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.


  • 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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