The Doctor: Fantastic!
Jabe the Tree: I dont understand. Just what is fantastic about that?
Just about everything Id say.
THE END OF THE WORLD is just what the series needed after the manic introduction to the new Doctor Who in ROSE.
I will confess, on first viewing, I was hugely disappointed by the opening episode. For me the anticipation of the first instalment in a new series after sixteen years absence had built up to gigantic proportions. As the 45 minutes of ROSE came to an end, I was left sitting on the sofa in bewilderment. Is that it? What was it all about? Did it make sense? What was with the soundtrack? Will it get better?
However, I left it a few days and watched it again. And again. And each time it got better. So much so, by the time of THE END OF THE WORLD, I was again looking forward to the rest of the series, but with more realistic expectations. I am not saying the second episode only works for those with low expectations though, because this is a truly great episode which not only screams Doctor Who is back, but this is well and truly Doctor Who for 2005.
With a brief re-cap of how Rose came to be with the Doctor, we find ourselves following the story immediately after her slow-motion run into the TARDIS, reminiscent of the days of the Hartnell and Troughton series, when one story ran almost immediately into another, and the characters didnt even have time to catch their breath before they began their next adventure. With Roses excitement piqued by the Doctor mischievously enticing her to an exciting period in the future, they arrive on Platform One - a mile-long observation deck in orbit around the Earth just in time to witness the devastating expansion of the Sun, half an hour or so before the world explodes.
Also assembled on Platform One to watch the destruction of the Earth are the great and the good, or as the Doctor points out the rich; an assortment of aliens such as the Moxx of Balhoon and the Face of Boe, and multiforms that originated on the planet, such as the Trees from the Forest of Cheam and the last pure human, Cassandra. However, one of the guests has hatched a murderous plot, one which sees the stations crew bumped off, and threatens the whole space station.
One of the noticeable aspects of this second episode is the pace. Gone is the quick-MTV style editing of the previous instalment, to be replaced with a slower, slightly more gradual story. The main benefit of this is that it allows time to build up the tension which was rather lacking in ROSE, while giving the viewer a chance to keep track of the plot and follow all the rather wonderful jokes which Russell T Davies has littered the script with.
And what a script! Its an amusing tale told against a fantastic back-drop, with wonderfully odd characters and touches of social satire, from the ultimate personification of human greed and vanity in Cassandra, whose hundreds of surgical enhancements have left her nothing more than a stretched flap of skin with eyes and a mouth who needs frequent moisturising, to the ecological considerations of mans total inconsideration of his environment. As Rose herself comments after the Earth has exploded in a massive ball of flame, we were all too busy saving ourselves to notice it go. There are also hints of what is to come, as the Doctor reluctantly tells Rose of a devastating event that happened in the years since he has been off screen, and which will have major implications for our hero.
This episode continues to show why the casting of the two leads was spot-on. The new Doctor develops quickly, with Eccleston settling down into the role very comfortably. I wouldnt be surprised if future polls show the ninth Doctor to be one of the most popular incarnations. His manic grins capture a sense of Tom Bakers alien barminess while McGanns love of life is demonstrated by the glee with which he welcomes the arrival of the assembled multiforms and what is more, he clearly enjoys flirting with Jabe the Tree. Thankfully the goofiness is toned-down and we see flashes of Hartnells touchiness, especially when Rose quizzes him about his origins.
Significantly though, this Doctor displays some human emotions rarely seen in any of his other incarnations. We see him shed a tear - a first, in the shows 41 year history (?) - when Jabe talks of how remarkable it is that he even exists, and then later he displays a surprisingly vengeful side to his character, when he allows his actions, regardless of Rose plea, to end the villains life. Ecclestons powerful performance in these scenes and then later in the last scene, surpasses anything from the classic series, with only Bakers Do I have the right? speech from GENESIS OF THE DALEKS coming anywhere close. With the announcement that Eccleston will not be returning for a second series coming days before transmission, it is very disappointing that the show is to lose one of the best talents it has ever had.
Billie Piper demonstrates why she is perfectly cast as Rose. After the break-neck speed of the first episode, she captures Roses sense of suddenly being overwhelmed by her situation and the realisation of what she has done in so quickly abandoning her old life and rushing to join this stranger about which she knows nothing. Not only is this questioning of her actions refreshing how many of the Doctors previous companions displayed this very human of reactions but also allows the audience to learn more about the Doctor, without a jarringly obvious info-dump.
Of the other characters, it is Cassandra who is the most engaging. The last of the pure humans, Lady Cassandra OBrien.delta.17 is a wonderfully acidic and self-centred individual, a testament to some of the worst excesses of human nature, displaying vanity, greed and a disregard for life that may stand between her and her goal. While Roses references to her as a bitchy trampoline and Michael Jackson illustrate RTDs wit, her demise is truly fitting of a Who monster with a gloriously gory pop. That Cassandra leaves a lasting-impression which would usually be undeserved from the four or so minutes of the screen time that she has, is testament to both Zoe Wannamaker and RTD for such a wonderful creation, although the real honours must go to The Mill. When I first heard about Doctor Whos first fully CGI human character, I had reservations. I thought the potential for her to descend into an unrealistic cartoon so badly rendered that it would float on screen, was enormous, but The Mill have pulled it off brilliantly.
In fact, The Mill have done a great job with all the visual effects for this episode, surpassing those seen in ROSE, although I believe the storys futuristic setting helps. It is harder to escape criticism of special effects when they are used in the context of a contemporary setting, as opposed to the more fantasy-based settings. That is not to demean their achievement in anyway though, as the high level of CGI is maintained throughout the episode, only occasionally faltering, such as when the Doctor places an spider saboteur robot on the floor, and the visible jump to CG animation.
Visually, what makes this new series stand out from the old is the very apparent attention to detail and the investment of money into more expensive sets. We can actually believe that the Doctors rickety old TARDIS is just that. The frantic pump-action operation of the console and the alarming shuddering and juddering of each flight give the impression that this time machine is every bit as old as the Doctors 900+ years. And its not just the detail on the series key elements. The retro design of Platform One, combining metal and wood in some MDF inspired vision of the future banishes any memory of the tin foil covered computer consoles of old, and later the design takes central stage in a very dramatic finale when the Doctor has to run the gauntlet through the air conditioning.
Clearly, as much thought has also gone into the smallest aspect, from the blood visibly pumping through Cassandras veins, to the script of the future English language and the twisting of notions and facts over generations and millennia, as exemplified in the legendary Ostrich egg and what Cassandra believes is called an iPod. It is this iPod which leads to a couple of odd moments when pop music becomes part of the soundtrack. Ive often wondered how Doctor Who would work with the use of contemporary pop music in it. I will admit I wouldnt have thought of putting a shot of a space station drifting towards the destruction of the Earth to the strains of Brittany Spears TOXIC, but thats what the production team have done and in a strange way it works.
And speaking of the soundtrack, Murray Golds work on this episode is a great improvement on the firsts pumping electro-beats, a somewhat calmer tone which is far less intrusive than that of its predecessor.
It is also good to have a pre-credits sequence in place, acting as the closest thing well get to the cliffhangers of old in this new mostly single episode format. I gather they are here to stay, and jolly good too!
Finally, what are the comedic highpoints of the episode? Well, there are so many. The wonderfully cantankerous stewards shop floor announcement about the owner of the blue box. Rose introducing herself to a twig. The Doctors What you gonna do? Moisturise me? retort to the threat posed by the villains henchmen. Or how about Cassandras throw away line about her youth? There is so much here to chose from, even some slightly more adult orientated jokes, which I will admit slightly shocked me.
But then this isnt the Doctor Who of 1963 to 1989. This is something else. And absolutely fantastic it is too!
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A short seven days on from the fervent anticpation that preceeded the previous week's debut episode, this Saturday's airing of "The End Of The World" was unfortunately overshadowed by the news of Christopher Eccleston's departure. One can easily picture a substantial share of the hordes of dithering die-hards, willing to embrace Dr Who 2005, but still undecided, giving up at the first hurdle. After all, why go to all the bother of climbing the mountain if someone coming back down tells you the view is rubbish? Better to find out in the foothills.
As a result this imaginative slice of Who was probably greeted with less fan interest than it deserved, and this is a shame as it was really rather good. Perhaps, after 16 years of hiatus and of imagining our "perfect Who", that we all need reminding that sometimes the fun lies in making the effort and journeying to the summit regardless.
Eccleston's Doctor had some memorable moments in this episode, some might even dare to say at least one **classic** Who moment (the fleeting appearance of tears in his eyes as Jabe mentions the fate of Gallifrey) that would have served to utterly dismiss the doubts of the undecided and gain him acceptance, were it not for the fore-knowledge that his days piloting the TARDIS were already numbered.
"The End of the World" boasted several similarly small, but impressive touches that served to raise the show above the simple premise as a sum of its parts. The "core" story was uncomplicated, and the eye-pleasing menagerie of aliens smacked of the BBC effects department showing off for the sake of it (but brought back quaint memories... "Curse of Peladon", anyone?) but all this can be forgiven in the light of (pun unintentional) the impressive sun-expansion and orbital Earth shots, and especially the subtle development of both the Doctor's and Rose's characters, which, let's face it, was the object of the exercise and what we all wanted to see. It's notable that for an episode during which the pair spend most of their time apart, their relationship has by the end of it all cemeted into a closeness some Doctors and companions never achieved, even after dozens of episodes. It is also ironic that for the first time a companion has a home to return to, and the Doctor hasn't.
OK, what was good? Rose, and Billie Piper. Her disorientation and culture shock, her standing up to the Doctor, and questioning her decision to join him. The one-liners ("Wait til you see the bill"). The big big news about Gallifrey. The mercurial Doctor. The I-Pod. Stepping through the fan blades.
What was bad? The Platform One computer's ponderous and irritating attempt at sampling. "Sun-Filter descending, Sun-Filter rising, Sun-Filter descending", etc. anon (a latter day "Vacuum Shield Off" for all those "Enlightenment" fans). The drawn out "suspense" sequences. The Shrek 2-like stabs at contemporary in-jokes (the National Trust would never be around in the year 5 Billion - who would pay the subscriptions and display all those car stickers in their spacecraft?) The glib resolution, and linear plot (more mystery and intrigue, please, Russell).
In summary, if "Rose" was the first tentative step forward, the character development in "The End of the World" represents both feet firmly on the ground and Dr Who 2005's format being successfully established. Time to have some fun with it, and find out where it can take us.
OK BBC.... show us what you can do.
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Oh dear. After the rather whizz-bang exposition in "Rose", this was the episode I was expecting to calm things down a bit, deepen and widen the scenario, bring in more of the wide-eyed wonder that is also part of "Dr Who".
It started well enough - the grandeur of the sets, the strangeness of the aliens (even if The Steward could have walked off the set of "Olde Tyme Music Hall"), the visual spendour of the expanding sun held back by gravity satellites.
Then come the spiders, which are beautifully realised all the way through, and obviously Not Good News. And the mystery of who is controlling them - and for what reason...
The building rapport between the Doctor and the tree lady, which culminates in the revelation that Gallifrey is destroyed, and he's the last of the Time Lords, is also wonderful stuff.
But the unfolding storyline is where it rather fell flat for me. Why kill The Steward? The siders had control anyway, they could have just locked him up, or held him hostage like eberyone else.
The fan room was so obvious that the climax, later, was no surprise at all. And putting THE crucial manual switch at the end of a walkway with them in the way didn't really ring true either.
The Lady Cassandra, it turns out, is seriously twentieth century obsessed. Her perfect 5-billion year old jukebox (or replica) plays precisely those tunes we the audience will recognise. Her motivation is something any modern business person with few scruples would understand perfectly. And yet, this is 5 billion years into the future? Fans of Michael Moorcock's "End of Time" series must have wept to see such an opportunity missed.
So, for me - like "Rose", this is another curate's egg - full of wonderful moments and touches, yet as a whole, lacking something. As "Casanova" demonstrates brilliantly, Russell T Davies can write wit, comedy and romance to weaken the hardest. But edgy, twisty, genuinely novel thriller stuff ? Still not convinced...
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You watch this episode with the knowledge that this Dr is already "dead"... he's going to regenerate at the end of this series, or maybe in the Christmas special, regenerate into Casanova it seems...and that knowledge is going to colour your views of this and further episodes this series... but what can you do? Its Dr Who, you have to watch it out of love and so I did, but for the review, here, I want to look at the episode as stand alone, through the lens if possible of 'market forces'... because at the end of the day they didn't bring Dr Who back to please the fans did they? They brought it back so that they (and the they is not some hidden secret society but the BBC) could make some money and gain some recognition out of it. And I don't hold that against them (nor should we)
That said there was plenty for the fans in this one - the news that Gallifrey lost a war and is gone... against who? Was it the daleks? I think we should be told... The noise of the Tardis inside the control room... just like the good old days! Although, as an aside, I think the new design of the control room is just too...alien? Despite the roundels in the walls, it would have been nice to have a bit more continuity here I think...but maybe thats just the fan in me.
Was the episode any good? I watched it with my wife and I think it is worth bringing in her views here. Why? because she can't stand Science Fiction. For every SF film/programme I want to put on the DVD I have to sit through the equivalent amount of RomCom. To date the only positive comments she has ever made are about X2 and Spiderman and lets be honest you would have to be a dour geriatric actuary from Auchtermuchty with your adrenal glands removed not to like those films. Of the end of the world she said "well its better than last week" and yes, by Xoanon, it is!!
After this episode, there's hope! Some humour (e.g. the Dr's rescue of Rose as the Sun glare goes up and down), some good ideas (the "300G time battery" thing that the Dr puts in Rose's phone) and some weIrd and tragic action (the Dr & t he tree lady in the fan tunnel) these are the kind of ingredients that make the formula that took Buffy to the top, that meant Star Trek kept its franchise going too, sorry, so, long. The stuff in short that makes a winning genre series
After last week (i.e. episode 1) I have to admit to being disappointed - but now I live in hope that, along with the ipod/jukebox collection of records in the sky+box/video the last television series on Earth could well be Dr Who!
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While Rose was enjoyable with many wonderful moments, I experienced a sense of unease watching it. This was due to the following: the gag about breast implants, the reference to gays and aliens, lazy scripting (as indicated by the repetitive use of adjectives e.g. stupid), rather trite social commentary (Roses speech about no A levels, no job, no future) and the overuse of incorrect and poorly delivered English. All this suggested to me that Russell T Davies had no actual respect for the series, and was using it as a vehicle for scoring points on pet issues. It is this type of self-indulgence that killed Dr Who off last time.
Having watched Episode 2, The End of the World, I see more of this. I make the following criticisms:
The plot was extremely weak. There was an unacceptable reliance on magical solutions: the Doctors hypnotic note paper, the tree lady knowing about the duct behind her suite, the way the Doctor just walks through the rotors, the amazing way he knows all the answers at the end, and the convenient way that the teleport is reversible and catches the skin lady but not her attendants. These magical solutions were to make up for the lack of decent story construction and were very disappointing.
Apart from the steward, there was an absence of characterisation. The tree lady and the other delegates looked wonderful, but theres no point being visually good if they do not have personalities. The alien guests in this 44 minute episode had less characterisation than the delegates in the first 23 minute episode of Curse of Peladon. What is the point of trying to feel sorry for the tree ladys firey death if we do not get to know her in the first place?
There was unnecessary and intrusive use of coarse language (bitchy, prostitutes). I do not want this language in Dr Who. In the case of the word prostitution, this could have been changed to mistress. But there is another question: why go down this route? Is Russell T Davies trying to prove how daring he is? Oh, please! The scene would have been better had the tree lady asked the Doctor: Is she your wife? your mother? your grandmother?
Remember all the hype about Billie Piper being the assistant equal to the Doctor, who would not have to be rescued and would play a full part in the stories? Well, she spent half this story locked in her room needing to be rescued.
There was complete overkill on the political commentary. Ive only seen the episode once and cannot remember it all, but I was conscious of it while watching. Russell T Davies should have spent less time looking to make references to contemporary issues and more on plotting. Hes writing for Dr Who, not Panorama.
The script was remarkably crass in some places, such as can we get chips? I respect that the writer is trying to draw contrasts between five billion years into the future and our common, everyday existence. Nice idea, but he is not doing it very well. There is an absence of subtlety, an overuse of colloquialisms and poor pronunciation. I appreciate the latter is intended, but it should not be apparent in every other line. Otherwise, it just irritates.
Pipers performance was very good, but Eccleston was disappointing (and Im not just saying that because hes leaving). I was looking for development in his performance and could not see any. He grins a lot. I want to feel Im watching a Time Lord, not someone out of Eastenders.
Finally, the Doctors standing by while the skin lady died. Disgraceful. The character of the Doctor is sufficiently established for us to know that he would not let another being suffer distress and death, even if they are a baddie. The Doctor kills but only to save life, and even then as a last resort. He does not kill out of vengeance. To refuse the villain aid and to gain smug satisfaction from their painful death is so out of character as to make me wonder whether the new production team have any real sympathy or respect for the programme at all. How could such a scene happen? I wonder whether Russell T Davies is content to rip it all up, make something different but rely on the Dr Who brand name to get the ratings.
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It's already happening. Who fandom seems to be splitting- maybe not equally- but into two distinct areas. The people who love Russel T. Davies's defiantly bold take on the show, and the people who are shaking their head and wondering how the hell it went so wrong- or at least wishing for something that bore a little more resemblance to the programme they remember and love.
I'll be honest- I'm in the "take it with a pinch of salt" camp. I wasn't bowled over by "Rose"- there were moments that I loved, and moments that made me want to hurl my TV out of the window- but I went into "End of the World" with an attempt at a positive outlook. As they say, always look on the bright side of life...
So, anyway, I sit down to watch "End of the World", and forty five minutes later, one thing is absolutely clear:
Russel T. Davies adores Season 24.
It's true- "End of the World" was essentially a big-budget homage to the kind of campery that was being practiced in Paradise Towers, Dragonfire, and- (shiver)- Delta and the Bannermen. You even had a "Death of Kane" reference, someone being pulled into a duct by mechanical creatures, overdone use of pop music on the soundtrack... For me, Season 24 was one of the darkest times of the show- where I had to work especially hard at filtering out the stuff that wasn't working to find what was- and to find that the new version of Who is essentially just a bigger version of that is disconcerting to say the least.
The overdose of camp humour is certainly getting a little grating. It'll be interesting to see how the show works when RTD isn't writing it, because at the moment it's like being locked in a lift with a gay man who's determined to show how wonderfully smart, sophisticated and bitchy he is. The characterisation of Cassandra wasn't particularly effective- instead of trying to blend any "plastic surgery" satire with the sci-fi, we just got lots of overplayed "You could be flatter!" gags (And if anyone could explain to me exactly how you can get a sentient piece of skin, I'd be very grateful. Who doesn't have to be hard sci-fi, but it'd be nice if they tried to come up with something that made me vaguely suspend my disbelief...).
And then, the music related gags. It's not enough that Cassandra has to bring in a Jukebox (somehow perfectly preserved after five billion years), she's got to call it an Ipod (Oh, how ironic!) and then it's got to play Tainted Love by Soft Cell. And then Toxic by Britney Spears (certainly one of the most surreal moments of Who ever broadcast). I suppose, this is the man who wrote The Second Coming, where one of the most dramatic and disturbing sequences of the show was accompanied by a song by ex-Spice Girl Mel C, but it'd be nice to have some humour later on in the show that isn't like being bashed around the head with a pink, velvet-wrapped sledgehammer.
(As a note: The whole "misinterpreting artefacts from the present day" concept is very very old, and has been done an awful lot better than RTD manages here. Michael Moorcock's The Dancers at the End of Time is a fantastic example.)
Not to say that "End of the World", when it worked, wasn't tremendous fun. Probably the biggest strength of this new version of the show is that it doesn't ever stand still for too long, and the energy managed to carry the frankly rather weak plot (Ambassadors arrive, someone gets murdered, countdown to Doom, The End!) through a few (if not all) of the sticky moments.
And then, there's the points where the show got darker, and shiver my timbers if it didn't actually start FEELING like Who. First up, the nicely played relationship between the Doctor and Jabe- could have been squirmingly embarrassing, and instead was subtly done and quite convincing, and the moment where Jabe reveals that she knows where the Doctor is from was both hugely surprising and utterly magic. It's interesting to see a Doctor with this much baggage (although I think we can safely say that it's a very different version of the War depicted in the Eighth Doctor novels. Who else is betting on the Daleks being responsible?), and the climax- with the Doctor calmly standing by and watching Cassandra die- was more like something you'd expect from the Sixth Doctor (Is hi-jacking so much tone and form from the eras of the show when Who definitively didn't work a fantastic idea?).
Most of all, there was Billie Piper as Rose, who's doing a great job of anchoring the show. The sequence where she realises that she really doesn't know anything about the Doctor was beautifully played, and where she's trying to get the facts about his origins out of the Doctor, it felt real and convincing in a way that the psychobabble between the Seventh Doctor and Ace never did. Billie's performance gave the ending a real emotional impact, and the "I want chips" line was simply fantastic (Pity RTD had to then ruin it with the "Five billion years till the shops shut", as truly horrible example of the "end your episode on a gag and have your main characters laughing" principle as I've seen).
Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor is still a jumble that's both intriguing and frustrating. Now that he's jumped ship and the potential for the Ninth Doctor has been shrunk down to the upcoming episodes and very little else, he's a bizarre mix- great at the action, great at the dark stuff, creaky on the humour, and absolutely terrible at looking like he's experiencing a sense of wonder. The fixed grin he was wearing as the delegates filed in was decidedly dodgy, and he doesn't yet feels like he owns the role. The previous Doctors all managed to feel like they belonged- like the bizarre and the surreal was completely commonplace- where as Eccleston is overdoing the "love of life" aspects of his characterisation to the extent that he's coming across as a hyperactive teenager at times. He's very good at certain moments, and cringeworthy at others, which seems a fairly effective way of summing up the show at the moment.
The production values were pretty good- and yet, it also feels like the show is falling victim to the "all flash and no substance" vote- especially considering they've used up 20% of the CG budget for the entire season in one episode. An entire room full of weird looking aliens- and yet hardly any of them get used. The Moxx of Balhoun got talked about plenty and shown lots in the pre-publicity, and yet he turns out to have diddlysquat to do with the actual story, and the CG Minority Report-style spiders felt like gratuitous showing off rather than good storytelling. The genuine strengths of the show seem to be getting dumped in favour of showy humour and "look at me" effect shots which- for all the effort that's gone into them- aren't good enough to stand up next to the US shows that are doing the same thing. It's the same problems that affected the TV movie- big sets and flash effects can't help you if there are fundamental flaws in the way you're thinking about the show. It was an improvement on "Rose", but the new series is still in very shaky territory, and without a small amount of balance and intelligence in the scripting, Who is simply going to be remembered as "that daft sci-fi show that had people painted blue as aliens". And I'd like to think that Who was a little better than that...
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Funny, dramatic, beautiful, engaging and wonderful ... Maybe not in that order, but The End of the World has it all.
(This review contains heavy spoilers for the entire episode)
Carrying on from exactly where we left off in Rose; the Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) offers Rose (Billie Piper) the chance to choose the TARDIS's next destination: Backwards or forwards in time. Rose chooses to go one century forward in time.
