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Review: Doctor Who - The End of Time, Part 1

by Brad Trechak, posted Dec 26th 2009 11:30PM
Doctor WhoThe first part of David Tennant's final episode of Doctor Who as the lead role has been broadcast in both the U.K. and the U.S. Part 2 will be broadcast on January 1st and 2nd in each country respectively. It's nice to know that the BBC took my advice and had the two networks broadcast within 24 hours of each other to minimize piracy.

The first part was somewhat disappointing. The reasons for this cannot be explained without revealing key elements of the story. In fact, there is absolutely no way to talk about this episode without revealing major spoilers. With that in mind, I am refraining from my commentary until after the jump. You have been warned.

David Tennant was brilliant as usual. Bernard Cribbins was also quite good as Wilfred Mott. It was strange having a celebrity like Catherine Tate (playing the character of Donna Noble) have what amounted to an extended cameo. What most brought down the episode was Russell T. Davies' writing. The man can't leave this show fast enough to make room for Steven Moffat. Where to begin?

The resurrection of the Master was too quick. With all that build-up, it amounted to the first ten minutes of the episode. Apparently while running England as the Prime Minister he also had the time to start a cult in his name. It's not completely out of character but this detail seemed to come out of nowhere.

It's nice how they managed to incorporate the end of Torchwood from the end of "Children of Earth" into the episode by having some of its alien technology get into the wrong hands (in this case Joshua Naismith played by David Harewood and his daughter Abigail played by Tracy Ifeachor). It's only natural for people that arrogant to involve the Master without thinking of the consequences.

Everybody in England recognizes Harold Saxon, the murderer of a U.S. President, so why is he still in England? Is he suicidally depressed? What also didn't make sense were these powers that the Master suddenly had by feeding off his own life force. Why doesn't the Doctor have these abilities as well? Why doesn't the Doctor just eat like a pig and shoot lightning bolts? Russell T. Davies seems more interested in his own legacy that keeping the characters consistent.

Why even bother using Barack Obama as a character when the last U.S. President on the show (as well as the last few British Prime Ministers) was fictional?

But what really killed the episode was the climax. Having the Master using the Immortality Gate to turn everyone on Earth into a replica of himself is cheesy science fiction 101. Doctor Who is capable of much better. I like cheesy science fiction as much as the next geek, but this one seemed callow and silly. Davies' previous efforts at this from the fourth season (the episodes "Midnight" and "Turn Left") were better executions of such ideas.

Since the Time War was Davies' baby it's no surprise that he wants to end it with his final episode and bring back the Time Lords. How can anybody wipe out a race that can move in time and space? If the Daleks could survive, then it's only logical that Time Lords could survive as well. I'm just wondering how the non-canonical spin-offs like the novels and the Big Finish audio plays will treat Gallifrey knowing that the Doctor's former companion Romana is no longer the President.

Despite my negativity regarding Part 1, I still have high hopes for the second part and will be tuning in next week. What did you think of this episode? Let me know in the comments.

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Mark Ifan

"Everybody in England recognizes Harold Saxon, the murderer of a U.S. President, so why is he still in England? Is he suicidally depressed?"

The DOCTOR reversed the time so nobody knew...you have to watch past episodes before you make mistakes.

"What also didn't make sense were these powers that the Master suddenly had by feeding off his own life force. Why doesn't the Doctor have these abilities as well? Why doesn't the Doctor just eat like a pig and shoot lightning bolts? "

Well, the master did have his resurrection gone wrong, shooting lightning bolts isn't a time lord thing, it's Lucy messing around with the master's resurrection that's how he got his powers.

January 12 2010 at 5:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cathy S.

I loved part I (yes, part II was better in the end), but...

Dr. Who, at least this version, has always been funny, and needs it as a contrast-wry british humor, clever writing, w/ silly stuff thrown in (and silly for me is tolerable SOME times). Tom Baker et al, I saw those shows at least 20 years ago; I remember humor, but drier wit and much draggier episodes, so maybe the tennant.eccleston years are better for me, and for the modern tv audience.
Anyway, I loved the serious bits w/Wilf and Master-cafe, warehouse, and all the funny stuff. Old folks scenes, Minnie the menace--funny! Master chowing down on humans-a little much, yeah, but the "hot, fat food, eat and eat and eat" scene with DR was so intense and great. Master w/ superpowers, dumb &cartoony, yeah, but why not superpowers?? His rebirth was supercharged; I don't expect that timelords in general have superpowers. I love humans becoming the "Master" race in the end, I chuckled, great wordplay on our serious phrase from Hitler history. B.Cribbins-great for an 80 yr old, all that running around with the Doctor !!

