Saturday, February 13, 2010

Doctor Who - Swansong for Ten

DOCTOR WHO: THE END OF TIME

"I think it's the tidiest end for a Doctor ever," my dad mused when the ABC showed their beautifully-prepared trailers with Jim Morrison crooning 'The End' over shots of Tennant brooding. "I mean in Castrovalva (sic), he knew what was going to happen but there was nothing he could do about it and the other fellah (Davison) knew he'd taken on too much, but the others just get a 'Sorry, you're dead'. Whatever that means for a Time Lord. Reincarnation? Don't worry, the nose never turns out right..."

That's the sort of conversations we have at our house. Sometimes we even get a word in edgeways.

But my dad has a point. The Doctor rarely if ever has a chance to contemplate his own demise, preferring the tried and tested mind-that-bus-what-bus-splat method - the First Doctor didn't so much suspect anything was up until the beginning of his last episode, the Second and Ninth we saw their reactions in real time to the prospect of regenerating, the Third Doctor assumed he was flat-out doomed, and the Seventh was too off his face to know what was happening leaving (as my dad notes) just Four and Five... and Five manifestly stopped giving a shit if he'd regenerate or not as long as the new girl with the big boobs survived the story. And this is relevent because it's manifestly clear that the idea of regenerating scares the Doctor more than dying, and dying freaks him out a lot more than he'd like to admit as well. In Journye's End, for example, he refuses to regenerate on the grounds he's perfect, yet offers himself as Dalek target practice in the VERY slim hope they might grant a last wish and save Donna from certain death.

As I somehow managed to predict the existential angle to regeneration in my award-missing review of The Waters of Mars, I shall ramble on in the belief my own theories are completely canonical. So... I myself am not REALLY that afraid of death. As Phillip Adams noted, as far as anyone can tell, death is just the reverse of being born, and I don't know anyone else sweating with horror at the limbo hell they endured before their central nervous systems finally kicked in eight months into utero. Quite reasonably, I doubt there's either anything to be afraid of or we will have to the capacity to worry about it anyway.

But DYING?

Fuck yeah, I'd be terrified of that. Knowing the seconds were ticking away, all the angst, not to mention possible agony, blood and invasive medical proceedures. So it makes sense the Doctor will recklessly threaten to explode his own brain in Silence of the Library (pause for joke along the lines of "well, who wouldn't, the story's complete shite") yet dread the idea of biting the bullet big time as he does in part one. Because for the first time, the Doctor is really given time to ponder his fate. Without a companion. And he's gone bad.

Yes, whatever RTD might claim offhand, the Doctor wasn't magically cured of the Time Lord Victorious at the end of Waters of Mars. Oh no. It just became less obvious how bad he was. When the Master regenerated into John Simm, he was clearly written as an evil version of the Tenth Doctor. And there are plenty of moments where the line between the two is almost gone. Look at that first scene where the "supposedly cured" Doctor waffles about car alarms... and then look at the Master explaining to the Cabinet why they have to die. "Smile? Not even a little bit?" they both ask. The Doctor's rudeness and arrogance are ramped up, and am I the only one to notice his scream of "IT ISN'T FAIR!!!" mirrors the Master when he too was defeated. The fact the Doctor is rushing to save the universe from the Master might fool the casual viewer into thinking it's business and usual, but I can't help remembering his gloat to Adelaide: "There's no one left to stop me, not any more." And what is the Doctor doing in this story? Preventing Time Lords from returning, be it the solo Master or the hoardes of Rassilon.

The only ones who can stop him.

Wilf returns, taking up the torch from prior RTD companions (with notable exceptions like Captain Jack, Christina and Adam) to Keep the Doctor Honest. It's not hard to see how uncomfortable Wilf is in the cafe scene with Time Lord Victorious, as he awkwardly chats with the man that Rose was terrified the Doctor might become if left on his own. And, at least partially because Wilfred Mott is Made of Awesome, it works. The Doctor finally cracks, admits he did the wrong thing for the wrong reason, the unspoken admission that he finally crossed the line that all the other Time Lords did and got too big for their boots.

Even though the damage is done (see the Doctor's mild bullying of Wilf to the point of "Take the gun, you emo-tosser!" on the Hesperus), the Doctor is left struggling with what he should be and what he has ultimately become. The fact he even contemplated walking away from Wilf is the proof the Time Lord Victorious needs putting down. Like Pertwee before him, the Doctor must make amends and accept a truth - that, as he noted to the Master in Sympathy for the Devil, we are ALL little people - and saving Wilf will ultimately do the universe as much good as the Doctor surviving. Mind you, Wilf has never killed anyone, manipulated people into sacrificing themselves, and is generally effortlessly brave and loving. So it's not hard to see the subtext under the sadly edited final exchange in the radiation booth -

"Doctor, you're better than I am!"
"...don't you dare say that."

One thing, which I think is a kind of outside factor and thus RTD and DT are blameless for (this time anyway), is that... well, the Tenth Doctor comes across as far more selfish and miserable than he should. And why? Because we think he's whinging and bitching about regenerating when he's actually going on about death. The Doctor's rant about "being capable of so much more" instinctively makes us assume its a double entendre for "Tennant Under Moffat" (which in itself is another double entendre, but I'll stop before I fall into that Nob Gag Bermuda Triangle Rik and Ade warned me about).

See, the Doctor thinks he's going to die. Not regenerate. Die. If Private Dexter or whoever had popped up and explained the Doctor would survive the radiation chamber (albeit Matt Smith shaped), the Doctor would have skipped into it with one last toothy grin. The trouble is, we're all waiting for Smithy to appear, and with regeneration already described as death, we're assuming the Doctor's being a whiny bitch, prioritizing his bouffaint, manly hairy hands and that mole between his shoulder blades over Wilf's life. Which isn't the case. And isn't helped by Wilf instantly expecting the Doctor to regenerate either.

With that in mind, the last twenty minutes becomes slightly less unbearable - though, if you're in the right mood, you want even MORE companion cameos with Jackson Lake, Jenny and Mr. Copper... - as the Doctor, realizing his 'death' is now limited to his current incarnation, sucks it up, puts on a new suit, and accepts his reward: for the first time, a Doctor has a chance to say goodbye. I bet the First Doctor would have liked such a whistle-stop tour to see Ian, Barbara, Vicki, Steven and, hell, maybe loiter at Susan's wedding. The Second Doctor even had his goodbyes erased. The Fourth and Fifth Doctors got death bed visions... It makes sense that he would consider this "his reward", as he sets the TARDIS to home in on her former crew with usual ironic timing (two minutes later and Mickey and Martha would be smoking corpses, Luke in a morgue, and Rose unconscious after a hard night's boozing).

