the camera on MS, with no lines spoken and then fade-out.

I really did like the look of MS in the promo, though.

Gavin Bollard
Tue, Jan 05, 2010 7:05am

Good review. You’re right on most counts. There was too much schmaltz and a lot of things don’t make sense.

I can possibly help with the Macbeth lady though. It’s likely that she was the pythia


They left Gallifrey after a bit of a fight with Rassilon (and after cursing the Timelords to sterility). Last seen as the Sisterhood of Karn in the Brain of Morbius but I believe that later fiction had them returning to Gallifrey with everything forgiven.

Adam S
Adam S
Tue, Jan 05, 2010 9:42am

I sometimes think that this was “A Season Too Far”. Although all of the specials had some nice bits, the stories were too Tennant-centric, as though we were watching a five hour death scene. The other characters in the specials never really helped the viewer identify with them like the (best) companions did. The Deadly Assassin was the only classic Who story to feature the Doctor sans companion, and for good reason. If they decide to have another year like this for whatever reason, I hope they follow the Torchwood: Children of Earth model of a taut five-day miniseries rather than a sprawling five-special year with–let’s be honest–little if no cohesion in the stories.

It’s a new day, and although Tennant’s time was replete with great moments, I’m ready for a change. I don’t envy the production team’s task of having to appeal to thirty-year-old plus classic fans while simultaneously holding the attention span of eight to twelve year old boys and girls. But it can be done.

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 10:00am

I know I’m in the minority, but I really like Matt Smith. He made me laugh even though the Doctor had just regenerated. “I’m a girl?”

Trash Film Guru
Tue, Jan 05, 2010 10:47am

I’ve refrained from commenting on Doctor Who on here before since the rules state that this is a “love-fest” only, but as the host of the site herself has said some less than complimentary things about this episode, I might as well chime in —

I thought the developments with the Time Lords were interesting. I like the idea of them “going bad.” It’s something Alan Moore suggested back in 1988 when he was approached to write for the 25th anniversary season. I think it works. But I think Tim Dalton was awful. I love camp, OTT villains, but the way he delivered every single line with the exact same inflection really started to grate after awhile.

The story itself was essentially the same as any other Davies-era season finale, with a long-ass regneration tacked onto the end. The threats kept getting bigger each year RTD was at the helm, but the essential plot was the same, as were the deus ex machina resolutions. At least in season one the DEM was Rose herself, but in season two it was a giant interdimensional vaccum, in season three it was literally a reset button, in season four it was Donna undoing the entire Dalek plan to destroy reality by just monkeying with thier console, and here it was a freaking bullet to a machine. There are overly convenient resolutions, and then there are absurdly conveient reolutions. The Doctor wrecking the plans of both the Master and the Time Lords with one bullet is, sorry to say, a resolution of the absurdly convenient variety.

As for the regneration — I think what first wrecked it for me was the “hammering-the-audience-over-the-head-with-it” nature of it. When Wilf knocked four times that first time when the Doctor was just sort of getting his bearings again, it was powerful and even shocking for a moment. But just in case we were too stupid to catch it the first time, they had him knock four times — three more times! Then things really went off the rails. The Doctor realizes what’s up and goes off on a self-indulgent, self-pitying rant. “This is what I get. My reward.” Oh dear Lord, the Doctor should always be a flawed character, perhaps deeply so, but self-pitying? Sorry, just doesn’t work for me.

Imagine for a moment that the Doctor’s whole “woe is me” soliloquy didn’t take place and instead the scene would have begun with him telling Wilf “it would be my honor” and going into the chamber in his place. A more dignified, heart-wrenching sacrifice would be hard to imagine. It would truly have made for the single most powerful regeneration scene of them all. Instead, we get a couple minutes of the Doctor feelign sorry for himself, and by the time he does tell Wilf “it would be my honor,” his words ring hollow.

Then we’ve got the farewell tour that lasted over ten minutes by my count. What little emotional resonance there was in that final scene between the Doctor and Wilf is utterly pissed away by this self-congratulatory and completely counterproductive digression. It’s almost fitting that it ends absurdly, with an obviously older Billie Piper attempting to reprise a version of her character that’s actually younger than she was when she met the Doctor, because the whole scene is so absurd as to be almost self-parodying. I can see the Doctor running around to save the life of his friends one more time, but would he really waste the effort of some of his last moments on helping Captain Jack get laid? Come on.