A few seconds later, the TARDIS materializes and the Doctor claims that if she's to step out of the TARDIS, they will be one century in the future. Rose seems unimpressed and the Doctor takes her further and further in time until ...
... They arrive on a space station five billion years in the future. Representatives of the wealthiest species in the Universe have gathered on a shielded space station to watch the Earth being destroyed by the expanding sun.
As the Doctor tells Rose: "Welcome to the end of the world." We go to the cliffhanger screech and the opening titles roll.
All is not well in this future, however. As the representatives gather and exchange 'gifts of peace,' the last Human being alive, Cassandra (Zoe Wannamaker), immediately takes over the party with relics from Earth. An ostrich egg and a jukebox which she claims is an I-Pod. A wonderful scene follows; the Doctor starts dancing to Tainted Love.
One of the tree people, Jabe (Yasmin Bannerman), takes a photo of the Doctor (who gave her the gift of 'air from his lungs,' an intimate gift on her home-world). She discovers who he is and what species he's from and ... Well, I won't reveal that.
The gifts of peace from one of the representatives are in fact incubation chambers for mechanical spiders who soon set about sabotaging Platform One. The heat-shields which prevent the sun's light and head from scorching the station begin to fail and the steward is killed.
The Doctor and Jabe rush down to the engineering section to try and find out what the problem is and, after capturing one of the spiders, the Doctor reprograms it to return to whoever brought it on board. At first, it goes to the Adherence of the Repeated Memes, but they are revealed to be simply remote controlled droids. The real culprit is Cassandra, although she claims to be the last Human being alive, she is simply a stretched piece of flesh attached to a frame that requires constant moisturising. She was hoping to collect an enormous ranson to pay for more treatments to herself.
As she teleports away, the Doctor and Jabe go back down to the engine room to reset the computer control, which has been taking over by the spiders and, with the shields down, the windows of the station are beginning to crack. Rose is still trapped in her room after the Doctor upgraded her mobile phone with a device from the TARDIS which would allow her to talk to her mother - five billion years in the past.
In order to get past the giant fans which block the reset switch; Jabe has to hold down a lever which slows their rate of turn. Due to the temperature, however, she begins to burn away (she is a tree, you know). The Doctor, using some trickery to slow time down, is able to get past the final fan and re-active the shields. Just in time as the sun expands and destroys the Earth.
The Doctor and Rose stand at a window. Rose contemplates that after five billion years of history; no one was looking at the Earth when it was destroyed. The Doctor takes her hand and they go back to present-day Earth. The Doctor tells her that his home planet was destroyed in a war, all his people are dead, he's the last of the Time Lords and he's left to travel alone: "Because there's no one else."
The Doctor asks Rose if she wishes to continue travelling with him, before she can make her mind up, though, she smells chips and offers to buy the Doctor some.
OH! MY! GOD! Was that episode beautiful? We finally get an explanation for why the TARDIS is so run-down, with no Eye of Harmony to sustain here; the Doctor is having to use whatever equipment he comes across to keep her functioning. Billie Piper's acting is very moving at the end when she reflects that no one watched the Earth burn. The Doctor and Jabe's relationship borders on the flirtatious and when Jabe finds out who the Doctor is and that Gallifrey is no more ... It's a touching scene and possibly the only time we've seen the Doctor cry. However, a mere few seconds later he's all business again.
Also up for praise, Zoe Wannamaker. She puts in a bitchy, funny and wonderful performance as Cassandra O'Brien, the last Human. The last pure Human that is. Her conversations with Rose, regarding cosmetic surgery, are both humorous and biting at the same time.
Russell T. Davies's writing is, again, on top form. With Cassandra's line that: "Humanity has touched every star," it's very possible that all the beings in attendance were descended from Earth. As Jabe seems to confirm when she says she is a descendent of an Earth forest.
It's a pity she had to die, too, she'd have made an excellent and interesting addition to the TARDIS crew.
The special effects are absolutely amazing. When the Earth explodes ... Well, it's a million times better than the CGI used in Earthshock at any rate. The space station is also well realized, both internally and externally. No more tin-foil and cardboard sets.
The only down-side, to me, is that Rose never really got to do much. Except for mope around her quarters while the Doctor was meeting aliens, flirting and saving everyone's lives.
Well, that's another criticism: As a respecter of all life, the Doctor should've helped Cassandra when she was dying. But, as he says, "Everything has its time, everything dies."
All in all, I have to give this episode a 9/10.
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The new Doctor Who series so far demonstrates Hitchcock's adage that a good movie needs three things - a good script, a good script and a good script. Russell T Davies proves the point of course with his offering, but with the new Doctor Who you have the special effects, the costumes, the performances, the whole 'superior production values' too... and left feeling wanting more. This is entertaining stuff for anyone, it just so happens to be Dr Who.
Davies puts in gags that you would swear came from Douglas Adams - how the National Trust moves mountains, literally, to create a 'classic Earth' and he builds deep and meaningful relationships between characters with a single word. There is wonderful economy in his writing - the old series would have spent an entire episodes in what Davies can do simply by making the Doctor exhale!
On the downside, the Doctor's heroic rescue came straight out of the movie 'Galaxy Quest' - a hilarious Star Trek spoof movie. Davies ripping off a spoof of Star Trek? Well, genius steals and talent borrows and Davies almost gets away with it. Almost.
The Doctor sheds tears (for the first time?) on the subject of the fate of Gallifrey five billion years into the future - how this will pan out in the Doctor Who Universe remains to be seen, but it is about time we pushed things on here. Gallifrey (at least the bits run by the Time Lords) has always been to me a sort of 'Oxbridge in a Police State' planet. There's lots to be uncovered there.
With the Doctor's 11 regenerations now runnning out, how about 'The Guilty Secret of the Time Lords' that reveals the weakness that lead to their demise and the Doctor gaining an unlimited number of regenerations to keep the series going?
We see a human exploding - blood and bits everywhere - and we've got a 7pm timeslot for family viewing. At long last, someone, somewhere is going to complain about Doctor Who - as Dr Who writer Mark Gatiss expressed recently, we've got back that Dr Who 'Saturday feeling'!
On the evidence of this episode, the Americans just have to buy the series now. If BBC Wales and Russell T can keep this up we've got to be seeing plenty more where this came from. Christopher Eccleston would be advised to stay put!
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I was a bit disappointed this week after learning that Christopher Eccleston had quit as the Doctor and I was determined not to enjoy this episode. I surprised myself...this was surely the best episode of Doctor Who ever! From the teaser sequence opening inside the TARDIS to the fabulous new opening I realised the Doctor could survive without Eccleston.
Platform One and its many inhabitants enthralled me. Gone are the days of rubber suited aliens. These aliens look almost real and put shows like the dull and insipid Enterprise to shame. Jabe is my favourite out of the lot; Yasmin Bannerman puts in a wonderful performance and her sexual chemistry with the Doctor was funny and interesting, seen as the Doctor hasn't been shown to have any interest in sex whatsoever in the past. The Doctor's shameless flirting doesn't come off as wrong and out of place; it fits in with his character. Their friendship is great to watch, and the Doctor's grief at her death is poignant.
There are some very interesting tit-bits about the Doctor's past that come up in this episode. Gallifrey has been destroyed! The Doctor is the last of his race! (Do the Daleks have anything to do with this I wonder...) I have a feeling we'll get to know why and I for one can't wait to find out. This type of innocent continuity between episodes will make the series that much more rewarding to watch. The Doctor, as a result of this, seems to become more of a tragic hero than before. We feel sorry for him. Christopher pulls this off brilliantly.
Next stop the story. Not exactly complicated, but it's a good mystery none-the-less, and seems to me to be a classic Who story; Doctor and companion in a confined setting with people getting killed. It works even better here because of one thing; the special effects are amazing. I always thought the effects were good on Stargate but here it's much more than that. The scene of Earth being destroyed; Rose trapped while the sun's rays tries to disintergrate her; the Platform One station; it's all good. Last weeks dodgy wheelie bin CGI effects are almost (but not quite) forgotten.
Good points: Zoe Wannamaker as Cassandra is a hoot. Totally evil and totally funny. I would like to see more of her, except she gets killed. And Rose reacted the way any normal person would at being confronted with so many weird aliens; she freaked out. That was a nice touch.
Bad points; the Doctor and Rose were separated quite a lot through the episode. This early on in their relationship it was a bad idea. And at the end of the episode I felt very emotional; Christopher Eccleston put in a flawless, solid performance. To me he IS the Doctor. It's just a shame his performance wasn't marred by the fact that he's leaving.
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This second episode shows that the excellent work started by "Rose" was no accident. The Doctor takes Rose to witness the end of the world 5 billion years from now. On the observation platform orbiting the now deserted Earth are a host of various Aliens, very rich and powerful who have come to watch for fun the last minutes of our Earth as the sun expands and swallows it up. The Earth is now no longer viable as a tourist attraction. The shields having kept the sun from expanding are now being shut down for one final spectacle.
Among the Aliens are the Trees, a race of aliens made of wood who long ago originated on Earth. The Doctor strikes up a friendship with one called Jabe who seems very curious about the Doctor. Ross having meet various aliens from Jade to Cassandra, the last "pure" human to exist becomes depressed and out of her depth and decides to go for a walk round the observation platform. The whole experience of having met so many aliens having overwhelmed her.
The Doctor concerned goes looking for Rose with Jabe's help and before they met Rose again, a murderer has been at work to sabotage the whole event. The final death throes of the Earth become redundant in the face of the threat that now faces the stranded Alien spectators in the observation platform.
Normally this would make for just exciting viewing but along the way minor threads about the Doctor are revealed which for casual viewers who are unfamiliar with Dr Who get an emotional resonance rarely seen in Doctor Who. But for long terms fans of the Doctor, the ending is quite shocking and leaves the viewer wondering what the future holds for the Time Lord we have grown to love over the years.
Russell T Davies pulls no punches in this second episode. As the Doctor said in the first episode, it would be a dangerous journey for Rose but the discovery for the viewer along the way is quite unsettling. Make no mistake this is Doctor Who back with a vengeance after 16 years of sleeping.
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Where do you start? For me, this worked - perhaps as all 'Doctor Who' should - on several levels:
Can I start with the obvious? The visuals were incredibly impressive - not at all creaky - and I watched "The Mind Robber" last week! ( Mind you, I don't share the view that they didn't all work in episode one of the new series either ). The exteriors of the space station were easily up there with the best.
I was completely enthralled by the slow tracking shots of the shuttles ( were they shuttles? ) arriving in the glare of the sun. And what a spectacular end to our (?) planet! Those scuttlings spiders!! Cassandra!!! The Face of Boe - so brilliant because he (?) was so briefly used. The Moxx of Balhoon didn't get much to do before being turned into goo! One minor criticism - and it is - in the words of an old teacher "carping", what happened to the reflection of the metal spider's legs in the glass table top? I may be mistaken here, but I have only watched this once.
Which neatly brings me on to the editing: Fast paced ( and I thought "Rose" was a lightning speed introduction ) and clearly demonstrating a real 'jois de vivre', a real zest for the programme. The denouement wasn't as rushed as Rose - though the despatch of the 'villain' was as equally easy and as equally quick. I loved Cassandra drying out and splattering the room but couldn't help but wondering what happened to the 'brain' in the jar underneath. Presumably "she" died of a loss of face!
Which, even more neatly, brings me to the script: The fact that Cassandra started life as a "he" was as inspired as Rose's "I'm talking to a stick!" line. Brilliant, quite brilliant!
Yet again Russell T. Davies demonstrates his skill at combining the ordinary with the extraordinary - the comedic with the deadly earnest: As with last week's episode, where Rose is suddenly and unnervingly surrounded by eerily creaking shop dummies which stalk her through Henrick's basement, or where Chris Eccleston's 'Eric Morecambe' routine with the Auton's hand suddenly becomes deadly serious as it grabs Rose/Billies's face ( am I alone in momentarily confusing fiction with reality here? To me this was curiously effective, the thought of suffocation raising gut fears - and I'm old enough to remember those plastic daffodils! I haven't seen them since 1971, either. But I digress ).
This week we are treated to Rose's encounter with a blue plumber wherein we see a mix of the ordinary; social comment about prejudice - the plumber asking permission to speak - reminiscent of the signs in Bed and Breakfast windows of my youth reading " No Coloureds " (see also "Remembrance of the Daleks").
Throwaway lines about Cassandra to the effect "I'm going to have a word with Michael Jackson over there" serve to ground the programme further in the here and now. In the face of all the wonders we are treated to, who could not be moved by Rose's sudden, but understated, realisation that she has left her world behind to travel with a complete stranger? To be utterly reliant on him? Someone with potentially no way back. And how strange to talk to your mother on your mobile about the mundane when she's been dead for five and a half billion years? Very real concerns in a fantastic environment. Brilliant! Quite Brilliant!
As I say, this worked on several levels; the spectacular and the very ordinary - the alien and the very human.
I disagree with comments about the incidental music in last week's episode, I didn't find it intrusive. Look and listen to the 'online' section of the chase sequence from "Rose" over Westminster Bridge and down onto the Embankment - this captures the fast pace brilliantly ( and is emminently hummable! ). This week's served to do the same with equal finesse. The part where the Doctor was trying to close the sun screens was suitably tense.
As to the players; Goodness they excelled: From Chris Eccleston's tear at the "premature" destruction of his home planet in the ( now twice mentioned ) war, to Jasmine Bannerman's incredibly sexy performance as a tree! Characterisation at a genuine level is beginning to emerge - yes, I think that her destruction was just a little ( in fact quite a lot ) too sentimental to be true, but, hey, you can't have everything ( are Timelords fireproof? Move over Emperor Ming! ).
Chris and Billie are brilliant, the visuals are brilliant, the script is brilliant - the return to Earth to buy fish and chips was inspired - I enjoyed the music and above all I enjoyed the ride. News of a second series and a Christmas special has made the ordinary life of an ordinary bloke a little bit more special. Sad perhaps, but appreciatively true.
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The week prior to the transmission of this episode was dogged by the news that Christopher Eccleston would not be reprising his role as the ninth Doctor for a second series. But even without this external influence, the episode was still a disappointment. I dont wish to sound like some unfairly overcritical fan boy, but The End of the World was a below average story which would have been better suited to the format of a novel than a 45 minute television episode. Let me point out that I am in no way opposed to the new series, despite an initial apprehension at hearing of some of the people involved in it. However, after seeing the first episode Rose I was won over and convinced that the cast and production team were on the right track, so please dont take this review to be unfairly severe.
So what exactly do I object to in the story? Well, this was to be the first futuristic adventure; escaping the mundane confines of modern day earth and allowing imagination to run wild. In this sense it succeeds, at least for the first ten minutes or so. The introduction to Platform One and the myriad alien ambassadors assembled there is wonderfully handled with a subtle hint of menace as gifts are exchanged amongst the different species. It then proceeds to go downhill as Rose and the Doctor descend into unnecessary sentimentality leading to a phone call back in time to Roses mum. While all this mushy character development is going on in one room, the mystery is unfolding elsewhere...
However, most of the potentially suspenseful scenes are clumsily handled and consequently rather dull. For example, the scene where the plumber discovers the intruders in the vent shaft is crude and predictable, as is the sequence in which the Doctor has to negotiate his way through several giant rotating fan blades. But worst of all is the sequence in which Rose is trapped in a room into which unshielded sunlight is gradually filtering. The special effects in this scene are excellent, as is the performance by Billie Piper, but the whole thing is ruined by Britney Spears Toxic belting out in the background. Im in my teens, so perhaps my perspective is an immature one, and maybe the inclusion of this song appears young and trendy to the shows makers; but to someone of my age it feels like watching an embarrassing relative trying to be cool.
Despite all this, the episode did manage to wield some dramatic impetus. But at what price? The destruction of Gallifrey and the entire Time Lord race (except of course for the Doctorand probably the Master). In what is clearly meant to be an emotional scene, the Doctor confides in Rose that his home world has been destroyed in a war and that he is the last of his people. It would be rather obvious if it turned out that the Daleks were responsible for this, but since the Doctor didnt answer when Rose asked with whom the Time Lords had been at war, it seems likely that it was the Daleks. No doubt this revelation is being reserved for dramatic effect in the first Dalek episode. This is the kind of damage usually inflicted upon the Doctor Who universe by the novels. Many writers of dubious literary talent rely heavily on shock tactics (e.g. lets kill off an assistant, wipe out a species, make the Doctor gay, etc) and indeed Gallifrey has already been destroyed in the books. But I for one was perfectly happy to ignore this addition to Whovian chronology, but now the same disaster has been thrust upon us in the television series. So, are we never to again see Gallifrey in all its emerald splendour? Apparently not.
These are my criticisms of the episode, but it had its good points too. The special effects were terrific and the aliens equally impressive. I do however think it a shame that the much anticipated Moxx of Balhoon (wonderfully realised and performed) was amongst the gathering of aliens shunned aside in favour of the intrusive sentimentalism which dominated the story. All in all he only appears on screen for about twenty seconds. Nevertheless, when he was on screen he looked wonderful, as did the rest of the aliens. Platform One itself was also convincingly created and made a visually impressive setting. My only fear is that the failings of the script and direction might make the BBC reluctant to utilise any more such imaginative settings for the second series.
From this first extra-terrestrial excursion it would seem that Russell T. Davies is less concerned with exploring alien worlds and indulging the escapist magic which made the original series so enduring, but rather with looking at our own modern day culture from different perspectives. This is all very well for a show like Star Trek, but for me it just doesnt feel like Doctor Who. Doctor Who has enough depth of character and dramatic power as it is. It doesnt need tearful phone calls and pretentious philosophising to make us pay attention. The End of the World wasnt an awful episode, but it was disappointing and certainly wasnt as good as Rose had been the previous week. Fortunately though, the preview of Mark Gatiss The Unquiet Dead was brilliant. It looks likely to be both atmospheric and scary, and hopefully a worthy addition to the classic gothic horror stories. Sadly, The End of the Word must be ranked along side less successful stories such as Four to Doomsday and Terminus. To be fair though, had it not been for the revelation about the destruction of the Doctors home world I would probably have enjoyed it more.
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I'll save all of the catch phrases for everyone else. I, like most of you, sat with eager breath for this episode, and it did not fail to deliver. Yes, He's Back...
After the triumphant return in the first episode "Rose," the Doctor's character is even more flushed out in this episode. Partially due to Christopher Eccleston's acting, but mostly due to the writing of Russel T. Davies. He has taken the character in a new, wonderful direction, without tossing out the rich history of the character.
The Doctor furthers his relationship with Rose, while also letting slip a bit of his back story, leaving us long time fans pleasantly satisfied. Although, the fate of the Time Lords did leave me shocked.
The budget on the series really shines through with this episode, with all of the alien races, and CGI looking amazing. Gone are the days of rickety old sets, and wobbly walls. The teaser before the opening credits was a nice touch as well.
Christopher Eccleston brings a youthfulness to the role, with his inquisitiveness and interest. He is still the know-it-all, and show off, but he also showed that the Doctor also has a deep sense of love and compassion.. without having to have any sexual connotation (other shows in Hollywood should realise that..)
And, Rose brought up things in this episode, that fans have wondered for years.. "Why haven't they asked this.. (insert quote here..)" Billie Piper is an amazing actress, and duly suits this role. She is innocent, yet feisty.. a perfect counterpoint for Eccleston's portrayal of The Doctor.
All in all, the episode was tremendous and now we go into the deep wait for the next episode which, judging by the teaser, will be amazing as well.
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If the first episode was all about Rose, then this second outing belongs to Christopher Eccelston. He gives another superb performance as the Doctor, making his announcement to quit all the sadder. The story is based on a space station called Platform One, where the rich come to see spectacular events in VIP luxury. The event the have come to witness this time is quite literally the end of the world. The Doctor, plainly trying to show off to his new companion, travels to the Platform and gatecrashes the party. Of course this being Doctor Who, things soon start to go wrong. But who is behind the sabotage?
The visuals are very impressive, without ever being overwhelming. The aliens are pretty good, although a few are very much of the "men in masks" variety so beloved in the classic serials. However a few do standout. Most notably Yasmin bannerman as Jabe, a tree creature, and Jimmy Vee as the Moxx of Balhoon, an odd man boobed little blue pixie in a floating chair. The space station is superbly done and the CGI 'Cassandra' wonderfully realised.
However, this story is all about relationships and character acting. Billie Piper is once again a revelation as Rose, who is rapidly emerging as a contender for best ever companion. Yasmin Bannerman is the sexiest tree i've ever encountered. But it is Eccelston who shows why so Davies wanted him for the role. He is quirky, funny and dynamic. But most of all he makes you care for his Doctor.
The script is ones again excellent. Davies is superb at this sort of story telling. Light, pacy and just a little bit scary at times. This tale is very much a thriller rather than a chiller, and is delivered superbly well. The End of the World will be be a hard act to follow.
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It's taken me (and obviously a few others) time to get over the joy (and shock) of the last few days. Much has been said about Chris's decision to leave so suddenly after the start of what we've all been waiting for for 15 years, however, after watching The End Of The World tonight, it surely is time to put all bad feelings to one side. The show is back, will go on to a second series and will feature the Doctor!
As a lifetime fan, the continuation of the series must take priority. Actors come and go, regenerations take place and new actors take up the role. The series is not what 'original' fans remember Doctor Who to be. It is updated, it is new and it is 2005. We need to move with these times and salute the fact that the series has returned at all. After watching Rose last week, I was a little unsure of the pace of the episode and also of Chris's portrayal. The End Of The World is moving me in an altogether different direction. I CAN see the Doctor in Chris, all the little mannerisms and wit of previous incarnations brought together for perhaps the first time. I've just said to my wife that it's such a shame that he has decided to leave. He has the potential to perhaps be the greatest of them all. Enough of that, on to tonight's episode.
Again, the pace of the episode caused me concern.. Being so used to 4 or 6 episode stories, the general feeling of rushing and cramming everything into 45 minutes was again apparent in the first 5 minutes of the story. I guess this is something that again we will have to get used to.
Reading the latest edition of DWM today, it previewed TEOTW and told us to keep our ears open for future plot strands. Well, surely the biggest revelation about tonight is that Gallifrey has been destroyed and the Doctor is the last of the Time Lords. Have I missed something here? Or is this linked in to the last Eigth Doctor novel to be released in June. Time will tell.
I thought the aliens in TEOTW were excellent, but a little disappointed that there was little dialogue from the Moxx of Balhoon who looked superb. Pity he got fried in the end! The same could be said about the Face of Boe. These two had featured in DWM and in the TV clips prior to transmission and I was looking forward to seeing how they would develop. Still, again I guess you only have 45 minutes per episode and limited time on camera unless you are one of that episodes main characters.
The comedy aspect concerned me but the timing of it in Episode 2 was spot on.
I'm really looking forward to seeing how all the separate 'secret' plot strands fit together, and I hope we get to see the demise of Gallifrey whilst Chris in in the role. His emotion when Jabe spoke to him about who he is and also when he told Rose he was the last of his kind was tingling.
Overall, a great second story. Still can't quite believe it's back but that will take a few weeks to get used to.
A good start for Chris. 11 Episodes to go, lots more to see and learn. I now find myself waiting with bated breath how the change will happen either in Ep 13 or the Xmas special. Until them lets give him the benefit of the doubt - he IS the Doctor.
