Doctor Who – The End of Time – Parts 1 and 2

Rusty Who: the best of times and the worst of times

The End of Time

In the UK: Christmas Day/New Year’s Day, BBC1/BBC HD
In the US: December 26th/January 2nd, BBC America

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Yes, it was Christmas, but it was also time to say goodbye to David Tennant as the Doctor in a two-part special of Doctor Who. We laughed (maybe), we cried (probably), we said “WTF was that?” (a lot) – it was a typical Rusty way to end it all.

Discussions after the jump.

Was it any good?
On the whole, this was a steaming lump of rubbish served up by someone who not only appears to have attention deficit disorder but appears to think we all have. So we have the Doctor messing around with the time lines for a while, following on from Waters of Mars, then discovering that the Ood are now too technologically advanced. The Ood have a dream and it’s not good, and it involves Wilf, the Master and co.

The Doctor heads back to Earth and discovers that the Master has escaped in a Harry Potter-style bit of magic hand-waving via his Ming ring, but his ex- has screwed it up meaning he now has blond hair, superhuman powers, a Skeltor dual-personality and has to eat human flesh, while wearing a Meddling Monk style outfit designed to over-excite some hardcore Who nerds.

After hatching a plan to catch the Master that involves walking towards him slowly, the Doctor gets shot then miraculously heals himself a scene later, while the Master is abducted by some random bloke and his icky “acts like a wife but is actually his daughter” sidekick.

What’s that, Sooty? Has any of this to do with the Doc messing with timelines? Why are the Ood so technically advanced now? Is that going to be mentioned at all again?

No. Don’t be silly. That’s all forgotten now, because we’re on another story.

So then there are these other aliens and they’ve got a magic medical device that’s clearly GIANT FAIL waiting to happen, just like the last medical device from The Empty Child that did exactly the same thing. The Master fixes it and turns everyone in the world into himself except for Donna and other aliens.

For some reason, all the Masters in the world (aka The Master Race) seem to want to co-operate with each other rather than kill each other, and they all accept the first Master’s orders. Are they all eating each others’ flesh yet?

No. Don’t be silly. That’s all forgotten now, because we’re on another story.

But, oh wait, now the Time Lords are coming back. Timothy Dalton has an evil plan to do this that involves a jewel. Why? Oh, it just does.

So Gallifrey comes back, complete with Claire Bloom and Timothy Dalton, the President of the Time Lords who turns out to be the architect of the entire Time Lord civilisation, Rassilon (cf The Deadly Assassin and The Five Doctors) gone weird. He messes up the Master’s plot thanks to the Gauntlet of Rassilon or whatever it’s called and declares he’s going to bring about ‘the end of time’.

What does that mean? Shut up and don’t ask questions, you pansy. That’s all forgotten now, because we’re on another story.

But Claire Bloom (aka the Doctor’s mum/sister/daughter/wife/cousin – delete as appropriate) has been popping up out of the Time Lock the whole time it turns out. How did that happen if she’s locked in?

Don’t be silly. That’s all forgotten now, because we’re on another story.

Okay, but who can save us? Donna whose memories are returning, perhaps? No. Don’t be silly. That’s all forgotten now, because we’re on another story.

Moving on then, the Doctor, fearing the worst, jumps out of a space ship with a gun, blows up a machine (thank God the return of the entire Time Lord civilisation didn’t rest upon something easily sabotagable or liable to break, huh?) and everything’s reset, except now he’s got to die to save Wilf who’s locked himself in The Improbable, Badly Engineered, Booth Of Doom. Then he goes on a whistlestop tour of the cosmos to visit his companions and the granddaughter of his slightly racist ex-girlfriend from Family of Blood/Human Nature.

Then he regenerates into some other bloke.

Better than it sounds
So, patently, absolute cobblers from a plotting point of view. It’s the kind of thing that seems good when you’ve several pints of vodka lining your stomach or you’re 12, but which bears no re-examination whatsoever.

However, this really wasn’t about plot. This was more about saying goodbyes. So in the midst of the ludicrous and stupid were some really rather lovely character moments and some sensational acting by David Tennant, Bernard Cribbins and even John Simm; Timothy Dalton just went over the top and spat on people as far as I could tell.

You’d have been hard-hearted indeed not to have snivelled a little bit during the last 20 minutes as the 10th Doctor pulls a Planet of the Spiders, wanders the vortex for a few days with radiation poisoning and says goodbye to everyone, although (to be asked in Cluedo stylee) why Mickey and Martha, in the disused warehouse, with the Sontaran? Huh? That makes no sense. Lovely bit with Jessica Hynes and Sarah Jane though – I’m tearing up just thinking about them.