Things don’t pick up any kind of emotional resonance again until the very end, when Tennant delivers his “I don’t want to go” line, but that would have worked so much better without the “farewell tour” nonsense. Picture for moment a dramatically shortened regeneration scene where the Doctor skips his “I feel so sorry for myself because I’m so great” nonsense, tells Wilf “it would be my honor” and replaces him in the chamber, then goes into the Tardis and says “I don’t want to go” before, indeed, going. that would have been powerful stuff. As it is, the production team’s desire to pat itself on the back on their way out the door resulted in them scuttling up an opportunity to do some really powerful storytelling. The Doctor’s sacrifice lost nearly all its impact because of self-indulgent creative decisions on the part of Davies, et al.

Which is a shame. The Tenth Doctor’s era was hardly a favorite of mine in the big picture (and no, I’m nto a die-hard classic series-only fan, I absolutely loved season one of the new series), but it deserved a better, more focused, and much more disciplined ending than this.

It’s too soon to tell what the future will hold, but I remain optimistic that the Steven Moffat/Matt Smith pairing can get Doctor Who back on course, the Davies/Tennant era ultimately ended up losing control over its own excesses and was, consequently, quite literally swallowed up by them at the end.

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 10:56am

But where did the Master go?? After the explosion, he simply vanished with the Time Lords?

I did think it was a bit overdone, but I liked that they gave the Doctor time to visit everyone and see they were ok.

I also wanted Donna to do something significant to save the planet -she seemed happy, but still -what a waste of potential!

A good send off for David -but not a great one.

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 11:39am

I really enjoyed it – I liked the way many of the apparently redundant or superfluous elements in part one (eg the cacti aliens) were actually given some use in part two. Yes, it was in some places a bit self-indulgent, but you know, I think the outgoing production team have earned that really. (And in the commentary for these episodes RTD does indeed acknowledge that both Wilf’s Luke Skywalker impression and the bar were a Star Wars nod.)

(Did it mean anything when the Doctor responded to Wilf’s question — “That woman, who was she?” — by glancing at Donna in the distance? Is the woman a future incarnation of Donna, whose Time Lord side presumable manifests itself at some point in the future? I’m not sure I like that…)

My call on this is Susan. There’s a granddaughter parallel there that’s just too clear to ignore. Again in the commentary Julie Gardner brought up the “Doctor’s Mum” bit but RTD never really seemed to agree with her. Susan’s been lost, she’s a Time Lady (or that’s the theory I’m subscribing to) so it makes sense for her to have been called back to Gallifrey when the war kicked off. Susan makes most sense, IMHO.

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 11:56am

I discovered and fell in love with new Doctor Who in 2007, when the airing episodes were well into the second series. I watched the DVD’s to catch up and loved much of it. I am not a RTD basher as he has been responsible for some of my favorite episodes (Turn Left and Midnight leap to mind). However, I can say with some confidence that if I started with watching EOT, I would have concluded “Silly twaddle, next…”. OK, that’s not entirely fair as I generally don’t start a series with it’s finale, but knowing how good New Who can be, I was quite disappointed. All of SM’s episodes are in my list of favorites, so I am looking forward to the fifth series. CE was my “first doctor”, but I learned to appreciate DT, and am hopeful that I can do the same with MS. Happy New Year!

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 12:09pm

I don’t mind that you don’t know who that woman is RTD is probably rotflhao at all the speculation – he knew what he was doing. I don’t think she was a time lady because she was quantum locked as a punishment for not agreeing with the others and if you are a quantum locked time lady then you can’t move. So I’m assuming she was more powerful than that and I’m inclined to go with white guardian on this one. Like the pythia theory too though.

To be honest, first time I watched it, I didn’t like it. However, it made a little bit more sense the second time.