Thus, the Doctor only REALLY starts whining about his regeneration just as it's about to happen. When he's on his own and - unlike the last few times - doesn't have Rose around to reassure or bluff. As he lied to others about how bitching awesome the Time Lords are, he's been bulshitting us all along that this regeneration stuff is no more hassle than a drinking competition with Oliver Reed and Dylan Moran.

They still chose the wrong take though, as there is a slightly less wimpy version with DT saying his final words sounding so, so tired. But maybe they did it so he would be utterly humiliated at the inevitable NTA awards and Philip Glennister could take solace in the fact that, while he YET AGAIN not only lost but had to act surprised when DT got a HUGE scene to himself while everyone else barely got a three-second clip, at least a huge audience didn't see him piss himself with fear before his head exploded.

And then we meet the Eleventh Doctor and no wonder people bitch about the special effects as this intruder to the RTD era feels like a dodgy CSO experiment himself, belonging in the coral TARDIS as much as that tricerotops did in the London Underground. I really haven't felt the New Doctor culture shock to this degree, seeing New Face in Old Clothes and Old Set, so used am I to getting about three seconds of his regenerated face before the episode ends and we tune in next year.

The only real clue that Moffat wrote the opening sequence is the change of mood - we've gone from a funeral to a birth, kind of like Lister in Future Echoes. Hmm. Now I have a mental image of Nicholas Briggs biting Matt Smith's leg screaming "DOG ATTACK!" which would have ended the story on the non-sequitor manner of Doomsday, Time Crash and the original Journey's End at least. But, all in all, even as I struggle to ignore descending into a Nyderesque "Recyclingwatch" mode, it starts to get a BIT familiar...

I mean, am I alone in thinking "didn't Owen Harper ALSO die by rescuing a complete stranger from fatal radiation only to be trapped in the epicentre and then have a furious tirade as a loved one stood by, helpless, and wept as he suddenly got over himself and finally died?" Or the "well, the new Doctor's bricking it he's pulled a Verne the Beautiful and, oh wait, DT's apparently trying to destroy the TARDIS for a laugh?" That said, I wonder if the first word the new Doctor says is a joke or not (as 'Legs' is Bingo code for '11', as in 'Legs Eleven').

As for the New Doctor, well, Matt Smith's acting is impeccable compared to what I'd heard (though he was quite brilliant in Party Animals, I never had any complaints there). But I can't judge him. He convincingly portrays someone with a completely new consciousness struggling to synch itself up with a completely new nervous system. Who is also stoned out of his head. But apart from a typical Doctorish "We're all going to die! Fucking AWESOME!", he's got nothing to impress us with from the script point of view. In terms of winning us over in a first scene, I'm pretty sure Barbara Benedetti is the winner.

The real problem... if there is one - did I mention this story is hard to review - that the new Doctor seems barely any different from the old. Yet we've been unambiguously told this is a new spirit to replace the one that just died. So basically we might as well have ended the story with DT drooling blood and wandering around the place trying to feast on human flesh for all the respect it gives his character. Like the inexplicable destruction of the entire TARDIS, it feels more like "who cares?" rather than "farewell". Mind you, the old girl seems completely knackered in this story, and the Doctor did have a backlog of lindos energy, plus he was visibly fighting it every second...

This is a hard story to review. I know that because someone way better than me at this spectacularly failed to achieve it. And so did the official Doctor Who Magazine. So...

...some random thoughts.

- if you're in the right mood, the intro with the Doctor and the reindeer is hilarious and heartwarming. But with DT's icy narration, it just seems... sick. I mean, he's chanting, "This is the Doctor and now the end of time is nigh, the Master is in control, the Time Lords are returning and it's time to face the final battle," and the SanTARDIS is making BBC logos in the sunset. Tonal dissonance much?

- at the end of 2008, RTD seemed to have burnt out creatively. He seems to have done the same in 2009, though in a different way. He was writing quite good scripts based on fanwank fundamentals (everyone teams up to fight Davros, Cybermen in Victorian London) but now he seems to have fantastic ideas, but is writing them in a half-arsed, near-sparacassian manner (see Lucy's "Ahahah! YOU may have a potion to bring back the Master but I luckily ALSO have a potion that will STOP him coming back! Ahaahaha!")

- Sylvia Noble is clearly making a real effort to stop being a complete bitch. She fails. A lot. But she is clearly trying. Even her angry scream that Wilf stay with her rather than go off with the Doctor is seemingly motivated by a desire to protect her aging father than a psychotic desperation to make him miserable. The bit where she is happy to have Donna think she's acting like a total spastic rather than argue about it says a lot too. So that's good.

- on paper, the Master's resurrection is freaking brilliant on every level. I can't fault it. Considering the insane lengths he went just to punk Martha Jones and blow up her flat, I totally buy him creating the Cult of Saxon and then idly telling the Doctor and Lucy while he toasts marshmallows on the Islands of Japan. And then the Cult takes TWO WHOLE YEARS to get together everything they need, because nothing in real life is ever easy. And the cult seemingly consists entire of women the Master probably shagged. Who are suicidal. And the woman who picks up the ring is a non-speaking extra without even an original name. And Lucy, who knew all about the resurrection spell, deliberately went to jail so she could lure the cult out and then take them out with a suicide bomb potion. And the Master's line about "the widow's kiss restores me to life". I mean, this is just high quality stuff. And then it gets compressed into a scene that lasts less time than it took me to write it.

- the Silver Cloak. OMFG. Now, I understand the "it's Christmas so we need some famous cameo celebrities doing comedy" vibe, and the idea of the Doctor getting a OAP fan club isn't necessarily a bad one. You ever seen Waiting for God? It DESERVES a cameo appearance by the Doctor, damn it. But those were wonderful people determined to make the last of their lives. These people are so sinister and sex-crazed I don't think they should be let out of the house. I mean, yes, on paper, the idea of an old man fancying DT is reasonable. But then they get the creepiest, most child-molestery of actors to lick his lips, Hannibal Lector style as June Whitfield completely-unscripted sexually assaults our hero. This is simply not good. Especially as they could have done it so much better, perhaps with the Doctor unable to upset these kind old people who are desperate to help him, even though they are completely useless and delaying him saving the universe. But no, a bunch of geriatric gang rapists corner him in such a way you assume this is all a trap the Master's lured him into.

- Riarf Kcut and his just as disturbing relationship with daughter are a bit better. Yes, the Naismith's don't get half the screentime they deserve, but I can follow the logic. For once it isn't an evil corporation or government, but some rich guy in a house bored shitless who can afford his own private army and alien goods. It makes a change, even if this is perilously close to the long awaited TV debut of Alistair Miles. But they are a plot function, two walking excuses for TV tropes to use the word "subverted" - they aren't evil cultists or world-conquering destroyers, they don't bully or slave drive the staff, they aren't completely stupid, and the staff when they pop out together AREN'T horny Torchwood-style sex maniacs, but aliens. Who are not evil, helpful or memorable. They're idiots who, as my dad notes, make everything ten times worse every time they use their ridiculously spiky heads. Who rather oddly escape with Eric Saward style casualness. I expected a scene where the dying Doctor left a Zarbi's head in their beds or something as recompense... but they are designed to piss me off and they damn well do. "He's gonna die anyway!" Fuckwits.

- is the Master turning everyone into clones of him a ridiculously stupid idea? Me? I say no. He's a megalomaniac, people. He wants to reshape the universe in his image. The only surprise is he hasn't pulled this stunt earlier, and frankly the scenes of everyone we know turned into his clones are genuinely unnerving. Nightmareish, one might say, like the world of Peris in Mission of the Viyrans. Is it funny? Dude, it is fucking hilarious! Pay attention to the last bit with the Powell Estate full of Masters and one throws his hat in the air, another Master picks that hat up, puts it on, and STARTS DANCING!!! Do the scenes of Donna being stalked by grinning Master clones not freak you out? Then you are quite franky creepy yourself.

- this leads to the lame "Oh, wait, Donna WON'T die, she'll just have a nap for the episode". This seemed to be unforgivably sucky, but I try to think of it this way. Donna notes that she often has little "moments" of awareness, but instinctively backs away from them, and only tries to actually remember when her mum and husband turn into grinning Sam Tylers in front of her, at which point she tries to not remember until she's actually cornered. So the Doctor's "defense mechanism" isn't some auto-reboot as I assumed, but a literal way to save her from the rampaging bug eyed monsters she will encounter, rightly assuming she'd be only really likely to remember if her life was endangered. True, this means that Donna might as well have been turned into the Master along with everyone else for all the difference it makes to the plot, but on the other hand, we now understand why she didn't say die when giant stingrays were on the news. On a basic level Donna understands her mind has been wiped and best left that way, and the more Catherine Tate in DW, the better. It also proves the hints in JE that her amnesia is more than strong enough for her to meet the Doctor, hear/see the TARDIS and generally the Doctor could have been a much bigger part of her post-travels life and the reason he hides is not because Donna is going to breakdown, it's because he is. Donna is the first "best friend" of the Doctor since Ace. Or maybe Charley. Which is perhaps why she's so more popular than all the other RTD era companions, even Mr. Copper (who, I am sad to discover, apparently died of old age shortly after Voyage - guess his "I won't survive 10 years in jail" wasn't hyperbole).

- it's an interesting take on the Master this time round, as he stops being a supervillain and becomes, to all intents and purposes, a monster who just happens to look like John Simm. He's summoned by magic, he can suck the flesh off your bones, he is a non-functional psychopath with super powers, and he's so badass, the peoples of the universe have nightmares about him giggling and only the tri-brained Ood remember him in the morning. The Master EATS PEOPLE. And yet he gets more pathos and sympathy than ever before, with the Doctor and Time Lords treating him basically as an innocent with a disease, a mental condition. Is that how the Doctor has always seen the Master: Ralph Wiggum in a crash helmet? No wonder he's always trying to spare his friend's life and stopping him getting hurt by his own schemes. Was that how they met? The Doctor, so uncool, his only friend was from the "special ed" area of Prydon Academy? And of course the embarrassing backward cousin no one talks about is the one who takes down Rassilon. With four knocks.

- of course the Master (tries to?) kill Rassilon in Oedopal Rage. It's not some cheapass "oh, the drums made me do the bad things which I know realize were evil" crap. Rassilon didn't make the Master kill Chantho or anything else. The Master did that of his own free will. But if he HADN'T had the drums in his head, he might have done different. And that's all there needs to be, because the Master (if the name wasn't a clue) wants control. And he finds HIS ENTIRE FUCKING LIFE has been masterminded by a git who didn't give a toss whether he lived or died, and takes great pleasure in gloating on this. Whatever it was that made the Doctor and the Master hate each other, it was never like this. So I for one totally buy the Master would save the Doctor and charge into hell JUST TO SCREW RASSILON OVER.

- similarly, the Doctor can only really be fussed about the four knocks business for the simple reason he HATES predeterminism. As Dave Lister would say, "I wanna be in charge of me own smegging destiny." Imagine if Carmen kept her big fat mouth shut (and who the hell doesn't?), and the Doctor was unaware of any doom over his head. Would he really throw such a hissy fit over Wilf, TLV permitting? No, I don't think so. And I think it's balanced when the Eleventh Doctor is seemingly doomed to be smashed to pieces in the crashing TARDIS - he doesn't care, because there's no prophecy, and the future is nothing but hope. Will he get out alive? No idea. But that's the point. Anything is better than certainty, which takes all the fun out of things.

- the Time War retcon is official freaking genius. Steve Moffat weeps. It makes EVERY SINGLE Time War reference a brilliant double entendre, from "I couldn't save any of them" right through to "where emperors and Time Lords failed". The Daleks weren't the threat that would destroy the entire freaking universe. The Time Lords were. We all assumed that the Daleks were so freaking unstoppable that the Doctor committed Mutally Assured Dematerialization for the Greater Good. It turns out the Daleks weren't even THAT big a faction in the Time War! The Doctor's been bullshitting since day one, even to the Master, pretending the Daleks were the Big Bad and the Time Lords nobly took one for the team. The Beasts' "the killer of his own kind" makes a horrible new sense. The Doctor isn't so much horribly traumatized that he's the Last Time Lord, he's deeply ashamed he was the Last Time Lord long before Gallifrey was nuked. And with this final confirmation that the Time Lords were absolute fucking assholes who childishly decide to destroy all creation in a fit of pique, one can strongly hope the Eleventh Doctor will be much angst free in comparison. All of it topped off by the Doctor finally losing it and screaming "DON'T YOU EVER LISTEN?!" to the Master, who tries to roll with the punches: "My kind of universe!" he deems temporal hell.

