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Give thanks that Davies' Doctor Who finally regenerated

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Jan 7th 2010 10:02AM
Doctor Who can look forward to a new life under Steven Moffat.The Gallifreyan dust cleared by now on the final episode of the Russell T. Davies era of Doctor Who. And, after watching and digesting the final episodes of the David Tennant era, Davies couldn't move on fast enough for me.

The two-part story, "The End of Time," was watched by 10 million in the UK -- flirting with a 50 ratings share. So, it's an undeniable success. It was also an undeniable mess of a story that proved unworthy of Tennant's swan song.

Davies forever deserves credit for taking the street credit his successful work on series like Queer as Folk gave him and investing it in one shot from the BBC to bring back the network's crown jewel, Doctor Who. And he deserves credit for increasing the nerdy guy-friendly show's popularity with women by introducing "Buffy-ized" romance and humor.

But, the hard truth is Davies isn't a gifted sci-fi genre writer. And it showed in "The End of Time."

What irked me so much about Tennant's final adventure as The Doctor? Davies did everything during his tenure as executive producer to weaken one of TV's greatest heroes -- to corrupt him and make him less of a heroic figure. Maybe he wanted to humanize The Doctor. Or maybe Davies is cursed by too much cynicism to allow for heroes.

But Davies really trashed The Doctor in these final tales. Why he would do that to a show he loved and wanted to bring back is beyond me. Yes, The Doctor fought back another alien invasion of Earth and bested The Master, but Davies sent The Doctor out crying like a petulant child. In what should've been Tennant's chance to finish up with nobility and heroism, he died whimpering under a layer of pretentious opera music.

Suffice to say, I doubt very much the talented writer and new executive producer Steven Moffat will let the new Doctor (Matt Smith) go out with such a lack of fanfare.

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Like a lot of the commentators on this article, I too do not believe the writer grasped the idea that so many other "Doctor Who" fans could plainly see; That the doctor we all love went out with an honorable bang, not only because his regeneration was large enough to destroy the TARDIS's decor; but because he gave his life to save an innocent, kind person, who was also a cherished friend. The idea of thinking that the doctor died, "crying like a petulant child" means that the writer never realized how terrifying it is to know of your impending death while trying to fight off the end to be able to bid loved ones goodbye.
David's performance during his final scene was as genuine as any actor could have possibly made it. He honestly didn't want to leave and he showed it very well in his farewell. But as every actor must, he knew when it was appropriate to step down no matter how much he, or his fans, wanted it to continue.
Quite frankly I'm shocked to hear someone's biased opinion on Russel's past work and saying that he has lackluster talent when writing Scifi scripts, when clearly his inner fan boy is taking the abilities of the 21st century's special effects to an entirely different level with a serious limitations to budget and physical abilities. He did make Scifi cool again with the return of "Doctor Who", that much is true. But to say that, "Davies weakened one of the greatest tv heroes" is a down right lie. When the show started off with Christopher Eccelston as the 9th doctor, the fans had been made aware of Gallifrey's destruction and of the time war. Now as everyone knows, war makes even the kindest of men into cold blooded killers, so it's not so hard to imagine that behind that big 'ol grin is a hardened, cold man that is two steps from snapping under the pressure. I think making the doctor appear more human, not only made him more lovable for everyone, but also allowed viewers to see their hero as someone they could be one day; someone who is always willing to help.
I really believe the point was lost on this person. Sure, some of the stuff seen in the last two specials was slightly overboard, the machine that created the clones of the Master comes to mind; but what could be bigger and better than the Master becoming the Earth's population and using that to finally answer the drums in his head, only to find out that he had been used in the end. As hard of a decision it was for the Doctor, he chose to save the Earth instead of saving his people, including his mother as we found out. When he does hear the knocks that had been prophesied and we find out that Wilfred is the one, he realizes that he wasn't meant to be killed in some epic battle to the death, but to willingly allow someone to live, no matter how insignificant it seems. I think that was a brilliant twist that shows how just unpredictable the show can be.
To be completely honest about my opinion on the show's future however, I'm not so sure about the drastic changes. The "hip" new logo and song, the new catchphrase, and the vampires that seem to scream "twilight" when I see them. Quite frankly, I don't think I'll enjoy it as much as I did with Chris and David in the doctor's chair. No offense to Mr. Moffat intended here, I did love "The Girl in the Fireplace" and I know good and well how great of an actor Matt Smith is, but I'm thinking this will appeal more to tweeny boppers more than traditional "Doctor Who" fans. I just hope the show doesn't have to say "Geronimo" down the popularly charts with Russel's and David's depatures.