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What a fantastic and truly remarkable episode. With the first episode I wasn't so sure, but this second one really hit the mark. This was Doctor Who in all it's wonderful glory. It had all the essential elements you would and should identify with Doctor Who, comedy, drama, monsters, wobbly sets...only kidding, the sets and special effects in this episode were the best ever presented in the entire series (even beating the TV Movie!). Every emotional box was ticked tonight. Russell T Davies proves why he was the right man for the job by producing one of his best ever scripts for television. I can't overstate it enough but this was groundbreaking tele for BBC1. If that episode alone doesn't recruit a lot more new fans, then no other episode will.
I felt Eccleston as the Doctor was a bit hit and miss in the first episode, but his performance in 'The End of the World' was spot on. His characterisation of the Doctor was fascinating to see, he held the episode together so well and made the part totally believable that it was gripping to watch. Piper as Rose was excellent (as she was in the opening episode), her and Eccleston have a great on screen chemistry, and it's lovely to watch and feel how much they do care for each other. The end of this episode really demonstrated just how compatible they are to each other, and how they both need each other. Indeed, the last bit of dialogue was Doctor Who at it's emotional best, it was both sad and upbeat. Russell T Davies really delivered the goods in bucketloads.
What about the monsters?...A carnival of monsters to be precise. What a fantastic collection of unusual and brilliant looking aliens. The much talked about Moxx of Balhoon played by Jimmy Vee looked great (although I felt he didn't have much screen time), and Zoe Wannemaker as Cassandra (or rather Casandra's voice!) was wonderful. A lot of credit must go to everyone who worked on creating this character, it really pushed the boundries in special effects, and created one of the most visually stunning characters ever shown on television. Yasmin Bannerman as Jabe (one of the tree people) looked lovely and put in a very likeable performance. She not only quickly warmed to the Doctor, but also warmed the audience. It made her final scenes all the more tragic and powerful, and the Doctor's reaction to this was very personal.
The plot was fairly straight forward and easy to follow...but don't let that fool you. This story was one of the finest ever to have the name Doctor Who attached to it. The way it was written (have I mentioned a certain Russel T Davies yet?), acted by everyone concerned, directed, produced, you name it, just about everyone who helped in some way to create this unique piece of television drama deserves a huge pat on the back. This episode proved that everyone working on this show cares about Doctor Who, and fully understands it's function as a mainstream television programme. Watching this episode made me realise just what we will all be missing when Christopher Eccleston leaves. He is shaping up to be a fantastic Doctor, and I'm sure (as the series progresses) will be giving Tom Baker a run for his money as Best Doctor!
Doctor Who is well and truly back! Even when Eccleston leaves, you can be safe in the knowledge that this show is in safe and very capable hands, plus there's the added bonus that Billie Piper's signed up for another series...Sorted!
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Well where do you start, episode 1 (Rose) was good but this was even better. You may have seen various TV programmes and newspapers rubbishing the effects used in "Rose", the rubber arm and the wheelie bin coming in for particular stick. Well get a load of this - stunning external space shots, amazing spider bots and aliens that probably didn't leave green paint everywhere a la Myrka.
The effects were only part of the greater whole though, light humour and some touching scenes made for a really well crafted story and I have to say I am coming around to the format of 45 minute self contained episodes.
The show started well carrying on where last week left off, this was always strange in the show before the Doctor would go from one danger to another without really knowing what had happened in the intervening period.
The Tardis controls took me a little by suprise I have to say - A bicycle pump!? - oh well they reckon it is supposed to be composed of lots of different bit from different periods, basically anything the Doctor could get his hands on. Strange as it may be it does add a touch of H G Wells time machine to the show as well as a bit more like Peter Cushing's Tardis.
Anyway back to the story, So the Doctor and Rose after a couple of stops arrive on platform 1 5 billion years into our future on the day the sun expands and fries the Earth. The Doctor has some Jedi mind tricks which he uses on the platform steward "You will take me to Jabba" and then we're into the main viewing room where we are introduced to an wide array of new creatures.
Something I am still trying to get used to are Christopher Eccleston's weird faces that he seems to pull; when Cassandra is wheeled in, last week when he and Rose were walking through the housing estate and Rose asks him who he is:
Rose: Doctor what?
Doctor: Just the Doctor
Rose: The Doctor
Doctor: Hello (funny face)
I suppose it's part of his new character, maybe he's gone a little bit manic after the destruction of the Timelords. More on this later.
The Mox of Ballhoon spitting in Rose's eye and the Doctor breathing on people nearly had me on the floor, it's cheaper than a bunch of flowers and a card! There'll be kids now at school breathing and spitting on one another and hopefully in a couple of weeks children will be screaming EXTERMINATE in the playground - it's all good.
When it was announced that Dr Who was coming back I hoped that we would get some more character development and if you like some more emotion from the Doctor and we got it in bucketfuls here. Jabe scans the Doctor and discovers that he is a Timelord, knowing of the destruction of Gallifrey she confronts him in the maintenance shaft and they have a wonderful moment where she comforts him infact I almost (stress that ALMOST) had a tear. Then you get Jabe laying down her life so that the Doctor can save the platform again knowing the Doctors hate for the waste of life I ALMOST had another tear. Then to top it off we have Rose confronting the Doctor about who he is and what he is doing, he tells her he is the last remaining member of his raceand this although you don't know them makes you think back to the good old days of the stories set on Gallifrey and you know that he can never go back. Never again will we have warrior robots in the Death Zone or tea in the Panopticon needless to say it twangs the owld hearts strings - twang twang twang.
The Doctor then suddenly turns into a Nokia engineer and rigs up time crossing mobile for Rose to give her mum a ring, probably at a time before the events of "ROSE". He then jokes about the bill which had me nearly on the floor.
Anyway to sum up, great effects, great action sequences, great script and great direction and writing.
If the series keeps getting better at the rate which it improved from last weeks to this weeks then roll on next week because it's gonna be a cracker!
Oh finally - Disappointed that Eccleston and the BBC announced that they were parting company so early in the shows broadcast but Eccleston should return for a regeneration episode.
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If Episode one bent the rules a little as a pre-cursor to brillance, then episode two had to excel. With reputations hanging in the balance with this second offering from Russell T Davies, I was on the edge of my seat before Graham Norton had finished waving his hands in mock enthusiasm.
Putting my feelings for Christopher Eccleston's recently announced departure on hold, for the time being, I expected a lot and was renumerated ten-fold.
The effects ridden tour-de-force that is The End of the World showcases everything that is great about this 21st Century, BBC Who-niverse:
You see, Mr Davies and co. have realised that if the setting is supplied by post-production via special effects, then characterisation is the key and quite simply - it oozes out of this episode and most importantly, it works!
CGI starships and stations, believable, organic-looking alien make-up, fantastic, on-screen chemistry between The Doctor and co-star, Yasmin Bannerman (Jabe) and a do or die ending - make terrific television.
My suspension of disbelief at the impending doom of Platform One was complete, I was gripped by the goosebump inducing, heart-poundingly simple idea that the Doctor WOULD NOT MAKE IT.
Ecclestone shines as The Doctor, more so in this episode than its predecessor 'Rose', he is charming, thinks on his feet and fleetingly becomes his previous selves, most noticably when grilling Rose on how she feels about being 5 million years in the future. It was as if the Sixth Doctor's persona had wrestled this Ninth incarnation to get to the podium - argumentative and sulky.
The Doctor performs 'jiggery pokery' upon Rose's Nokia Mobile phone and though it is a touching and grounding conversation, the subtle reference to Rose's past (the call seems to have been placed before her encounter with the Autons) is all important - she must leave her past behind to get on with it.
Not only did we get a pre-credit sequence, a la Bond, but we got an Epilogue which counterpointed what it was to be human and revealed in full that a war had left the Doctor without a home to return to.
It is this single statement that left me a little disappointed, for if there are no other Timelords, then we can never go to Gallifrey, or see other TARDISes. Will the Master return and will we ever see another Castellan or Keeper of the Matrix?
These questions unanswered are a bitter pill to swallow at the end of what I consider to be a proper and auspicious start to the new series.
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This is in many ways the first proper episode of the series. No short plot to allow for character introductions (we did that ast week) no interrruptions by graham norton (the bbc did that last week too..after 15 years did you really think the good doctors return would be glitch free?) just 40 odd minutes of new improved doctor who. And it was very iproved in a lot of areas... and changed in ways left, right, center, and sideways in time. Not all for the better (I'm an honest man.) The story was very good. Absolutely perfect for your 45 minute format that we now have, and the writing ability and who pedigree of the show is starting to show. You can tell these were the guys who read wrote and absorbed the virgin NA's and even the BBC EDA's (more on that in a moment..) Every character that gets a line manages to get across not just words, but a huge amount of character with those words, and we are even given the ability to feel sympathy for a plumber. A plumber who we *know* is going to die, and we *know* is going to be pulled into that ubiquitous ventilation shaft. Its a rule of sci-fi convention after all. But a cliche, when beautifully done, works well, and this it does. I admit, despite praising the characters to death, that I actually found our villain of the piece, our 'last human', cassandra, to be ...well not as interesting as I had expected. Funny, yes. Clever...in places. But I never found her to have much in the way of dimensions. Pun intended. I have to agree with the Doctors statement of 'all these years and it still comes down to money' and wish there had been more to it. (perhaps the implied race hate aspect of her character should have been played up along with her vanity.) And her demise...well, it was a bit gorey in a way? And I'm not sure many doctors would have done that. Hmm. The Doctor and Rose are obviously to be the centers of our attention in this series, with Ace's legacy being felt in a companion that we can focus on, because the stories focus on her more than the Doctor. Which is nice... it looks like the mystery is back, which is something thats been hoped for by most of DWs previosu production teams, and all it took was an absence of fifteen years so the public oculd forget all about it. How worrying.
The effects were wonderful, and yes, theres a nice shiney budget now, but that budget is still small compred to lot of sci-fi these days...but the shoe string power, and degrees in jiggery pokery held by the production team provided something that was truly amazing to see on screen, in a doctor who episode. (though the amazing aliens still don't quite beat the destoryer from battlefield...not just yet anyway.) And it has to be said that, as the beautiful south would have it, blue is the colour for DW aliens and monsters. Especially when the earth is directly in peril. This episode has the best effects work you have seen in Doctor Who, (since at least greatest show...because i love it.) Its on a par with the beautiful work done on shows like Farscape (which is useful, because you can watch that after DW confidential on BBC three..) and does show a nice mix aesthetics, imagination and good old fashioned hard work. Three cheers for that.
There a few things i simply must mention about this episode, that don't really fall under story or effects though. One is, the missus likes it, and this can only be a good thing, because she, unlike me, unlike us, is not a fan. And can only claim to having viewed DW under clockwork orange -like conditions due to me making her sit through my DVDs. And she loves it. More importantly, her kid sister liked it too. And at about 12 years old, thats exactly the market DW needs to appeal to, in order to see another 40 years through the door. So the mainstream appeal is back. Just what RTD wanted. The camp is back too... Tainted love and Britney? In the same episode. Not since the happiness patrol (or sylvs first season) has an episode played with such things. Its also worth noting that Cassandra is DW's first transexual character. (she states clearly that she used to be a boy.) The much hyped ipod joke was...funny. But not as funny as DWM had me expecting. But it did lead to the afore mentioned Tainted Britney stuff, including the doctor having a bit of dance, and coming across a bit dendrophiliac. Wonderful stuff.
But... I know its rotten of me, but I couldn't help but imagine Sylv in this episode. Its so NA, and... well, you can imagine him making a quite eulogy to the arth, after he's saved so many times, to watch it finally die would have so much impact on the doctor. Having imagined sylv, or either of the bakers do this... I wonder why it didn't have much of a noticeable impact on *this* doctor. Hmm. The sylvness kicked in again during the Doctors indirect execution of Cassandra.. but I think previous doctors would have sent her to prison. To justice, not vengeance. I'm not sure if this new callousness (other Doctors would have at least turned away rather than stare as Cassandra went ping) is interesting or worrying.
My final thing to note (and I messed up the structure of this review just so I could say it last) is something truly amazing. EDA's, (and therefore NA's through extrapolation) have just become canon in the most amazing way. Gallifrey has been destroyed 'before its time' in a war. And the Doctor is the last of its people. My jaw dropped as realised what it seemed they were referencing. And it made me happy. Because this series, owes more than its writing to the novels. And that debt is being paid off a little at atime. Now...if we can persuade them to reverse-regenerate the Doctor now that Chris has decided to leave, we can ration our regens and have another 40 years, during which time, I wouldn't be surprised to see an adjudicator turn up.
Go forward in all your beliefs...
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
After the hyperactive mania that was 'Rose' this was a much better paced episode. I had time to enjoy the excellent visuals and wallow in the events happening as I watched. I loved the tiny scene between Rose and the plumber, even though it was only really done go give the death of the plumber a bit of an impact - it worked too.
The problem with 45 minutes per episode is that it is too easy to fall into the Star Trek trap where the first 40 minutes set up an excellent story only for it to be solved in last 5 minutes and this was exactly what happened here. A two second reprogramming of the spider droids was all that was needed to find the killer in a very Agatha Christie style reveal. Unfortunately it was a little too obvious who the killer would be, especially after the attempt on Rose's life.
Saying that, however, it's too easy to forget that this programme is aimed more for children than adults and that's where it's success lies - the fact that anyone can watch and still be engrossed. The spider droids were an excellent menace, genuinely creepy and superbly realised in CGI - I only hope that the rest of the series continues with this level of SFX. I laughed and cringed when one them pressed the sun filter button and killed the blue Steward.
Christopher Eccelston didn't impress me in the first episode, he was too smarmy and the way he has of gurning through his facial expressions really didn't help me at all. In the this episode, though he was much better. He was calmer and more assured and handled the serious/emotional sides of the character very well. I love the idea of revealing little bits of the Doctor's past a tiny bit at a time and was on the edge of my seat as the war that destroyed Gallifrey was mentioned and the poinency it added to the destruction of Earth - A throw back to the Eighth Doctor novels perhaps?
The gurning persisted though thankfully not to the extent of the first episode and for the first time I could see why Christopher Eccelston was chosen as the Ninth Doctor. I have the feeling he is going to grow on me throughout the season to the point where I love him as the Doctor, only for me to have to start the whole process again with his replacement!
It's very easy to form an emotional bond with Billie Piper's Rose. She is everything that ACE should have been in the eighties. I find myself self geniunely feeling for her, from her realisation that she knows nothing about the Doctor to the impact of the world's destruction and the need to call her mom. Although on a character and emotional level she was given some excellent stuff to work with plotwise she was given almost nothing. Rose served as the catalyst for the adventure and then somone for the Doctor to rescue - same old Dr Who then. I would have prefered it if her own curiosity lead her to finding out what was going on on the station, telling the Doctor and together the duo putting everything to rights.
All of the above said it was an beautiful episode. It looked spectacular and the story drew me in alongside the excellent perfomances of the Doctor, Rose and Jabe. And it's also worth mentioning Zoe Wannamaker's performance as the last human being. I would give this a solid 8/10 and I'm truly looking forward to next week's episode.
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Episode two of Doctor Who takes the sound grounding from the series opener and builds upon it.
The fx are far sharper (the destruction of the Earth beats the pants of even the digitally remastered Death Star explosion!). Less obvious green screen this week, and some superb sequences. Several deaths are done with the maximum scare factor - a close-up of the character's reaction and cutting before we actually see them die.
The Doctor's characterisation is slightly calmer than last week, as is to be expected. With the breaking news earlier in the week of Eccleston's departure, its a shame that he looks as though he will build the role into a brilliant incarnation. The shedding of a tear (I think the first time since Jo Grant left to wed Cliff Jones), I found very poignant. Younger fans (i.e those seeing the show for the first time) will see this as a touching moment as we find out the first little segments of this Doctor's backstage. For us more seasoned followers, it shows another side to the Doctor's relationship with his home world.
The costumes are superb, all with a finish and polish that I feel was only achieved in the classic series by the Zygons. Even those aliens that are effectively window dressing have an attention to detail in them that is unsurpassed in the show's history. Another superb aspect of the aliens is that there was some superb concept work done on them. One race is in fact simply an idea - wicked!
Back to the back story. I'd heard rumours, but I quite like the way that this new Doctor's history is being revealed a small layer at a time. It takes us back to the days when he was just a stranger, who didn't have his species revealed for the first 6 years, and his home world went unnamed for another four. We can learn about the ninth Doctor with Rose.
Billy is less effective than last week, slightly more in the mould of the helpless girlie. However, her chat with Cassandra is another one of those "playground moments. However, some excellent POV shots continue to build the feeling of discovering the universe side-by-side with her.
After the coverage he got (cover shots, feature inserts, etc), the Moxx of Balhoun is a fairly insignificant character, but someone give me the funding to do Doctor Who - The officially licensed Moxx of Balhoun Incense Stick Holder!!!
After such a strong start, this episode could have fallen flat, but Phil Collinson has followed up RTD's intro with a superb SF thriller, with some lovely retro touches. There's even a follow up to a reference to the Titanic in The Invasion of Time, that once more fails to bog the show in continuity, but allows a wry smile to grace the face of older fans.
The NEXT WEEK teaser takes us to the past - and it looks every bit as promising as its predecessors. Enough from me - its time for QUATERMASS now.....
Additional: So blown away by the FX in this episode, I forgot to mention that this is the first time I can remember the "world about to end" scenario seem so...well...EPIC. Despite the confines of the location, a floating observation platform, the exterior views, the sun expanding, the perishing of the Earth, all of it is beautiful - there's no other way to describe it. If last week's episode caused you to go WOW, then I must invent the phrase "Even WOWIER!". Its hard to conceive that the series can sustain such continual raising of the bar, but if the remaining 11 eps come anywhere close to this, then our 1 season Doctor will be unforgettable!
On further reflection, there is a downer in the Episode. The oft-quoted "The Doctor is never cruel or cowardly" seems to have been pushed to the background. Although cowardice is not in evidence, I found the denouement of the main plot strand somehow un-Doctorish. Others may disagree.
And on a final note, I would like to distance myself from the seemingly constant vilification of CE since the announcement of his quitting. I would rather see 13 episodes of quality WHO that ensure the show continues, than 26 that wane and wither, with a man disinterested in the role because he is tied to a contract he wants to escape, which is possibly how things would have been had the Beeb insisted on a 2 year option. With some of the postings on various boards these past couple of days, Colin Baker must be glad the internet wasn't around when he declined a regeneration scene....
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This episode takes the new viewer deeper into the Doctor's world, introducing elements of the Tardis and himself while in the company of a host of colourful characters. Unfortunately it does this around a rather flimsy storyline. Cassandra's plot is rather silly, but what can you expect when you are flat.
However, it had some great elements. Seeing the new (old!) Tardis in action was excellent - the Doctor pumping away extra hard to get further into the future was a great touch. The idea of the National Trust owning the Earth and returning it to a 'classic' form was spot on. The current debate on heritage and the role of people in it has been answered in emphatic form. Finally, some good alien creations - particularly the trees, but a number of the also rans were no so convincing (a tribute to classic Who?). I'm sure others will comment on Cassandra. It would be interesting, however, to ask other reviewers if, were they to get so flat, would there be any other bits they might like to keep apart from a mouth and eyes.
But the bombshell - gallifrey gone (?) (planet not website, of course). Tears in the Doctor's eyes - when does that happen? Rose asked the question we all did - so who was this war with that wiped out the Time Lords? As an episode to set us watching for further answers - why, when and whether all other Time Lords were really all killed (we have quite a list of errant ones for a start), it will keep us watching. Have we been given a mystery that will become clear during the current series? Or, is the new Doctor being established with a new mysterious personna that will remain opaque as with the first Doctor? Time will tell.
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"Rose" was a fun romp, but perhaps the real test was always going to be episode two. Was "Rose" a fluke? Will the Doctor and Rose get irritating after a while? Can RTD "do" sci-fi? Is "The End of the World" as good as "Rose". I think better.
In a way this is the first "normal" episode of the new series. Last weeks show had the massive responsibility of reintroducing the Doctor and capturing the imagination of a new, more demanding generation and did so by literally dazzling the viewer with a 100mph adventure vaguely involving shop dummies, but in the follow up, they HAD to tell a story.
The plot retains the freshness of Rose, helped by continuing directly after Rose's entry into the TARDIS. Thankfully however, the pace isn't quite so breakneck and allows for many lovely touches, my highlights being "Tainted Love" (check out the Doctor's groove, I never had him down as an synth fan) and classic ballad "Toxic". The characterisation is also lovely. Eccleston really gets a chance to shine this week, most notably without saying a word as Jabe (excellent from start to finish) gives her condolances to the last Timelord (tear!). His exposition to Rose in the final moments is also fantastic and again hints at a very involving story arc.
Billie Piper's Rose is as charming in the future as she was in 2005 and once again her humanity ensures the story has soul (I think her best scene was with the plumber) and she gets a very traditional companion scene when trapped in a room filling with sunlight. This week I had a strong sense of Ace in Rose, notably when she loses her temper with Cassandra and on learning she has essentially been violated by the TARDIS. I felt the supporting cast was very good, Cassandra was fabulous as was The Steward, but I really thought Jabe shone and was almost too sexy to say she was a tree! The Moxx of Balhoon however, didn't get much of a look in and the much publicised Face of Boe doesn't say a word!
My only cirticism was the story was a little "Diet-Plot" for the second week running, while the Doctor, Rose and details of the war continue to grow and deepen the weekly stories are almost as thin as Cassandra. Really the plot boils down to: there are some robot spiders, they might kill you, someone is controlling them, why? Is that enough? I don't know, but I certainly remember single episodes of Buffy, Spooks or The X Files being more involving. The episode is excellent thanks to the characterisation, concept and performances, but now we have our heroes, I feel we need more interesting stories. I predict this will happen organically as it did with Buffy and The X Files (recall, Buffy didn't have a very good story to tell until half way through the first season).
Verdict: "The End of the World" is stunning and makes for more satisfying viewing than "Rose" (I had a lump in my throat as Rose and the Doctor stood on the busy street). I for one am incredibly happy with the way our new series is developing, regardless of events outside of the fictional world of Doctor Who! I suspect "The Unquiet Dead" however, may outshine both of the first two episodes...?
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Once again Russell T Davies has pulled a proverbial dove out of his writers hat much to the amazement of all concerned (well me at least). I sat last Saturday and watched Rose and I enjoyed it, in my opinion it was probably the best Doctor Who story since 1984 (Caves of Androzani) and wondered, "How can this be beaten or topped". Then this week we started with the episode "The End of the World" the usual fare (the Doctor takes his companion to see some wonder of the universe and blags his way in). The old touches were there that made the series a favourite of mine back in the 70's and half of the eighties. The slightly telepathic piece of paper that made people see what they were meant to see being the first part that made me smile, ecclestons portrayal of the doctor ad-libbing that his breath was a gift being the other.
Still this Doctor had something hiding behind the eyes something the others never had we saw a part of it when Rose asked him where he was from. The snappiness, the anger and the hurt that was put across tricked the viewer into thinking that the doctor was just irritated with the question and didn't want to reveal his people or the power they had. His way of apologising to Rose (by enabling her phone to call her mum 5 million years in the past was nice touch) shows that this is a doctor that will not apologise with words but with acts of kindness.