- so... the woman in white. My parents (spoiler free) came to the conclusion that she was the Doctor's mother (though admit she could be damn well anyone). I assumed it was Romana. Why? Well, thought I, would the Doctor's mother REALLY be such a cool woman? Does anyone think of the Doctor's family (be it loom or not) and think they actually GOT ALONG with their angst rebellious anarchist son? Even the Master deems childhood on Gallifrey sucked, while the Third Doctor revealed he only dared skip class and talk to his next door neighbor after having a complete emotional breakdown. The Master's happiest childhood memory was running through some freaking grass (a memory the Doctor doesn't seem to share). This does not suggest a world of loving parents who encouraged their offspring to morality and self-sacrifice, does it? Susan is the only member of the Doctor's family he seems to actually like, and he found her more annoying than some of his other companions. IF his mother appeared and gave him a Do What Must Be Done look... I'd expect the Doctor to do the exact opposite. In fact, I was half-expecting him to shoot HER. Besides, why would a woman (old even by Time Lord standards) become an incredibly powerful Time Lord senator with the ability to somehow retrospectively contact Wilf and get him to save the Doctor? Plus, her "I once was lost" screamed a Gallifrey 90210 reference to me, along with the complete asshole Lord President and the reliance on Sisters from Karn rather than the Matrix.

- of course, I was since reminded that the Time Lords can resurrect damn well anyone they like, so bringing back Susan's great-grandmother is a piece of piss. And the fact all the Time Lords had mastered huge mental powers enough to ascend to become Lovecraftian super beings means it is quite possible that, for the few moments the woman is out of the time lock, she manages to pull this Life on Mars manipulation. And there's the fact she only contacts the person that the Doctor and the Master think of as the Doctor's dad (though that just reinforces the fact that he didn't get on with Theta Sigma Senior...)

- Everyone else has done it, so I might as well too. The What Did RTD Rip Off Previous Regen Stories? list!
The Tenth Planet: the TARDIS arrives in a snowy wasteland, a planet nearly collides with Earth, a dangerous radiation chamber that can deflect the enemy, the Doctor inexplicably collapsing half-way through the story then acting like nothing happened, trying to sweettalk the unstoppable army into playing nice, missiles being fired at alien spaceships, aliens infiltrating a human base disguised as staff, the companion having a crisis of confidence over using lethal force, the dying Doctor alone returning to the TARDIS through the snow, alone in the console room noticing his hand glowing, his dying words ('I shan't go through with it! I won't!') before the TARDIS console room seems to explode and then completely changes appearance in the very next story, and of course the story being set at Christmas in the near future.
The War Games: the Master finding a way to conquer the whole of humanity and turning it into an army, a wierd bit of objets d'art summoning the Time Lords, the Doctor and the Master alternately trying to prevent it, the Time Lords wiping out individuals with amazing powers, the Doctor shitting himself with terror that the Time Lords are around, the Doctor carrying a flintlock gun, a wealth of guest villains, the Doctor getting to see what happens to his companions after they leave him, a companion with amnesia, the Doctor critiquing his new form, the Doctor's dying words ('You can't do this to me!'), the last shot of the Doctor spinning round and round
Planet of the Spiders: the Doctor gets contacted by old friends on Earth, the Doctor initially refuses to get involved in the plot leading to deaths, the Doctor meeting a respected Time Lord from his childhood, the Doctor's ego causes the whole mess, the Doctor checks up on a companion who has left him and now married, a ridiculous airchase hunting down a bloke who replaced Roger Delgado, a black magic ceremony in a basement that summons a monster, comedy tramps, a casual character who we discover is a major Time Lord, a character's mind expanding and being left to face possessed humans, the Doctor getting embarrassingly tied up by the enemy, the Doctor being suspicious of his companion's motives, the Doctor abandoning his allies for a fatal head-on-collision with an enemy with delusion of godhood, one crystal being needed to solve the whole mess, the human characters wait patiently for the Doctor to return fearing he might have died, the Doctor getting a fatal dose of radiation that interferes with the regenerative process
Logopolis: the Doctor is a brooding miserable old sod, the TARDIS is almost completely broken down, the Doctor being stalked by a strange figure in white that he refuses to discuss and who makes companions secretive when they talk to them, the Doctor trying to hunt down a resurrected Master on a killing spree, the Doctor having an old male friend who is charged with protecting his former companions, the Master unwittingly unleashes a force that will destroy all of time and space and tries to take charge of it only to fail utterly, the Doctor and the Master teaming up to defeat it, the Master taking over a complex full of armed guards the Doctor and the companions have to hide from, the Doctor deliberately endangers his life trying to end a signal that could destroy the universe, the Doctor struggling to get alien machinery to work, the Doctor finally accepting his life is over and voluntarily dying, the story ends on a cliffhanger
The Caves of Androzani: the Doctor gets the shit kicked out of him repeatedly, crashes a spaceship, delays his explosive regeneration, gets his usually impeccable outfit ruined and soiled, and deliberately sacrifices himself for his companion even though he isn't sure he will regenerate, a skull-faced villain with an insaitable appetite, a sarcastic son of a bitch who is rich and powerful with his own private army, duplicates of characters appear, the Doctor is abandoned by a former ally in the middle of a crisis, twin planets whose proximity cause a violent earth tremor, the Master mocking the Doctor when he's down, the Doctor getting bound and gagged, the Doctor gets farewells from his companions even ones you never thought of
Time and the Rani: the TARDIS goes out of control, innocents reduced to skeletons by an evil Time Lord, a plot to fundamentally rewrite the history of the universe, a quarry filled with laser explosions, a society struggling to rescue itself from economic collapse, a ravenous monster that can be distracted from the Doctor by sheer hunger alone, the Doctor coming up with shithouse misquotes, the Doctor repeatedly changing his outfit, the companion bemoaning the Doctor is wasting time, gags about the companions' sex life when faced with a hunky alien, a family drawn together by fear of the daughter being killed, a father that cooperates with an evil Time Lord to save his people, the Doctor's plan goes horribly wrong and ending with a sacrifice, the Doctor spends a lot of time TARDIS travelling at the end of the adventure to see various cameo characters safe.
The TV Movie: the TARDIS breaks down and goes haywire when the solo Doctor is trying to capture the Master, the Master (briefly) returns from certain death in a supernatural way and then kills lots of women (one of which he has recently slept with), the Doctor is shot but effortlessly survives, the Master opens a gateway to hell, the Doctor gets on famously with a companion AFTER THEY KILL HIM, the Doctor travels back in time to New Year's Day to say goodbye to a woman he's snogged several times and gives future tips to another companion, Daleks get mentioned a lot but are never seen, the Doctor's companion is apparently killed but comes back to life with some swirly orange light, Rassilon boneheads in the climax
Rose: the Doctor and companion continually bump into each other as he dips and out of the adventure via TARDIS, the Doctor angsts about the Time War and tries to kill his enemies in cold blood, the companion snaps the Doctor out of his arrogant death wish funk, Rose and Jackie loiter around the Powell Estate while the Doctor is just passing through, the Doctor describes his new face "could be worse", a companion sees the inside of the coral TARDIS for the first time after seeing it from the outside on several occasions, a black boyfriend suggests everyone party and obsesses over the Doctor's companion while she's lying on a couch, people with better things to do spend their time trying to track down the Doctor, a companions' loved one is turned into a grinning bug-eyed evil alien briefly but gets better, the Doctor leaves in the TARDIS after a heart-to-heart-to-heart with Rose but she doesn't come with him, it segues directly into the next story.
The Parting of the Ways: the Doctor begins the story bragging about his unseen historical adventures, the Doctor gets an awesome new companion but eventually abandons them to regenerate, the Doctor dies after absorbing a deadly energy to save his companion's life, Rose says goodbye to the dying Doctor not actually understanding what's going to happen, the Doctor fears his regeneration won't work out, a psycho Time War survivor intends to turn the human race into copies of itself, the companion is forced to join civilians in fighting overwhelming odds, celebrity cameos appear as themselves, some selfish amoral bastards ostensibly on the Doctor's side don't help as much as they can, a cunning black asshole is sidelined in the second episode and is last seen brain-bleached as he faces death from the Time War, the Doctor picks up a gun and decides to trigger genocide for the greatest good but can't kill when the moment calls for it, the Doctor sends the TARDIS out of harm's way and mucks about with teleports, the evil villain screams they are immortal before it turns out they're not and are zapped by someone protecting the Doctor, the Doctor and his companions are left alone once the battle is over, the Doctor regenerates by bursting into flames.