It would all have been even more moving

  1. without Murray Gold overlaying “you must cry at this” music at every conceivable point
  2. if the sodding Ood hadn’t started singing at the most dramatic and darkest point, as the Doctor, dying, all alone, tried to get himself to the TARDIS after seeing Rose

But what the hell, it kind of worked and it was nice to see everyone again.

I can’t help but feel, though, that it sums up a lot of the Rusty Who era in that:

  1. it could have been a whole lot better
  2. it was more than a bit stupid
  3. although the effects and directing were sensational, ideas that could have been sensational were simply thrown (the Time Lords, the multiple Masters)
  4. some ideas should simply have been thrown away
  5. the Doctor should have had more to do than walk a lot, run a lot, break a spaceship, fix a spaceship, fire a gun, then walk into a booth
  6. Gary Russell should not script edit anything
  7. it looked good and had some great moments

Stevie baby
But RTD is off and so is David Tennant, so it’s off to pastures new for them both – and judging by this, it’s about time for RTD at least. Now, we have Steven Moffat and Matt Smith. Moffat scripted everything in the episode involving Matt Smith, so what can we predict from that minute of work? I’d say that the main thing is that the new series is going to be a continuation of the template of RTD rather than a clean break. Matt Smith didn’t massively impress me, although word on the street is that he finds his feet by episode four or five, but I’m looking forward to Amy Pond at least.

What did you think of the two episodes? As always, leave a link below to your own review if you have one.

  • Is it me, or is the regeneration far more impressive when taken completely out of context (as in the youtube video above)?
    The flatness of EoT surprised me. I expected RTD’s last showing to be completely manic and over-the-top. Instead, it all seemed rather subdued. The only bit that sticks in my mind is the last couple of minutes.

  • Oh well I loved it, but I’m a sentimental old mush. I totally agree about the crap plot, but it didn’t matter because I loved John Simm/David Tennant/Bernard Cribbins so much they could have been basically saying or doing ANYTHING quite frankly. And also liked the green aliens, especially the one who is George’s girlfriend in Being Human. Didn’t care at all about it being OTT, or not making sense, because the action kept rolling so fast I didn’t have time to say er hang on… Have to say viewing SLIGHTLY skewed by watching ep 1 on Christmas Day while tending to aged mil, and then missing ep 2 for similar reasons, so watching it later when drunk. Had to watch it again on Saturday as had forgotten it all. But second watching was great because I kept thinking, oh wow, there’s another bit I remembered…
    Do you think Sarah Jane is ever getting to see him again? I’d love it if Wilf and Donna did…

  • TemplarJ

    Bah Humbug!
    I thought it was great. I will happily admit that RTD’s Dr Who is often a case of ‘smoke and mirrors’, but when the ride is as much fun as it has been I can’t complain. The moment that number 10 realised what the four knocks were was golden. Matt Smith made a very good impression as well, and an even better one in the trailer for the next series.

  • Part 1 was all over the place, but Part 2 had some wonderful moments. Tennant went out in style. Now I’ll give the new guy a chance.
    — Nick
    from City of Kik
    http://nickleshi.blogspot.com

  • SK

    The song of the universe sounds like Murray Gold! Who is staying on!
    Choral ‘Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!’
    Other than that, meh. I can’t quite rid myself of hope for the new Doctor, but yes, the fact he whooped does rather tilt probabilities away form ‘Davisonesque old man trapped in young body’ and towards ‘bad rehash of the annoying bits of David Tennant’.
    Still, there’ll always be a pleasant place to rest the eyes.