Moving on from this the plot chugged along at a reasonable rate and started to reveal itself as pretty much a standard who plot however by the end it all revealed itself to be a charade. A smoke and mirrors exercise all put together for what can only be 2 minutes of the real reason for the plot and one of the biggest shocks that somehow I had managed to avoid during all the spoilers the new series and Im glad I had.
With Rose (the reasons of which were for the new main plot to be expanded) confined to a room the Doctor had a temporary new companion in the tree person Jabe who was wonderfully played by Yasmin Bannerman. She played the character of Jabe with just the right amount of knowledge and yet at the same time a sense of humanity one of the most powerful scenes has to be the act of kindness she shows the Doctor by saying she was "sorry for what had happened". Eccleston himself proved exactly why he deserves to be in big blockbuster movies and is such a character actor with tears welling in his eye's you couldn't help to be moved by the whole scene (even though it could only have been 30 - 60 seconds in total).
The ending of the story will probably be the part that will get the most criticism and for reasons of spoiler fairness I must ask that if you haven't seen the story look away now because if you haven't this will really annoy you.
The Doctor lets someone die; he doesn't try to help them he lets them die. He stands there and watches someone die without any remorse or attempt to help them he just watches it and lets it happen. This was the man who would try to save anyone and yet now he watches people die.
We were of course privy to at least why he had changed so much when Rose stood there saying she had missed the end of world and that no one had seen the earths final moments and lamented that all of earths history and it's people (her people) were gone he took her back to her time and let her see it was all still there and revealed that he was the last of time lords and all clicked in to place.
The Doctor may have always been a galactic hobo, a traveller but his home was still there. Gallifrey and the time lords were in the background everything he was and had been made into was still there for him. With this Doctor it wasn't, it was gone he was the only one left of his race, no friends, no Romana, no history. With that moment you understood why he was the way he was and why this Doctor would try to save species and race's (the Nestine consciousness) but for the individuals who had no wish to play by rules and wanted death and destruction for power, glory or money he would have no mercy. This Doctor is one to watch and although Eccleston has left, I still can't wait for the eleven other episodes and this episode left me with only one question:
"Who is powerful enough to destroy the time lords"?
PS It's a rhetorical question by the way please, don't respond!
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I hadn't been entirely convinced by the first episode, it seemed fun enough and I liked the new Doctor and his assistant, but at the same time it seemed a bit rushed and, well, I sadly realised that this new show probably wasn't going to be for me. Though I was still going to keep watching it, anyway!
Any worries that it might be a chore were dispelled by the second episode. Now the characters have been introduced, we start to get to know them a little better. What I really liked about this episode was that I realised that there was going to be some real depth to the characters, Rose didn't just switch into assistant mode, she actually sat and worried about what she'd decided to do by following this strange man across time. And the Doctor's often overtly cheery persona (occasionally it gets too much looking at him grinning away) seemed to be compensating for the terrible suffering he's obviously going through.
Some of the first episode effects had been done well enough, but still showed their budget a little I felt. The second episode was a huge improvement, I loved it all (perhaps the fans were a little dodgy, but then fans often are!), the dying planet Earth, the Sun, the space station.
The creatures were all nicely done, I had been a bit sceptical about some of them from the trailers and what I had picked up from the papers (often against my will, but I couldn't NOT look at them). As it was they looked great, were wonderfully written as real alien people and rather naugtily defied many of the expectations I'd been led to believe.
I really enjoyed the inclusion of Soft Cell and Britney, more than a little bit camp perhaps, I never expected to hear the sounds of Toxic coming across as the world ended. But along with many of the other ingredients it helepd make Dr Who feel a class act, and can't have done it any harm as far as kids watching went. I got that same eery feeling that I got when I first heard the Beatles playing in the Tardis (I hope I didn't dream that).
The story was fast paced, had more to it than the Auton story, and was crammed full of little nuggets of humour and humanity, plus what for me was a truly shocking revelation about the Doctor and his people. This had been referred to in the previous episode in an oblique way, and I think this additional sub-plot is what has helped convince me that this Doctor Who really is for me as well as those pesky 8-12 year old kids (and I hope they enjoy it more than I do).
Oh, there's lots more I could add, the operation of the Tardis was entertaining and comical, and next weeks episode trailer makes it look as though the kids will need years of psychotherapy before they ever leave the safety of behind the couch again. Excellent!
All I feel I can say beyond this is - well done everyone!
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I was very impressed by the first episode, "Rose", but there's a few things that made me cringle in this second episode.
I'm probably one of the biggest Doctor Who fans around and I really want to see it succeed. If it is to do that the effects need to improve. The story itself was exceptional. Very original entertaining and fun as hell, but a few things almost made the whole thing fall apart for me.
The digital animation outside the platform and in space where just horrid. I happen to own a 3D animation studio and some of the demo reels I get from amatures look better than this. The models are too simplistic looking, textures are plain, the lighting is all wrong, and the animation itself is jittery. Not smooth at all. Better lighting could have done wonders. Now when I refer to lighting I'm talking about the lights set up in the 3D software as well as shader attributes like phong. the platform looked plastic and not metal. Too much phong shading. It all just looks cheap.
The sun and Earth blowing up was just cheap particle effects that where not convincing at all. The planet explosions in Star Trek are far better.
As for the indoor effects...
The spiders often did not blend in with the scene and the shadows didn't match. No shadow being given off by the egg in one scene. Also the blades, though they looked pretty cool all had the exact same texture map. Each blade should have had a variation of the texture. It just looks bizarre when each blade looks weathered exactly the same.
As a 3D animator myself I know they could have done much better on the same budget. It's just the guy (s) doing these effects are not very good. I don't expect Star Wars quality stuff from a TV budget but come on you can't get away with such shoddy effects these days. These scenes are probably what made the Sci Fi channel say it's lacking and they where right.
I love Doctor Who and I just hate seeing less than 100% effort being put into it. Hire a professional 3D animator next season.
A few things like the Tardis somehow telepathically translating alien languages into human just seemed totally unplausable as well as the cell phone attachment to call mum from 5 billion years into the past. The show needs to stick to plausable science or it's going to fail. Telepathy and mind stuff always turns me off.
Over all though it was a great story. Iloved the humor and at the end of the day I was very entertained.
Oh and not to nick pick but on the closeup of the spindle the Doctor rotates in the Tardis you can see numbers on it and it's in english. They need to watch those little details. They obviously used some junk part and forgot about the numbers written on the part. file those numbers off. Details!
I really hate being negative about Doctor Who because I am a huge fan, but I call it like I see it, but hey the story was fantastic overall.
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This was the episode that most of us had waited for, Rose was basically an introduction and was fast, pacey, funny and over too quickly and though the ratings were fabulous, everything depends on what happens with this episode, was it 10million of curious viewers or are they all going to tune in again?
Christopher's leaving stories apart from being vital to the Doctor Who world are also, cynically, fantastic press stories, promotion, whatever you'd like to call them and so more than a few people are going to watch to see what all the fuss is about too, despite Ant and Decs schedules having been moved forward. Tomorrow's rating figures are going to be very interesting.
I've read a lot of very positive postings and where they are negative they are very negative at that.
I'm prepared to give the show a chance, I wanted to see this new Doctor in an episode that was complete, and this was it.
Right from the start, the CGI was first class, special effects the production teams would have only dreamt of twenty years ago...and make up and design that was a feast for the eye.
I'm not too sure what to make of the spin wheel device on the Tardis console, or the Doctor pumping away, to start the engines. Very dubious about that one....it may grow on me, certainly the Tardis seems to be very different to anything that's gone before and very organic in look and texture so I'll keep an open mind on that one. I've watched Who all my life, certainly my earliest memories are from Power of The Daleks, and so I have a wealth of memories, which include fantastic to disgraceful and banal.
The story started well, the body language between The Doctor and Rose is fabulous, and every now and again, she reminds us of how human she is, and how alien the Doctor is, he has acquired an innocent arrogance and dismisses her protests when she discovers the Tardis has given her this gift of language. Tom is probably the only other Doctor that could have gotten away with that.
The Aliens were first class, Jade being a very interesting character and one I was sorry that died, as the possibilities were interesting of where that relationship could have gone. the scene between them, when she admits she has scanned him and discovered his identity was interesting, and the Doctors tears were quite touching, obviously another story to come....maybe a future story may have them meet again at an earlier time period, who knows?
Cassandra was exactly what we expected, first class voice over and top notch bitchiness, lots of little in jokes, and sexual innuendos, which some people haven't liked, but doesn't bother me one jot. It may seem that I simply praise everything about it, but I do have some reservations, I am not at all happy with these 50 minute episodes, it's too short. Certainly in the past we all remember stories that were 6 episodes and should have been 4, but 50 minutes is far too short to fit so much into.
The writer has built up the suspense wonderfully, lots of in-jokes and entertaining asides, and suddenly, there's 5 minutes left and everything has to happen in those 5 minutes. I'm aware there are a couple of two parters due and these may well work much better in this respect. Doctor Who's strengths have been drama, characterizations and situations and these take time to develop and though we have excellent people working on this series, I do think this 50 minute format is going to ultimately be too restrictive for them.
I dread the thought of it becoming like Blakes7, colorful, camp, mindless running about in badly written stories, which it did become.
On the whole though, fabulous stuff, I'll stay watching. I'm a middle aged guy that's as excited each Saturday night as I was 35 years ago, which bemuses my children and probably embarrass the hell out of them. Excellent.
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I saw this episode Sat. night during its first run and am now more excited for the new series than ever before. Eccleston is brilliant - he's intense and it's a different Doctor than we've ever seen before - ruthless at times - there is an edge. There are some important backstory points about the Time Lords that the purists are going to be scratching their heads over - I'm now more inclined to think that maybe even Eccleston isn't necessarily the "9th" incarnation per se based on the new "history" of the Time Lords being presented here for the first time - the continued reference to the "war" and all that...
The first five minutes in the TARDIS is the best scene ever of the Doctor taking someone for a spin - finally, the Doctor seems to have his TARDIS under control and can travel to any time and space seemingly at will - this is a Doctor with an agenda and his more traditional hero portrayal here reminds me of the Peter Cushing movies in the sense that Eccleston is very pragmatic and is very focused on achieving the mission at hand.
Interesting deviation from tradition by having a "teaser" before the credit sequence - I thought I was missing something - had I tuned in too late? It's a good way to recap what happened the week before in case you missed it...
Billie Piper is great and really holds her own - this pairing is a great way to launch the return of Dr. Who.
While I feel sad to hear Eccleston is departing so soon, I can't help but feel that this will actually turn into a brilliant stroke of fate for the series - now everyone will be glued to this season to find out what can lead up to the eventual regeneration, including the Christmas special (they should pass the torch at Christmas) and now of course everyone will tune in like mad next season AGAIN to see how the next fellow does it!
I miss the cliffhanger and now understand the format of the new series and how it's going to fit the 45 minute single-story episodes: the Doctor shows up in the middle of a situation and it's up to him and the companion to get to the bottom of things quickly before it's too late. Think of it as showing up at a lavish Murder-Mystery dinner party and having to solve the whodunnit before dessert is brought out...
There were a lot of really cute in-jokes (like "I-pod" and "Tainted Love" and "Toxic" and "Michael Jackson") that made the episode very entertaining - for a story set entirely in orbit on a space station (ode to Ark in Space and Four to Doomsday?) this is definitely the best - the digital visual effects are great for the time they've got and while not entirely photoreal - okay, it's not like they have Star Wars resources here - they do the trick nicely to convey what's being presented and you lose yourself in the story.
Gone are the days of running down the corridor again and filming it the other way... it's the limit of the digital effects which will hallmark this incarnation of the series...
There's not much chance for guest characters to have proper story arcs developed in the new format - it's clear we're going to learn a bit about the Doctor and his "history" each week with another morsel of info here and there... by the end of the season I'm sure a lot of the mystery will be revealed.
This Doctor is more "Batman" than Professor Dithers - he's a man of action, a hero - someone who's clearly got a job to do. No stopping to sniff the celery stalk for this timelord!
This the kind of new blood the series needs to rejuvenate itself - it's fresh, it moves fast, and it's fun to watch. Very entertaining. Really, superb writing by Davies. Superb.
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The ironic thing about this episode is that after a hectic week in which season 2 was given the green light and Eccleston quit the title role, a week in which the ugly side of fandom reared it's head and tried to convince us it was the end of the world, it turns out it isn't the end of the world after all, it's only The End of the World. By that I mean the second episode of a series set to run for another 25 episodes at least. Dear oh dear, we have a funny way of celebrating the successful re-launching of Doctor Who as the flagship if the BBC, don't we? Still, it pleases me to announce to the petty contingent who grumpily switched allegiance to Ant and Dec while grumbling about Eccleston's treachery - you're missing something special, you really are!
The first thing that needs stressing about the second episode is that Eccleston's performance is superb. We know now that we have him for another 11 episodes, 12 if the doommongers haven't scared him off the Christmas special, and we should relish every second while we can because, whomever your favourite Doctor might be, he's never before been portrayed by such a fine actor. Unfortunately, his being such a fine actor envolves him always seeking out new challenges and therefore not doing a follow up series. A shame? Yes. A disaster? Hardly! treachery? You're having a laugh, aren't you? Ricky Gervais as David Brent - 14 episodes, John Cleese and Basil Fawlty - 12 episodes, both works of genius, nobody said a word. If you want an actor as talented as Eccleston you can have him, and count yourself lucky that you get him for a season. If you want someone to stay in the part forever, maybe you can have Paul Daniels for as long as you like. I know which I'd prefer.
And now to the important stuff - the ongoing success of the series which, on this evidence, looks set to go from strength to strength.
Episode 2 is set in the year 5 billion and looks as though about half the budget for the season has been thrown at it. The plot - wealthy aliens from across the universe gather on a space station / viewing station / hotel for the wierd to witness our sun swell and our planet roast, and they do this... for fun! But on a sinsiter note someone is sabotaging the station using computer generated spiders, this someone is computer generated herself, which i think makes the message of this episode - computer generation = evil. Which would explain Ja-Ja Binx. The spiders de-activate the shields the evil one laughs, reveals her motives in true bond-baddie style, then makes her escape, and the remaining guests are left to roast along with the earth. Luckily, in an unfeasably perilous location, there is a switch to bring the shields back, which is duly flicked, and the day is saved, except if you count the Earth, which blows up good. With the space station safe and the Moxx even smaller than he was to start off with The Doctor brings back the evil computer generated face by setting an egg timer, then watches it shrivel and pop. Yum. Throughout this Rose has been wondering whether following a strange man into a wooden box was such a good idea after all and The Doctor has been flirting with a tree. A standard day in the life of a Timelord then.
We are also given a glimpse of things to come as The Doctor explains to Rose at the end of the episode that he is the sole survivor of a war that ended in the destruction of his planet. The identity of the pepperpots is not given so it would be wild speculation on my part to suggest that Daleks might have exterminated Gallifrey, nor could i suggest that this will have anything to to with the three Dalek episodes yet to come.
Then they go for chips.
The story for this episode is really the paper thin bones on which to layer the special effects, of which there are many, more, I'm led to believe, than in the movie Gladiator. And for the most part these effects are very impressive. I would say the spiders were the most successful, with the least successful being Cassandra. I wanted to be impressed by Cassandra, I really did, I was encouraged by the pictures I'd seen beforehand, but in motion she had that cartoonish quality to her. Many a computer generated character has had a lot more money than this thrown at it and disappointed (somehow I keep coming back to Ja-Ja Binx), so I would like to have seen the results had they tried to create her physically somehow.
That's all the dwelling I'm going to do on negatives for this episode, though, as there was so many more possitives to take from it. Even amongst all the effects the standout moments for me were the quieter ones, The Doctor being comforted by Jabe was heart wrenching in no small part due to Eccleston's talent as an actor but also credit must be given to Murray Gold, whose incidental music was at times inspired, although this is still at times, a little more consistency in this department wouldn't go amiss (sorry, said I was done with negatives, didn't I?). Also the moment at the end when The Doctor expresses his loneliness brought a lump to my throat and Billie Piper can take some of the credit for that, it was the way she said "you've got me." I think Murray Gold's music got to me here as well. Russell T. Davies writes clever, touching and witty dialogue for fun although I did grimace when the Doctor told the guests to "chill". You know that feeling you get when your dad tries to be hip?
And so, leaving this episode and looking to the future. 45 minutes an episode still isn't selling itself to me. Like with Rose I felt The End of the World world would have been better served by an hour. That's why I'm looking forward to the 2 parters particulary. This season, we live with the format, we have no choice, but I think for future seasons they might consider telling 6 stories over 13 episodes. And while I'm talking about the future, how about this for a Christmas special... The Doctor inlists the help of previous incarnation Paul McGann to defeat some unspeakable evil, only by the end of the episode it is McGann who takes the series' reigns. At the end of his season(s) he regenerates into Eccleston, who might, by that time, be willing to take the Tardis for a spin once more (although you'd have to jump back to where we left off at the Christmas episode. Ow, my head). There are some slight continuity issues involving Rose but it's late and my head hurts, so I'll stop there.
Roll on The Unquiet Dead and Mark Gatiss' attempt at conquering the 45 minute format.
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Ok, let's get the obvious out of the way. I liked it, it was good, well done! Now that that is said on with the review.
This episode for me was a big revelation, as it was for most viewers I'm sure. I do like the fact that we need to rediscovers everything about the Doctor Who universe once again with several twists and turns along the way. From the brief explanation of the TARDIS to the Doctor himself. I find this new Doctor to be, in some exagerated way, the most human of them all.
During the scene when he's talking to Rose and she's explaining that everyone is so 'alien', The Doctor goes from being gitty as a child in a candy store to expressing the deepest sadness when recalling his past. And later, around the end of the episode, he is even vengeful towards Cassandra and very dark. His emotions are continuously changing from one end of the spectrum to the other end.
The previous Doctors were very composed or at least uniform in how they acted and reacted. The ninth Doctor seems a bit unstable, human. It's as if to say the whole of human emotions were compacted into the Doctor and his body and mind can't seem to contain it all properly. I'm interested in finding out where will lead.
The other revelation was, of course, the fact that he is the last Timelord. Now, unless there is something I missed, please let me know if I did, I think I speak for everyone when I say: "What the heck happened?" There was a war? Against who? when did this happen? And a slew of other question that will most likely be answered during the course of the new series.
But here's a discrepancy about all this. If the Timelords and Gallifrey is destroyed and the war as lost, why can't The Doctor go back in time and prevent it? Why can't he go back in time to find other Timelords that travelled to such and such era and place before dying. In the realm of Time Travel it's all possible.
I think that this bit was the one real downside to the episode. I can only hope that an explanation will soon be given, otherwise I for one will not believe that the idea did not pop into either The Doctor's or Rose's head...
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I'm not sure if it's simply RTD's writing style, or a direct result of trying to shoehorn Doctor Who into a format that perhaps it isn't best suited to, but 'The End of the World' disappoints on an initial viewing in much the same way that 'Rose' disappoints. The plot felt too thin, with no very real sense of excitement, but here, unlike 'Rose', it felt like there was too little plot to fill the slot rather than too much. I might change my mind on a second or third viewing, but I felt parts of this episode dragged, with not enough happening and no genuine tension or drama.
Don't get me wrong, RTD's dialogue is sparkling, frequently very witty, and manages to convey a lot of information and detail in surprisingly few words, the scenes where Rose realises what she's gotten herself into, her homesickness and her culture shock are beautifully written and expertly played, much like the scenes where the Doctor admits to his past and the fate of his people, but the careful plotting on which this should be hung feels lacking, and the story's villain, whilst imaginative and impressively realised, never feels like a potent threat.
RTD said in the Doctor Who Confidential that followed this initial broadcast that he wanted to make a blockbuster, wanted this story to be the one that everyone remembers, and admits that this was the most expensive story of the season. Admittedly the special effects are extremely good, but I don't think the money shows on screen all that well. Images of the Earth exploding are striking, but not memorable. The spider-robots are a reasonable idea but don't play on any fears or evoke any emotion at all. Equally, the many aliens are ingenious, but none of them stick in the memory because none of them do anything apart from stand around. The Doctor then teams up with probably the least memorably designed of these aliens (the Trees look much better in photographs) and wraps up the slim plot in a sequence that is begging to be made into a PS3 game. Most of the memorable sequences from classic Doctor Who are 'doing' moments (e.g. Cybermen descending the steps of St Pauls, Sea-Devils rising from the sea, Yeti roaming the underground, giant spiders leaping onto backs, maggots hissing and wriggling etc). The threat is inherent in the image. Without threat what we have are admittedly very pretty pictures.
The above suggests that I hated this story. I didn't, I just found it a frustrating experience as individual parts were far greater than the whole. There is a cultural playfulness at work here that hasn't been seen in Doctor Who since probably 'The Chase' (who ever thought they'd hear Soft Cell and Britney Spears in Doctor Who!), and the final scenes between the Doctor and Rose are poignant, funny and probably the finest part of the show. Billie Piper is magnificent, extremely likeable, very easy to identify with and sympathise with, and really leads the viewer through the story like a companion should. Christopher Eccleston veers between moments of extreme emotion and moments when the Doctor comes across like a nerd in space, but never crosses the line and remains likeable and very watchable. It's a shame many of these reviews may be tempered by the news that he's leaving, as he makes an intriguing Doctor.
Which brings me to the episode's great revelation: the Doctor is the last of the Time Lords. I can see the sense of this approach. It makes him a lonely wanderer in time and space like he always was, creates a sense of mystery around him, and gives Rose an emotional reason for staying with him, as she doesn't want him to be on his own. It doesn't preclude him from meeting his own people on occasion (after all, they can time travel), but it does preclude stories set on Gallifrey, which has got to be a blessing. This cuts down on unnecessary continuity, which is also a good thing, in my opinion. I could imagine viewers tuning in wanting to know more about this calamity, and I'm sure they'll learn more in dribs and drabs through the coming weeks.
I'm sorry Russell, but I don't think this will be the story that everyone remembers. If I had to give 'The End of the World' a mark out of ten, I would probably give it a five.
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ot with a bang, but with a... well, a sort of whumfhfhhfhhh noise and a Marc Almond soundtrack. What were the chances?
By rights The End of the World should have had an easy ride, coasting on the record ratings of Episode One, plus trailers and a 'Next Week...' clip promising aliens galore, Russell T's personal stamp of approval, eager anticipation of a proper sci-fi story, and excellent word of mouth. Despite Ant'n'Dec's drafting in of Tony Blair to lure viewers away to ITV, no-one was really scared - if David Beckham last week couldn't win the ratings battle, a politician was never going to pull in the punters.
In the event, of course, what Episode Two was actually up against was Wednesday's shock news that Christopher Eccleston was only doing one series (predictably, and rather unfairly, splashed over the tabloid press as "Dr Who Quits After Just One Episode!"), potentially undermining the viewers interest in the series and character just as it had hit its stride. Hysterical fans, jeering pundits and bored journalists looking for something to put between "Pope not dead yet" stories all added to the fire. Suddenly the series was going to have to pull off something pretty special to justify its continued attention.
A stroke of luck, then, that it was a fantastic piece of television.