- on a similar note, back in 2005 the biggest thing David Tennant had been in was, apparently, The Adventures of Luther Arkright where he played the titular time-travelling pretty boy dark psycho with a disturbing obsession for a girl called Rose (his previous BF roles as a Time Lord or a Dalek-fighting alien doctor with a Cockney accent were rightfully forgotten). Now, after confronting Paul Darrow's Oliver Cromwell, DT was immediately tortured to death but then magically was able to regenerate his body but in doing so altered his personality. Sound familiar? According to the comic version, DT then healed his nasty wounds like so:
Looks familiar, no?

- I was so pleased Freema Agyeman and Noel Clarke were able to appear AT ALL, and then they proceed to pretty much stand around saying "Man, this Sarah Jane type shinanegans with reused monsters in deserted factories is way better than any shit Torchwood can offer" in one last smackdown from its creator. Of course, Martha has now seduced BOTH of Rose's exes (so Jimmy Stone better watch out) but she was always going to prefer Mickey to a man who she kind of liked when he was a traumatized post-apocalyptic survivor who died for her rather than the genuine article. Frankly, Jared's suggestion that the Unseen Fiancee was just Martha's imaginery friend to make the Tenth Doctor jealous was rather credible. Me? I assumed he got gassed by Sontarans, hence Martha being a terrocidal maniac wearing black and wanting to end it all.

- a token gesture from RTD was to give Sarah Jane Smith no dialogue whatsoever in deference to Jared

- John Barrowman explained the whole point of the Time Lord Pimp scene was that the Tenth Doctor (famous for shouting "Oh, stop it Jack!" whenever he tried to flirt with man, woman or Malmooth) on his deathbed suggests Jack chat someone up. RTD hints that it is the Doctor's way of forgiving Jack for the events of Children of Earth. Absolutely NONE of this comes across in the finished scene

- um, what happens if Donna reads A Journal of Impossible Things? How many people will she knock out this time? Won't Paul Cornell sue?

- Donna shoves the winning lottery ticket down her noble cleavage, cause she doesn't have pockets in her wedding dress. But why didn't she force Nerys' girlfriend to wear the same dress? Or, is this a Daria-style "I AM wearing the same dress". And did Obama save the world economy or did Sylvia and Wilf pay for the massive church wedding they couldn't afford in 2010? For the record, it took me ages to twig who "Jeffery Noble" was, since Donna's dad hadn't been referred to by name since The Runaway Bride. Where he was simply "Geoff". And yes, the idea of a man's loose change becoming the life-changing gift at the wedding of his daughter he will not live to see, is heartbreakingly sweet. But then, that was obvious.

- I rarely cry at Doctor Who. The only times have been: Susan's farewell in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, when the Third Doctor died in Planet of Spiders, when Adric died in Earthshock, when the Doctor told Fenric to kill Ace in Curse of Fenric, when Rose was left on the beach in Doomsday, and Donna's "death scene". I also got a bit teary when I killed off Dodo in C-Day, but I dunno if that counts. But I totally sobbed like a baby man when Bernard Cribbens started to cry saying, "I don't want you to die!" or when he broke down and PLEADED for the Doctor to stay out of the glass box. And blew the kiss at the wedding. I also got set off by Rose's scene, but mainly because even though the Doctor was in indescribable agony, he was pulling his "I'm ALWAYS all right!" cheeky act one last time at the girl totally unaware the love of her life was dying in front of her.

- I was completely traumatized when I saw the last episode of Blake's 7, and I remember rewatching it noticing all sorts of little details that suggested things could have been different and their fate wasn't inevitable (such as the scene where Vila is dismayed that Plan A is no longer "run away"). I was reminded of it in Logopolis with those random side-steps as the Doctor visits Brighton Pier or hangs round a coffee machine, like he's trying to choose the path of action that WON'T lead to his death and yet keeps getting hemmed in. So the padding of the Silver Cloak, the cafe scene, the worst. rescue. ever., and the final scenes with the companions. So... I can't really complain over these scenes, because on some gut level they are what they want. Ergo, I can't truly give a credit.

