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Dr. Who Pt1/2 End of Time
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Doctor Who: The End of Time, Part One & Two (DVD)
A milestone in the history of the enduring UK sci-fi series Doctor Who is reached with this two-part serial: David Tennant, whose portrayal of the iconic Time Lord is arguably the most popular since the program's launch in 1963, ended his tenure as the Tenth Doctor, along with writer-producer Russell T. Davies, who revived the series to great acclaim in 2003. The End of Time pits the Doctor against his greatest foe, the Master (a terrifically wicked John Simm), as well as the Time Lords themselves (led by Timothy Dalton as an imperious Lord President), who seek to reverse their destruction at the hands of the Doctor at the end of the Time War. The crux of the plot is good old-fashioned adventure, with the Doctor and companion Wilf (Bernard Cribbins) attempting to stay one step ahead of the universe-wide doom the Time Lords hope to unleash, but the real raison d'être for The End of Time is to give Tennant a hearty sendoff for his four years as the Doctor. Davies provides a fond and, at times, quite emotional conclusion for his hero, complete with return engagements by many of his friends and companions (among them Billie Piper's Rose, Freema Agyeman's Martha, and even Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith) before his regeneration into the Eleventh Doctor, the much-discussed Matt Smith. As finales go, The End of Time is solid science fiction from start to finish, and most likely, will leave a few Who fans feeling a bit choked up after Tennant's final scene.
The supplemental features on The End of Time are more plentiful than on most of the Tennant/Who DVD releases, though still not quite on par with the archival disc presentations. Tennant is front and center, naturally, for most of the extras; he's on both commentary tracks, with Catherine Tate (Donna) and director Euros Lyn on part 1 and Davies, the amusing Simm, and Lyn on part 2. Both are exceptionally light and upbeat, as are his video diaries, which cover all of the 2009 special episodes. Then it's off to Comic-Con with Tennant and Davies for a 20-minute capsule of their appearance at the 2008 edition of the pop culture juggernaut, as well as some cute BBC Christmas IDs and a handful of deleted and mostly forgettable scenes. Episodes of the behind-the-scenes series Doctor Who Confidential round out the two-disc set. --Paul Gaita
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I was worried after Part One. There seemed to be a lot of flailing loose ends, but... wow... Russell T. Davies really brought it together in Part Two. Whatever you want to say about Russell T. Davies, love him or hate him, you cannot deny that he leaves an impact, and "The End of Time" is no exception. As a life-long Whovian, I have to say, his writing for the Doctor is... monumental... and I know a lot of people don't like or appreciate the emotional vein in which he's written ~ even I have railed against it sometimes ~ but the guy knows how to tell a story, and he knows how to draw you in. He knows what strings to pull and which buttons to push, and that's the mark of a great storyteller. He flirted with returning the Time Lords, brought back their meanest, baddest one of all, and even introduced us, albeit fleetingly and mysteriously, to the Doctor's mother (or possibly Romana - I've heard arguments for both). By the end, he'd pretty much broken our favorite Time Lord, redeemed the Master, in a vague sort of way, and slapped the Time Lords back into the pits of the Time War.
Now, to the performances. John Simm, as the Master, was much less of a crazy caricature like he was in The Sound Of Drums and Last Of the Time Lords, and more of a creepy-crazy. The devouring of food and pounding of the head and the almost inbred insanity was palpable and gave a sense that this man, while a genius and the Doctor's equal on many levels, was falling apart at the seams, and Simm's performance was spectacular. You can tell how much he enjoys playing the part, that's for sure! Bravo! And a thumbs-up should go to Timothy Dalton as Rassilon. His growling, menacing portrayal of the Lord President almost made the Master look like a ten-year old amateur.
But the gems of these two episodes are the scenes between David Tennant and Bernard Cribbins. They are absolutely priceless. The dialogue and interaction between the two actors is so heartbreaking and subtle, and so well written. The dynamic between the Doctor and Wilf was simply perfection and really highlighted the range of both actors. It's just drama at its best, and we see a side of the Doctor that we're unfamiliar with: scared, uncertain, resigned, woeful, bitter even ~ a stark contrast to his happy-go-lucky nature ~ you name it, it's in there. His regeneration scene was a perfect metaphor for his wanting to hold on for as long as he could, but if he had to go, he was going to take everything with him.
As for David Tennant? I don't know what to say, except that he's absolutely brilliant, and he is going to be missed... SO MUCH! I never thought anyone could surpass Tom Baker, but Tennant did ~ in glorious fashion! The final twenty minutes of Part Two are so powerful, so wrenching, so unbelievably striking, and he proved why he is the most popular and loved Doctor among fans. Maybe it was the writing, maybe it was Tennant, maybe it was the beautiful musical score, maybe it was the perfect storm of all those things... in any case, it was the perfect ending, for all involved, and I don't think we could have asked for a better departure for Tennant or for Davies, and I thank them for the years of enjoyment they've brought!
But as Ood Sigma said:
"This Song is ending, but the Story never ends..."
Bring on Matt Smith and Steven Moffat!
Long Live the Doctor!!!
You know the basic plot. The Master returns and fights the Doctor. Other stuff happens. The Doctor dies and regenerates. So basic, but it works and works well.
It's hard to get into specifics without exposing many a spoiler, so I won't bother. Suffice to say it's the perfect embodiment of everything we've come to expect of the Davies-era and does a great job setting things up for what's to come under the auspices of Stephen Moffat.
The Master is far more layered and interesting than he's been at any point since Roger Delgado had the role. Also his fate in the story mirrors that which had been planned for the Master had Delgado not died.
The chemistry between Wilf and the Doctor. I really wish Wilf had been along for the ride through all the specials this year. Might've been more interesting than what we ended up with.
The identity of the Lord President of the Time Lords. Now THAT I didn't see coming!
The conversation between Wilf and the Doctor about what it's like to regenerate.
The final goodbyes with basically everyone the Doctor has met since the series relaunch.
The horrible deus ex machina that settled the cliff-hanger at the end of part one. I really hate that about Davies' writing. He paints himself into a corner and then uses basically "magic" to get out of it.
The "have your cake and eat it, too" thing with Donna where we're told remembering the Doctor will cause her brain to melt, and then when she remembers him... well, that's not quite the case.
The overwhelming music that sometimes drowns out the dialogue (this is mostly a problem in part one).
Why was Wilf so important to the timelines?
Who was the mysterious Time Lady? (my bet: Romana)
Where do we go from here? Anywhere!
I'm happy to say I thought Part 2 was absolutely brilliant and fitting for David Tennant's last episode. This one really got it right. First they quickly got rid of the six billion John Simms and at the same time gave us a sample of how much power the Time Lords really have, once they acknowledge no restrains and feel accountable to no rules. Timothy Dalton was a terrific choice for the part of the Lord President. Then they gave the Master some emotional believability. Not credibility in any real sense - that's not possible with such a character, but the Master towards the end became a character that the viewer could finally feel something for. The best parts were the final segments, which were wonderfully moving and gave full scope for great acting by David Tennant and Bernard Cribbens. When the Doctor had the gun pointed at the Master, I found myself worrying about him as I would about a real person, thinking "if he has to kill with that gun, it will break him, it will destroy him emotionally, it will finish what the time war started." Then the succession of expressions that showed on the Doctor's face when he heard Wilf knocking on the glass - shock and terror, followed by acceptance. You can see that he fights that acceptance by ranting and raving, all the time fully aware that his own nature and his love for Wilf will leave him no choice. Then Wilf - pleading for the Doctor to leave him and falling silent when the Doctor says "it's my honor." (How could anyone reply to that?) Last, what really got to me - the Doctor's almost-silent scream when the radiation hit him, more moving than any high-decibel sound could have been. I thought that whole sequence was one of the most beautiful I've ever seen on television. The little visits to old companions were fun, but the best was the exchange between the Doctor and Joan's great-grandaughter at the book signing. The great-grandaughter tells the Doctor that Joan was happy in the end, and when she asks "were you?" the Doctor responds with a smile that so clearly is holding off tears. The 10th Doctor's last line "I don't want to go," said with grief but also with courage, was also beautiful, as was the near-destruction of the Tardis as a symbol of how much this Doctor was fighting his regeneration. As must be clear, I thought this episode was very nearly perfect.
I'm happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the story. Was it sometimes over the top? Sure! Does the story have some glaring plot holes and inconsistencies? You bet. But what Doctor Who story doesn't? Heck, even many of the works of "great literature" don't stand up 100% to close scrutiny, so I won't let that bother me. If you follow the dialog closely, nearly all questions are answered, which is pretty hard to do when writing a script and then putting a final edit together that may or may not include all the elements of the original story.
So, instead of filling in a scorecard of plusses and minuses, I'm just rating this story on how much it entertained me, and on that score it has to get at least four stars. Here are a few things that stood out to me: Tennant, Cribbins and Simm each deserve kudos for their performance, and Dalton added some theatrical power to the lot. Matt Smith's moment as the new Doctor showed a LOT of promise for the future of the show. The music was mixed too loud in the first story, then was toned down in the second. I like Murray Gold's scores, so no complaints there, as both the music and the effects contributed to the story instead of distracting me from it (except for a few times in the first episode when the music nearly drowned out the dialog, that is). In many ways The End of Time reminds me of The Caves of Androzani, but I won't bore anyone with a "compare and contrast" of the two.
I think the majority of Who fans will like this two-parter, and I think it will stand up to repeat viewing.
John Simm is amazing, so nice that Life on Mars ( the original ) was picked up by PBS!
Bernard Cribbins is delightful and Timothy Dalton is a wonderful surprise ( why not sooner? the other 2009 specials could have used him!)
I agree with reviewers that noted that the writing is uneven, too much at times, but these are season ending episodes, we got used to this by now from Russell T Davies, all series finale are over the top.
The 11 Doctor makes an impressive entrance, can't wait to see him!
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