Monday, January 4, 2010

The End of an Era

Before I begin, I'm going to drop a great big SPOILER Warning for pretty much everything that follows. If you haven't seen the final Doctor Who special featuring David Tennant, you've been warned.

So, January 2nd brought the Canadian showing of The End of Time Part 2, the final special to feature David Tennant in the title role of Doctor Who. It also marks the final story to feature Russell T Davies as show runner and Julie Gardner as executive producer, the two people most responsible for the Doctor's 21st century return and the tone, direction and style of the series.

It must be said that the final part of The End of Time greatly improved on the first, which seemed padded, rushed and generally sloppy. The return of the Master was done in a way to greatly reduce his air of menace in favour of out of place super-powers. The main threat was ill-defined and seemed a nuisance compared to the wonderfully written and played scenes of melancholy between the Doctor and Wilf, whose relationship was the best thing about either part of the special.

Thankfully Part 2 rectifies all the earlier mistakes by toning down the Master and tightening up the plot. Honestly, this whole thing probably would have worked much better as a one-parter, but what are you gonna do?

The return of the Time Lords was well done, I thought. Over the years, some fans have complained about the depiction of the Time Lords, as they seem to lose more and more of their awesome omnipotence with each appearance. Here, they returned to their height, seeming to have become almost god-like. Their corrupt and morally bankrupt behaviour may seem at odds with the Doctor's grief-stricken recollections from earlier seasons, but it's clear that living at war has pushed this always ethically shaky society over the line.

So there our hero stood, faced with the knowledge of his impending demise, facing off against his entire race and his greatest enemy, confronted with a difficult moral choice. Just where we love to see him. and he wins, but is then faced with an even harder dilemma. Does he choose to live, or will he give up his own life to save another, less significant person? Of course he chooses to save Wilf, even if he does have a brief moment of anguish. He's the Doctor. It's that love of the unnoticed, the little guy, that makes him a great character, but it's Tennant's depiction of the struggle that makes it brilliant through both parts of the special.

We're then taken on a trip through this Doctor's past that is as much for us than for him. It's great to see all the past companions, particularly Rose and Donna, and it's a nice idea. I thought he should have been exhibiting some signs of his impending death here, he looked like nothing was wrong with him until the very end; some signs of pain would have been nice.

Then he struggles back to the TARDIS, his real home, for his final moments. He sets the ship in flight, and looks mournfully around him one last time before quietly saying, "I don't want to go." It was heartbreaking, and he might as well be speaking for the audience here.

And then the process begins, revealing Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor. And he looks encouraging. He's kooky, energetic, manic and fun, everything the Doctor should be. Will he be able to take hold of the role as Tennant did? Will Steven Moffat take hold of the show and craft as successful a run as Davies did?

Time will tell.

1 comment:

TimeLords said...

Wish they had moved it along a bit quicker, and moved some of the 2nd part into the 1st, and maybe allowed for a bit more of the Timelords returning. Seemed like a bit of a missed opportunity. Especially with the Timelord Lord President revealed to be Rassilon. How awesome was that.

Didn't like the whole revisit to past companions. Didn't make sense to me he can just delay regeneration. Maybe if he seemed in pain or struggling to hold on, as you suggested. But just seemed out of place and anti-climatic.

Wasn't really taken by Matt Smith. Just seemed a bit too kooky. That said, it was a very short look, and he looks great in that teaser for the next season. I am actually more hopefull after seeing that than I was before that he could be a good Doctor.