- the ABC trailer for this story proves, simply PROVES, how much the people working there love Doctor Who. They really don't need to go to that much trouble, getting clearance to use The Doors and special edits... they could simply repeat the BBC trailers if they wanted (which is how they tackled the previous specials). This is the end my beautiful friend... pity about the "Catch Up on iView" logo that pops up half-way-through. Totally kills the mood.

And so I conclude with the musical tribute that should have been in the story rather than a repeat of The Angel and the Devil over a space jukebox.

This is for the fans that’re loving the arc,
The gritty gravitas coz it’s gone all dark!
Battered police box, stuck in Cardiff
The Tenth Doctor makes all a squee-bitch
And I, the best Doctor, unlike Tom I rocked ya
Like Colin I shocked ya, like Peter I mocked ya
Lasted five years, longer than your fears,
Now my departure’s gonna leave you in tears!

THIS LIFE TURNED OUT NOTHING LIKE I HAD PLANNED!
Why not?
By now I shoulda kept my hand,
Not lost my companion band,
And suffered adventures quite so bland!
Now I got nothing, no travelling in the dust
No decent companions, just that bitch with a bus!
I keep looking for a proper friend to me
But time has run out and I face mortality!

I got chic-geek outfits
I’m on the good side of the critics
Even though I prefer thrillers to the chick flicks
So I’m gonna quit before you’re sick of my tricks, yeah!
Badass vengeful god, slightly emo
Never shut up, no problemo
Might go back to Big Finish, for a cameo
Or do missing adventures, if we get the get-go?

This is the finale, gnarly and incredibly barmy
It’s so mad RTD cries “It’s even got the Rani!”
Canon, continuity, fanwankorama
Celebrity Guest Appearance by Barrack Obama
Taking on the Master who’s gone bananas
In another so-called “award-winning dramas!”
Polarity? Neutron flow?
You reversing? I should hope so!
The end’s half-way-through! Ro ho no fo blo ho!

People will complain if Rose doesn’t come back
And if she didn’t, RTD’d give Billie P the sack
And the execute producer says it’ll “be the biggest story yet”
After five years no one’s even prepared to bet
It’ll live up to hype or even live at all
But rest assured, all the cast and crew had a ball

It’s as epic as Star Wars, Darkness Falls, Sliding Doors
It’s got a more convincing monster than the one in Jaws
So fangirls come squee, and make your goodbyes
We know who’s Eleven, so it ain’t a surprise
Even if you avoid spoiler lies, Moffat’s reign is nigh
So lie back, relax and watch as Mad Larry cries,
Weeping with despair that he’s not in charge
And that his assumed talents were just a mirage

I’m off to Hamlet, Shakespeare to Chicago
Who fan on the stage, spot me from the front row!
And then I looked around at the guest cast in this show,
I’ve slept with almost all of them, you know?

You put me here and I’m all yours
Though I do like money and I do love the applause,
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, jings!

People make some noise! Fangirls and fanboys!
Say “WHO?” NOW SQUEE!
FOR THE GREATEST EVER DOCTOR!

12 comments:

matt311 said...

One thing, which I think is a kind of outside factor and thus RTD and DT are blameless for (this time anyway), is that... well, the Tenth Doctor comes across as far more selfish and miserable than he should. And why? Because we think he's whinging and bitching about regenerating when he's actually going on about death. The Doctor's rant about "being capable of so much more" instinctively makes us assume its a double entendre for "Tennant Under Moffat" (which in itself is another double entendre, but I'll stop before I fall into that Nob Gag Bermuda Triangle Rik and Ade warned me about).

See, the Doctor thinks he's going to die. Not regenerate. Die. If Private Dexter or whoever had popped up and explained the Doctor would survive the radiation chamber (albeit Matt Smith shaped), the Doctor would have skipped into it with one last toothy grin. The trouble is, we're all waiting for Smithy to appear, and with regeneration already described as death, we're assuming the Doctor's being a whiny bitch, prioritizing his bouffaint, manly hairy hands and that mole between his shoulder blades over Wilf's life. Which isn't the case. And isn't helped by Wilf instantly expecting the Doctor to regenerate either.

With that in mind, the last twenty minutes becomes slightly less unbearable - though, if you're in the right mood, you want even MORE companion cameos with Jackson Lake, Jenny and Mr. Copper... - as the Doctor, realizing his 'death' is now limited to his current incarnation, sucks it up, puts on a new suit, and accepts his reward: for the first time, a Doctor has a chance to say goodbye. I bet the First Doctor would have liked such a whistle-stop tour to see Ian, Barbara, Vicki, Steven and, hell, maybe loiter at Susan's wedding. The Second Doctor even had his goodbyes erased. The Fourth and Fifth Doctors got death bed visions... It makes sense that he would consider this "his reward", as he sets the TARDIS to home in on her former crew with usual ironic timing (two minutes later and Mickey and Martha would be smoking corpses, Luke in a morgue, and Rose unconscious after a hard night's boozing).

Thus, the Doctor only REALLY starts whining about his regeneration just as it's about to happen. When he's on his own and - unlike the last few times - doesn't have Rose around to reassure or bluff. As he lied to others about how bitching awesome the Time Lords are, he's been bulshitting us all along that this regeneration stuff is no more hassle than a drinking competition with Oliver Reed and Dylan Moran.


I think you're rationalizing a bit, Ewen; Ten himself said in Part One that "even then, even if I change, it feels like dying. Everything I am dies. Some new man goes sauntering away... and I’m dead."

Regeneration was never really treated like that, before; just the same Doctor in a different body and a subtly altered personality (heck, the only Doctor I can think of who spoke of his past self in the third person was Patrick Troughton's, in The Power of the Daleks), so Ten's basically throwing himself an enormous pity party, and it just reeked to me of a pathetic, self-absorbed personality... which is why I'm glad we've finally gotten a refresher.

Bring on April! Long live the New Doctor! :-D

Youth of Australia said...

I think you're rationalizing a bit, Ewen; Ten himself said in Part One that "even then, even if I change, it feels like dying. Everything I am dies. Some new man goes sauntering away... and I’m dead."
And Ten himself was in a low ebb of self pity. Look at the conversation.

