Doctor Who: The End of Time

This Christmas/New Year Doctor Who special is typical Russell T. Davies fare. We have end of the Universe plot decorated with smatterings of Cocoon, Heroes, and Silence of the Lambs. The Doctor and Master become giants, god-like beings, from mythology not sf, doing battle amongst puny humans.

Sometimes I wonder if RTD suffers from a writer’s equivalent of megalomania. Time was that the destruction of planet Earth and the end of humanity was all you needed to create the tension needed for a dramatic, everything in the balance, science fiction adventure. Now it seems that is no longer exciting enough, only the destruction of Time itself (and therefore the Universe) will do. Perhaps because of Global Warming and the real possibility of a nuclear terrorist age the ‘end of the world’ scenario is beginning to look a little bit too every day?

In the classic series the Master was evil but rational. He was to the Doctor what Professor Moriarty was to Sherlock Holmes, something that made the series a bit predictable in the seventies since every plot seemed to have The Master behind it. In the new series he’s become more of a nutter. Understandable, perhaps, given the end of the time lords, but (and here’s the cunning bit) he was always destined to go insane from the day he looked into Untempered Schism) on Gallifrey. His madness, it turns out, is all part of a ruthless plot hatched by the President of the Time Lords to escape their destruction.

The cleverest bit of the whole story, however, was the wonderful twist at the end. It wasn’t The Master or the Time Lords who kill the Doctor. It is gentle Wilfred Mott (played by Bernard Cribbins) who knocks four times and fulfils the prophecy.

RTD plots are fast paced, twisting, turning adventures with occasional emotional pauses. I did wonder if this was something to do with the alleged limited attention span of British television audiences, but I think it is because it helps cover up some the holes in his plotting. For example, the President of the Time Lords is named as Lord Rassilon. Yet Lord Rassilon is a semi mythological figure from Time Lord early history. Perhaps he was somehow brought out of history to lead in the war against the Daleks? And what was the point of Donna being in the story, she didn’t anything, especially die when she started to remember? There are others, but do we really want to be anorak enough to look for them? Actually, sometimes I do, but not this time. This was a great farewell to David Tennant’s tenure as the Doctor.

written by Peter Grehan


    Frank S

    January 3, 2010

    Russell T. Davies writes like a conjurer. It’s all quick movements and sleight of hand, so you never see the flaws in the story.

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    January 3, 2010

    I remember being so excited on Saturday nights when I was a kid, waiting for
    Dr. Who. I thought it was the best show ever made. Then, I grew up, Dr. Who
    went off the air, and no one I knew had ever heard of it.

    Rev Gareth Leyshon

    January 3, 2010

    Hmmm… the Doctor sacrifices his life for another by entering a chamber which will expose him to deadly radiation, only for him to regenerate.

    Why am I thinking of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan?


    January 3, 2010

    Oh please be anorak enough to look for them. I know they are there: I am just too lazy to do it myself.

    Will Hadcroft

    January 3, 2010

    For me, “The End of Time” was like a lot of other RTD scripts in that it was a collection of memorable moments rather than a story with a point to it. A lot of his adventures feel as though the scripts weren’t quite finished when they were filmed, as though they needed to go through one final edit but didn’t.

    I find that on a second viewing I sometimes pick up details I’d missed first time round (because they’re rattled off so quickly), but that generally it’s like fast food – I like the taste of it at the time, and then afterwards feel undernourished.

    The thing that really irritates me about Tennant’s last episode is the way he somehow manages to hold off the regeneration process so he can go and visit his friends one last time. Really, the process should overwhelm him once triggered, regardless of his personal wishes.

    Peter Grehan

    January 3, 2010

    I agree with you about the plotting and scripts Will. I think that the sudden changes of pace and direction in them are there to distract and cover up a lack of detail and consistency. Executive producers (or ex executive producers) should never be allowed to write scripts for the series they are producing because no one will have the courage to say “that’s bad” to them.
    In fact the DW production team do sound like a mutual appreciation society at times.
    With regard to the Doctor visiting old friends for the last time at the end of the episode. I tend to think that was a bit of RTD self indulgence that wasn’t necessary. David Tennant gave a brilliant performance despite this.

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    January 3, 2010

    The first season was tops to begin with, with Christopher Eccleston in the title role and I thought he was terrific. Of course, so was the lovely Billie Piper who just adds such humanity and warmth to the character of Rose that no one could’ve done it better.

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