Another year, another Doctor
Finally caught up with the end of the Tennant era. For those who haven’t seen it, details are below the break…
o/` Spoiler alert, spoiler alert… o/`
The thing I have come to truly hate about an RTD episode is the ‘victory lap’ he puts the Doctor through after everything’s been resolved. It was at its worst in ‘The Next Doctor’, and damned if he didn’t have to do it everywhere but ‘The Waters of Mars’ — the aforementioned end of ‘The Next Doctor’, an ovation from UNIT at the end of ‘Planet of the Dead’, bopping around to see almost everyone at the end of ‘The End of Time’ (and of course saving Mary Sue… er, Rose for last, although it was excellent to not have her fawning all over him).
The exception, ‘The Waters of Mars’, failed for an entirely different reason. Here we see the Doctor undergoing a deep personal transition… and they didn’t even let him keep it until the end of the episode.
The story would have worked perfectly if the Doctor had, at the end, just kept walking away and not gone back to try to save the last three–it would’ve been a terrific counterpoint to ‘The Fires of Pompeii’, and a reminder of just what the Doctor must have seen thousands of times.
The story would have worked terrifically had they skipped forward to show that the big picture future wasn’t significantly changed, only the details, and you have this much stronger Doctor set up to face the Master and the returning Gallifreyans in the conclusion.
But no, Russ peed it down his leg again.
Okay, ‘The End of Time’. The slightly silly opening worked, and at least provided a hint of an explanation as to why Queen Elizabeth I wanted the Doctor killed at the end of ‘The Shakespeare Code’.
The reveal on the Gallifreyan High Council at the end of ‘The End of Time’ part 1 was a crowning moment of awesome, perfectly delivered. Full marks for that, and Timothy Dalton, yeah. That worked.
Timothy Dalton all of a sudden being called Rassillon without any warmup or foreshadowing, not so much. Rassillon’s in a crypt — see ‘The Five Doctors’. Omega, I could’ve believed. Rassillon, no. Breaks canon too much.
Who was that Time Lady? Romana? The Rani? The Doctor’s sister, mom, daughter… Susan, even?
The plummet from the spaceship should’ve killed him and triggered an immediate regeneration — it was a lot farther than the one he took from the radio antenna in Logopolis!
So, The Master is the evillest thing in the universe because the High Council deliberately made him nuts so they could end time.
No. No, no, no, nonono, no. No.
Insane Master, sure, I can buy that, but give me Delgado’s smooth sociopath to Simm’s ranting about drums. I’d even prefer Anthony Ainley’s Snidely Whiplash Master.
Not Eric Roberts, though. Y’gotta have some standards.
Simm performed admirably under the limitations of Davies’ vision–I loved him defending taking credit for destroying the Earth, though the predictable last minute attempt to switch sides would’ve been carried of with considerably more sincerity by Delgado. Simm came off as desperate and false–which the Master was, but it shouldn’t have been so obvious. The Master is a better con man than that.
It could’ve been done without the x-ray specs version of the Master, too.
The last four years come off as false now, since the Doctor himself is responsible for the end of Gallifrey — bemoaning being the last Time Lord when he knew perfectly well all the whys and wherefores now seems more playacting than pathos.
Davies gets points for the ultimate meaning of the four knocks, though. That was smooth.
Yelling “I don’t want to go!” also came off as false. The Doctor knows better than anyone that he’s not going anywhere, he’s just changing bodies. On the other hand, it does harken back to the First Doctor’s remark that he’d kept that body for too long… I dunno. It still didn’t come off right.
D’you think they could’ve taken some time away from the over-long ‘victory lap’ to maybe, oh, I dunno, explain why Donna’s okay now?
And can we please have a regeneration that doesn’t involve the Doctor trying to see how hard he can crash into the Earth? Seen it, Russ.
Anyway, I can’t really say I’m disappointed–it was about what I expected. There were a couple really strong moments here and there, surrounded by a lot of RTDian fluff.
And now… the Moffat era. I can’t wait.