RELEASED: December 25th 2009 – January 1st 2010
DISTRIBUTED BY: BBC
SHOWRUNNER: Russell T Davies
WRITTEN BY: Russell T Davies
DIRECTED BY: Euros Lyn
MUSIC BY: Murray Gold
STARRING: David Tennant, Bernard Cribbins, John Simm, Timothy Dalton, Catherine Tate, Jacqueline King, Claire Bloom, June Whitfield, David Harewood, Tracy Ifeachor, Alexandra Moen, Sinead Keenan, Lawry Lewin, Silas Carson, Brian Cox, Billie Piper, Camille Coduri, John Barrowman, Freema Agyeman, Noel Clarke, Elisabeth Sladen, Thomas Knight, Jessica Hynes, Russell Tovey & Matt Smith
REVIEW: So, we’re finally here. The end of David Tennant’s time as the Doctor and the end of the Russell T Davies era. I’ve taken in a lot of Doctor Who recently, so I may take a bit of a break before I move onto either the Matt Smith seasons or perhaps some classic Who to break things up. But before that, we’ve got to check out the End of Time itself!
Today’s post is actually covering both parts of the End of Time story, rather than focusing on singular episodes like the prior posts.
After receiving a summons from Ood Sigma, the Doctor is warned that Time itself is under threat due to the return of the Master, who has a new grand plan to take over Earth. However, with the rebirth of the Master comes a nefarious plan by the Time-Lords to escape the Time-War and return to the universe.
In a similar way to how The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End wrapped up a lot of the hanging plotlines from the Tennant years of Doctor Who, so too does the End of Time, unfortunately, not quite as strongly. The story concerning the Master is goofy, even for Doctor Who, with weird resurrection plots, bizarre superpowers and a strange scheme by the Master to take over the Earth.
There are some great performances from Tennant, Simms and Cribbins, who really help bring some emotion and gravitas to the proceedings, but they can’t save a story that just seems somewhat frantic until the return of the Time-Lords themselves.
Once the Time-Lords return and the true threat is established, the story begins to pick up momentarily, before everything has to be hastily wrapped up. It’s a common theme throughout Russell T Davies’ two-parters that he’ll set up some exceedingly high stakes, only to handwave them (literally in this case) away in the next episode, as if they were nothing.
Timothy Dalton as Rassilon is great casting, and he makes the Time-Lord President a truly threatening and charismatic character, but he barely gets a chance to do anything before he and the Time-Lords are kicked out of the universe once more. This constant ‘will-they, wont-they’ approach to the return of the Time-Lords, gets frustrating fast, especially since they often prove themselves to be one of the more interesting mysteries and pieces of lore in New Who, and yet they’re never given much time to be fleshed out.
This whole thing is even more irksome when you take the ending to series 12 into account, and realise the Time-Lords may not have a chance to do anything of worth for the foreseeable future.
Still, there is a positive to all this. Namely the way they make use of Tennant’s final moments. Some may argue that his death is a bit dragged out (a recurring theme going forward) but it’s poignant, well written and well-acted. The way he actually dies is heartbreaking, and the way Tennant gets to say his final farewells to all his former companions and give his last speeches, equally so.
It may not be the best of the Tennant or Russell T Davies eras, but the end of The End of Time was definitely a good send-off for the Tenth Doctor, and isn’t that what’s most important?
All-in-all, I give The End of Time: