Saturday, December 26, 2009

Doctor Who - The End of Time Part 1

You'd think that Russell T. Davies would really have tried to write the best possible ending for David Tennant... well, you'd think that... but if part one is anything to go by, I'm not sure that he can pull it all together. For those who watched it last night, or for those who will be watching it shortly stateside (it airs tonight), I will be very interested to see what you think. I was thoroughly unimpressed. There were moments when it was perfect, but these were fleeting and we were left with something that was just too much.

Coming up in the next paragraph, as River Song would say: "Spoilers!"

As the narrator's voice comes up, we learn that it is the last days of the human race... but The Doctor is not there, he has been delaying meeting the Ood and by the time he arrives, it might be too late, the nightmares that people can't remember are of The Master, he is returning. But Donna's grandfather, Wilf, is on Earth and he remembers that which others cannot, he is also seeing visiosn of a lady telling him what is to come. Wilf sends out a reconnaissance mission of randy geriatrics and they discover The Doctor moments after he lands and has had his first encounter with The Master. The Doctor unburdens himself to Wilf as Wilf begs to get Donna back to what she was... but that's not possible, she'll have to make due with her new fiance and just getting by. The Doctor and The Master have yet another showdown and then mysterious forces, controlled by an eccentric daughter dotting billionaire, capture The Master and all hell breaks loose due to the technology that the billionaire, Joshua Naismith, scavenged from the ruins of Torchwood. As part one reaches it's climax, as one viewer commented, was the whole episode just written for the one groan inducing joke about the "Master Race?"

This episode just had too much of Russell T. Davies trying to be the biggest and best sci-fi show there is. And you know what? Taking bites and pieces from every other show and badly integrating it into your own do not a successful hour of television make. I have several big gripes, the main one being, Russell apparently thinks Doctor Who is now Heroes. First off, Heroes had maybe one good season and is facing cancellation on a daily basis, so why'd he think it was a good idea to emulate it? The narration is a little nod, but when did The Master go all mutant x on us? The episode is more like some really lame origins comic for how The Master was reborn and developed superhuman powers... even if he wasn't really human to begin with. He can now FLY! And shoot lightning out of his hands! How Awesome... wait... I mean LAME! I love that they obviously didn't reign John Simm in at all, he's brilliantly over the top and ravenous to boot, plus the blonde hair, loving it! But his performance is what makes The Master work, not the special effects and flying and lasers, it's his terrifying screams of "Dinner Time" and his lament about the sound of drums and his interaction with David Tennant that ground this high flying baddie.

Then I have guest star gripes... mainly due to the fact that they hired some of my most hated British character actors ever. Joshua Naismith is none other than David Harewood, Friar Tuck from season three of Robin Hood, otherwise known to me as the reason Robin Hood was shuffled into a quick cancellation grave due to his overacting and overbearing attitude to all of Robin Hood's men. Superiority complex much? Plus, he's more than just a little creepy with his daughter, who can't act at all, don't believe, watch the Confidential. But more importantly, Addams, played by Sinead Keenan. Sinead is most known for being George's girlfriend, and also a doctor, on Being Human. There's something about her that I just hate. I have a nickname, it's Piggy. Yes it might be mean, but she can't act and the only hope I have for season two of Being Human is that she dies during the transformation the first time she wolfs out. Her appearance on Doctor Who was not a welcome surprise.

But what got me most of all is that this was so timely. It was of our time! Doctor Who usually strives for ambiguity and has their own heads of state or vague references to presidents and leaders elect. But not this time. It was Barack Obama this and Barack Obama that. It not only took you out of the world of Doctor Who, but it also lacked credulity. When was the last time a President did a big speech about how they're magically going to fix the economy on Christmas? As Russell said, they took a risk with this and they hoped that the recession would still be around. Personally I think you took a risk of destroying the fabric of the show. Where Torchwood could conceivably do this better than Doctor Who, they didn't throw out political names left and right when the children of the earth were at stack, so why did Davies do it now?

Overall this episode displays one thing... it's good we're getting ride of Russell T. Davies. He has a love of bringing villains back again and again, and a tendency to make "specials" bloated and unwieldy, and in the long run, boring. Though I will say this, he has surrounded himself with the talent that tried to make the best of a bad script, and occasionally they succeeded. John Simm gave some of his best as a hungry hoodie in the wasteland and the scene where David Tennant told Wilf he was going to die, I don't think David had to act those tears, it is heart wrenching. So for a few scenes it was worth it, but as to the finale... I hope Russell delivers, I really hope that this underwhelming first chapter was a way to lower our expectations in order to then blow us away... but I have a feeling it wasn't. Also on a final note... true Doctor Who fans know that the Timelords and The Doctor have never seen eye to eye and that they're kind of bureaucratic baddies, we did not need to be told this Russell, plus, when the scene ends up looking eerily similar to the galactic senate scenes in the Star Wars prequels, you better hope you didn't jump the shark like Lucas did.


I just watched it about an hour ago. I am a big fan of David Tennat's Dr. Who so I have mixed feelings about the end of his role. I felt at times the story was confused and over the top. At other times I felt David did some of the best acting I have ever seen him do. He seems genuinely sad as his time draws to a close.
The term Master Race really bothered me; for the life of me I cannot figure out how the producers let that slip by. It ruined the scene for me. I will watch part two next week, but am not happy with the story line.

David was sheer genius, but there just wasn't enough of him! It's like it's The Master's story, which it shouldn't be... hence I think, despite negative connotations, Master Race was always what was being built up to. I agree about the mixed feelings, I don't want it to end, but I do look forward to see David doing new material...

The one thing I did really like was the return of John Simm as the Master but like you I thought the extra changes were over the top, watching Simm and Tennant is a joy even if the script is not great.

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