I liked the long goodbye – Tennant deserved it for doing such a great job and for being such a great ambassador for the role. I actually think the emotion in those final scenes came from the companion’s reactions. They were feeling what the fans were feeling. Elizabeth Sladen was where I started to lose it. If you watch the confidential, David helps to choose his last shot. He did four takes of the I don’t want to go line and then they choose the most stoic one for the final version. I think that lets the companions feel his grief for him to a certain extent. I have to disagree with the comment above that complained about his rant against Wilf. In a way, we have never seen him act like that. He’s always ready to give his life for others. I think that as he’s had to really face up to the possibility of his death (by that I mean his complete death, no regeneration as mentioned in part 1) that he’s realised that he really wants to fight against it. Beautiful piece of acting from David, I thought, as it slowly dawns on him that it’s not to be. Because he knows that he will have to take Wilf’s place – it’s just in his dna. He’s allowed a bit of a strop because we know that he’s going to save him too. He’s upset because he knows it’s over. He was frightened to die, that’s why he ran away from it, so I think he’s allowed that emotional release. In this scene, I think we are allowed to feel that way too. (Stupid, stupid Wilf! (I love you Cribbens)) RTD understands the fans!

Re: Matt Smith – I am prepared to give the guy a chance – he did make me laugh with that I’m a girl line (thru the tears, people!) but at this point, he’s just channelling David. Took David a while not to be overshadowed by Billie too. Good luck to him, I say.

I just stopped crying 5 minutes ago – I feel like my cat died.

Bill Mason
Tue, Jan 05, 2010 12:34pm

I found the plot more engaging than I expected from a Russell Davies farewell episode. If you lose the ‘grand tour of the universe before I die’ half an hour, the rest on balance is good. But that sequence was so desperately emotionally manipulative, I think Davies and Speilberg would be perfect together to make an “E.T. 2”.

So by the time that was over, the Doctor’s final cry of not wanting to go fell flat on my ears.

And you know the Master isn’t dead. He never is. John Simm was great again.

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 12:39pm

I am so going to miss David as the doctor. The episode was good, thought it would be epic. but I think it needs to be seen a few times before I can really get a grasp of what Russell T Davies was trying to get across.
The end of #10 is like going through a death and I am going through the seven stages of grief and right now I’m in denial. I think I won’t find acceptance until halfway through series 5 when i realize David ain’t coming back. Oh I will miss seeing his smiling mug in the Tardis.
Jeez, I’m such a Fangirl.

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 12:45pm

I’m willing to give RTD a lot of slack, and am tolerant of his excesses. Because without him, there would be no current Doctor Who. So while I think these eps could have been better, I’m content with how good they were, and loved lots of the scenes.

I did especially like the touches with Wilf, the various Star Wars: ANH nods, and the revelation that the Doctor had to take out the Time Lords to end the War, and they weren’t just ‘collateral damage.’ That gives the Doctor a whole new level of angst to work with, and I love how he said something along the lines of “that’s how I choose to remember them.” Excellent.

I was a bit disappointed in John Simm. Not his acting, but that he wasn’t given more to do. He chews the scenery quite nicely, but he has so much more talent than that. The last scenes with the Time Lords did use some of his skills, but for the most part, his talent and character was wasted.

As much as I adore DT, I adored CE, and I have high hopes for Matt Smith. Stephen Moffat is freakishly talented, and I trust his judgement.

As for the Matt Smith previews, I liked the look of what was to come, except the one returning bad guy. Again? Really? Moffat’s villains have been wildly inventive (gas-mask people, clock-work androids, Vashta Nerada and weeping angels). Why bring back the bad guys I’m the most tired of?

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 1:15pm

I can forgive RTD for cramming too many plots into the episode because that’s what he does, it’s either trying to cram all the ideas he’s been sitting on before he left (in that case, why leave) or he didn’t have enough confidence that his A story (which was? I can’t really tell. Was it the Master or the Time Lords?) would work that he filled it with fluff.

But I really can’t forgive him for what he did to Donna. He’s never had the guts to kill off a character when he means it.
Rose told us that Doomsday was the day she died, Donna was the most faithful companion that was supposed to die and Donna was supposed to die if she remembered the Doctor. The first two were metaphorical deaths which always felt like a cop out to me but Donna’s second death was a betrayal of the character and it retroactively robs us of that emotional moment when the Doctor wiped her memory. It’s cheap.

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 1:38pm

So in this two-part finale, Davies referenced Harry Potter and Star Wars: two of the biggest pop-culture phenomenons in the last 40 years. Is RTD trying to say something about his own legacy?

