David Tennant’s final adventure as Doctor Who wrapped up last night, and what a mixed bag it was. We had the return of the Time Lords, and their subsequent vanquishing about five minutes later at the hands of The Master. There was The Doctor and Wilf stuck aboard the Vinvocci ship, then turning it into a proper battleship with Wilf in the gun turrets!
The whole of humanity got restored in about five seconds flat with one blast from Rasillon’s big glove, and Gallifrey appeared above the Earth, freaking out the newly human-again population. The Time Lords have all gone crazy from the Time War and now want to destroy time itself, but the breach of the Time Lock is bringing back everything from the end of the Time War. Confused? I’m gonna have to watch that part again, but it seems like Russell T Davies was hell-bent on bringing the Time Lords back, even if he didn’t have a brilliant story to give them.
Disappointingly, all of this: Gallifrey and the Time Lords returning, The Master’s insanity, the mysterious woman appearing to Wilf and the ‘he will knock four times’ all led to one old geezer about to get flooded with radiation. And The Doctor having to make a decision to save himself or sacrifice himself to save old Wilf.
And that was the big problem: all of that misdirection – Vinvocci, The Master, prophecies, the Time Lords – and it came back to a pensioner in a radiated cubicle. The thing is, The Doctor told Wilf about the four-knocks prophecy in Part 1 of this episode, so wasn’t it a bit thoughtless of Wilf to knock in that way?
I didn’t say this in my earlier review, but I felt that Davies had got swept up in the hype behind his own characters. I’ve been pondering how differently these final two episodes would have turned out had someone more objective written them – would The Doctor have ‘postponed’ his regeneration while he visited with old friends? Imagine Moffat had written that story to position The Doctor for Matt Smith’s era?
Still, there were many fine moments in Tennant’s last TARDIS journey:
- Getting to the bottom of The Master’s insanity. And The Master helping The Doctor fight against the psycho Time Lords.
- Watching Wilf in the gun turret of the Vinvocci ship – pure class. And pushing the Star Wars love, the Whoniverse got its own version of a scummy Mos Eisley bar for Captain Jack to drown his sorrows in.
- The Doctor’s lonely regeneration, “I don’t want to go…”, and the violence with which the regen rips the TARDIS apart. Fantastic, but we’ll need that explained to us when Doctor Who returns to our screens.
- That fantastic escape from The Master when the Vinvocci run off with The Doctor still restrained – “Worst. Rescue. Ever!!!”
- The Doctor’s ranting at Wilf, when you know he’s going to save him.
- And special mention for Cribbins, who carried 90% of the emotion in the episode. Every time his eyes watered, so did mine!
- Out of all the visits The Doctor makes before his regeneration, the one with Verity Newman (the granddaughter of the lady he almost married in The Family Of Blood episode) was the most emotional – remember those flashbacks of a happy human Doctor dying of old age with his family around him?
And of course, there was the regeneration and a wild-eyed Matt Smith in an out-of-control TARDIS crashing toward Earth!
I don’t want to concentrate on the negative aspects of the episode. After all, it did mark the end of the era. However, it had everything and the kitchen sink thrown in, where it really needed a more solid plot and a better role for the Time Lords. In terms of writing, the finale felt bloated with tiresome misdirections (The Doctor versus The Master and the Time Lords, yet they’re vanquished so quickly?) and then the veritable orgasm of revisiting the RTD-era companions. We’d already done that at the end of the last series!
All in all, the four specials this year have been quite disappointing in terms of quality. Dear BBC, I’d rather have had a full series than four episodes that proved Doctor Who was drunk on its own hype. At least we can look forward to a new era of Who with Moffat at the helm and Smith weilding the sonic screwdriver!