Anyone who's seen early 70s disaster The Curse of Peladon, or worse, 1987's Dragonfire, knows what happens when Dr Who tries to overreach itself. Wowed by big screen extravaganzas, it tries to do the Star Wars cantina scene on a budget, and you end up with two extras in party masks and a giant penis in a cloak. One look at a script that called for squishy blue pixies, robot spiders, humaniod vultures, alien goths, two dimensional women and a disembodied head in a pot should have had the Beeb reaching for the Big Red Cancellation Button before the coffee had got cold. And yet, in the big-budget light of the cgi-aided 21st century, suddenly, somehow, it works.
The Doctor takes Rose to the year Five Billion, to a glittery gala event marking the destruction of the Earth. Alien celebrities make brittle small talk on board a luxurious Space Platform, while something nasty in the air vents plots murder, corruption and special effects. People are killed. Things go wrong. Stuff explodes. The Doctor save the day. In a way it's Dr Who by numbers, but it's more than that... This is Dr Who as my childhood memories depict it, before the harsh accuracies of DVD re-releases spelt out the awful truth. The Space Platform really is luxurious, the celebrities really DO look alien, and the effects genuinely are special.
The main weakness of Rose, of course, was its contemporary setting and focus on the title character, and the resultant lack of full-on science fiction elements or story. This is repaid in spades in The End of the World, with its definitively futuristic location, wall-to-wall cg and no human characters other than the TARDIS crew. The visuals are, without exception, impeccable, designed to the hilt and glorious to explore. The writing is once again absolutely cracking, laden with jokes, dramatic set pieces and moments of deeper emotion, and a story that - built around the natural time-limit of the countdown to Earth's destruction - never feels rushed, but always pacey.
Acting her non-existent socks off amid the madness, guest star Zoe Wanamaker, in possibly the strangest role of her career, is having a great time in her sound-booth and is even more fun to watch. Eccleston continues to play against form both to great effect, bucking expectations of both of a distant, intellectual Doctor and an intense angry Northerner, while Billie Piper revels in Russell T's witty, playful script. Cliches of corridors and capture are neatly sidestepped, and time is spent instead on good old escapist drama, danger and confrontation - with an unusual focus, stemming from Russell's knack for writing for women, on Rose's realistic reaction to the chaos around her.
The result is perhaps the most utterly un-Wholike bit of television I've ever seen - at the same time as being exactly what it always wanted it to be. I can only hope people got past their worries about Chris leaving the series, because, with its theme of "Knowing something's going to end doesn't lessen it", this episode was the perfect antidote to all that bad-feeling. If anything, in fact, the knowledge of his going made it all the more effective.
And there are hints, here and there in the more emotional passages, of what may be to come to explain his departure... Flashes of pain... Moments of hope... Wounds of the past, and risks of the future. The trip of a lifetime.
I can't wait.
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The First Episode of this hugely important series was received by 10 million UK viewers, anxious to see what the good Doctor had was like in this new incarnation.
So, this second episode of the series had its work cut out to maintain that large audience. But did it live up to the name of Doctor Who? That's the question I try to answer in this review (and it would be so much easier with partially psychic paper).
Now for me, this new series has already broken some of the fundamental rules of Doctor Who and called it "Bringing Doctor Who into the 21st Century". Rose lacked storyline and was all about Rose really. This episode however, did not suffer the same problem, it had a storyline that was well split between the various characters, which all had very distinct, classic Doctor Who styles. The Doctor was his old humorous self, improvising to come up with "breathe from my lungs" because everyone else had gifts and he didn't and Rose was a very real character, exploring the differences between the aliens of the year 5 billion and herself, as well as the huge difference between herself and the secretive Doctor. The aliens on Platform One were well-developed characters too. In the space of about ten minutes, we knew why there was a piece of skin in a frame was doing watching the world die and how the staff of Platform One do business and the Rules like no Teleportation or Guns. Then the trouble begins (as usual).
It all starts with what can only be described as practically carbon copies of eye scanning spiders from Minority Report being activated and crawling out the "gift as a token of peace". These metal critters then proceed to (for want of a better word), dispose of the local blue-faced plumber. At this point, the Sun Filter in the Stewards office starts to fall and the Steward is no more. This is classic Doctor Who, business as usual. Where this falls down in the new series is the short length of the episodes. Most of the classic Doctor Who series' stories were twice as long and had at least three cliffhangers. The End of the World could have done with this format and a few cliffhangers. As a result of this change, the story doesn't have time to develop and therefore rushes through the necessary information needed to solve the mystery and end the story.
Which brings me to the second fundamental change, the overall format. In 2005, a 20-minute episode just doesn't cut it and so the new 45-minute length is welcome. However, the new series should have had four two parters and one Three parter to end the new series. This would have brought the required episode length and the cliffhangers that were synonymous with Doctor Who. The End of the world would have benefited enormously had it been longer and allowed to develop. I felt that the story wasn't deep enough as a result and moved too fast to get the audience involved in the story, as they did in the pre-1990s series'.
Another depth-stuttering aspect of the story was how blunt and obvious the story was. Introduce the characters, something strange begins, someone disappears, someone dies, the Doctor catches on, the Doctor saves his assistant and works out what to do, but only to find out there's an obstruction, the Doctor overcomes it with the sacrifice of a new friend and exposes the mastermind. It really was as simple as that. No subtlety, no sub stories running behind the main plot, just a raw naked plot, crammed into 45 minutes.
The Doctor is a lot more emotional in this new series and he actually cries in The End of the World. This has always been a no-go area for Doctor Who and with good reason. Granted he had a good reason to cry which was also an unwelcome developement, but more on that in a bit. The Doctor has always managed to stay detatched to some extent in order to see the overall picture and to reinforce the fact that he is an alien from another time and place, who has see and done many things, good and bad. The Doctor is often taking Roses hand and at the end of the episode she actually puts her head on the Doctor's shoulder, asif he was her boyfriend making his apparent emotional relationship with Rose more reminiscent of an all American hero with his damsel in distress than the Doctor and his travelling assistant. Now Earlier I mentioned a good reason for the Doctor to cry it did rather ruin the story for me and many other viewers of the series. It is arguably the worst of the tampering with the established Doctor Who universe. The Destruction of Gallifrey as a result of a war. NO GALLIFREY?!?! THE TIMELORDS AT WAR?!?! What was Davies thinking? All those millions of possibilities lost, and for what?! I hope for the sake of the fans, the new viewers and the Doctor Who universe, they fix it and make the Doctor take the difficult, but ultimately obvious decision to go back and save his home world.
That said, the graphics and sets in this episode were better and much more original than they were in Rose and The Mill can be proud of what is has done in the relatively short period of time it was given compare to the usual blockbuster movie timetable. Unfortunately, most of it still looked like graphics, falling short of the realism of the CG seen in Enterprise and the new Battlestar Galactica, arguably Doctor Who's closest comparisons. The music also followed the same lines, as it was good music, but maybe a little inappropriate at times and the inclusion of Britney Spears with a cheap excuse didn't help either.
The End of the World was at least worthy of being called a drama, but I do think it still fell short of the name Doctor Who.
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Y'know, I was rather concerned that the announcement that Chris is leaving would have taken some of the impact of the new series away, but on the strength of tonight's wonderful episode 'The End of the World', this season is going to turn out to be something very very special for WHO fans old and new. It's huge and flashy, yes, but this episode has DOCTOR WHO all over it. The interplay between the Doctor and Rose has started to pick up momentum nicely. I was at first worried that after the first episode Rose would suddenly come across as an 'old hand' at all this adventuring malarkey, but no, her continued wonder and unease at the things she witnesses is wonderful to behold.
The advent of a pre-titles teaser sequence (including a lovely shot of the TARDIS in flight through the vortex) is a nice touch, adding to the drama and making the theme tune that bit more satisfying, which now we've had a chance to get used to it, is settling nicely and feels right for the tone and look of the series. The opening CG views of the Platform are gorgeous- a tad reminiscent of babylon 5 perhaps, but gorgeous nontheless, and the voiceover concerning the prohibition against using teleportation devices, weapons and religion was excellent.
For me, the script was very satisfying, nicely weaving elements of the show's rich mythos into a riotous romp of a tale.I did like the explanation of why everyone speaks English. One thing I am curious as to what other parts of fandom thought of is the revelation that the Doctor is the last of the Time Lords due to a war wiping them all out. For me it gives the EDA books a little weight, taking into account Gallifrey's fate. The look on the Doctor's face when Jabe is at his side is amazing, the sheer weight of pain in his eyes, then that tear that escapes as he turns his head, magic. Nice one Mr Davies.
Aaaaahhhh Jabe, Jabe Jabe! What a beautiful makeup upon such a beautiful actress. Ignore her dodgy past in Hollyoaks and concentrate on the character; Regal, powerful, graceful and yet utterly courageous. The teaser at the end of 'Rose' made her makeup seem a little...hmmm... odd on camera, but once you are treated to the close shots of her, it's clear that any worries were unfounded. Her fate is certainly a shame. The other Trees could have been used a little more for my liking, but with so much going on in one episode it's a small quibble. Lady Cassandra? Well she could never look perfect could she? Not on the timescale and budget available for the series, but she was amazing anyway, and the floating brain in the jar section of her platform was a nice touch. Zoe Wanamaker's vocal performance was spot on.
I really enjoyed the scene with the modified mobile phone. Rose's expression as she looks at the dying Earth while talking to her mother, 5 billion years in the past, was very powerful. Moments like this keep popping up in this new series, moments that cement it firmly in dramatic territory and giving it more credibility as a serious show. It has the humour, the monsters, the action, the characterization, and now the FX, acting talent and respect that it deserves.
This is not only excellent science fiction television, it's excellent Doctor Who. It's definitely different, but ladies and gentlemen this is definitely Doctor Who. I can't wait for next week. Episode 3 looks just as much fun, and its nice to remember how much fun it was, popping between time periods for each story.
Everyone involved must be very very proud of themselves. What an achievement.
British SF. Real British SF that respects its history while moving forward.
Who'd have thought it possible?
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I had my reservations after the first episode, as per my review. It just didn't quite click.
This episode clicked, and how.
>From the preview of last week, I wasn't overly hopeful, boy was I wrong. From start to finish this was 45 minutes of pure Who. The characterization that was so lacking in episode 1 arrived in spades. Eccleston is already a truly great Doctor, here we saw both the humour that already characterises him, and the darkness that we have been promised. There is obviously pain about the loss of Gallifrey, we already know that the Doctor could not save the Nestene, maybe there is guilt about the role he played in the Gallifrey war. he is, apparently, the only survivor.
Billie finally showed her acting mettle. I'm a harsh critic of hers but she has finally silenced me. I'll fully admit I was not convinced by her in anything she has done up to now but in these 45 minutes she fully vindicated her casting. She was fantastic.
The special effects deserve a special mention. Nothing to write home about last week, they were obviously saving their money for the heavy usage here. Not a dud shot in sight.
Zoe Wanamaker was absolutely wonderful as always.
Psychic Paper a great idea and finally a reason why everyone on Who speaks English.
Jade (Jayde?) was a wonderful character and actively felt like more of a companion than Rose in this episode, a real pity that she died. If this was supposed to be the "romance" of the series, it didn't feel like it. It worked well. But this Doctor is far more human than any of the others. He displayed some previously unseen powers here but his failing cost Jade her life.
Fantastically inventive death of the supervisor and one of my favourite Who scenes ever as The Doctor tries to rescue Rose from the same fate. "It would be you in there!" has to go down as one of the greatest lines in Who.
Fans over a walkway, that can't be turned off and the switch to save the station the only thing beyond them. What an illogical place to put a switch. Was this a reference to the brilliant film Galaxy Quest which itself was parodying Trek? The scene where the heroes have to travese a corridor of smashing walls which are there for absolutely no reason is an absolute classic. Completely illogical to do this in Who but a great piece of reference.
The incidental music was far better than last week but still not particularly memorable. On the other hand, the modern music used was inventive and the Doctor dancing to Frankie Goes To Hollywood (Was it?) was hilarious.
A few small niggles, as some people noted in the last episode, the Sonic Screwdriver appears to be this Doctor's weapon of choice, already it has made more appearances in two episodes than possibly the fifth, sixth and seventh Doctor's era's combined. Let's see how he fares next week in the Victorian age.
I think Russell T. Davies needs to tighten up his writing slightly, last week we had Clive who provided exposition and then died. This week we had a blue plumber who did absolutely nothing except purposely die. Not a disaster by any means but we need to care about a character before they die.
The death of the Time Lord race is a great idea, and a very bold, very modern twist, but just how did it happen? Gallifreyan's are almost impossible to kill. You have to kill each and every one twelve times, not to mention that they can manipulate time, are scientific geniuses etc etc. I have a feeling that the Daleks are involved.
Also with the intimation that the Doctor is the last remaining Time Lord will we never again see The Master, The Rani, The Monk, The Valyard, surely all of these Time Lord's are running around in different times before the war but technically after their own deaths. Why does The Doctor get so cut up about it when he can just travel to a time before the destruction of Gallifrey? But I'm just being pedantic.
The series has hit it's stride and I can't wait to see how it turns out. Eccleston's leaving will no doubt affect how some people view this series but I think on this evidence, it may actually be right for this particular series and Eccleston's only mistake being that of timing.
Overall a vast improvement on last week in every way. Everything about this episode shone. It remains to be seen how the continuity twists revealed in this episode get sorted out, I personally don't see how, when The Doctor himself has won out over almost every alien race and evildoer in the galaxy, the entire race of Time Lords can be wiped out with all their powers, and I think it'll be a shame if we never see The Master again. But there are twists and there are twists. This is a very modern twist and I'm not sure if it was wise, but it will no doubt play out over the rest of the series and only then should we reflect on where the series has gone.
Overall, for the episode as a stand alone 20 out of 10. As per direction of the series 12 out of 10. Bold but is it too far?
Oh, I almost forgot, THE TARDIS NEEDS A BICYCLE PUMP TO WORK!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? The Doctor may be big on mechanical improvisation but come on! (Tribute to the quality of the episode that I actually forgot the horror with which that struck me)
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As with Rose, Im reviewing this episode after only one viewing, although I must say after re-watching Rose I did pick up on some things I didnt notice the first time around and Im even fonder of that story now than I was when writing my review.
First off, the Mill and the production team as a whole has to receive a huge thumbs up for the best visual effects seen on an episode of Doctor Who. They AT LEAST equalled those seen in the TV Movie in my opinion. I loved the look of Platform One very pristine, very art-gallery like exactly the kind of place youd imagine a bunch of celebrities watching the Worlds End. In particular the robotic spiders, the Mox of Balhoun and of course the Lady Cassandra all stood out as wonderful ideas that finally can be realised with credibility thanks to the budget and the amazing people working on the show.
As for the story, I was very happy to see that it continued at the pace Rose ran along at. From the first two episodes, this series never lets you catch a breath let alone leave you with a dull moment!
The variety of aliens on show was something I was both looking forward to, yet was slightly worried about after all, if they looked crap in this day and age the series would lose viewers faster than the BBC regenerates its Doctors. However, as I mentioned above I was impressed with most of them only the blue humanoid and blue midget aliens I thought were a bit unimaginative, at least in their appearance, though Davies script did take the time to introduce us to the female plumber and let her win our sympathies before making her the robotic spiders first victim, and she was more developed as a character than some of the more-hyped aliens in the story. Why did she need permission to speak? Is our future as full of prejudice and class division as our society now?
The first half of the storys whodunit format was a clever route to take. Despite being a family show, I knew that even kids would work out that the faceless guys dressed in black robes who sound like Darth Vader were a little too obvious to be the real villains my money was on the female Tree or the Lady Cassandra. After Id heard the Mox speak and all the women in the room go aah, that ruled him out of contention.
Davies script, apart from being a fast, funny and compelling sci-fi romp is also a lovely piece of social commentary how only the richest and most famous life-forms are invited to watch the End of the World an activity in itself which seems a bit weird; sick even and in making the Lady Cassandra the villain (who incidentally got the biggest laugh of the show from me when she talked about being a little boy wonderful stuff Russell), this vile piece of skin who thought about nothing else than being rich, thin and dainty ; the epitome of a self-obsessed shallow individual certainly gives us pause for thought in our nip and tuck culture.
Ecclestons comments to the media about the Doctor being brutal to his enemies didnt really wash last week as he wanted to give the Nestene a chance (very like the Doctors of old) but this week I see what Eccleston meant as Cassandra was left to dehydrate and explode quite gruesomely. Perhaps not quite as brutal as the 6th Doctors cold-blooded killing of the villainous Shokeye in The Two Doctors, Doctor number 9 seems to have dealing with his enemies spot on.
Its so sad to say now we know that hes leaving in the Christmas Special, but Christopher Eccleston really is the perfect Doctor for the 21st century. He can handle action for example, look this week how he strolled right up to the mime-droid thingys and ripped one of their arms off. He looks like hes always one step ahead if youre as clever as I am you can reverse a teleportation beam . Hes very funny, has a great accent (up the North!!!), and as this weeks episode shows, he can show emotion, far better than any of the previous Doctors ever did if I dare be so bold, though Im sure that has more to do with the wonderful script than the quality of the Doctor. My favourite thing about him though is that he goes at a hundred miles an hour, he has that zesty Tom Baker/ McGann quality and he still has that Hartnell/Colin Baker grumpiness about him. Well miss you Chris!
Now thinking back to Rose for a moment, the Doctor mentioned fighting in the war and was at his most emotional when he was pleaded that he couldnt save the Nestenes world, that he couldnt save ANY OF THEM, implying world other than those belonging to the Nestene were destroyed. At the time, I thought the reference was just an allusion to the upcoming Aliens of London / World War III two-parter, but it is beginning to look like far more.
Still thinking back, I loved the Doctors reply to Rose when he just answered yep to her question about him being alien no mention on Gallifrey or the Time Lords; I was hoping that this issue would be given the proper time to be explored in another episode. I think that the production team has taken a far better approach in spreading the revelations about the Doctor out, there was already enough in the first episode for new viewers to take in without sticking in a throwaway one-liner about the Doctors homeworld.
It surprised me how beautifully the Doctors origins were explored by this episode, beginning with Roses argument with the Doctor about where hes from and he wouldnt answer. You wouldnt know where it is anyway! He couldnt bring himself to say the name. Secondly, through the female Tree scanning the Doctor, then later revealing to him that she knows where he is from. That scene has to be my favourite of the first two episodes the Doctor with a manly tear trickling down his cheek, the Tree putting her hand (branch/sap?) on his arm to comfort him and so eloquently summing up the thoughts of collected fandom it is a miracle that you even exist. Even then, he couldnt bring himself to speak he was so overcome with grief.
The implication that Gallifrey has been destroyed, making the Doctor the last of the Timelords, is a superb idea for the new series as like almost 42 years ago in An Unearthly Child, the Doctor is once again truly out on his own, a wanderer in the fifth dimension, only this time he is further than home than he ever has been before he can NEVER go home because it isnt there. His decision to take Rose to witness the destruction of her homeworld must have been his way of letting her see his pain, letting her feel his loss, bringing her closer. After the adventure was over, the Doctor finally explaining to Rose about his world being destroyed brought the episode to a fitting and emotionally-satisfying climax, eventually ending with the Doctor taking Rose back to contemporary London for a bag of chips, the message as Eccleston said being something like enjoy life, because it doesnt last forever.
Easy as it was for the Doctor to simply whip the TARDIS back nearly five billion years so Rose could still enjoy her world, Im almost positive that the Doctor cant travel back in time to Gallifrey before its destruction, the ramifications to the timeline would be too great and even if they werent, Im sure Timelords are born into a specific time and at least on Gallifrey lead linear lives, to have TARDISes popping up all over Gallifreyan history would be too chaotic to think about! In the classic series, stories on Gallifrey always took place in a linear order, though I think this was more to do with stories making sense to the viewers! Maybe that infamous Time barrier surrounding the planet did just that blocked out time travel? Who knows. Im sure this question will be addressed down the line, as will the other wonderful questions raised what was this war? WHAT HAPPENED TO GALLIFREY?
The destruction of his planet may help get the Doctor over with the new audience as more of a tragic and lonely character, but to a seasoned fan who has seen every existing episode and listened to most of Big Finishs audio offerings, the loss of Gallifrey is hard to comprehend. What of President Romana? Leela? The High Council? Rassilon, Omega all that history, gone. Its still hard to take in! I heard that the destruction of Gallifrey was going to be in the final 8th Doctor BBC novel, though I sincerely hope not as now its been set up it HAS TO be explored on screen, if not in this series than in the next (thanks for series 2 by the way, BBC Wales!)
There were so many little touches to this story that brought a smile to my face, moments of outright comedy (the Doctor dancing to Tainted Love on the jukebox; amusing referred to as an iPod!!!; his jiggery-pokery with Roses Nokia!) to moments of horrific poignancy (that awful Britney Spears song, Toxic, being played as a piece of classic music as the world ends; Rose commenting that the world ended and no-one noticed because they were too busy saving themselves.) Far too many little touches to give credit to in a review.
As the first sort of regular story I cant see how anyone would not be impressed by it. Horrible little robotic spiders running around, people (and Trees) being burned alive, and best of all the intrigue surrounding the Doctor, his world, and his relationship with Rose. I hope this character development continues as it has been doing, slowly, a little bit at a time, and Im very interested to see how Mark Gatiss story continues to develop the relationship between our heroic duo next week as Russell T. Davies has done so brilliantly thus far
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Well, I have to say that my enthusiasm fro this new series goes from strength to strength.
After an unexpected pre-credit sequence that was bound to hook the audience from the first second, we launch into the familiar but modern new open credits sequence and Murray Gold'd arrangement of the theme. Both of these have grown on me also since episode one and I do feel that they now really capture RTD's vision of Doctor Who.
And suddenly, here we are; transported 5 billion years into the future. A base known as Platform One where spectators can watch the world come to an firey end - boy! Does this series move fast!
I suppose that the downside of the episode was that the plot was a little thin on the ground even for 45 minutes: The basic premise was, in many ways, similar to the "Curse of Peladon", with an array of outlandish and fantastical lifeforms gathered together in one place (to watch the end of the world). One of these lifeforms, of course, is a murderer. But which one? The Doctor fulfils the Holmes/Poirot role of detective and the revelation of the murderer's identity is both fitting and ironic.
The acting was superb with Billie Piper playing Rose's sense of bewilderment and distress that the earth will eventually be destroyed with absolute emotional conviction. Also, Rose's handling of her situation as novice space/time traveller is continued to be dealt with in her performance - something that was often skated over in the old series.
Eccleston also, just gets better and better. There is also another revelation in this episode which came sooner in the series than I expected. I won't spoil it for you if you haven't seen it, but Eccleston handles these scenes with a depth of restrained emotion that is rarely seen on any Film or TV show, making it all the more of a shame that he will be leaving the role so soon.
The other performances in the episode were a joy to watch also, particularly Yasmin Bannerman as Jabe who brought a quiet sensitivity to the role, plus her semi flirtatious relationship with the Doctor worked well. And a special mention also, to Zoe Wannamaker (who you could be forgiven for not recognising) as the self-obsessed Cassandra - a difficult role to pull off successfully, but she does it.
All in all a good bit of visual wonder, excitement and not a little poignancy. I'm loving this new Doctor Who more and more.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
I remember back in the latter days of the original series, Doctor Who fans coined a term: oddball, applied to the sort of Doctor Who stories that featured giant licorice allsort men, Ken Dodd and had the tendency to take the general concept of Doctor Who less than seriously.
