Tuesday, January 05, 2010

My totally biased and slightly incoherent review of "The End of Time"

If you haven't seen David Tennant's final "Who" episode, "The End of Time" yet then please be forewarned, there are spoilers ahead. So avert your eyes...I'll give you a few seconds...here, I'll even put in a picture!

I'm just going to say it. I don't care about plot. When it comes to watching a show about a 900 year old alien who travels time and space in an anachronistic blue box, I refuse to get my feathers ruffled about continuity, logic and coherence. I will readily admit that "The End of Time" was a complete mess: Timelords, Gallifrey, The Master, Barack Obama and aliens with green pointy faces. Who knows what the hell that was all about? I, for one, do not care one bit.

You know why? Because where these episodes went astray in terms of plot, they were absolutely spot on when it came to character and depth of emotion, and that's everything I wanted for Ten's farewell. To whit, every single scene between Ten and Donna's grandfather Wilf was heartbreakingly beautiful. When Wilf tried again and again to give The Doctor his gun, and quietly sobbed about how he didn't want the Doctor to die, about how he was the most wonderful person -- oh God, how could you not get even a little bit misty eyed over that? (Or in my case, start sobbing uncontrollably.)

Beyond the sci-fi and beyond the plot, this episode was at heart about mortality, about two old men confronting the end and doing everything they could to make that end matter. For the Doctor to sacrifice himself not to save the world, not to save the universe, but to save Wilf, the only other man who knew what he was going through, was a thing of beauty. It was the most heroic thing this Doctor could ever have hoped to do. It was perfect.

People have complained about the drawn-out ending, too, with the Doctor going off to get his "reward" and seeing all his former companions and the people who meant the most to him. To those people, I say too bad. I loved those little grace note moments -- the final wave to Sarah Jane, a final act of kindness for Captain Jack and Alonso, those wonderful words to a young Rose telling her what a great year she was going to have. As a fan, I wanted those farewells just as much as The Doctor did. This is the end of an era, after all.

And finally, just a word or two about Tennant's performance. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Tennant has rarely faltered as The Doctor and for these last two episodes, he was nothing short of spectacular. His monologue after he realizes he'll have to sacrifice himself for Wilf is heartbreaking, so angry yet no matter the terrible things he says, Tennant never lets you doubt that he will make that sacrifice and that he loves Wilf and meant it when he said he'd have been honored to have Wilf as his father. Tennant is twelve kinds of awesome in that scene.

Damn, I'm going to miss him.

But enough out of me -- what did you think?


crone51 said...

I Loved the scenes between The
Doctor and Wilf, loved the long drawn out ending but the rest of it- welllllll....a bit messy.
I couldn't cry too much because the husband was next to me making snarky responses (he got a lecture later ,after I called the divorce lawyer) so, of course, I watched it again. I liked it better the second time around but still- not one of RTD's best.Except for all the good parts that you mentioned. I got a kick of the cameo by our President-he probably would like it too, geek that he is.
Tennant is astounding and fearless and I would watch him in anything. It wouldn't even have to have spaceships in it. He's a demi- god amongst men and possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen since my kids were babies(apologies to my dog who is warming my feet and is indeed also very cute).

Elimare said...

I was an awful mess after watching it as well - although I live alone so was able to wail without worrying what anyone else thought.
Agree with the ending, I loved seeing all the old characters (Martha & Mickey!!)

I'll give Matt a go and see how he gets on - I think the 'Geronimo' might get old and won't be anything near as good as Ten's penchant for Italian.

Anyway, I'll have to watch it again - I pretty much started crying from the point when Wilf and the Doctor were in the cafe and Ten admits that he's going to die and then he sees Donna...

Michele said...

David Tennant and Sir Bernard the Cribster (DT's nickname for Bernard since Dec 26) acted their socks off. Wilf was the only saving grace of the story, but the rest was a load of bobbins, McGuffins and supernova-sized plotholes!

emily said...

Honestly, I just teared up again reading this post. It was one amazing good-bye and Tennant's final performance was pitch perfect. Everything else faded away in those scenes with Wilf (and I thought The Master was much more nuanced and sympathetic in the latter half of the ep).

Damn, I'm going to miss Ten.

Jamie said...

The only way I survived this episode was the miraculous fact that my best friend and I were in the same place at the same time to watch it. Usually we are separated by that annoyance called the Atlantic Ocean, but this one time, we weren't.