I have to agree with Trash Film Guru regarding the woe-is-me speech. I actually really liked that it was Wilf who knocked, and that’s why he was so important (he “killed” the doctor). But the speech and then the long regeneration was really silly. The biggest problem with this entire ending was that RTD decided regeneration is like Death, when it’s not. He’s still going to have his same memories. He could still hang out with Wilf if he really wanted to. The only difference is he’ll be different for everyone else. Sure I suppose that’s a good metaphor for death: you move on, but they people who cared for you are the ones affected. The only problem is you’re still around. It just felt phony when you consider the doctor regenerated only a few years ago, and he didn’t seem to think it was a big deal.

Martin, I agree that robbing Donna of a hero’s death was pure crap. Unless they plan on bringing her back to save the day some day, there’s no point. If anything, it’s mean.

Small thing, did anyone else notice how the female time-lords covered their face like the weeping angels? What’s that about?

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 1:43pm

Oh, one more thing. I wish I would have liked the moral dilemma between who the Doctor was going to shoot. The problem is the entire time all I thought was, “Go unplug the stupid diamond Doctor.”

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 1:52pm

Alli: Small thing, did anyone else notice how the female time-lords covered their face like the weeping angels? What’s that about?

Timothy Dalton’s president explains it just before they all take the Immortality Gate to the mansion – those are the two who voted against Gallifrey RISING and are standing as witnesses, “like the weeping angels of old”. So the posture is deliberate. Plus it makes for that reveal when the mysterious woman in white looks up.

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 2:07pm

“…those are the two who voted against Gallifrey RISING and are standing as witnesses…”

very hard to witness anything, however, if your face is covered.

i had a ton of problems with this two-parter… not a worthy ending for DT’s Doctor, i felt. Donna was definitely gypped and hated the long goodbye. but mostly, i hate that DT is no longer the Doctor and i’m feeling very pouty about Matt Smith. and intend to pout for quite some time.

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 2:27pm

Well, I loved it, pretty much start to finish. Bring on long goodbyes, sentimentality, confusing plot threads (Mickey/Martha? mysterious old Time Lady? whaaa?) — I don’t mind. I did mind Matt Smith doing a David Tennant impression. (“Blimey”?? Really??) But like others, the “I’m a girl?” line at least got a snicker out of me… it just still reminded me an awful lot of the “newborn” Ten scene. Sigh. On to next season.

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 2:48pm

Susan’s been lost, she’s a Time Lady (or that’s the theory I’m subscribing to)

I don’t think Susan is Gallifreyan, actually. I don’t think the Doctor would have abandoned her among humans if she was.

I’m willing to give RTD a lot of slack, and am tolerant of his excesses. Because without him, there would be no current Doctor Who.

I agree. I criticize only out of love.

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 3:01pm

Timothy Dalton’s president explains it just before they all take the Immortality Gate to the mansion – those are the two who voted against Gallifrey RISING and are standing as witnesses, “like the weeping angels of old”. So the posture is deliberate. Plus it makes for that reveal when the mysterious woman in white looks up.

Yes I remember that. I suppose what I meant was what is the connection between the Weeping Angels and the time lords because (SPOILER)….we see them in the trailer for next season. There’s something more to it.

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 3:39pm

I was ok with what happened to Donna – I would have loved her to come back in a blaze of glory but I would have hated RTD if he hadn’t killed her then because she remembered.

She paid the price for her metacrisis – she’s still Donna. That’s still a loss to me. Although the fact that she’s beginning to realise that she misses things is probably a good sign. I liked that he set her up for life. Her bloke seems a bit thick too (better than Lance anyway but that wouldn’t be hard – I’d liked her to be with Lee!) but the first thing he did when he went back to himself was to look for her. So he must love her. So it’s a little bittersweet but that’s ok. All in all, I’m glad she has a chance at the good life.

Re The weeping angels and the 2 timelords – I’m assuming that the only link is that they are quantum locked like the weeping angels – when he says they are standing as witnesses, “like the weeping angels of old”, I just assumed that they were being punished in the same way.

I’m so going to miss David as the tenth dr but hey he’s gonna go to greater things.

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 3:41pm

sorry I was going to add that isn’t the next series season 5 of New Who? not season 6? I hear the producers called these past specials 4.15, 4.16, etc.

Let’s not start on the whole series 1 controversy!

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 3:48pm

I don’t think Susan is Gallifreyan, actually. I don’t think the Doctor would have abandoned her among humans if she was.

So do you think Susan’s not really the Doctor’s granddaughter then?