Ten: I'm gonna die.
Wilf: What if you regenerate?
Ten: That'll suck just as bad.

Besides, he's been told his SONG is to end. Not just the latest verse. He assumes, based on Ood phraseology, he is properly doomed only for Sigma to turn up at the end to put him right.

Regeneration was never really treated like that, before;
Have you actually WATCHED Logopolis?

just the same Doctor in a different body and a subtly altered personality
Not really. Why, therefore, does the Sixth Doctor critique his past self's ENTIRE PERSONALITY? Why does the Seventh Doctor believe his "new persona" sucks completely?

(heck, the only Doctor I can think of who spoke of his past self in the third person was Patrick Troughton's, in The Power of the Daleks)
And of course what about the lines in the Christmas Invasion?

Rose: (of the Ninth Doctor) I miss him.
Ten: Yeah. Me too.

so Ten's basically throwing himself an enormous pity party, and it just reeked to me of a pathetic, self-absorbed personality...
Which is entirely NOT what happens. It just LOOKS like it is. Hence the huge amount of text you just quoted.

which is why I'm glad we've finally gotten a refresher.
Oh yeah. What an improvement. A randy snogger who punches people, shoots things and goes postal with a spade on defenceless foes.

WHAT a massive improvement.

matt311 said...

Oh yeah. What an improvement. A randy snogger who punches people, shoots things and goes postal with a spade on defenceless foes.

So... I'm guessing you won't like Moffat-era Who, then?

Youth of Australia said...

Only one way to find out.

In the meantime, I'm just the sort who don't utterly worship Moffat in the deranged belief he can do no wrong and can keep my critical faculties switched "on".

I've never followed the sheep before RTD left and I will not suddenly start now.

matt311 said...

I've never followed the sheep before RTD left and I will not suddenly start now.

What a coincidence; neither do I.

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

"Smile? Not even a little bit?" they both ask. The Doctor's rudeness and arrogance are ramped up, and am I the only one to notice his scream of "IT ISN'T FAIR!!!" mirrors the Master when he too was defeated.

Erm... so far as I know, yes. Bloody good catch, though. There is the fact that the Simm Master is deliberately very similar to DT, though, so there could be a stupid-tit-inversion-loop affecting things there.

whoever had popped up and explained the Doctor would survive the radiation chamber (albeit Matt Smith shaped), the Doctor would have skipped into it with one last toothy grin.

I think you're mistaken here. With regeneration already flagged up, along with the fact that the Doctor really doesn't want to regenerate and apparently nearly destroying the TARDIS from stopping himself regenerating at the end - it seems to me like the Doctor's egocentricity has him reading regeneration as death.

(Which, as you've since pointed out isn't exactly unheard of - Troughton didn't have much fun)

I mean, am I alone in thinking "didn't Owen Harper ALSO die by rescuing a complete stranger from fatal radiation only to be trapped in the epicentre and then have a furious tirade as a loved one stood by, helpless, and wept as he suddenly got over himself and finally died?"

No, I did get that for a moment.

that the new Doctor seems barely any different from the old.

It is a concern. And I'm the guy who was pissed off at Tennant and Eccleston being so similar.

I know that because someone way better than me at this spectacularly failed to achieve it.

Damnit. It kinda looked like a review..

"Ahahah! YOU may have a potion to bring back the Master but I luckily ALSO have a potion that will STOP him coming back! Ahaahaha!"

Did I talk about "WTF" that scene had me? Everyone seems to agree. I think that waould have been a cool 'Doctor-lite' prequel part of the trilogy in a regular season, because that one scene had a LOOOOT of work to do.

the Doctor unable to upset these kind old people who are desperate to help him, even though they are completely useless and delaying him saving the universe.

I got the distinct vibe that that was what they were going for in that scene.. but...

a bunch of geriatric gang rapists corner him in such a way you assume this is all a trap the Master's lured him into.

Couldn't agree more and this is incidentally my new MSN message.

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Riarf Kcut

HAHAHA yes it has caught on!

So I for one totally buy the Master would save the Doctor and charge into hell JUST TO SCREW RASSILON OVER.

Did people have plausibility issues with this moment? The Master is, afterall, the dude who proclaims to the Doctor that he, alone in all living beings in the Universe, is impossible to kill. He is both demented enough to run into hell in this Universe, and too break his way out again.

We all assumed that the Daleks were so freaking unstoppable that the Doctor committed Mutally Assured Dematerialization for the Greater Good.

I don't remember anything in the story suggesting otherwise - just that the Time Lords had a much more drastic measure. The Doctor effectively said (to Wilf I think) that bringing the Time Lords themselves back wasn't the terrible thing, but that the Time Lock would be broken and that the Daleks would come back as well. My reading was that everything we have been told and inferred about the Time War was true - just that one big detail was left out.

Personally I think "ALL TIME LORDS ARE EVIL FUCKING NAZIS" isn't particularly interesting myself, but whatever floats your boat.

I also figured it was the Doctor's Mother, but at the same time thinking "This is really a crap idea". For the reasons you point out. It would be hellza weird for the Doctor to have parents he actually cares about and never mentions to anyone, even when a companion specifically asks him about his family (and he pretty specifically says that they're dead).

she was always going to prefer Mickey to a man who she kind of liked when he was a traumatized post-apocalyptic survivor who died for her rather than the genuine article.

.. I actually think Martha's characterisation was fluid enough for calls like that to be a bit difficult to make. Although I guess Mickey is seemingly more pro-active than non-post-apocalyptic Mulligan would presumably be.

a token gesture from RTD was to give Sarah Jane Smith no dialogue whatsoever in deference to Jared

Swing in a miss. Lose the whole companion cameos, actually HAVE Tennant regen without an effect in the booth like he had us thinking had happened and Donna takes her top off. Then we talk.

For the record, it took me ages to twig who "Jeffery Noble" was,

Yeah, maybe keep those Sarah Palin-moments to yourself could be a good idea..

A very good review. And it would be a boring old world if we all thought the same thing, eh?

Youth of Australia said...

Erm... so far as I know, yes.
Curse my isolated genius.

there could be a stupid-tit-inversion-loop affecting things there.
Well, yeah, but I DO think it symbolizes TLV is still there.