THANK GOD. You can't watch David Tennant and Bernard Cribben in that performance and remain dry-eyed. You just can't.

Well, maybe if you're a Dalek.

Well, or a Cyberman.

Or well... damn it. I miss Ten again already.

Tracy said...

Tennant's performance was profoundly moving, and the moments with Ten and Wilf were wonderful.

I loved that Donna was no longer the tacky creature that we were left with after Season 4. I loved Wilf's senior posse. I loved that Donna was protected by her "best friend". I loved that Ten wasn't killed by the Master but rather in saving Wilf. I loved the epic nature of Ten's regeneration sequence ... almost as though he was fighting till the end.

I wish that RD didn't go for that bar scene pick-up with Jack -- especially after the way we left that character at the end of CoE. I would have liked maybe a little more to Ten & Rose.

I hated the whole QEI thing. I hated the Master's return sequence ... very Harry Potteresque. I found Eleven's demeanor in the aftermath of the regeneration jarring in a way that I didn't find Ten's in TPotW.

I was annoyed by the coyness with regards to "the Woman" ... who press reports during the spring had speculated would be the Doctor's mother ... and the whole Rassilon reference. I can only imagine that RD was setting something up for Moffat. At least, I hope so. [For those folks unfamiliar with the entirety of Doctor Who history, you need to go google the name to understand why long-term fans would react so strongly to the name.]

I am also annoyed and confused by the "return of the timelords". What I ultimately think of that key stratagem of RD's resurrection of the series will probably depend on who things play out on that front in the next season.

I will watch the new series and am looking forward to it albeit with mixed feelings. I have always had a lot of concerns about Moffat at the helm even though I have loved so much of his work (both with Who and elsewhere). I think the man is often quite misogynistic and hated his views on Rose.

As for the new season trailers ... I thought them a bit odd. Or maybe it's just the ages of both Eleven and his companion that has me unsettled. I kinda flashed to that scene in SG1's "200" when one of the scenarios pitched for Martin's Wormhole show involved recasting the characters with "younger, edgier actors".

agent57 said...

I'm not looking at anything on this page, because I've only watched the first half, but I have to tell you that that Tennant pic only tries to draw me in! It's a cruel trick!

Liz said...

Tracy, I agree with everything you've said about Moffat. Those are the things that worry me as well. I really don't like his handling of relationships. His clever plots however? I think they're wonderful. So while I always looked forward to the way Davies wrote the interpersonal relationships, I'm secretly hoping that Moffat goes for the more plot-driven tact and basically just avoids his weaknesses. Of course, I don't think I'll be as invested with Eleven as I was with Nine and Ten, so perhaps it won't bother me either way. :)

Liz said...

Oh and Crone, yes and yes again to everything you said about Tennant. Unless I find out he secretly eats puppies for breakfast, I'm officially a fan for life.

PurpleMango said...

I loved the episode, plot holes and all. I also loved that the Doctor sacrificed himself for Wilf instead of being killed by the Master especially because of all the hype and the for lack of a better term, sureness we had that the Master would kill him. Since Nine was my favorite Doctor I didn’t get as choked up as most people but…

The Master was so sweet in most of Part 2. Loved him! And the way he sacrificed himself for the Doctor. I also loved the cacti people whose real name I can’t remember right now.

I adored the end. Well other than Jack picking up Alonzo. I love Alonzo and would want that to work, but not yet. Loved Martha and Mickey, I think it’s great that they got together but I am curios what happed to the guy she was going to marry in S4. I also would have liked the Rose scene to be a little bit longer, but it’s still amazing the way it is.

Dispite the fact that they annoyed and confesed me a bit in the ep, I’m pretty excited to see more of Gallifrey and the Time Lords, cause I’d think that after as a plot detail as they were and with so many loose ends there has to be more at some point.

I didn’t have any qualms about Moffat (besides the fact that he wasn’t RTD) until I saw the S5 trailer. It looks amazing, but more like Torchwood than Doctor Who.

Louise said...

Mixed feelings about the End of Time...and hence, a long comment.

