Review: Doctor Who – 2×13 – Doomsday


Cyberman: Dalek?

Dalek: Cyberman?

Cyberman: Did your sensors detect the fluid that I just expelled from my right lateral articulator joint?

Dalek: My probes observed the phenomenon

Cyberman: Are they able to analyse it?

Dalek: They report it is composed of waste oil and grease and certain biochemical solutions

Cyberman: Where is it now?

Dalek: It is sinking into the floor where it is being absorbed by human excretions such as dandruff and hair

Cyberman: That’s your void ship that is. Your mum made that. It’s like the best thing she’s ever done.

Dialogue from Doctor Who episode Doomsday.

So it’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for. The Daleks and the Cybermen had a great big fight and Rose is stuck in another universe. And it was all just so mediocre.

I wanted to like this. I really really wanted to like this. But I was bored. I may reconsider if I ever get round to watching the episode again. Already, my brain is trying its hardest to filter out the dross and crud surrounding the few good things in the episode.

But nothing can alter the fact that from about 7.20pm on Saturday night I was clock-watching.

7.20: Is that the time? I could have sworn it was 7.30. Christ, there’s another 25 minutes to go.

7.25: Was that only five minutes? Surely not. God, this is dragging.

7.30: Get on with it!

7.35: Still 10 minutes to go.

7.40: Nearly there

7.45: Thank God!

I think the trouble is I had Vicky Pollard in my head. There was hardly a single scene or line of dialogue that didn’t cause Vicky to start going, “Yeah, but no, but yeah, but…”

The Doctor and co are running for their lives from millions of Daleks and Cybermen. So why exactly are they standing around while Jackie and Rose’s dad try to work out why they love each other? The void is an absence of anything, including space and time: so what exactly was the stuff everyone got covered in? How do you fit five million Cybermen through a window in Canary Wharf in just a couple of minutes? How come Torchwood had better universe-jumping gear than the Cybermen? When exactly did they test it? How come a force powerful enough to suck in a Cyberman in India who’s been through the void only once isn’t powerful enough to suck Rose and the Doctor who have both been there and back twice? Why don’t the Cybermen grab on to anything or choose to disappear through all those cracks in the universe once the anomaly is activated? How come the Doctor didn’t just tie himself and Rose to something, rather than holding on for dear life? Why did the Time Lords build a giant Dalek-shaped Pez dispenser? Why does everyone drive to Norway when they could just have hopped into Rose’s dad’s zeppelin? How come Ms Cleavage could survive the cyberisation process with her own mind intact?

And on and on and on and on and on.

I could have forgiven one or even several of these problems. You have to: suspension of disbelief is absolutely vital in sci-fi, particularly in Doctor Who (“So, like, he can travel in time and space in a box that’s bigger on the inside than on the outside? Nah, not convinced.”). You’d be stuck from the outset if you didn’t. I’m sure there were eight year olds who could have coped. Maybe they even loved it. I tried to lower my expectations to those of an eight year old, because that’s who the show is aimed at. But there were just too many problems for my poor brain to cope with. It never had a moment to recover and sink back into the story.

It wasn’t without its moments: don’t get me wrong. The Genesis Ark – I now realise it was Ark as in “Noah’s” rather than in “of the Covenant”, but that’s still very biblical of the Daleks – did surprise and intrigue me, as did all the chatty stuff with the Daleks about the Cult of Skaro or whatever it was.

But there was almost nothing surprising the whole episode. The almost completely blood- and casualty-free cyberinvasion wasn’t exactly exciting. Rose’s Dad popping up to save her at the last moment: seen it done better in X-Men 2. The Dalek v Cybermen smackdown left me cold, since naturally, the Daleks were going to win and neither of them could trash-talk to save their lives. And of course one or more Daleks were going to escape at the last moment, so they can reappear next season.

Bye bye Pipes

Then there was the departure of Rose. I felt a little sad. A little. But you could play the ending of Casablanca and if you’d preceded it with 35 minutes of Bozo and His Amazing Clown Circus or a collection of Polish animation from the mid 80s, you’d end up with a pretty muted reaction, I reckon.

The trouble was, not only was I galactically bored by the time the ‘great separation’ arrived, I’d already seen it four or five times over the last couple of seasons. Rose sobs her eyes out cos the Doctor’s regenerated. Rose heartbroken because the Doctor’s stuck in a scribble. Rose upset because the Doctor’s fallen down a hole. Been there, done that. Didn’t care any more. We’d already seen the Doctor lose someone he loved, as well, in The Girl in the Fireplace and that was a great piece of work in all aspects. This wasn’t.

More to the point, Rose didn’t die, which would have been a good ending, rather than this cop-out that everyone (well Marie) saw coming. “This is how I died” is obviously supposed to be a reference to how she ‘died’ inside because she was separated from the Doctor.

But frankly, this ‘great separation’ was more on a par with a 19-year-old woman finding her much older boyfriend, who she’s never slept with or even so much as properly kissed, has been sent overseas and she can’t afford the plane ticket to go and visit him. Oh no, I’m never going to love like this again. I’m just going to have to stay in this country with my recently resurrected millionaire Dad, my mum, my new brother or sister and my now-beefcake ex-boyfriend. Oh boo hoo.

Pah. Bloody teenagers. ‘Died’? You’ll get over him in a couple of months. Plus he’ll probably be back anyway.

Also, Rose has been irritating me rotten this season. She was great with Eccles-cake. She was the best thing about last season by far. This season, she and the Doctor have been a pretty smug combo and she’s been far less impressive. I’m not exactly upset to see the back of her.

Maybe I’d have been moved a little more, if they’d done an Adric and gone for the silent credits rolling over a shot of Rose staring out to sea or something. Instead, we got Catherine Tate.

I’m annoyed on several counts by this. I was expecting a name or a former companion, not a ‘name’. And crap it, I already knew she was going to be in it – I was hoping for a surprise after all that secrecy. But as a way to kill drama, you’d be hard pressed to find a better method than having Catherine Tate turn up (great though she is in her own show). I think we can be fairly certain that the Christmas special isn’t going to be gravitas-laden now, nor are there any risks of our getting attached to the interim companion.

I might like Doomsday better in a few weeks, or after a re-watch. Right now, I’m just awe-struck that that was the finale. Next season, RTD, let someone else write the final episode.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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