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 4:29pm

Mixed feelings about this one, some good stuff, but mostly I am glad that RTD is done with DW. I do admire what he has done to bring DW back and would love to have chat with him someday, but I have had enough RTD DW scripts for now.

Donna should have either been left out of it or killed, the “self-defense mechanism” was one of the weakest things I’ve seen come from RTD. This is wrong in so many ways, I could go on for paragraphs.

The last five or so minutes was show-runner masturbation and the previous minutes were Multi-Master-bation. Neither of which should someone who cares about the legacy of DW should have allowed to happen. It would have been nice to sprinkle the last five minutes of the last show through-out the last few episodes, showing that the Doctor is actively thinking about the impending four knocks and cleaning up his affairs along the way.

The story would have been SOOO much better if he had just left out all of the Master making copies business and focused on the Timelords returning and what that meant to the Master and the Doctor and the rest of the universe.

Why the loud clicking noise with the gun everytime the Doctor turned? I mean really, how many times can you cock it without actually shooting something. The only reason I can see for it makes me imagine RTD at his computer snickering in a Beavis and Butthead way and saying, “..Heh,Heh I wrote cocked, heh,heh…”

Having billions of Masters killing one another for supremacy would have been brilliant. One way of killing lots of humans. Except ..hmmm… should not each of the Master’s copies have been transformed into a timelord with regeneration properties? That machine was supposed to imprint the patterns, why stop at the superficial features. You’d end up with lots of different timelord Masters fighting amongst themselves and no humans dying, just lots of regenerations. A glorious opportunity to have a broad swath of actors and actress’s playing the Master. Crap, why would I second guess an RTD story, it’s already confused enough without trying to make sense of it.

This is what I meant in another post where I said it seems like RTD put no effort into the story. Any thought at all would have told him it is riddled with holes and weakness. I know he can write a good story, but it just seems he has reached his attention span limit with DW.

I don’t intend to be too negative about a man I admire, so thank you Russell for bringing back DW in style and writing a great many stories and characters that we all can love. In the end people will remember your era for the good you have done.

Les Carr
Les Carr
Tue, Jan 05, 2010 6:02pm

Alli said

The biggest problem with this entire ending was that RTD decided regeneration is like Death, when it’s not. He’s still going to have his same memories.

I agree with RTD – regeneration must be like death to 10. Every cell in the Doctor’s body dies and is replaced. The fact that he looks different means that he is not being replicated. A slightly different being will emerge with his memories, but it won’t be the same personality, composed of the same combination of traits and impulses and motivations. Exactly what is being regenerated such that the doctor retains his memories but not his face is not made clear. But I’m sure that whatever made 10 so uniquely 10 (10anty?) is gone for good.

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 6:29pm

I thought the whole point of the first one i.e. the discussion where he said that Timelords could die if they didn’t have time to regenerate -was to show that he felt that he was going to die altogether and that he wasn’t going to regenerate?

Some guilt issues there – maybe he didn’t feel he deserved to after wiping out his own race?

I think he liked being ten and was sorry to lose those aspects of himself. I think he thought he’d got away with it and then he heard Wilf knocking – can’t blame him for being angry. Also it was going to be painful and without the timelords around to ensure extra regenerations beyond the allocated 12 (or is it 13) he’s probably thinking he should try and start to learn to stop flying through his regenerations so quickly!

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 6:31pm

Gavin Bollard said:

I can possibly help with the Macbeth lady though. It’s likely that she was the pythia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythia_of_Gallifrey

which says:

Among the ancient Gallifreyans are time-sensitives, marked by their red hair, who pilot early Gallifreyan time machines.

Is *that* why the Doctor is so keen to be ginger?

Pythia? The Lords of Kobol were Time Lords? Sweet!

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 7:14pm

Holy crap… this is not the review I expected from you MaryAnn. I thought we were in “love fest” territory here? You’ve piled every honest (and cliched) critique of the entire Doctor Who reboot onto the poor shoulders of this very good episode. And while it’s nice to see you showing some real criticism of this show, it kinda seems like you’re being a little unfair.

This episode is not an anomaly; it’s fairly consistent for the Davies era. Glaring plot holes, silly technobabble, villains that just stand around talking to the Doctor instead of killing him, etcetera. Ridiculous!