I think you're mistaken here.
My point was
- the Doctor hates regenerating
- he hates dying more

So he would have gone in straight to save Wilf, maybe even cheerful, but he'd be LYING. Just like Nine was all "Yo, Rose, check this out, NEW FACE!", he'd be bullshitting for appearances.

Like he does when he KNOWS he's going to regenerate and acts all calm and normal yet, when he's alone, the waterworks start. Then again, maybe that's the cause? He doesn't want to die/regenerate alone?

No, I did get that for a moment.
Phew.

It is a concern. And I'm the guy who was pissed off at Tennant and Eccleston being so similar.
Well, I can say all the stuff I've seen hints that Eleven is going to be pretty different from Ten. In fact, he seems kind of like Six in a party mood...

Damnit. It kinda looked like a review..
Yeah, but I looked too closely.

I think that waould have been a cool 'Doctor-lite' prequel
I know. It's so sad.

I got the distinct vibe that that was what they were going for in that scene.. but...
Certainly according to the shooting script.

Couldn't agree more and this is incidentally my new MSN message.
Um...cool.

HAHAHA yes it has caught on!
It IS a cooler name than Joshua Naismith (which always gave me the mental image of Harewood trying to mispronounce his real name like Hyacinth Bucket, "It's not John Smith, It's JOSHUA NAISMITH!!!"

Did people have plausibility issues with this moment?
80-90% of every review I've read...

I don't remember anything in the story suggesting otherwise -
Well, the Doctor for the first time says that it was anyone except the Daleks and the Time Lords, and apparently the "Skaro Degradations" were even more hardcore than the Nation Estate's finest...

The Doctor effectively said (to Wilf I think) that bringing the Time Lords themselves back wasn't the terrible thing, but that the Time Lock would be broken and that the Daleks would come back as well.
Ah dunno. He says it to the Master, actually. To Wilf he says "I lied, the Time Lords are the Big Bad."

Personally I think "ALL TIME LORDS ARE EVIL FUCKING NAZIS" isn't particularly interesting myself, but whatever floats your boat.
It salves the wounds of SO MANY bad Time War fics, where the children of Gallifrey are noble self-sacrificing losers with the best of British Pluck.

I also figured it was the Doctor's Mother, but at the same time thinking "This is really a crap idea".
Yeah. Hence my internal retcon that it was Romana. I mean... I can't think of anyone on Gallifrey (bar maybe Kanpo) he would even TALK to of his own free will.

Swing in a miss. Lose the whole companion cameos, actually HAVE Tennant regen without an effect in the booth like he had us thinking had happened and Donna takes her top off. Then we talk.
Maybe in a few years time we can do a Star Wars and digitally edit the final twenty minutes to do just that. Get Tate to shriek "Hey, I won the lottery!" and her sudden nudity makes perfect sense.

And edit out June Whitfield.

Yeah, maybe keep those Sarah Palin-moments to yourself could be a good idea..
By "ages" I meant, "by the time Donna got the ticket". It didn't take me three weeks to twig or anything.

A very good review. And it would be a boring old world if we all thought the same thing, eh?
Well, it'd be a world of John Simms, wouldn't it?

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

So he would have gone in straight to save Wilf, maybe even cheerful, but he'd be LYING. Just like Nine was all "Yo, Rose, check this out, NEW FACE!", he'd be bullshitting for appearances.

Ah, okay. Is cool.

Well, I can say all the stuff I've seen hints that Eleven is going to be pretty different from Ten. In fact, he seems kind of like Six in a party mood...

Just thinking about the clip where he punches that dude out, and then seems to look at his fist in goofy amazement. Could it be a rip off of that scene where Rimmer ends up with Petersen's arm?

which always gave me the mental image of Harewood trying to mispronounce his real name like Hyacinth Bucket, "It's not John Smith, It's JOSHUA NAISMITH!!!"

..damn, I didn't get that stealth pun..

It salves the wounds of SO MANY bad Time War fics, where the children of Gallifrey are noble self-sacrificing losers with the best of British Pluck.

Ah. Well I haven't read those fics (because I rarely read any fics), and the notion does sound terrible. You'd think enough fans would know about Ravalox to go the 'lesser of two evils' approach.

Maybe in a few years time we can do a Star Wars and digitally edit the final twenty minutes to do just that. Get Tate to shriek "Hey, I won the lottery!" and her sudden nudity makes perfect sense.

LMAO!

And edit out June Whitfield.

I did the thing where I read small details about the episode beforehand, scattered from a number of sources and get them all mixed up. So I thought June Whitfield was playing an alien cannibal. Yes, I thought they were sending Tennant off with Paradise Towers: The Return.

By "ages" I meant, "by the time Donna got the ticket". It didn't take me three weeks to twig or anything.

Lol. Sorry for the aspersions.

Well, it'd be a world of John Simms, wouldn't it?

Beats a world of Adam Rickitts anyday.

Youth of Australia said...

Just thinking about the clip where he punches that dude out, and then seems to look at his fist in goofy amazement. Could it be a rip off of that scene where Rimmer ends up with Petersen's arm?
I assume that - since said punchee is wearing a Dalek-themed helmet - it was a sudden, "OMG you bastard!" save the world Duggan style.

It was the icy "die mofo" expression with the handgun that worried me.

Ah. Well I haven't read those fics (because I rarely read any fics), and the notion does sound terrible. You'd think enough fans would know about Ravalox to go the 'lesser of two evils' approach.
You know, some of those fic writers are declaring EOT non-canon just because of the evil Time Lord angle?

Nutters.

Yes, I thought they were sending Tennant off with Paradise Towers: The Return.
OAP Holocaust...

Beats a world of Adam Rickitts anyday.
The thought of beating a planet of Adam Rickitts is not suitable material for this blog.

matt311 said...

I assume that - since said punchee is wearing a Dalek-themed helmet - it was a sudden, "OMG you bastard!" save the world Duggan style.

It was the icy "die mofo" expression with the handgun that worried me.


You seem to forget that the Doctor has used guns before; Peter Davison and Tom Baker, most notably...

As for the expression, well... he could always be "far more than just another Time Lord", again. ;-)

Youth of Australia said...

You seem to forget that the Doctor has used guns before;
I forget nothing.

Peter Davison and Tom Baker, most notably...
I don't remember either of them being sold to the public as trigger-happy, violent snoggers though.

As for the expression, well... he could always be "far more than just another Time Lord", again. ;-)
Odd way to sell him to the public though.