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Doctor Who: The End of Time, Part I (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The End of Time, Part I originally aired in 2009.

The human race was always your favourite, Doctor. But now, there is no human race. There is only the Master race.

– the Master always did like a good pun

The problem with The End of Time isn’t a lack of good ideas. Indeed, there are far too many good ideas here. There are enough large concepts here to sustain an entire season of Davies’ Doctor Who, from the resurrection of the Master to the return of Gallifrey to the resurrection gate to Naismith to the Tenth Doctor’s impending mortality and quite a few more. The End of Time is bristling with so many ideas and concepts that only the truly outrageous examples really stick. Is that really the Tenth Doctor’s mother?

The End of Time is fundamentally flawed, but it remains intriguing. There’s a wealth of good ideas here that tend to get drowned out in the spectacle and fury of it all, a sense that Davies had a wealth of clever ideas but was unable to tie them into anything fully satisfying.

Ten cedes the floor...

Ten cedes the floor…

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Doctor Who: The End of Time, Part I

That was… an episode of Doctor Who. I don’t know. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I know that wasn’t quite it. And there are enough cringe-worthy moments here to prevent the episode from becoming a classic (or even just a great episode) there are more than a few diamonds in the rough hidden amidst the mess of an episode. It is very much a Russell T. Davies episode, with all that involves – the ridiculously over-the-top moments paired with a fantastic grasp of character. Is it a fitting end to perhaps the most iconic version of the Timelord (I’m an Eccleston man myself, but only Tom Baker could be said to challenge Tennant as the most recognised face of the Doctor)? I don’t know – I should probably wait for the second part, to be honest. On the otherhand, it certainly doesn’t feel like a crowning moment for the first five years (or even Tennant’s last four) of the revival.

The Master in a hoody... and the establishment did tremble...

Note: This review will be discussing the episode in depth (including spoilers). If you are looking for a quick recommendation, it’s a decided ‘meh’. It isn’t a highpoint in the new series, but some good ideas and some nice character moments (as well as three fantastic lead performances) make something out of the mess that is the rest of the episode. I’m not sure what exactly, I’ll let you know next week. Continue reading