But not unusual! :)

Perhaps David Tennant’s exit is affecting your formerly stalwart subjectivity?

I found the “four knocks” resolution to be absolutely brilliant; that entire sequence was wonderful. Easily some of Davies’ best writing. And Matt Smith had just as good an entrance as Tennant himself did all those years ago. “Still not a ginger!” is just as funny as “New teeth!” — funnier if you ask me.

Anyway, I’m surprised at this review, I really am… but I’d love to see you swing this new perspective of yours onto some of the previous episodes and really tear into them. It’d be fun. Kinda like kicking down the sand castle. :)

I thought your “Planet of the Dead” review was a fluke, a momentary flirtation with objectivity, but maybe you’ve turned a corner on the good Doctor? If so, that’s too bad — this isn’t a show that requires a critical eye; just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. But it is entertaining, and above all earnest. That’s why we can so easily ignore its many flaws… right?

Tue, Jan 05, 2010 8:14pm

When the Doctor said that he didn’t want to go, I wanted to ask him why he was.

I think I agree with your criticisms. Part 2 wasn’t as bad as Part 1. I’m glad the Time Lords didn’t return. I’m actually kind of glad that they turned out to be bastards. I wasn’t expecting their return to be the most horrible thing that the Doctor could imagine.

All of the scenes with Wilf were gold. The Doctor should have taken him, because the two of them just seem to connect somehow. It made me want to cry when Wilf tried to force him to take the gun because he’s just such a wonderful and excellent man that he NEEDS to live, needs to more than anyone else.

Didn’t have a problem with the Doctor raving about not wanting to die. It was new to me to hear him say that when he dies, he dies, and a new man with the same memories comes back in his place. I didn’t know he felt like that. It was shocking and tragic to me, and I think it’s ok even GOOD that he likes himself enough to not want to be someone else.

The tour de Old Friends was silly. Mickey and Martha? What? Really, Martha?

Captain Jack… all you have to say to Jack is go have sex with some random dude who’s a werewolf on another show? He’s going to live forever, Doctor. Maybe you two should try having a chat again, with less “you’re a black eye in the universe” angst.

Let’s not even talk about Rose.

But what I don’t get about the whole tour, even though I know that the Doctor feels like he’s died, is why he needs to see them all again. He won’t lose his memories. They’ll still all be there. So, what? He’s made a plan to never see any of them again because…?

They should have left Wilf’s four knocks as just the once. Because I dunno about everyone else, but I gasped when he did it the first time. I knew without it being beaten into me. And the Doctor knew, too. And that’s all you needed.

Miko Bustamante
Miko Bustamante
Tue, Jan 05, 2010 10:35pm

What happened to the lovefest? :D

Anyway, I would disagree that all that stuff on the Cactus people ship was cornball and fluff. It may be so to US, but kids loved it. RTD knows how to create new audiences for this show, ensuring that it will remain successful in the future. If we no longer scream in glee at alien dogfights and massive planets in the sky, then perhaps we might be too jaded, or yeah, maybe too OLD for this show. It’s not really meant for us, you know, as RTD have always said. It’s for the kids. We’re just tagging along.

Tonio Kruger
Tonio Kruger
Tue, Jan 05, 2010 10:52pm

The tour de Old Friends was silly. Mickey and Martha? What? Really, Martha?

Hey, she could do worse. Though I must confess to remembering how I kvetched about the convenience with which RTD paired up the show’s two most famous black characters at the end of the last season finale in the “Journey’s End” thread. After all, he could have been more creative than that.

Still, it wasn’t the worst fate she could have had. Though if it ever turns out that Mickey or Matt Smith are the real reason Sarah Jane says “Mr. Smith, I need you” every time she needs to boot up that alien computer of hers, I’m never watching this show again…

That said…

I wasn’t happy with every bit of it. I especially hated the magic radiation which was strong enough to kill the Doctor but allowed him to touch other people without fear of contamination. Yes, he’s an alien and I understand the dramatic reasons RTD did it that way but still–lazy writing.

But it was not as bad as I expected.

SPOILER For Next Season Based on Trailer and Other Posters

I’m not sure I’m all that happy about a return of the Weeping Angels next season. Nor about yet another episode of the Daleks. Unless they do wheelies this time. Because “Daleks Doing Wheelies,” or “Daleks on Ice” or even “Daleks of the Lost Ark” are about the only concepts that haven’t done yet with them. (Now I’m envisaging Kate Capshaw singing “Anything Goes” in Mandarin with an entire chorus line of Daleks in the background…Er, never mind.)