January 05 2010 at 1:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Master's always been a Snidely Whiplash type character in the past (down to the goatee and mustache to twirl). Truly evil but always over the top. This Master is not different (except that they've spelled out his insanity). They did explain with an aside how the Master got his superpowers (you're burning up your life force).

The whole hour felt rushed and the plot is pretty ludicrous. I would have preferred Tennant go out on a good story like the Waters of Mars.

December 31 2009 at 12:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Having rewatched the episode away from the hubub of Christmas Day I think it's excellent. The only piece I really agree with is about his resurrection be rushed. Other than that, tense sad, forbodding and thrilling.

December 29 2009 at 12:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What a lot of you are missing is that The Master isn't The Big Bad, he's The Little Bad, the fakeout complication. Admit it, most of you thought that the return of the Master was going to be the plot of these two episodes. Instead, he's back in the first ten minutes.


December 29 2009 at 3:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Henry Norcross

I'm waiting to reserve any judgment until after I see Part 2 of The End of Time. I'm sure that taken as a whole the entire episode will be a great deal better.

December 29 2009 at 2:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Blaidd Drwg

Tuesday, 27th of December, 25997 Mayan Common Era
@ 5:50 UTC
The last real good episode was "The Next Doctor".
"The Waters of Mars" lacked technical accuracy.
6 months to Mars (in 2009 CE) NOT 2 YEARS!!
Shuttles retire in 2010 CE!!
Would NOT use shuttles on Mars missions!!
(Like Disney's Rocketman)
Would NOT call ERV "Apollo 34"!!
Wlfred Mott makes up for "Dalek Invasion of Earth!!".
Wilfred and The Doctor (Peter Cushing).
Wilfred steals the show!!!!
"The End of Time Part One"
was all too "Reader's Digest"!! Very rushed!! Thank you.
Calling dib on the centre of The Tardis's couch
(From The Peter Cushing movies??), Allons-y!!

December 29 2009 at 12:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

@stan: "Does anyone know about a new series he's doing in America? It's about a lawyer who has panic attacks? He mentioned it on a BBC talk show."

The show is "Rex is Not Your Lawyer," and it takes place in Chicago. Other stars in the pilot include Jane Curtain and Jeffrey Tambor (who plays the therapist)

December 28 2009 at 10:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Very disappointing aspects to this. It was like watching the worst in comic book logic put to television. I'm hoping part II will be better, but to be frank, RTD has always been over the top with season enders or series enders. Everything has to be so damned grand that it becomes ridiculous...Series one--Rose joining with the intelligence to defeat the Daleks (no lasting effect on her but forcing a regeneration on the Doctor); series two--every single Dalek and Cyberman sucked into a timestream-tainted specific dimensional wormhole; series three--everyone in the world wishing the Doctor to defeat the Master and giving him superpowers; series four--the entire last half hour! And now this. A lot of ideas crammed together with very little lead in for the ultimate cliffhanger...every human turned into the Master. The concept was tough enough to swallow without having to see the Master in various clothing styles...including dresses. Am I supposed to be shocked and on the end of my chair...or laughing at this insanely bad visual concept of the Master cross-dressing as everyone. I like Tim Dalton as the President of the Time Lords narrating the story though.

December 28 2009 at 6:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As a DW fan here in the United States, I must say I am extremely surprised and pleased to get the Christmas present of being able to see "Then End Of Time" parts 1 & 2 on BBCAmerica the day after being broadcast in Britain.

On the whole, part 1 was pretty good. Nothing spectacular but solid. It wasn't up to the level of "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End", which would make a dandy title for Tennant's last episode, BTW. Nor up to the level of "Dalek" or "School Reunion".

But a couple of discordant notes; the first being about the Master's gluttony (although with RTD, even the most innocuous scene, word, or turn of phrase could be taken 5 different ways.) And that could apply to Donna Noble's" cameo.

It's also quite obvious that the Master is not his own master, so to speak. In fact RTD wants us to believe that the Timelords themselves could be the baddies of this episode.

I'd put this in probably a list of top 10 (or 15) DW episodes, albeit somewhere in the middle or slightly lower. I'm quivering with anticipation how all the threads are woven together not to mention the first view of Matt Smith and then series 5.

December 28 2009 at 4:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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