Every scene with David Tennant and Bernard Cribbins was brilliant. Both men can cry and make you cry at the drop of a hat.
I did think it was lacking in plot a bit though. With past endings like Doomsday and Journey's End, well, I just kind of expect more of a tight story. I enjoyed John Simm regardless. I loved the unspoken alliance between the Master and the Doctor at the end. More was said than just 'Get out of the Way' in both their faces. I also liked Donna's end, and that she was the Doctor's best friend (it was nice to have her officially given the title).
I enjoyed all the farewells, except the Captain Jack bar scene was very Star Wars. And Mickey's beard was...interesting.
When Ten said "I don't want to go!" I said "I don't want you to either!!" He was saying exactly what we were all feeling.
Not sure if I'm going to give the new series a go or not. I like Moffat's episodes, which was all that was luring me to it, but the trailer looks like he may have gotten ahead of himself and gone too flashy. As for the 11th doctor, he is too campy for my taste, but that may just be Tennant loyalty talking. The makeup depatment should atleast give the boy some eyebrows. And since when does the Doctor use a gun? After refusing as both the 9th and 10th Doctor, excepting in the case of the Timelords, I'm just to expect he's going to pick one up again? Anyway, now I'm crossing into a trailer critique...

agent57 said...

I have to admit to being a little tired of RTD's start-a-finale-with-a-foreboding-statement-and-end-it-with-that-being-true-only-not-really trick... and I'm also still not really happy with Donna's outcome (we know she could be so much more!) and kind of peeved, indeed, that that whole "her mind will burn and she will die" thing just sort of... didn't mean anything after all? WTF was with that? True, he sort of exploded and went back to forgetting, but it's just kind of infuriating to me that Davies loves to do the "this can never happen!" statements and then finds some weak plot-hole-y way to go back on them. If you're going to go that route, go all the way and fix Donna's brain entirely!

For a second I thought maybe Wilf was a timelord, and I'm kind of sad he wasn't. He was awesome anyway, though!

Other than that, for the most part, I loved it as usual. I really liked that "he will knock four times" didn't have to do with the Master or the timelords or anything.

I have to say I am looking forward to the next season, though! I watched the trailers and I actually maybe already really like Matt Smith. We will see, I guess.

Spike said...

I LOVED the way he played with the "He will knock 4 times." statement. I was blown off the couch with the scene where Ten wakes up and is realizing that he's still alive. Then his face as he hears "knock, knock, knock, knock" and realizes the whole thing. Rants and raves, and then does it. Wow.

I'm a LONG time Who Fan - started with Pertwee back in the day. Have cried with almost every regeneration, have missed every Doctor, and have learned to love every one. But DT is really special. I think he brought an energy and focus to the part that is really amazing to watch. You can see the "pathetic fanboy" (his words, not mine) in the love that he infuses into this characterization of the Doctor. Damn, I keep wishing that I had the time to watch the entire series (or what still exsists of it.)

sean said...

The fact that the last episode was a mess seemed appropriate to me. RTD's Who has been something of a mess at times, but a sort of wonderful mess. For the finale to have been anything less would have been disappointing, somehow.

I know a lot of fans have complained about the treatment of the Time Lords in this ep, but I liked the idea that these noble guardians, sworn never to interfere, had become corrupted by everlasting war. Turning them into selfish gods, essentially. I think we had a nice hint at that with the Doctor in the last act of 'Waters of Mars'. How easy would it be for the oldest beings in the universe, with the power of time itself at their disposal, to turn into some pretty arrogant and corrupt creatures? The pain in the Doctor's face as he explained to the Master that they'd become just as corrupt as the Daleks was killer.

And I loved the violent regeneration at the end. The idea that the Doctor was so reluctant to change that it literally destroyed the Tardis in the process was kinda great.

The finale had the emotions just right, even if the plot ended up a big question mark.

Jamie said...

Is it just me being wildly speculative, or did anyone else suspect that the female Time Lord that kept appearing to Wilf was somehow Donna? That's just wild speculation, of course, but here's why I got that vibe:

1) The crucial moment when the Doctor is facing the Time Lords and shoots the amplifying machine is AFTER he sees and recognizes the female Time Lord

2) When Wilf asks the Doctor at Donna's wedding how he knew what to do in that moment, the camera diverts to Donna as the Doctor looks at her

3) The Time Lord only appeared to Wilf the entire time. Granted, this is sci-fi and we can do the creepy omniscient vibe with any character, but it's still another link.

Am I just really off base or is there some grand Whovian tradition I'm completely missing (like, the Time Lord is actually the Doctor's mother? :))?

Elimare said...

I thought the Female Time Lord with her face covered was his mother.
The woman who appeared to Wilf was a completely different woman, and I do think it was Donna. Particularly the scene when Wilf was on the Cacti people's spaceship (how awful, none of us can remember their names!) and she appeared and said that 'She knew what it was like to lose things - that she had lost a lot in her life' or something similar to that...