Anyway,if the upcoming Dalek episode is the worst aspect of the new season, I’ll be happy.

I’m not really eager to see an even younger version of the Doctor. But then I keep reminding myself of how I initially felt about Leela–“She’s not Sarah Jane! How come she’s not Sarah Jane!”–or the Fifth Doctor–“He’s not Tom Baker! What the hell happened to Tom Baker!”–and Tegan and Turlough–and how I eventually came to have the same affection for them that I had for the characters of the first DW episode I ever saw–i.e. “Robot.”

The logical part of my mind isn’t sure how to feel about Donna’s fate. Yes, RTD wrote himself into a corner with that subplot. But I suspect an episode in which Donna was intentionally sacrificed for cheap emotional effect would have just as disappointing in the long run as what actually happened. Besides, I like the fact that “my Donna” finally got a happy ending of sorts–even if it’s not the type that other posters here would have preferred. And no, I don’t say that because I believe every female character in DW should be barefoot and pregnant–but because the ending in question made sense in regard to what we already knew about Donna’s character.

Besides, I think it would be really neat if one of Donna’s biracial children ended up traveling with a future incarnation of the Doctor. Granted, that seems as likely now as, say, a hermaphroditic Doctor but…we’ll see.

After all, a black President of the United States once seemed pretty unlikely too…

Wed, Jan 06, 2010 1:02am

Re: the discussion about regeneration feeling like death to the doctor, I really don’t think that that is far fetched or even new to this episode. Remember when he regenerated at the end of series one? He spent the next few episodes trying to figure out what kind of man he was, what personality he had. If regeneration were as simple as just changing the body and nothing else, he wouldn’t have had that problem.

Wed, Jan 06, 2010 4:24am

I was excited by Matt Smith personally-I’m looking forward to something new.

As a huge Donna fan, I would have liked her situation handled one of two ways:

1. Played for comedy-with her and her fiance watching TV, stuck in traffic, stuck in an elevator, etc. and both missing the entire thing without her “hot flash.”


2. Since one of Donna’s themes was growth-maybe show her going to college or volunteering somewhere.

Wed, Jan 06, 2010 9:48am

It always seemed to me that the new Doctor Who series couldn’t ever figure out how to set it’s mood and it was always shifting back and forth between dramatic and silly at the wrong times.

For example, the Doctor pointing his gun at the Time Lords, then switching to the Master is dramatic. Switching a third time becomes silly and a bit of a joke. A fourth time is even sillier and now you’ve overstayed your joke and is groan-worthy.

The series has done things like this, though, over and over again. Davies never seems to recognize that some drama is good, but the more and more drama you stack on becomes LESS powerful, not more.

Isn’t the Doctor’s death here just a mirroring of Nine’s regeneration into Ten? Eccelson also essentially killed himself to save a companion, last time, though, it was by taking the Time Vortex into himself to save Rose. Here, stepping into the overly contrived deathbox to substitute for Wilford.

The difference, though, is that when Nine went, he seemed glad. He smiled as he went and he seemed to say, “I wanted to die, but dying saving you was even better.” Ten, comparatively, whimpers and throws a tantrum and begrudgingly takes Wilf’s bullet. Ten, in the end, turns out to be a coward, and that’s incredibly unsatisfying.

Of the conclusion, my greatest disappointment is probably his interaction with Captain Jack. For all the terror the Doctor has injected into his companion’s lives, they all found a modicum of peace or happiness. Even Donna is happy in the end, without the knowledge of what she lost. But Jack, when the Doctor finds him, he’s at the lowest point in his life! Shouldn’t he have done SOMETHING for the guy to set his life back on track?

I was half expecting the Doctor to walk up to him and pull a Harriett Jones, just saying “Go home” so that Jack has a reason for returning to Earth for the inevitable Torchwood Series 4. Or at least fixing Jack’s wristband to work as a time travel device again. Hooking him up with the survivor of the Titanic spaceship is just a huge let down.

I’m excited for Matt Smith’s debut season, but only because I’m hoping the change of showrunner will result in a slightly less silly show. Thinking back about Girl in the Fireplace, Blink, or Library of the Dead, those episodes were all more carefully constructed, with fewer contrivances and a better understanding of mood. If that’s the model for the new series, I’m all for it.