  • Hmm. I think you are being way to harsh. I enjoyed these much more than I did The Next Doctor and The Voyage of the Damned. I think they followed WoM really well. The Doctor wanted to save Adelaide and changed the timelines. That made him arrogant enough to think he could anything and perhaps avoid his own death. But he couldn’t and so his last two episodes were him coming to terms with his fate. I think that was a terrific way to go.
    It all made sense to me.Turning up at the Oodsphere pretending everything was OK, and then realising his delays had brought the Master back. Catching up with the Master too late to stop his plan & then thinking the Master was going to kill him. Discovering the Master’s plot would bring back the Time Lords & then faced with a dilemma of whether to use a gun or not. Working out he could use it without killing anyone, being prepared to die at the hands of Rassilon, having the Master save him & think he’d lived to fight another day. And then…those 4 little knocks from Wilf, and he knew he couldn’t. His rant against Wilf was horrible, but it showed how close he was to him – he could show his worst side, and then do the decent thing. So I think it was more than him just walking into a booth, it was making up for his actions on Mars, it was saving his best friend’s granddad. His comment “it’s an honour” was really moving I thought.
    It wasn’t perfect – the Vinovicci were just a plot device really, to rescue the Doc and get him back to the Naismith’s & the Master’s resurrection was a bit daft. But it was a lot of fun, and there was so much emotional depth – the conversations with Wilf and The Master were superb and brilliantly acted all round. I thought the Master Race a bit silly at the end of Part 1, but by Part 2 when you thought, shit he’s got a whole world of clones who can take on the Universe, that was quite scary. And I think the Time Lords were back for just the right amount of time. Enough to establish how bad they had got, a neat tie-in for why the Doc had to stop them in the first place, and setting up Doc 11 perhaps to be less traumatised by it & enough to give us clues of how they could possibly return in future.
    Loved all the cameos at the end. And actually, though I’m not a fan of the Ood, I found them singing him to his regeneration rather touching, particularly when he and Donna had released them from captivity.
    As for Matt Smith – I think he’s a terrific actor & I thought he did really well.(My 7 year old who has been too scared to watch Dr Who absolutely LOVED him & the others who have been saying David Tennant is irreplaceable have grudgingly admitted that perhaps he might not be).
    Finally, watched Part 2 with 7 kids from 7-13. They all loved it, so I think their verdict sums it up for me really!

  • Down in Orlando for a few days with a bunch of friends and we had so much fun reading your review out loud last night. Everybody joined in on the chorus “That’s all forgotten now, because we’re on another story.”
    You’re so right on that, btw. RTD threw so many things out there without proper build-ups, explanations, no reasoning at all: the Cult of Saxon, the accellerated development of the Ood, the Master’s re-birth, the mystery woman, that stupid glove (Rassilon was so quick to use it back on Gallifrey; what? did it need to warm up when he tried to use it on Earth?)
    It was like he was saying, I’m RTD, what I say goes, and that’s all they need to know. So many of those things could have been full stories in themselves if fleshed out and properly developed; if Tennant had gone for a full season instead of just a few specials.
    And then he forgot everything that came before, because it was convenient to do so: that the Doctor could release the excess radiation through his footwear, that a fall from a radio tower caused Four to regenerate but a fall from the skies through a skylight smash onto a marble floor would be no problem for Ten? Oyf.
    I will give him props though on how he can take moments from his past episodes and then expand on them later to bring us new surprises. First example overall would be the Face of Boe and tying him into the Captain Jack storyline. Here it was Wilf Mott, which originally seemed like just a cute cameo for Cribbins in “Voyage of the Damned”, only to lead to a most heart-breaking mind-bender when it turned out he was the source of the Doctor’s doom. I wonder if RTD always had that in mind from the beginning?
    Ten’s rage against Wilf for those few moments, after selflessly sacrificing himself in the past for Peri and Rose, only proved that it was time to go because he was still too full of himself and always in danger of letting himself pretend to be God again. But it was needed I guess just to show that he could still overcome that temptation and do the right thing.
    If only there was somebody who had the power to really take hold of RTD’s initial draft and scale it down, trim it, make it make sense! The Master of those last few minutes was a character I would have enjoyed watching; all that over the top crap from part one was an embarrasment for the eyes.
    Looking forward to the Spring. I can only hope BBC-A will be as fast with the showings as they were with these last three specials. I hope they learned something or they’ll be losing to the torrents again….
    anyhoo, enough of my blather……

  • George

    Overall really enjoyed it. Didn’t make much sense but still good entertainment. We didn’t get to see enough Lucy Saxon (imho!) Teared up at the Rose, Wilf and Jessica bits like everyone else.
    Quite liked the regeneration and a good throwaway line from Matt Smith
    Talking of that… the trailer seems to have the Doctor firing at least 3 guns… out of character? Or was it just me! Oh and… a dalek? Again? Really? hum….

  • MediumRob

    @Matt M: The plot itself was so rushed that there really wasn’t time for a properly apocalyptic ending in the style of Last of the Time Lords, etc
    @Jane: I doubt SJ will see No 10 again, but she might see the Doctor
    @Jonathan: It was a great moment, although someone had already predicted it for me at the end of the previous episodes (“Isn’t it obvious that the four knocks is going to Wilf locked in the booth and the Doctor is going to have to sacrifice himself to save him?” Erm, well now it is…)
    @SK: Agreed re: MG
    @Virginia: All the bits you mentioned made sense, but they’re not the bits I said didn’t make sense. And my point was that everything was throwaway and never resolved properly, not that the ideas were poor. And I did say it would appeal to 12 year olds.
    @Toby: Glad it proved an appealing party game. Might edit it slightly to take out the typos and make the rhythm work better if you’re going to repeat it!

  • Electric Dragon

    Thanks to last night’s Mastermind for the following, which I think sums the last two episodes up:
    “Mr. Wagner has beautiful moments, but bad quarters of an hour.” (GB Shaw).

  • bob

    Great review. Made me laugh.

  • I apologise for this – but F*&$ the F*$£ing Ood. I absolutely F”£&ing hate them and I’d love to see hot pokers inserted in whatever orifice they use to excrete waste matter (I suspect it’s beneath all those curled tentacles on their faces).
    Red. Hot. Poker. To the pooper. Ues.
    I could stomach everything else, but Ood Sigma, his chum Ood Brain and the hand-holders singing at the end was just too much. It completely ruined the mood of the show, switching me immediately from feeling melancholy about the end of the RTDTennant years into feelings of “Thank fudge that’s over, hopefully Moffat will never use the Ood again and I won’t have to put up with them ever again.”
    Of course, if he writes an episode which involves the Ood being all killed off in the first thirty seconds – even if it’s just to prove how badass some lame villain is – I’ll cheer and proclaim it the greatest Doctor Who episode of all time.
    Farewell Rusty, don’t let the door hit your backside on the way out.

  • Fair enough Rob – we do agree on most of the same bits.But I do think some of the things you didn’t like worked OK. I thought the fact that the Time Lords were trying to eliminate time and time was “bleeding” explained the Ood developing so fast and I didn’t need any more. And I was happy to accept that The Master would have had plans for his resurrection (even if it was a bit silly) because he was so deliberate about his refusal to regenerate. As for Lucy, perhaps we could have seen something before, but I liked that the last time we’d seen her she was the apparent victim of domestic violence and here she’d gained enough courage now to stop him. So I thought the whole thing was a glorious ride and for the most part I felt Part 2 delivered on what Part 1 set up. I also happen to love John Simm’s Master (however loopy he gets)which is a matter of taste I think.
    Anyway – I know he’s got his flaws, but I do salute RTD for bringing it back and making it work and have put a post about it here http://giniamoffatt.blogspot.com/2010/01/thanks-be-to-russell-t-davies.html
    You may disagree!

  • MediumRob

    “I thought the fact that the Time Lords were trying to eliminate time”
    Why? To what end? How? They’re Time Lords – why would they want to destroy time? Wouldn’t that be an insanely stupid idea anyway?
    “and time was “bleeding” explained the Ood developing so fast”
    What does that mean? Why was it bleeding? What was the cause? Was it the Doctor? If so, does that mean it’s still happening? Was it the Time Lords in the time lock who therefore couldn’t get out and so couldn’t be responsible?
    Again, my main point wasn’t that it didn’t necessarily make sense (although big chunks didn’t), it’s just a lot of the ideas were introduced then dropped without explanation.
    “Anyway – I know he’s got his flaws, but I do salute RTD for bringing it back and making it work and have put a post about it here http://giniamoffatt.blogspot.com/2010/01/thanks-be-to-russell-t-davies.html You may disagree! ”
    I did my salute elsewhere and a while ago:
    http://www.the-medium-is-not-enough.com/2008/06/todays_joanna_page_mine_all_mine.php

  • I just got the idea that time was literally running away with that image, and that made it accelerate the Ood’s technology, till time reached an end. I didn’t think too much about it obviously, just accepted it and moved on. And I thought it tied in with the Timelords plan – only way they could live was to end time and be a higher consciousness. It’s all a bit silly in the cold light of day, but Who has always been a bit silly. I judge it on whether it made sense in the context of what I was watching at the time and for me, it did. But I accept it didn’t for everyone!
    I read your RTD post at the time and I agree with you – the man’s done a great deal for Wales which is to be applauded on it’s own. Also creating a tough bisexual character who isn’t camp and still has old ladies loving him was a great stroke. And finally, with all the spin offs, creating SJA was a masterstroke – a really, really great kids TV show.
    Nice talking, must get back to work.

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  • Coo-ee! Back!
    http://rullsenbergrules.blogspot.com/2010/01/i-dont-want-to-go-oh-honey-we.html
    Plotless bonkers nonsense though this was I enjoyed this immensly and also loved your review. (I also liked the idea of Toby et al chorussing ‘That’s all forgotten now, because we’re on another story.’!!!)

  • Aaron

    At the end of the second part when he saves/visits everyone in his past who was the woman who wrote the book he gets signed?

  • SK

    That’s Jessica Hynes, née Stevenson, from Spaced et al.