I remember reaction at the time to these particular stories was adverse, although opinion in general seems to have settled down to the notion that they were a brave experiment, but not altogether successful.
What has surprised me most so far in this new run is how much a debt the new series owes to these latter day McCoy stories. With its burping bins and now Britney Spears in space moments, one cant help but question the production teams motives in evoking (whether intentionally or not) an era of the programme which one would think it would be doing its damnedest to try and bury the memory of.
Like Rose, I have found this story gets better on repeated viewing. On first viewing I thought it was patchy, meandering between brilliance and mediocrity. Preconceptions out of the way however, on the second viewing I could see what Russell was trying to do, the thing succeeds in doing what those McCoy stories tried to do but failed. I do however question its placing in the season, a story this off beat, this experimental could be make or break for many viewers. I personally would have thought it much wiser after the something for everyone approach of Rose, to ease viewers in with something much more approaching traditional Who, that is assuming any of the future stories fit this mould. Even in the age of Buffy, where silly ideas in series are commonplace, I feel some new viewers may have potentially found the whole thing slightly too weird, much better I would have thought to place it later on after the audience has settled and are less likely to be put off.
That said maybe the production team were planning on hooking viewers caught by Rose with some serious eye candy and certainly on that note the production paid off in spades. The production design on this series so far has been nothing short of excellent, from the brilliant Tardis interior, to the corridors of Platform one the new series has easily shed that image of those white walled studio bound sets. Similarly the effects, while having at times the traditional TV CGI look, were for the most part outstanding. The rendering of the dying sun in particular is something I think will be remembered for many years.
After the first episode I was somewhat undecided on Eccleston, but on this episode he grew on me considerably. Paul McGann was instantly acceptable in the part, but to be fair didnt have to do anything but play an eccentric fop. Eccleston and Davies are doing what few producers would have the courage to do, making a modern Doctor, taking the core essence of the character and dumping all the frills and I personally think theyre not doing a bad job. Even the notion of the Doctor having a romantic side, didnt seem as incongruous as when the 8th Doctor decided to get it on with Grace Holloway. Billie Piper gets better and better, in just two episodes her character is on the way to becoming perhaps one of the best companions ever. Her likeable, down to earth style is a breath of fresh air, she could so easily have been Buffy in space, but so far has proved one of this series strongest assets. The rest of the performances were variable: the blue guy with the skullcap seemed somewhat camp and over theatrical, while the female plumber with her regional accent and somewhat less than impressive costume I thought brought the whole thing down to that level of Doctor Who blandness which I hoped this series would avoid. Zoe Wanamaker however provided a thoroughly entertaining performance as Cassandra, a very imaginative character both in design and performance.
I must however admit to being somewhat disappointed in the Moxx of Balhoon and the Face of Boe, two very effectual designs were wasted in their lack of use and in the case of the Moxx, having a rather ineffectual voice. What were hyped up certainly in the press as being the next generation of Who monsters, I think will have left a lot of viewers feeling disappointed. The Moxx in particular with his Mekon like appearnce could have been another Sil, but ended up being about as memorable as the guardian from Colony in Space.
I am currently somewhat confused about Murray Golds rather schizophrenic incidental scores, as with the previous week this episode had some killer themes particularly the recurring Doctor choral theme, but also had some bloody awful distracting tunes. How quite the same person can be responsible for the excellent theme tune, but also turn out rather soulless jaunty dittys is a bit mystifying.
After being entertained for half an hour, but not sure whether all the incessant jokes and pop culture references were what I had been hoping for from this new series, the final ten minutes or so won me over.
From the tense scenes of the Doctor struggling to save everyone from being burnt to a crisp, to the melancholy aftermath of the earths destruction, never has a Doctor Who story been quite so poignant. This was the Doctor Who Russell had promised, but had so far failed to deliver, a Doctor Who with emotional resonance, a Doctor Who that stimulated thought, a Doctor Who that made you believe it could be real and for that I am willing to forgive it most of its shortcomings. As the final scene played out, a simple but flawlessly scripted scene about everyday things, and the scream of the theme cut in , it became clear that this show has the potential be one of the biggest things on tv.
However I think next week is make or break, we still need a story that makes the connection between the to coin a phrase spooky escapism of the original and Davies bold new Doctor Who with heart. Unfortunately if the Unquiet Dead gives us another dose of camp, overly referential humour I feel this series may by its own design be neutralising the very effect it is trying to achieve.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
I have to admit that although I enjoyed 'Rose' thoroughly, I did find it a little bewildering at first and in retrospect could not help but criticise the extremely fast-paced story, the rather overbearing incidental music and the fact that it really should have been at least half-an hour longer. That said I still had high hopes for the series and knew that the first episode was always going to be difficult to pull off, and so it would be prudent to allow it to find it's feet before launching into a debate over every little niggle. It did not help matters when the news of Christopher Eccelston's untimely departure was leaked a couple of days before the second episode aired and I found myself in a whirlwind of mixed emotions regarding the series' future and Eccelston himself. But thankfully come Saturday evening I had managed to overcome my doubts and see fit to give the show a deserved chance by attempting to judge both it and Eccelston's performance fairly, whilst not letting my expectations get too high.
I was then taken very much aback when I found myself completely enthralled by forty five minutes of truly superb television drama. I almost managed to regain the sense of child-like wonder which had now become so elusive in my rather torrid adult life. 'The End of the World' completely re-instated my faith in the series in a matter of minutes, as soon as I saw The Doctor inform Rose "Welcome to the End of the World" and Murray Gold's brilliant re-invention of the theme kicked-in, I was hooked.
Never has Doctor Who looked so beautiful. Despite the apparent consensus that the special effects still aren't good enough, I thought they were pitch-perfect, with the opening shot of Platform 1 being just as impressive and memorable as that famous shot of the Star Destroyer looming into view in the original 'Star Wars', and let's remember this isn't Battlestar Galactica - this is Doctor Who.
Gold's incidental music has also very much improved, with the subtle piano-led score playing perfectly alongside the lush visuals and emotionally-driven moments.
The pacing - although still fast and exiting is also much better, allowing time for many dialogue heavy scenes to be played out in a much more thoughtful fashion and allowing the audience to have a 'breather" whilst they assimilate what's going on.
I loved the array of intriguing new aliens on display, with the character of Cassandra being a particularly impressive creation but would liked to have seen more of The Moxx Of Balhoon and The Face of Boe, although I'm led to believe that they shall re-appear at some point later in the series. I can't wait.
The episode was filled with poignant moments some of which I have to admit brought a lump to my throat - the scene where Jabe confronts The Doctor with his past (Beautifullly played by Eccelston and Bannerman), Rose's phone call to her mother and the ending in which The Doctor reveals a little about his troubled origins to Rose and there is a magical shared moment between the two time travellers. I finally felt like I was watching Doctor Who again.
Both Eccelston and Piper have managed to get to grips with their characters remarkably quickly, and any doubts I had about Chris' interpretation of the role or indeed Billie's acting ability were immediately dispelled after viewing this story.
I'm sure the episode has it's faults, but I just didn't care - Doctor Who is back!
I heartily agree with Danny Sabres' observation that The Doctor is now more akin to Batman - being a fan of both characters I can easily see the parallels - the revelation concerning Gallifrey, somehow gives The Doctor a more interesting slant, he is a hero but like Batman there is a good reason for his choice of lifestyle, essentially it is all he has, it is his reason for being and now like Bruce Wayne, The Doctor cannot go back.
This is his life and his curse, (the death of Jabe obviously had a profound effect on him). He's got a job to do, after all who else is there?
By the conclusion of 'End of The World' I was entranced, and became genuinely exited at the thought of next week's thrilling adventure!, Chris may be leaving prematurely but the shows' future looks bright if the rest of the season is as assured and well-realised as this.
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"I give you the air from my lungs."
Three patterns between 'Rose' and 'The End of the World' occur to me. First is that each uses a mixture of a Hartnell and Pertwee story as a base- in the former, its their first appearances (obvious?) and in the latter 'The Ark' and 'The Curse of Peladon' (although 'Mission to the Unknown' would strike just as well). The second is the reference to the Titanic. The third is yet another reference-to wars the Doctor has an involvement in (or is the same war?).
As for the story itself, we're heading to a small station with a lot of aliens involved-season 5 anyone? This suits me perfectly as they were always my favourite stories. The pre-credits sequence isn't a complete stranger to Doctor Who, but to see them so often will be a novelty. Still, its worked this time, so it shouldn't be a problem. The Doctors reference to he date is very sly humour that continues to work its way into the series. In fact, the Doctor s one of four characters here to have superb characterisation in many areas. Rose is once again played at a high level, with her questioning here decision and the Doctor in a way we understand. Jabe is both alien and connected to us in an emotional way, and the sequences between her and the Doctor are some of the best in the episode. The last member is the very wacky Cassandra with a very villainous performance (and thats before we find out hes the villain!). The other aliens are very interesting visually, and its a sham that they had so little to do, perhaps exposing flaws in the 45-minute format. A universal favourite appears to be the wonderful Face of Bo. The voice of the much-publicized Moxx of Balhoon however leaves a lot to be desired.
The visual effects are the key to the piece here, and they not only add to the story, but define it in such a wonderful way. The sequence of the earth being destroyed is a classic bit, and the fact that Rose comments that no-one saw it a the end only makes it more poignant and gripping. The station is a masterpiece, and is contending for best space model in Doctor Who. The spiders are also well realised. The other great effect is the turbines, and the climatic shot of the Doctors final crossing is acting and tension at its best.
The final moments are both the best and worst of the episode. The good is the Doctor and Roses reaction to what has happened, with emotion and flair. The bad is the revelation that the Doctor has no home planet. It really is far too early in the series for continuity, so Russel is taking a huge gamble here. You cannot help but think that the desk he was using to write this had a copy of 'The Ancestor Cell' on it. What becomes of it? Obviously, time will tell.
Overall, the episode is superior to 'Rose' and definitely one of he best going ever. 'Rose' has a stronger rating for providing an excellent start, but this is a likely contest for crown of the season lies.
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Its the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.
Having been greatly let down by the first episode, I approached this one with some trepidation. Fortunately, I can report that Ive been witness to one of the most well-scripted and moving episodes of Doctor Who ever. Ecclestons Doctor here is just as light and fun as in the series opener, but is also dark and brooding when talking about himself, and vengeful when dealing with this weeks villain. He seems more at home with the assorted aliens than with Rose, whose culture-shock is superbly portrayed by Billie. Rose is clearly floored by the reality of TARDIS travel, yet she still gives as good as she gets, with her home by midnight line in particular raising a smile. Whereas the Doctor can mix easily with the great and the good, Rose is more happy chatting to the station staff who, wonderfully, are the most normal people on the Platform. Even if they are blue.
The Earth-based scenes prove to be very moving, and I must admit a tear came to my eye in the final scene. The contrast between life on Earth and the scenes on Platform One is very jarring, and puts Roses reactions into context. We fans may be blasé and accepting about time travel and aliens, but Rose is not.
The story itself is a simple whodunit, which gives room for plenty of character moments without making the pace seem rushed. The episode is also a showcase for the special effects, and never have they been better than here. As a general rule, I loathe CGI with a passion, but there was scarcely a shot or an effect that didnt work beautifully, which is some achievement when you consider exactly how many effects this show contains. Im strongly reminded of Lexx with the exploding planet sequences, and the general bizarreness of the aliens. Very few of the aliens are fleshed out, though, and I was surprised that such a highly publicised character as The Face Of Boe is used purely for window-dressing. Perhaps if this was a traditional four-parter, there would have been scope to develop them all further. As such, most of them appear and disappear without even saying a word.
Such quibbles are minor, though. For the imagination of the setting and the supporting characters; for the improvement to the Doctors and Roses characters; for the emotional weight of the final scene; and for the wonderful contemporary references from Newsround through Britney Spears, I cannot fail but to score this episode 10/10.
The first classic of the new era.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
The moment the episode began, I knew that this would be the episode which secured the series' future. I was worried that this story might effect the new viewers' opinions.
However, I though that the episode was surprisingly good. It was unfortunate although, that there was not much plot to it. In my opinion, in order to cater for the modern audience, the stories have become less complicated, because as a modern audience, people do not seem to have an attention span anymore. This may not be the case, it may be that R.T.D was still trying to develop a relationship between the Doctor and Rose before the real adventures start.
As you would expect, the special effects were spectacular. The effect used to make Cassandra was like nothing that I have ever seen outside a cinema before. I feel sure that the quality and quantity of the new series' special effects should make sure that younger viewers continue to watch for years to come. I am afraid however, that like in cinema, television is possibly becoming too dependent on visual effects. This again links in with the fact that many viewers seem not to have an attention span.
I thought that the majority of the music in this episode was very well put together. However, I feel that the music used for the "little blue men" was entirely inappropriate. I enjoyed in particular, the way in which two pieces of pop music were woven cunningly into the episode (Tainted Love and Toxic), however, we must not forget that this has been attempted before in Doctor Who, in stories such as "Remembrance of the Daleks", where pop music has been included in the soundtrack, and thus has made DVD and video release very difficult.
I have always believed that in Doctor Who a pre-titles sequence always seems to work very well. It seems to be a technique which is being used more and more today in modern television and seems to be a good way of setting the story. This is probably the best structure, particularly for stories of just one episode. I also like the "Next week" section at the end of each episode, however, I only think that it works with one and two part stories and no more than that. If something like this were attempted in the original series, it would almost certainly have undermined the cliff-hanger.
The make up in this episode was also spectacular, it is good to see monsters and aliens who aren't just latex into which and actor has been encased. It also gives us a chance to see the actors performing. Even with Cassandra, instantly I knew which actor was playing her part because of the tremendous special effects used to create her. Although she was almost completely 2D, it retained some of Zoë Wanamaker's distinguishing features.
All in all I enjoyed this story, and am really looking forward to episode three - The Unquiet Dead, because I have always felt that the historical stories make the best of Doctor Who's plot.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
After the 'kitchen sink' settings of Rose, The End of the World - with its far future setting and strange alien creatures - was an ideal choice for episode 2 (if only to demonstrate the incredibly flexible format of the programme to new viewers). It was a refreshing contrast. Apart from Rose's phonecall to her mum and a visit to the chip shop, Earth only appears in The End of the World to be destroyed by the sun and the themes of death and apocalypse run right through the script from beginning to end.
The realisation of the setting, and the characters within it, was remarkable, and probably the best that Doctor Who has ever seen. In this respect it felt like a much, much better Curse of Peladon! The script was highly ambitious, however the production team pulled it off with greatness. The effects were marvellous and the 'creatures' and costumes fantastic. Of particular note was the costume of Jabe, which, with it's regal splendour, enhanced our understanding of the character. Also the realisation of the Moxx and Cassandra were wonderful. Even the little blue people were good.
It was therefore a shame that there was not enough time for more from these characters. Even the villain of the piece - the Lady Cassandra - is only on screen during the episode for about five minutes. Jabe is used well, however the Moxx of Balhoon and the Face of Boe (aside from looking very good) don't add much to the story at all (and, given that he was fried at the end of the episode, I doubt we're going to see the Moxx again). Obviously a lot of time and money had to be spent on the aliens in order to make the whole thing look effective, however it felt a little wasted and I was aching to hear something from those three intergalactic monks. Maybe another time...
Apart from it's zoo of characters, this episode may well also be remembered for it's humour. Davies's script is genuinely funny and there is a confidence and ease about the humour that has not been a part of Doctor Who since Douglas Adams's days. Not once did it detract from the serious moments of the story and we should all welcome the return of 'fun' to Doctor Who after so long. The iPod joke, Britney Spears, the Ipswich gag - these will all go down as the funniest moments in Doctor Who. Never should Doctor Who be so earnest and dull that it cannot have a laugh.
Some of the funniest lines go to Billie Piper who was again on top form (all the stuff about the Doctor and Jabe 'polinating' and being back by midnight was great). She is an incredibly effective actress and brings a wonderfully natural air to the character of Rose. This is helped of course by Davies's writing, and Rose's reaction to the aliens is so true and genuine that you begin to realise how often this aspect of the companion's character was neglected in the old series. Tucked in amongst the frenetic pacing, I really liked her quiet little scene with the plumber.
Chistopher Ecclestone's Doctor was again good - apart from a couple of duff 'comedy' moments (namely his constant grinning as the delegates were being introduced and his painful 'dancing' to music). I found his lack of compassion towards Cassandra quite shocking at first, however, on thinking further about this, I realised that it fits perfectly into the mood and theme of the episode (of which more later). However the third thing that will make this a remembered episode is the layer upon layer added to the Doctor's character. As well as learning all of the stuff about Gallifrey being destroyed in a war (I have no problems with any of this), the scene where Jabe talks to the Doctor about it is truly remarkable (for Doctor Who) and profoundly moving. Even if Ecclestone is sometimes a little too over the top at playing the fool, his 'serious' acting in that scene, and in the final moments of the episode, was wonderful. It goes to show that having such an accomplished actor in the role does pay off and it is sad that he wont be returning next year. I think that this is he first time that we have seen the Doctor shed a tear on screen - and it worked so well. His reaction to Jabe's death was also well done.
There was more of a plot here than was evident in Rose, however the limitations of the 45 minute format are beginning to show in this respect. Just as the speedy resolution to last week's plot was to throw a vial of antiplastic into the Nestene Consciousness, this week the solution was to pull a lever (albeit the scene was a lot better, with the death of Jabe and the whole shutting his eyes to walk through the rotor bit). The whodunnit theme was over so quickly. It would have been so much nicer to have just a little more time - however it wasn't too detrimental to the episode. I have high hopes for the three 2 parters.
Finally the overall feeling of the episode worked well. Its title is apt given that the themes of death, the passing of time and apocalypse were so prominent. The scene where Rose phones her 'dead' mother, the Doctor's line about "everything having its time", the destruction of Gallifrey and of Earth, the sacrifice of Jabe, the grotesquely extended lifespan of Cassandra. Nothing is constant and everything must pass in time. Underneath the jokes there was great pathos and sadness and the chip shop line at the end topped it all off magnificently.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
For my review of "The End of the World," I'm going to start at the end of the story. Specifically, the Doctor's revelations that Gallifrey was destroyed in a war and that he is the last of the Time Lords. Personally, that bit of news didn't shock me, because I've been following the BBC book series and already knew that it had happened. What surprised me was that Russell Davies decided to incorporate something from the book series into the TV series. Of course, it remains to be seen whether he keeps the same details of how Gallifrey was destroyed and who did it, but he's already embraced the big picture, and I never would have expected that.
And really, I think it's a smart move. Any TV show with an ongoing storyline and an enthusiastic fan base can get tied up by its own continuity if it runs for long enough, and no show has run longer than Doctor Who. From a business perspective, if the show is going to grow a new generation of fans, it's got to do something to clear out the big back story tangle. We who have followed the show for decades may enjoy its rich history, but new viewers - especially children - aren't going to sit still for it. Those who want to know more have plenty of resources, especially those here at Outpost Gallifrey, where they can find out all they want. Those who simply want to enjoy what's on their screens now are able to do so. Meanwhile, from an artistic perspective, I can see how Russell Davies, Christopher Eccleston and the rest of the new Doctor Who team would want more of a free hand to tell their stories their way. Getting rid of Gallifrey does that for them.
Think of Gallifrey's destruction as being like a forest fire - it's terrible to see all that beautiful old growth go, but that's the only way for any new growth to take root and blossom.
(By the way, if you want to catch up on the war and Gallifrey's destruction, reading the books, "Alien Bodies," "Interference" (parts 1 and 2), "The Shadows of Avalon" and "The Ancestor Cell" will give you the essential points of the story.)
Now, on to the episode itself:
I do believe the second new Doctor Who episode spent more on special effects than the entire 26 original years of the series combined. With more CGI than the movie Gladiator (or so I'm told) and aliens galore, "The End of the World" is a visual extravaganza - just the thing to keep people watching after the initial excitement of the premiere.
And unlike a lot of other SF/F shows, there's actually some story to go with it.
Just like the premiere, we see much of "The End of the World" from the perspective of the Doctor's companion, Rose Tyler. We get to see something I don't remember seeing in a previous companion - second thoughts. Rose ran into the TARDIS rather impulsively at the end of the premiere, and now she's wondering just what the heck she's gotten into. Fortunately for her, the new Doctor is cellphone-savvy, giving her the ability to call home to her mum from five billion years away (although he does warn her, "Wait 'till you see the bill.").
We get to see more sides to the Ninth Doctor, and the way he interacts not just with Rose, but with some of the aliens they meet, too. I liked Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor even more than I did last week, which in a way only made me more ticked off at him for leaving the show so quickly. We're just getting to know him, and there are already no more than a dozen of his stories left to go. We'll probably never hear him do a "past Doctor" story for Big Finish, and the BBC might not want to go on publishing books about his Doctor after he's gone. So much potential wasted. It's a shame.
The episode does have a few cheesy bits. The "last member of the human race" has some interesting taste in "classical music." (Personally, I thought it would have been funnier if the jukebox had played one of Billie Piper's old hits, but I guess Britney will do.) The space station where the story takes place has been invaded by refugees from the movie Minority Report, and in order to save the day, the Doctor has to run through these spinning fan blades that made me think of Galaxy Quest. But it's all just part of the fun. The rest of the story more than makes up for it.
So all in all, it's a fun romp with a touch of sadness, both onscreen and behind the scenes. The new Doctor Who is off to a great start. Now, bring on Charles Dickens!
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
This second episode of the new Doctor Who had a lot riding on it. In many ways a more important episode than Rose, this is the one that had to retain the casual viewer who watched the first episode out of curiosity, this is the episode that could actually make or break the new series; at least until the undoubted viewing figure boost of the Dalek in episode 6.
This review does contain spoilers, so if you havent seen the episode I would suggest you read no further.
Whilst we will have to wait a few days for the viewing figures, it seems to me that The End of The World was another very good piece of television drama and very good Doctor Who.
Christopher Eccleston has once again given us a magnificent portrayal of the Doctor, giving the character an emotional depth and range we have seldom seen before and making his departure from the role all the more a matter of regret. The infectious enthusiasm from Rose was still present, along with the infectious grin and cries of fantastic. There was also an underlying cagey anger and sadness, very ably portrayed by Eccleston, concerning the destruction of Gallifrey and the fact that he is, so far as he is aware, the last Time Lord. There is also very convincing grief and a tear (which I do not for one minute believe was added using CGI afterwards) following Jabes comments about his origins.
Billie Piper continues to impress as Rose and here proves conclusively what a good actress she really is; much, I suspect, to the surprise of nearly everybody. Like her co-star she convincingly conveys a wide range of emotions and I was particularly impressed with her bewilderment at the various alien races and her confusion / fear over her realisation that she had run off with an alien she knew nothing about.
As a Doctor Who tale The End of The World was superficially lightweight, but with hidden depths that are perhaps only appreciated on repeated viewing. There is comedy, to be sure, but comedy that is never overdone to the point where it becomes camp. The Moxx of Balhouns gift of bodily fluid had both myself and my nine-year-old daughter laughing out loud. The Steward was the perfect officious functionary to be found the universe over and his stuffiness was a further cause of amusement. The Lady Cassandra was also, initially, comical and not entirely unbelievable given the present unhealthy obsession with cosmetic surgery.