January 17 2010 at 3:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To those who, like me, have spent the last 4 years utterly puzzled at the hatred spewed towards Davies by certain quarters (and, really, did any one expect any different from the finale?) ranging from that utter "gay agenda" nonsense that frankly dishonors Doctor Who fandom to the fact that any attempt to - gasp! - humanize the Doctor and make him relevant to today's viewers, as in those people who must be relied upon to keep Doctor Who running, not us old guys who'll be on OAP before long, gets criticized or slapped down ... we at least have the comfort of knowing the numbers are on OUR side. The RTD era of Doctor Who has regularly raked in awards, was the unbeatable foe for Battlestar Galactica at the Hugos for 3 years running, and the ratings and AI numbers are through the roof. This isn't like what happened with Star Trek where those who defended the writing/producing regime during the dark days of Enterprise were quiet voices in the wilderness.

The good news, if I may put a positive spin on things, is that regardless whether you like the new era, or hate it, or if you think Matt Smith will be the Doctor Who equivalent of Conan O'Brien, or you are glad to see the backside of David Tennant, everyone still wins. The inconsolable haters have 26 years of DVDs and reruns to enjoy, while those who hate the original series but love the new one have basically 5 seasons plus whatever Matt Smith has to offer to enjoy, and the majority of fans who don't complain and just enjoy it as a fine piece of entertainment have 26 years of classic, 5 years-plus of new era, Sarah Jane Adventures, Torchwood, that new K-9 show, the comics, the novels. It's an embarrassment of riches.

January 16 2010 at 12:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I disagree with the main thrust of this article. While I think it was certainly time for RTD to bow out (his gay agenda and bizarre storylines were really starting to go overboard), I was very impressed with the way the 2009 specials played out. There's nothing wrong with humanizing heroes, so far as it doesn't cross the line into setting a bad example for young people. It is wrong, on the other hand, to set a hero so high on a pedestal that he winds up being worshiped. The Doctor did display anger and sorrow when he knew his death was imminent, but the remarkable thing about that part of the story was that he never actually seemed to consider NOT sacrificing himself for Wilf. He had decided already that there was no way he was going to let Wilf die; this predetermined fact was what caused his emotion in the first place. In other words, it was the Doctor's heroism that led to his emotion. I personally saw nothing wrong with the Doctor's not wanting to die; I certainly didn't want him to. That whole thread of the story really grew out of the fact that Tennant has become one of the best-loved - if not THE best-loved - Doctors in the history of Doctor Who. He wasn't "a petulant child", he was just...sad. Didn't he have a right to be? It would have been highly stereotypical for him to display no emotion whatsoever.

At the same time, I have high hopes for the new era of DW and I'm looking forward to seeing Matt Smith in the role. Steven Moffatt's episodes were always my favorites; in fact, I'd go so far as to say that "Blink", "The Girl in the Fireplace", and the "Silence in the Library" two-parter were the only episodes of the new series which I enjoyed in their entirety.

Long live the Doctor!

January 15 2010 at 8:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
US Watcher

Totally disagree with gist of article and agree with majority of comments. Thought it was a great set of ending episodes. Ditto for Torchwood: Children of the Earth thought that was much more brutal.

January 10 2010 at 5:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well, I agree that the scene in which the Doctor has to save Wilf is a bit overdone and seems not proper for the Doctor himself, but at the same time, the Doctor, even if he does "not want to go", knows that he has "lived too long". And I think the scene is brilliant in that sense. The tenth Doctor now on his own was becoming a corrupted Timelord Victorious, the same as the long Time War corrupted the minds of the Timelords.