I just shouted 'OMG! It's Donna!' at that point. I hope I wasn't wrong.

Tracy said...

It has been speculated -- both before and after the finale -- that the female Timelord was the Doctor's mother ... or Romana ... or Donna ... or Rose ... or granddaughter Susan or Leela's daughter ... or the Doctor himself in some future incarnation. Lots of theories tossed out since the spring.

The one that has been given the most credence is the mother theory. It appeared in print news stories, for instance.

Michele said...

Actually Elimare it was Claire Bloom both in white appearing to Wilf, and in the red robes with her eyes covered standing alongside Rassilon the Raving...

(And the Cactus people were the Vinvocci, apparently.)

Tracy said...

I haven't purchased the newly released and updated version of Russell's "The Writer's Tale" yet but it has been reported that page 662 contains the following:

"Euros has just been on the phone to Timothy Dalton, about playing the Lord President! TIMOTHY DALTON!!! AS RASSILON!!! Early days, of course – it's still not a definite booking – but it's as close as it can be. (I wanted the bloke from The Five Doctors, but apparently he was banned from acting ever again.)"

The Five Doctors was a 1983 special that united the five incarnations of the Doctor in a story that featured Rassilon. So it does sound like RD meant the Rassilon.

Also in the book:

"Oh, and Claire Bloom is playing the Doctor's mum! (Yes, that's what she's been told, too.)"

Jamie said...

Thank you, everyone! That helps tremendously. :)

Anonymous said...

Coming in only to mention the favorite line:


Anonymous said...

I had very mixed feelings about the big finale. Mostly I thought it was a mess in terms of plot but sublime in its character moments. Agree with everyone that the scenes with Ten and Wilf were the highlights of the story (the one in the cafe was easily one of the best scenes of the revived series), followed closely by the Doctor/ Master scenes (the mind-reading scene in the junkyard just gave me the chills). LOL at RTD for indulging in a little gay bondage scene in Part Two. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Oh Rusty, you naughty boy!

Mostly I think this episode suffered from trying to do too much at once. The Vinvochi were amusing, but felt like they should've been part of a less emotionally harrowing story. The Naismiths were like walking, talking plot devices. The Cult of Saxon reeked of "make it up as we go along." The return of the Time Lords needed to be the culminating episode(s) of an entire series arc (c'mon: that's a HUGE development, and it was just kind of shoehorned in here). The focus of the story should've been Doctor vs. Master, with maybe some side stories involving the Nobles and possibly Lucy Saxon. A lot of stuff went unexplained and/ or made no sense whatsoever. A lot of potential went to waste, which is frustratingly how I've felt after a LOT of RTD-penned episodes, which is why I'm not too sad to see the door hitting his backside on his way out.

But EoT made so much sense on a purely emotional level that I can forgive much of the WTF-ery of the plot. The notion of the Doctor sacrificing himself not for a planet or the universe but for one ordinary old man was just so wonderful. The various farewells were also beutifully played (though I was scratching my head over how Mickey and Martha got together). The explosive regeneration was a suitable ending for such an iconic Doctor, and the sadness was leavened by Eleven's immediate reactions (kissing his legs; "I'm a girl!... still not ginger!"). I love this show to itty bitty little pieces, and can't wait for season five to begin.

DT has won himself a fan for life. I'll be following his career for a long time to come, and would be all too happy to pay money to hear him read the phone book. Best of luck to him!

cjp said...

I have to disagree with you a bit. I think the plot problems ruined Tennants farewell and some script editor should have been shown the door. I'd love to re-cut these episodes into a coherent piece and see what comes out the other side. David T, on the other hand, was freaking brillant with a script that didn't do him justice. If I were him, I'd have been pissed.

Michele said...

It's not Script Editor Gary Russell's fault! RTD doesn't have his scripts *edited* (what with being so perfect, you know! *rolls eyes*)

Beth said...

Oh David Tennant...I will miss you. Loved the finale, brought tears to my eyes.

Anonymous said...

Despite all the plot holes, and yes there were a few, I really didn't care. When if cam to the end Tennant said "goodbye" better than any other doctor before him. I shed tears and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

As an aside, I'm so glad I finally found a blog where us females can be geeks/nerds, whatever the hell want to want to call it, and not be ashamed to admit it.