There is humour, to be sure, but there are also dark undertones; not least the murder of several members of the observation platforms crew and visitors. Perhaps the most horrific murder is that of the plumber, a character we quickly come to identify with and become sympathetic to, only to see her die as she tries to do her job. The death of the steward affects the viewer less, perhaps because he is an almost entirely unsympathetic character, but his death does serve to illustrate the fate awaiting Rose immediately and, subsequently, the rest of the observation platforms temporary inhabitants should the Doctor fail.
The death that affected myself, and those watching with me, the most was that of Jabe. Somehow I expected that she would survive, that her heroism deserved reward and her death brought genuine feelings of sadness and regret. It was a truly poignant moment in the new series and one that left a lasting impression.
Even darker, perhaps, than the immediate deaths are the revelations about Gallifrey, though the planet is never actually named. The Doctors anguish at the destruction of his home planet and the deaths of his fellow Gallifreyans is clear; indeed it is obvious at the end of The End of The World that the Doctor has taken Rose to see the end of her planet so that she can understand how he feels about the end of his world. So that she can understand him, a little better and thus to strengthen the bond between them.
One controversial aspect of The End of The World has been the death of Cassandra, with some even suggesting that the Doctor is guilty of murder. Personally I think that this is going too far. The only way that the Doctor could ensure that Cassandra was brought to justice was to reverse the transmit device. He may not have realised her skin would dry out as quickly as it did. True, he made no move to help her, but a failure to act to preserve life does not equate with murder, at least as it is currently defined by British law.
Was The End of The World one of the best Doctor Who stories ever made? Possibly not, but it was great family entertainment and promised much for the rest of this first season of new Doctor Who.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
There are no expletives in existence which could accurately tell you how sad I was to hear Christopher Eccleston would not be continuing and so I watched this episode with some forlorness. (I mean, would one more season really be that bad? He's already typecast - as a moany northerner!) However, I shall put this behind me as I come to review what was a vast improvement plot-wise and in suspense terms from 'Rose'. While 'Rose' was enjoyable and fast-paced, this episode is more gently paced giving the viewer time to breathe.
Its main strengths were the very human aspects of the show. Rose's freaking out about being in a room full of aliens was inspired. That is how we would all react. Companions in the past have landed on planets, and when they've met an alien they usually act as though they lived with aliens all their lives! That was very enjoyable - shows Russell T Davies knows us human beings so well. The argument between Rose and the Doctor was skillfully done and I really loved the 'designated driver' line. Rose's call to her mother also emphasised that even though she was light years away from Earth, she was still one of us. And the scene at the end, when she takes a look at the Earth as she knows it - full of people, talking, walking, eating was arguably more spine-tingling than the "spinning through time" piece in 'Rose'. That was probably my favourite part in the whole episode. It brought home the series' message; the planet won't be here forever, so let's make the most of life. Brilliant. And I've had many a time when I've confessed to a girl that I've "no money" in the same nonchalant way as the Doctor did. However, is he the only Time Lord left? What about the Master? The Rani? Will they be making an appearance? The Physic ID was a neat little idea too - very Doctor Who.
The plot of the story was simple enough for kids to understand and a nice laugh for adults. It was certainly more suspenseful and there was more of a build-up to a climax. Watching the end of the world was a clever plot-line and without cliches, although there were some general nods to 'The Curse of Peladon'. Cassandra was a delightfully horrid villain and I was one with the Doctor in allowing her to splat her thin remains across the room. I did feel sorry for the Moxx of Balhoon though. Poor dear. The Doctor's "bristling with ideas" scene was brilliantly straight to the point and a competent denouement to the episode. You really were rooting for the Doc there and happy to be in his company. Jabe the Tree was gorgeous although the scene where she lights on fire could have been quite harrowing for kids watching at that particular time.
So what did I dislike? Well, there was nothing I really disliked specifically. I just think, so far, we haven't seen many modern classics. (By classics, I would be refering to the top 20 Who stories of the past as voted in the last DWM poll) I've certainly enjoyed the last two episodes but they're more on the scale of adventures you're not realy bothered with, but have to own on video/DVD all the same. 'The Curse of Peladon' is a good example of one of these type of stories. While being witty and suspenseful, I doubt there will be many having nightmares after watching this episode.
I'm beginning to think that Russell T Davies knows strong characters and emotional plots but doesn't know good science fiction/fantasy all that well. However, I'm still enjoying myself and we are only two episodes into a long run so I shall hopefully be eating my words! It was just something that crossed my mind. The next episode, written by someone other than RTD, looks very good and I cannot wait for Steven Moffat's Blitz story!!!
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Theres something about Christopher Ecclestons performance as the Doctor, which reminds me of Craig Kellys performance as gay Doctor Who fan, Vince in Russell T. Davies TV drama Queer as Folk. Its as if, on being granted the writing duties on the new series of Doctor Who, Davies outlined the character of The Doctor in Vinces image that is to say, Davies own image, as Vince is certainly Davies autobiographical cypher.
In The End of the World Ecclestons wide-eyed thrill seeking Doctor echos Vince in almost every way, right down to the accent and catchphrase (Fantastic!) Clad in a black leather jacket with a buzz-cut crop and a female sidekick, who isnt his girlfriend, as underlined in the exchange between Jabe (Yasmin Bannerman) and the Doctor, we have the Doctor written as a queer icon.
Cassandra OBrien, the last human and villain of the week, is the perfect foil. She is the typical Dynasty bitch taken to the Nth degree and realised as a piece of computer generated skin stretched across a metal frame, the casuality of too much plastic surgery. Zoe Wannamaker brings the character to life with camp hilarity, particularly with her strangled shrieks of Moisturise me! as she meets her end. One only wishes she had escaped to return another day, as the best Doctor Who villains often do.
Credit must go to Euros Lyns direction, which reaches disaster movie heights in the closing fifteen minutes of the episode. Never has Doctor Who looked so glorious. The scenes where The Doctor walks messiah-like through the revolving fans, intercut with Billie Pipers Rose struggling to escape the suns rays were beautifully realised. It doesnt matter that the storyline, on the whole, was somewhat thin; this is Doctor Who as a collection of visual set pieces.
Eccleston continues to shine in the role, which make the news of his imminent departure from the programme seem like a great loss. Here is a Doctor you believe in, much more than any of his predecessors. Despite his goofy, almost schizoid performance (bopping to Soft Cells Tainted Love) he brings an emotional gravitas to the role that works to elevate the programme away from its intended audience. Who said this was childrens TV? Doctor Who has never been so adult.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
*Phew* that's more like it. And it was the first time I had heard the words 'iPod' and 'prostitute' uttered in an episode of Doctor Who.
I've spent the best part of last week since the debut of 'Rose' trying to work out one thing. Did I really like it? A friend asked me on the phone the other day which I preferred, 'Rose' or the TV movie of 1996, and do you know what? I couldn't answer, I think I replied with something along the lines of 'I liked the TV movie's epic grandeur, but thought the new show had the humour that was missing from the US version', although if I was being honest, I would say that 1996's TV movie had the slight upper hand, after all, at least it took its source material seriously, in a way that 'Rose' failed to. Believe me, I've attacked the TV Movie in my time and I won't mince my criticisms. I was even attacking 'Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace' long before it became trendy to do so. Its just that there was something just not right about 'Rose'. The whole time it had felt like I was watching set of actors in a parody of a sci fi show against a backdrop that was straight out of 'Eastenders'. I so badly wanted to like the new 'Who', yet I had this horrible nagging feeling that soon I would be joining in chants of "Russell T Davies raped my childhood". However, once 'The End of the World' had finished I was almost in tears, and not only at the highly charged emotional ending. It was like an old friend who I had believed I would never see again really was back.
I won't resummarise the plot, many others will have no doubt done that before me, but to me, this is the series as I remember it, and yet feeling new and refreshed in a way that it so desperately needed towards the end of its original tenure. It wasn't perfect. The aliens still looked like men in suits and there was still the taste of the cheesy humour that was the downfall of 'Rose' (The Tardis gets a parking ticket!?!).
However, the creature effects were up to Henson standards and looked far more authentic than the CGI aliens that fill other series. And so what if the blue steward and his crew looked like men in blue face paint, the actors took their roles seriously enough that we soon forgot that was what they were. And yet whilst the pace was still lightening fast there were moments where everything slowed down and we got to learn far more about the characters. The likes of the attendant/plumber that Rose befriends were not shabbily acted comedy grotesques like Rose's mother, but fully rounded (or flattened in Cassandra's case) creations. Not to say that a few of the supporting aliens could have been given more screen time, but such are the limitations if a 45 minute format, as others have pointed out elsewhere. The biting satire that was always present in the old series was back, with tirades against racism, the hypocrisy of the class system, and the materialistic modern culture of obsessive self-improvement. The CGI was impressive and put to perhaps its best use on the exterior space shots (although I do have to say that as a drinking pal of mine works for The Mill's CGI team and he gave me a lift to the station a few months back!).
To be honest, the announcement about Christopher Eccleston's resignation hardly affected me last Thursday. I cared little for his overacting in 'Rose' and I had theorised before last week's announcement that such a noted actor wouldn't commit to a long running series anyway. Yet this week I had my heart in my throat as Doctor number nine recounted the loss of his home world and I felt his sadness at Jabe's demise. As we learn more about this Doctor's recent past we can theorise more about why he is so different from his past incarnations. This is a man carrying the scars of war and the loss that conflict brings. This Doctor has more in common with Ron Kovic from 'Born on the Fourth of July' than any of his eccentric predecessors. Note his militaristic haircut and his dulled down 'uniform' look, lacking any extravagance. Why dress up when everyone you cared for is no more, and there is nothing to dress up for? Note also his cold-blooded willingness to let Cassandra die. No wonder his Tardis is just a patchwork of used 'found' parts if he can no longer return to Gallifrey to repair it. Yes, there was still a playfulness to Eccleston's Doctor, but it was kept in better check than his constant over-comedic acting in 'Rose'. If anything this Doctor's over-reliance on humour is only an antidote to the sorrow he hides within himself, sorrow he cannot even discuss with his companion.
Of course, the destruction of Gallifrey (assuming this is still the same continuity as the original series) opens up a whole host of plot possibilities, and with last weeks select revelations about a mysterious war hints that we might be getting that all to common of threads found in a modern Sci fi TV show - a story arc. There will no doubt be hardcore fans who will spit upon Davies for taking such bold steps to shake up continuity, but if the series is going to grow and change it needs to shaken by its roots by revelations like this. Somehow Gallifrey's destruction makes sense; everything has to eventually have an end. After all, what the Star Wars saga be without the fall of the Jedi Knights, or the Norse myths be without the coming of Ragnarok? So who were the other combatants in this war? Did they perchance look like a set of marauding pepper pots? Did the Master survive Gallifrey's destruction, and if so, which side did he fight on during the war? How would being the only two surviving Timelords change the dynamic between the Doctor and the Master in any future confrontations? Aren't these just the sort of questions we fans like to waste our time dreaming about?
'The End of the World' was easily the best 45 minutes I've had in recent times. I only wish that 'The End of the World' and 'Rose' had been edited into one ninety-minute pilot so that the likes of the Sci Fi Channel (and those who failed to tune in after seeing 'Rose' last week) could see what they were missing. Despite the sadness of the tone at the end of The End of the World, that in time everything dies, the Doctor reminds us to cherish the life that we do have. I felt like a part of me had been restored, but most important of all, I couldn't wait to see the next episode, which was always my reaction at the end of an episode of the old series. And that my friends is what it should all be about.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
End of the World is undoubtedly unlike any episode of Doctor Who I have ever seen, and Ive seen quite a few! Superb aliens, a tearful Doctor, one of the rudest jokes ever in to be heard in the series and a bit of Britney, all add up to one of the cleverest, hilarious and emotional episodes ever.
Some fans may find the outlandish nature of the episode too much to take. If this season has an "oddball" story, then this could be it. The woman who wrote to Points of View exclaiming disgust at the Doctors scene with Jackie Tyler in her bedroom was probably straight back on the phone when she heard Cassandras funniest line. I have to say it took me a second to register it and then my reaction was one of hilarious disbelief
The sets were superb and any criticisms of the special effects for Rose should be quashed. The space effects, the Sun and the Earth exploding were absolutely superb and of a standard as high as any US TV series. The costumes and alien make-up were also exemplary, although it was a shame the Face of Boe and the Moxx of Balhoon didnt really do much.
But it wasnt a load of style and no substance. Eccleston and Piper have already established a warm and genuine relationship between the Doctor and Rose in their scenes together. No wonder the final scene is executive producer Julie Gardners favourite.
Two supporting characters that particularly stood out were Jasmin Bannerman as Jabe and Becky Armory as Raffalo. Just as Mark Benton did in Rose, Armory successfully portrayed a likeable and credible character in such a short space of time, that it was rather sad to see her killed off.
Likewise Bannerman as the Tree Queen was also excellent. Her scenes with the Doctor were funny at first, again some fans may have baulked at the sight of her flirting at the Doctor. But later on, where she tells him she knows who he is, her performance was very sensitive and moving, effectively demonstrating that this version of Doctor Who is going to have an emotional depth as well as action and adventure.
Although it was perhaps rather obvious that Cassandra was the villain, Wanamaker made the best of the very funny script and certainly helped to make the character memorable and enjoyable.
I have to say I am truly enjoying this new series (as are many friends and family who arent fans) but am left wondering how it can get any better?
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
There is genius at work here. A trip of a lifetime was promised. So far it is proving to be just that. People search for deep meaning in Doctor Who. Ardent fans will argue its rich moralistic exposure of society. Occasionally that was there - but rarely and not as deviously and cleverly as it is now unfolding.
The End of the World in its perfection is merely an outer layer constructed to be stripped away only to tease us that an exceptional story arc is developing. It is that which is the trip. Who is taking us on that trip? The Doctor, ostensibly. Certainly Eccleston in the space of less than an hour of screen time has proven himself to be the Doctor and has now set the standard that must be matched and bettered by those who may follow. Confirmation of Chris' departure has only elevated the sense that something special is happening here. Something only this special show could achieve. The isolation, vulnerability, loneliness and emotional instability and sometime coldness of his portrayal of the character are only enhanced and conveyed by our knowledge that we are getting to know someone at the same time as acclimatising ourselves to his departure. For a show that has the anachronistic twists of time travel at its core, isn't this just so perfectly apt?
Yet whilst it is Eccleston who pilots the Tardis, it is Russell T Davies who charts its course. I never expected that course to be so emotionally charged. It is Russell who is steering that trip. He's seeding clues and building new layers. First - the war. Then the war "We lost." Then the nameless enemy who won that war. My guess is that they are not mentioned at this time because they too are being re-invented. I guess that the dangerous species that is so unspeakably evil and mighty enough to defeat the Lords of time will be revealed as merciless soldiers bred to follow orders whose only function is to kill. But we are three episodes away from their reinvention as self-sufficient darkness that have thrived, strengthened and no longer need to seek out their father to solve their inner woes. That's just my second guessing. But only writing that is this engaging incites the brain to guess ahead. When was the last time science fiction did that for you?
Has anyone noticed - even this early - the prevalent undercurrent theme of the natural course? The Doctor would not leap in to save something - our earth - that has spent its purpose and had its time. Just as he would not "moisturise" Cassandra who had outstayed her time. Yet he intervened against the Nestene Consciousness to save the apes who had only just started to walk. Yet, Gallifrey, he reflects; "Went before its time." This Doctor is up to something. He has a plan. Rose is being tested by association. Is she the assistant who might help him put right something that should not have happened? Can this Doctor step into the time vortex, perhaps walk out of the Tardis Doors in flight, leaving Rose in charge of the Tardis so that he can interfere and change his own timeline to prevent defeat in that war and save a planet that "went before its time?"
I feel that Russell is doing something possibly thought impossible. He is creating a new show whilst cleverly, deviously and subtly honouring its rich past and continuity without allowing it to drown in the minutiae of such detail that marked the latter Nathan-Turner years. Russell is breathing life and regenerating the whole idea of Doctor Who and he has made us excited and proud and emotionally involved in a way few of us have felt for any work of fiction since we first watched Doctor Who as children. Tears rolled from my eyes during the End of the World taking me back to the last scenes of Planet of the Spiders and Logopolis. But for which world was I more emotionally upset at its passing - the Earth or Gallifrey? And which world now - at 37 - do I want to Doctor to step in and save?
There is magic at play here. Russell is frantically pumping that bicycle pump. He is making me feel 7 years old again. He has rolled away 30 years of emotional hardness. Today I read on the BBC news website that drinking milk might cause Parkinson's disease for middle-aged men ... Beef or eggs or global warming? Say no more. I remember when the future was not all doom and gloom. This show, in two episodes, has reminded me that it is still possible to view the world with excited eyes that show the horizon as not the end of what your vision can perceive but only the first point in the distance from which you can see even more ...
I may be reading into it something far too deep. But who cares ... I am excited. In a negative world isn't it nice to have 45 minutes of escape and hope?
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Beginning at the beginning, it's surprisingly cool to see "Doctor Who" starting off with a modern-day-TV-style "previously on Doctor Who" clips montage (though they didn't use the words) and then a pre-credits teaser before launching into the title sequence. I like it!
It's also extremely cool to have so many amazing visuals to see in a "Doctor Who" episode. And it's hard to pick favorites too... there's all the exterior shots of the Platform, the swelling red sun, the Earth, the shuttles, the fantastic shot of the exploding Earth (I wonder which will be better... this shot or the one in US theaters in 3-1/2 weeks time... this one will be tough to beat), all the different sorts of alien life forms (especially Cassandra), the spider robots, etc. etc. etc. They pulled out all the visual stops on this and turned in shot after gorgeous shot, and gave the series as a whole the extra-strength steroidal shot it needed to put all the low-budget complaints from the critics aside in a big way.
All the different aliens were terrific both in their extremely creative designs and well-executed appearances. This would all be for nought, of course, if all they were was what they looked like, but selected members of them are given good screen time and good things to say, do, and be. Though all good, the best of this bunch were Jabe, Cassandra, and Raffalo the plumber (note: all female). I love the idea of Jabe's people being intelligent trees to whom a breath of carbon-dioxide-filled air from your lungs is an intimate gift... I love the satire dripping from every appearance of Cassandra and her moisturizing men... and I especially loved Raffalo the plumber who needs permission to speak and is grateful to Rose for giving it to her. My heart really sank when Rose left and we stayed with her shot because it was then obvious she was about to get killed. The fact that it did sink proves how quickly she became endearing, thanks to both the character writing and the wonderful performance by Beccy Armory. I say she was unrecognizeable enough to be given another part in the next season. Anyone else agree?
I loved most of the humor in this... a particular favorite was Cassandra's mistaking a jukebox for an iPod and her choices of music. Note how at first the songs seem to be nothing more than jokes, but then note how the lyrics are suspiciously appropriate for the scene in question (especially "Toxic"'s), and then note who it was selected the songs... Cassandra was giving herself away here, though no one in the station noticed apart from perhaps the Doctor... he seems to keep looking in Cassandra's direction as though he's already figured out it was her when he's using the spider-bots to find the culprit. And my favorite funny line: "What are you gonna do? Moisturize me?"
There were three scenes in particular that stood head and shoulders above the rest of the story, for the emotion they each conveyed.
In chronological order, the first was the one where Rose and the Doctor have their argument about how he's just letting the TARDIS translate for her mind without asking her first and then she demands to know who he is and he very angrily won't tell her. You instantly wonder what he's being so defensive about, and when you look at Eccleston's face, he looks genuinely damaged here. Then he calms down, does some jiggery-pokery with Rose's cell phone, and lets her call her mum five billion years ago, which cheers her up no end and is pretty moving in itself. I got a little lump in my throat as Rose realized she was really talking to her mum... that smile Billie used here lit up the scene more than the swelling sun.
The second scene is the one where the tremendously regal and beautiful Jabe reveals to the Doctor that she knows what he is and how she can't believe he exists and how very sorry she is. Again, it's the look on the Doctor's face... that look of real hurt and damage that tells you something big has happened to him, even more than Jabe's dialog did. (though it could also have been because someone spoiled the secret for me in advance)
The third scene is the final one, where the Doctor takes Rose back to present-day London and a crowded street where they can smell chips, to show her both that her world is still there and that it won't last forever. It reminded me in a way of the scene from part one of "The Trial of a Time Lord" when the Doctor is trying to console Peri for similar reasons, only this scene had the tremendous advantage of being able to be shown and not told, thanks to the newer (and probably very blown) budget. This would've been a great scene if it had stopped here, but it became a classic one when he reveals to her that his planet's been destroyed in a war that they lost (undoubtedly the same one that turned the Nestenes into refugees), and that he's the last of the Time Lords. That damaged look crossed his face again here, only this time it was followed by a look of healing... as though this may have been the first time he's been able to actually say this to anyone, and just getting it out has helped him. His choice of ultimate destination for Rose's first trip is clearly the choice of his subconscious... like it needed to see Earth's sort-of-natural death. That, I think, is why he went there... not to impress Rose, but to sort out these events in his own mind, though I suspect he didn't realize this consciously until the end of the episode. My fan genes wonder how he can be certain that he's the last of the Time Lords, given that there were a number of renegades out there in the universe like the Monk, or Drax, or the Rani, who you'd think weren't on Gallifrey when whatever happened happened, or that there might still be some locked away in Shada, or other things like this, but for now I'll take him at his word. I'm also wondering where the TARDIS is getting its power from now, but there's loads of ways to answer that too, and again, I can be patient.
The "damaged" Doctor bit also goes some way to explaining his actions (inactions?) in the final scene back on Platform One with Cassandra, where he teleports her back and then doesn't lift a finger to prevent her drying out and dying. His morality has shifted it seems, and seems more stereotypical Texan-Republican than the Gallifreyan we used to know... seeing it destroyed must be the trigger for this, and I suspect we'll get to know why in more detail later on. I hope Rose helps him on this, as she just starts to in this story just by being his emotional sounding board at the end. I think she'll try, and I'm guessing that's a thread they'll be exploring at times during the season.
This episode is not perfect, however, and my chief complaints are with the basic plot, which relies too much on tried and true cliches of both "Doctor Who" and the genre in general. It's another by-the-numbers story like "Rose" was, again possibly deliberately as just getting her and the audience into such a scenario is a job in itself, but the numbers were just too familiar for me this time. The worst cliche of the bunch is the set-piece at the end with the giant rotating fan blades. When "Galaxy Quest" did the same thing with pistons, it was funny because it was pointing out how pointless these straight-out-of-a-video-game set pieces are, but here they actually tried to play this straight and it failed miserably... apart from perhaps the very last bit where the Doctor uses what seems to be his time-senses to get through the last fan. But really, this was a real let-down, and it really cheapened Jabe's death for me, since it was so tired and contrived.
On a lesser note, I'm also wondering how pulling the arm off of one of the Meme robots and then yanking something out of the arm caused all of them to fall over dead. Eh?
The cliches in the plot didn't ruin my enjoyment of the episode, however, since most everything else was so right. I think I'll go with another 8 out of 10 for this one.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
After the promising, but uneven 'Rose' I was hoping that 'The End of the World' would settle down and get onto more even keel. The trailer looked good, with Christopher Eccleston much less manic and more Doctor like than in the first episode. What we got was something even better than I could have imagined.