Maybe his long regeneration seems a bit too much, but RTD could not (and should not) have left the Doctor (especially this one) die on his own. The last look at Rose was inevitable and has a significant meaning for the closure of RTD era. The regeneration was epic and an incredible start for the fresh new Doctor, who has to take control of a collapsing TARDIS, core and icon of the era that finish and pass the baton to a new one. I especially liked the gesture on the face of the eleventh Doctor right after the regeneration.

I think RTD has done a great job for the Doctor Who series and I could not disagree more with the article.

The episodes from Steven Moffat are among my favourites and are those in which you can recognise his writing even if you do not look at the credits. I personally think the episodes he did were best in small portions, although I am sure he will know how to keep a good balance as the main writer. For that I hope he keeps extending the layers in the style of Doctor Who stories, something RTD was so good at.

January 09 2010 at 1:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The problem I had with the Dr being upset with Wilf was what if Wilf had left the other guy in there. Remember Wilf locked himself in so someone else could escape. So when the Dr said "Of course you would go and get locked in" I was like, someone was going to be locked in no mater what. So does the Dr not save the other guy if Wilf is safe?

January 08 2010 at 7:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love David Tennant and can't wait to see the new show. I hope he gets to keep his Scottish accent! No reason he couldn't have moved to the US & went to law school here! They could work with that! As for Doctor Who, OMG, I bawled my eyes out at the end. I wasn't sure about Tennant in the role at first, but his quirky personality had me in the first full episode. I hope the next guy can do the Doctor justice. David Tennant's a hard act to follow!

January 08 2010 at 12:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My only problem with the ending is that the Doctor did not die. He retains his memories. He only looksand acts diffrent. That is the reason that the show has endured so many years. The Doctor is now and has always been basically the same character. The only changes are his personality and apperance.

January 07 2010 at 7:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Francisco's comment

Anyone who has dealt with a victim of, say, a severe head injury or a severe stroke and has suffered a death of personality (see what I'm doing there?) would not agree with you -- you mourn for that person just as if they had physically died.

January 08 2010 at 5:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Have briskly read the comments, but I pretty much agree with the article here. The "SO MUCH MORE" was meant to be emotional, big-acting speech - but it does seem a little bit selfish and unheroic and dare I say it, out of character. He knew he was gonna die - and rather than being killed by the Master, it was saving someone's life.
The last line however did a better job at what the speech was aimed at, and summed up Tennant's character (and love of life) better.

January 07 2010 at 5:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to MacLean's comment

The "So much more" rage was the Doctor being angry at his fate, and the irony of the whole situation, at no point did he actually really think that he was not going to save Wilf to save himself. The fact is that up till that point, his "Time Lord Victoriousness" had set him on a path of wanting to do grand things, like saving a planet or naming a galaxy before he died. And he saw saving the Master, or saving the world from the Master, or the Time Lords, were part of the grand deeds he had to do before he died. The four knocks by Wilf, made him realise how wrong he was, and that he gets more out of the "little Deeds" than he does out of the grand ones. Hence he said that it would be his honour, and then later went and did other small things like saving Luke from a car as part of his rewards before he regenerated. Therefore, personalising the heroism and bravery, and having a lot more meaning to him and his companions than just saving time from the Time Lords could ever mean.

As always...RTD has many layers to just a single scene.

January 07 2010 at 10:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Personally, I can't believe THESE are the things you're complaining about...

The Doctor altering a static element of time, causing the woman to kill herself... now THAT was something to talk about...

Or, perhaps, look at what the influence of the Doctor did to Martha Jones... Martha was a med student. She wanted to become, ironically, a doctor... she wanted to help people, to save lives... and in the end, she's a mercenary.

That the Doctor didn't want to regenerate was perfectly in character. That he caused a woman to commit suicide and one of his companions to become a killer... now that's the problem... but you don't even seem to care about those...

January 07 2010 at 4:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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