Wed, Jan 06, 2010 10:03am

The gun thing was a bit silly because both the Master and 007 had the opportunity to blow him away with respectively his glove and the lightening bolt, I would agree with you there.

However, he went out saving another person’s life. He didn’t have to, even Wilf said he didn’t have to – that’s a hero’s death to me.

Re: Jack? I wonder what makes Jack happiest…..

Wed, Jan 06, 2010 9:10pm

How funny, I had a lot of the same thoughts as I watched the episode. I think the woman is either the Doctor’s Granddaughter Susan or more likely the White Guardian. My theory is that Rassilon came back and brought the White and Black Guardians with him (the two covering their eyes). It cannot be his mother because the Doctor is half Human on his Mother’s side as stated in the late 90’s movie.

Wed, Jan 06, 2010 11:48pm

Why doesn’t anyone think the Time Lady covering her eyes could be Romana?

Lord iEvil
Thu, Jan 07, 2010 6:58am

I’m amazed MaryAnn didn’t mention the ridiculous kinky chair-thing that the doctor ended up being gagged and bound to…

Thu, Jan 07, 2010 8:01am

^David Tennant? tied to a chair? In Dr Who and Hamlet?”!!?!?!?!?

ah Christmas was good to me this year!

The Master and the Doctor brothers? I don’t think so!

Thu, Jan 07, 2010 6:49pm

I loved it, warts and all. I particularly liked the quiet moments between The Master and The Doctor, and Wilf and The Doctor and I did like the Cactus people – they were a great counterpoint to the self-important Timelords.
I liked all of the references to the iconic sci-fi movies that post-date the origin of ‘Doctor Who’ – ‘Star Wars’ and even a bit of ‘The Terminator’ – I always love the timey-whimey stuff.
And, I have to say, every time I watch the new ‘Star Trek’ movie, I think of ‘Doctor Who’ – all that running.

Having watched most of the Tenth Doctor marathon (THANK YOU BBCA) leading up to the ‘end’, I have to say that I was extremely impressed with the depth of the series. Sure, there were some very silly moments, but, there have been almost fifty years of silly moments. And I realized that my most favorite episodes are the ones that RTD wrote.

Whatever direction Moffat decides to take, I know that it won’t touch me in quite the same way as the big gooey love-fest that was RTD’s ‘Doctor Who’.

A few thoughts on the visitations:
Martha and Mickey as freedom fighters – assuming this is post CoE, Torchwood is gone and Unit behaved rather despicably during that situation. So, who you gonna call? Why not Martha and Mickey who, let’s face it, have seen everything. As for them being married – who else would understand?

Captain Jack – what is the nature of their relationship post CoE? Surely the Doctor must feel some guilt, responsibility, something for being busy elsewhere. After ‘Water of Mars’ I’m convinced that the events of CoE were one of those ‘facts of time’ that couldn’t be changed, so, what can the Doctor offer Jack other than some little bit of comfort in the most direct way possible.

Donna – happy she’s happy.

Rose – it was nice to end it where the RTD era began.

Thu, Jan 07, 2010 8:16pm

Did anyone else feel the dilemma between shooting The Master of The President felt really silly? I mean, the entire time I was thinking “Why do you need to shoot either one, why don’t you just shoot the machine?” and low and behold, he did just that after two more minutes of indecisiveness!

Thu, Jan 07, 2010 9:55pm

What happened to the lovefest? :D

Take the lack of one this time around as a measure of my disappointment. It takes a LOT for *Doctor Who* to disappoint me.

Why doesn’t anyone think the Time Lady covering her eyes could be Romana?

She’s supposed to be stuck in E-Space.

Then again, Donna should be dead. :->

I’m amazed MaryAnn didn’t mention the ridiculous kinky chair-thing that the doctor ended up being gagged and bound to…

I’m not really into S&M…

Lord iEvil
Fri, Jan 08, 2010 5:15am

^ I was going more for the ridiculous bit. Plus, it speaks loads about the Master that he didn’t just tie him to a regular chair like with Wilf…

And considering that he calls himself the MASTER…

Lord iEvil
Fri, Jan 08, 2010 5:16am

of course though, that’s just my opinion :)