The plot was simple but effective, with the Doctor and Rose journeying to the Year 5 Billion to a space station where the galactic elite are gathering to witness the end of the world. Of course nothing is that simple and the Doctor and Rose are soon mixed up in a murderous plot that threatens them all. But that's not the meat of the episode. The real meat is of course is around the mystery of the Doctor.
The major revelation of the episode is the Doctor is now the 'last' of the Time Lords. The rest and Gallifrey having been destroyed by war, sometime in the Doctor's recent past. The evasiveness of the Doctor when Rose asks where he came from hints at something, a later conversation with one of the alien guests hints that its something bad and in the final scene the Doctor reveals to Rose what happen and its not good. All of these scenes are played wonderfully by Christopher Eccleston, from the grief to the melancholy, he nails it perfectly.
It's also clear that Eccleston could potentially be the best Doctor so far. He once again successfully integrates elements from the previous incarnations, while charting his own course. In the final scene where he utters that "everything has its time and everything dies", you could almost hear the words being uttered by Sylvester McCoy's Doctor in some New Adventure. It's a performance of genius and a shame that he won't be doing more after this season (and the rumored special).
But the real genius is that of Russell T Davies. It's now clear that his plan for reinventing Who is to take the elements from the old series that worked, clean them up for a new audience, while in the process jettisoning the festering swamp of continuity of that dogged the latter years. By getting rid of Gallifrey, he neatly and quickly gets rid of some of the worst of the baggage, gives the Doctor a new motive for traveling and taking a companion, while setting up some mystery for future episodes to explore. I'm sure that at some point we'll find out who took out Gallifrey (my money would be on the Daleks), but for now its a nice juicy dangler.
Of course nothing is perfect. As with the first episode Ecleston sometime plays the humor a little to clumsy, and can be a bit too manic at times. He needs to settle down a little and play it more subtly. Also I'm not sure that 45 minutes is the right length for the series. An extra 5 minutes would give a little room to breath as everything is a little breakneck when crammed into 45 minutes.
But these are all things that can be worked on. It's clear from this episode that the Doctor is well and truly back, and lets hope that the series can maintain this level of quality.
(ps: When I say the 'last' I mean until the Master shows up again)
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
I came to really like Rose after my third viewing, and feel its a strong serial despite its problems. In this respect I may also develop an appreciation for the second story in the new Doctor Who series. And yet Rose initially left me feeling mostly positive I recognised that the strengths of the episode far outweighed the weaknesses. The End Of The World, however, left me feeling flat on first watching it, and a second viewing has not really improved things.
I think what undermines this entire story is an air of facetiousness that makes it difficult to take anything seriously. Presumably this is to help inject comedy into the show, but instead it makes the show seem somewhat silly, very much like the stories of McCoys first season. Unfortunately, Russel T. Davies, while good at delivering the odd witty line here and there, is not very good at pacing his comedy so that it blends in well with horror, suspense or the darker elements of the show. He seems to lack the ability of past writers like Robert Holmes, Douglas Adams and even Eric Saward.
The underlying story borrows heavily from Adams The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe. Theres the similar presence of dignitaries and the rich getting together in a protected space station to view a large-scale cosmic event. There is also a similar ending, where the heroes (be they the Doctor and Rose, or Ford and Arthur Dent) return to a younger Earth before it was destroyed and muse on its future destruction and the futility, and somewhat absurdity, of it all. The idea that the Earth has been held in its classical state and protected by gravitational devices for what seems to be none other than artistic reasons is rather charming, and the whole context, while not original, is a welcome sight in Doctor Who.
The mystery theme built into the plot works quite well. The identities of the repeated Ming are secretive and their appearance makes them quite chilling. They are obviously the bad guys, as the Doctor points out. The impact of the mystery was never really who the saboteurs were, but what they were planning and why. At this level, the story fails to deliver. Firstly, because Cassandras role as the brains behind the scheme is revealed by the Doctor without any real effort on his part. He merely kicks the little spider droid and tells it to find its mummy like a puppy dog. Is there any reason why it should obey the Doctor? Did he reprogramme the spider? If so, why didnt we see it? And secondly, even when Cassandra is revealed to be the real enemy, the why element fails simply because her plan is utterly ludicrous. If youve seen the show, you know what I mean. Even the Doctor comments on what a daft plan it is. Her vanity and ideas of race purity could have been played upon to construct a far more interesting scheme than simply demanding ransom money from kidnapping the people on board. While a hostage situation may have worked, why did she choose such a precarious environment in which to do it and then herself make the environment even more precarious? And finally when the Doctor uncovers her plot, she resorts to that terrible writers cliché: the backup plan! Her going on about having shares in rival companies and making mega-profits due to their deaths is bloody inane.
I feel the Doctor in this story is far worse than in Rose, and all the elements that were wrong about his character in the first story come to the fore here. One of these factors is the Doctors lack of explanation regarding what he is doing and his over-reliance on gadgetry. Its never really clear what the Doctor is doing when working with technology, and one of the most frustrating aspects of this story is the over-use of the sonic screwdriver to unlock doors, play with keypads, find out data, phase out spider droids, etc. without even the slightest bit of explanation what is going on. This Doctor seems to be the least resourceful yet; when in the slightest bit of trouble, out comes the sonic screwdriver, some slightly psychic paper or a similar gadget to deal with it. Think of how his reprogramming of the spider with the sonic screwdriver mirrors his cutting off the Nestene signal to the detached arm in Rose with whatever he was using. Another thing that struck me was when the Doctor passed through the final revolving blade to activate the stations shields. Once again, his seemingly Jedi abilities only serve to highlight that this is a Doctor, unlike his predecessors, who isnt particularly good at using his wits and ingenuity, and instead relies on a magic ring to rub as Glitz told the Sixth Doctor.
In fact I am finding the Doctors portrayal to be very concerning indeed. In Rose he was very manic, with bizarre grinning for no reason and mood swings from buffoonery to deadly earnestness. While this might have worked as it did work at times for Troughton and Tom Baker Ecclestons grinning, inane outbursts (like his Fantastic! in this story that was totally inappropriate, prompting Jabe to understandably inquire why such a dangerous situation was in any way fantastic) and constant laughing occur at the least appropriate times. He doesnt do it to annoy or deflect an enemy, or to put them off guard by seeming a clown he just does it, all the time, for no apparent reason. Whats worse, I guess, is that it doesnt even come across as intelligent buffoonery, but like a five-year-old who has drunk too much red cordial. Think of the scene when the Doctor starts bopping to Tainted Love!!! I mean, this isnt eccentric behaviour, its sad behaviour!
Now onto the death of Cassandra. In the past, the Doctor has stood by and failed to save a villains life at the last moment, even when it was in his power to do so, the most famous example being the Masters apparent death in Planet Of Fire. With the new series, however, the Doctor seems to have a new view on how he deals out death, or allows it to be dealt out, which is rather disturbing. Firstly, perhaps because he is revealed to be the last of the Time Lords, the Ninth Doctor has an almost Judge Dred-like opinion on his responsibilities. His comments to Cassandra as she dries and dies suggest that everything has its time and place and her time was over. However, the look in the Doctors eyes and his body language tell us something else entirely different: here is a Doctor who has decided that she should die because of the deaths she has caused. The Doctor has done this in the past but has always shrouded his beliefs in a higher morality that seems to justify his negligence. This Doctor only says, Oh well, thats life but with burning anger in his eyes. And there is the second problem with the Ninth Doctors approach to death and killing: he is far too emotional. I think its quite clear that the Doctor allowed Cassandra to die because she had caused the deaths of others that is, he is her judge but specifically he allowed her to die because she had indirectly caused Jabes death. The Doctor had developed an emotional attachment with Jabe and was filled with feelings of anger and hatred; his response was revenge. This is very dangerous ground for Doctor Who. A Doctor whose actions seem to justify revenge is completely at odds with the characters established history. His judgement is also heavily clouded by his emotions. Why did the Doctor give the Nestene Consciousness a chance when it was already responsible for many deaths, such as Wilson the CEO of the department store where Rose worked? The reason is obvious: he never knew Wilson and never felt any kind of emotional attachment to him, therefore he judges the Nestene Consciousness impartially. But in this story, he deals with Cassandra as a form of revenge trip because of Jabes death. The Doctor should represent a figure, a hero, who does not resort to revenge, especially not on emotional imbalances.
While I hope some of this behaviour will mellow in future episodes, the Ninth Doctor seems to be the most immature of Time Lords, a veritable teenager in his ludicrous, socially inept behaviour, his resort to the quick fix solution of gadgetry and other devices, and his dangerous emotional imbalances.
Now on to the even bigger revelation that all the Time Lords are kaput and the Doctor is the last of his race. This was sweetly begun in a very touching scene between Jabe and the Doctor, which both actors pulled off in style. If only theyd left it there! The mystery surrounding the Doctor would have remained and instead of being an answer, this scene would merely raise more questions, more Doctor Who? After deliberately keeping the audience in the dark in Rose and doing so also throughout most of this story, Russell T. Davies spoils the show at the end when the Doctor reveals all. Why? What is the point? Unless there is a story during the series that will work off this revelation, I dont think any kind of revelation should have been made at all.
The pacing and length of this story really harms characters, I feel. If you compare the screen time and development of characters in a story like The Curse Of Peladon with this story the difference is obvious. We see, for example, the Ice Warriors in the former serial as initially a threat, then as suspicious, then as honourable, etc. and others like Alpha Centauri and King Peladon also get a lot of development. However in this story, some characters, while looking great, like the Face of Moe and the Moxx of Balhoon, either say very little or nothing at all. A lot of money was spent on characters that were on screen for only about five or six minutes. When the Moxx died at the end of the story, his death should have elicited at least some kind of emotional reaction, but we dont really get to know him, all we know is that he can deliver a mean spit ball. This is a problem.
The dialogue was great at times (gift of air from my lungs, if you think thats amazing, you should see the bill, etc.), pedestrian through most of the story, and at times downright rubbish. Again there was a lot of unnecessary innuendo. As in Rose, the sexual references are obviously put in for humour, and while I dont think Doctor Who is the ideal medium in which to talk about prostitutes and bitchy trampolines if youre going to use this kind of language, at least make it funny. (Lewd language also says very little about the quality of English being imparted to children. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Doctor Who I found as a child was the use of quite a sophisticated English vocabulary and the artistry of constructing beautiful dialogue in a TV show.) When Jabe asks the Doctor about Roses relationship with him, why on Earth would she think Rose is his prostitute? (Other than the fact that the Doctor is actually dressed like a 20th century pimp, that is ) She is a tree, so her understanding of relationships should have been reflected in that way, perhaps asking the Doctor if Rose was his leaf stylist, herbalist, fertiliser, or hopefully something better! Rose then proceeds to tell Jabe to bring the Doctor back by midnight and leaves them to pollinate (her a relevant term, but the consequences are quite gross). The innuendo surrounding Jabes liana is also quite farcical. Im surprised the Doctor didnt say, Ill show you mine if you show me yours! The attempts by Russell T. Davies to make Doctor Who funny, contemporary and relevant should not resort to ill-used, banal sexual humour.
After all that criticism, I should point out that there were some really great things about this story. Billie Piper is brilliant again as Rose the lines written for her are great and Piper delivers them with conviction. Her culture shock by being surrounded by something so different is well portrayed, as is the Doctors concern for her. The scenes where she speaks with the maintenance worker and realises she doesnt know who the Doctor is at all, and then insists on the Doctor telling her who he is are magnificent. And the way the Doctor makes up for his secrecy and Roses insecurity in the new environment by fixing her mobile so that she can call home is rather silly but charming and the joke at the end is well worth it. Its a shame Rose spends quite a substantial amount of time stuck in a room about to be vaporised by pure sunlight, since she could have been used to uncover Cassandras plot rather then the unimaginative way it actually was uncovered. Finally, the reason for Rose understanding alien languages is well handled a tip of the hat to the Time Lord gift mentioned in The Masque Of Mandragora. Thank God there wasnt a Babel fish in sight!
Jabe is another interesting character and well acted. Her death was very touching and it was wise and noble of the director not to show us her charred remains. The initial greetings and gifts given by the various alien races are superb. Cuttings from Jabes grandfather, spitting by the Moxx, even the Doctors gift of air from his lungs, are inventive, relevant, funny and insightful. The line about the Titanic, though seemingly lifted from Robot, was great too.
The costumes, make-up, sets and effects glow with heaps of money being thrown at them. Once again the music was generally obtrusive and used poorly, especially during the spider scenes, where instead of the music complementing to their menace, actually made them rather cute and certainly less of a threat.
Perhaps I just dont shine to Russell T. Davies writing. Lots of people seem to have enjoyed The End Of The World and it certainly was fun. The third episode looks very promising, so Im anticipating greater things to come! 4/10
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Whats certain by this stage is that Russell T Davies Doctor Who is intended for the Harry Potter generation. What with the wheelie bin episode last week, and the campy munchkin theme that plays over our introduction to the little blue men, its evident that this is a universe that has aspirations towards being cute as well as scary, funny, dramatic and all those other buzzwords weve been fed in recent months. Of course, Harry Potter is all of these things, but what the music seems to be saying is, Yeah, yeah, theres blue men in it its science fiction but Harry Potters a bit silly too, and you like that, dont you? Go on, its ironic. Theyre cute! Doctor Who isnt really about irony. Its about wit, and the music has none. It shouldnt dominate and intrude like this.
Perhaps we can just blame Murray Gold for the score, and move on, because The End of the World had much to recommend.
The Doctor, Im starting to realise, has problems. I love those old articles in Doctor Who Magazine where each Doctor gets a bit of amateur psychoanalysis. Pertwee, we find, is going through a mid-life crisis. Tom is actually mad, and tells lies. Davison is an old man in a young mans body, hence his difficulties at being the Doctor. With Eccleston, its clear somethings gone terribly wrong. He shouts at Rose when she asks about his past, and has no compassion for the soon-to-explode Cassandra. It seems hes trying hard to become what the Doctor he once was, but his past the war makes this near-impossible. Hes the last Time Lord now (perhaps with some exceptions), and hes got nothing to rebel against. This is the loneliest weve ever seen him, and his attitudes starting to undercut the flighty stories hes strolling through. Hes also the most human Doctor weve had.
Its only the second episode, and Rose is already my favourite character. Its such a surprising performance from Billie Piper, full of wonderful choices that seem at once to break the rules and to be genuinely instinctive. Either Russell T Davies has been highly specific in his scripts, or shes a great actress. Im surprising myself here, and I was one of her defenders. Rose doesnt know what she wants, but shes the first companion to really notice this, and actually have an attitude to the universe thats believably ambiguous.
The story this week was almost as slight as last time, but the jokes were (mostly) good ones, and the characters didnt suffer too badly from the inevitable economy of the writing. The Moxx of Balhoon was fantastically irrelevant, but at least he was an interesting colour, since colour was the only real purpose of most of the creatures on Platform One. The moments of tension, like last week, were somewhat forced and unsubtle, but they made character stuff possible, and gave it some sense of importance. Its like hes in communion with the Holy Spirit when the Doctor steps through the third fan, but its probably that he has some psychic connection with time, partially lost with Gallifrey. Euros Lynn handles this beautifully; it would have been less good with Keith Boaks frenetic sound-and-fury approach to direction last week.
Moral problems and emotional issues that look set to stretch forward into the rest of the series are already starting to creep in, but for the most part The End of the World was crazy fun, with some spectacular special effects. The death of the Earth even had some drama invested in its visuals. The story was almost weird, if not for the almost-irritating score. And I suspect only Russell T Davies could get away with ending the world to the sound of Britney Spears. I wouldnt be anywhere else.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
There is a large difference to how we think we will would react to situations, and how we do if and when they arise. For most people, this would be finding something untoward in your teenage son's bedroom or meeting a celebrity in the street (I wouldn't ask for an autograph or gawp, honestly). Rose Tyler's reaction to the aliens she meets in the second episode of the new series is closer to the truth. "You look at them," she says, "and they're alien. They're just so alien." I think her reaction would be the least hysterical of any of the viewers had they met the blue Moxx and bird people. But then, RTD has been very clever. To survive, the new series has to be relevant to the audience, and no season of Doctor Who, even in the Earth-bound Pertwee years - has ever been grounded quite so close to home. The adage that it is scarier to find a yeti on your loo in Tooting Bec rather than some alien menace on another planet has never been more true than here and now, employed by the new production team - and to smashing effect. The audience is forced to place themselves in Rose's position - what would I do in this situation? How would I cope with this? Alien menace is coupled with emotional depth, having achieved in two episodes with Rose what it took two years for Ace to achieve in the last run of episodes. By the time, we're putting ourselves in Rose's shoes, our eyes have been seduced by the best effects the series has ever seen, and by then - all too soon - the episode is over and we're fed more deliciously exciting teasers for the following week. The new series is clever, without a doubt, and The End of the World demonstrates that. In Doctor Who terms, it ticks all the right boxes like a Doctor Who square meal. The Doctor and companion invite themselves to the party, conning their way in with "slightly psychic paper" (neatly side-stepped gobbledegook). They meet a cavalcade of aliens. One of the blue things get killed, Rose is knocked unconscious and locked up and it is up to the Doctor to save the day, but only after one of the aliens sacrifices herself for the cause. If you put gravy on it, a Yorkshire man would call it a plate of chips.
Lets be honest. The plot doesn't really need to be any more than this, and rarely has been. If "End" were to set a trend, the visual seductiveness and witty script looks set to replace the "aspiring too high" charm of the Classic Series. And even the slightly too ambitious SFX are there. Not something to be criticised. RTD knows Who, and it wouldn't be Who without reaching for the stars. Which brings us to the aliens... and the Moxx of Balhoon does exist! I laughed my pants off when he spat in Rose's eye, similarly with the Doctor's first meeting with Jabe (hope he has nice breath) and the latter's confusion over Rose's role. Yasmin Bannerman as Jabe was nothing short of brilliant. The make-up job was amazing - never before has a Dr Who alien looked so appealing - and the character just shone throughout. An ambassador tree with sexiness and integrity. Only in Doctor Who! The Face of Boe, too, was impressive, and slightly reminiscent of that big thing in a tank in Dune (I forget its name). Would loved to have heard him speak, and likewise with Mr and Mrs Peckham (boom boom). But of course, the pride of place went to Lady Cassandra, the evil stretch of skin who was that staple of Who villains - a racial purist. Sure, her reasons were all down to her obscure perception of beauty, but she was up there with the rest, something the Doctor could not tolerate in characteristic fashion. What a brilliant realisation, wonderfully vocalised by Zoe Wannamaker, and again something grounded in our own reality where we can watch plastic surgery on television. Makes you think, doesn't it?
For all its aliens, home truths and fast plot, though, the real star was not the one expanding, but the Doctor himself. It was a few minutes into this episode, that I realised that this really was the Doctor. Happy and bouyant, cheeky and confrontational in the party scenes, and even more so when he realises there is no one but him to save the day, something of a trademark for man number nine, and something which is based in the depths of this incarnation's psyche. It is his hurt and dark side that underpins his fun-loving adventurousness (watch it again to see his reaction to the presentation of the egg), and in some ways exposed himself to the outing of his secrets by taking Rose into the future. Jabe knows where he is from and hints at a terrible happening in his past (also alluded to in Rose). It is only in the final scene that he tells his new compananion that he is a Time Lord and that his home planet was destroyed in a war. More secrets are bound to come out during the series, but I would hazard a guess that the war was against the Daleks... maybe. Maybe we shall never find out, and in a way, I don't want to. Not since I was a child, has a mysterious man with a shadowy past taken me on adventures to meet weird aliens and dangerous situations. I love it.
And by the way, RTD, nice use of "Toxic". Beats the pants off Day Tripper.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
The Tardis door needs oiling.
That doesnt tell you all you need to know about the new Doctor Who, but its as good a sign as any of where this series heart is.
As Rose began, so The End of the World continues. Its fun, flippant fantasy-adventure, with a veneer of science fiction, and that special air of everyday downbeat melancholy thats been at the heart of British sci-fi for at least fifty years; Quatermass UFO Blakes 7 Hitchhikers Dominick Hyde Star Cops.
And new Who reminds me at times of several of those shows. But what its most like though, is, Doctor Who. That rickety old show, which often needed oiling. Original Who was 25 minutes of Saturday night thrills and chills, with the occasional spill, designed to give the kiddies something to hide from and the adults something to, well, hide from, as often as not, although not always for the same reasons. And, of course, it made sink plungers everywhere the cheapest and scariest toys going.
This Who is all of those things, and, maybe, a couple more. The End of the World is disposable entertainment. It doesnt feel written to be analysed to death frame by frame on a DVD somewhere (not that thatll stop us trying). Its there to be gasped at, laughed at and perhaps be a bit scared by, in living rooms not signing rooms, by kids from 8 to 80. Watch it that way, and any viewer, however hardcore their whovian credentials, shouldnt get their sixth doctor boxer shorts in a twist.
The supposed plot is stripped down, as reviewers say. Which is pretty basic to you and me. Paul Cornell commented in SFX that Russell T Davies wasnt too worried at leaving viewers asking questions, and in TeoTW it shows. Cassandras scheme makes superficial sense, but as the script only bothers to sketch it in superficially in approximatelty three lines, one of which is the not terribly subtle I have shares in your rivals companies this is hardly surprising. Watch it through a couple of times and youll soon have questions a plenty, but this storys not designed for that. Like Original Who, this cherry flavour Who is, plotwise a treat to enjoy between meals.
The visuals are effective, but dont bear too much scrutiny either. Digital effects are colourful and as bombastic as that great big logo, but they lack subtlety and shading. They do the job, but dont look too close or youll end up not seeing the designs for the pixellations. Costume, models and make up are actually rather better, with the costumes looking like theyre made of something other than the cheapest offcuts, although, aside from the regulars outifts, everything does look a bit too much like its just come off a peg in a costume store, rather than been worn a bit.
The music varies too, between workmanlike (the rather uninspired theme reworking) via the acceptable (lots of Moonlighting-esque melancholy piano cues) past the embarrassing (whooo-eee-ooo-eee-ooo sub Men-in-Black eerieness) and finally reaching the sublime (the haunting lament for the Doctor. Or Gallifrey? Or both?). Adding in real music, with the tracks highlighting the emotions of characters is fun and effective, but needs to be used very sparingly to not become too gimmicky.
As everyone else has probably said by now, the script is supposed to be the heart of this new Who, and it sets the tone for the show. It goes from the sublime to the ridiculous, often within the space of a single exchange. But its here that the real plots Davies is interested in come into focus. The End is one of the means to a very different end. This shows not only, maybe not really, about saving the world. It might be about saving the Doctor.
And to drive this plotline, Russel T Davies creates characters he likes, gives them stories of their own, which develop through lines he wants to hear people say and things no-one ever gets the chance to do. Rose gets to phone home from 5 billion years in the future and realise just how she feels about her mum, while we see theres more to mum then we saw in episode one even if she seems to have got a new kitchen since the day after the day after tomorrow
And, like a latter-day Robert Holmes Davies is excellent at creating entertaining exchanges between pairs of characters. Rose and the Doctor already convince as a team. Their relationship has shade and dimension. She gets as cross with him as he does with her. Hes as kind to her as she tries to be to him. He consoles her and she tries to console him. They work. You like them. The Doctor and Jabe, while busy advancing the plot, breathe, literally, on a more adult level, as touching sincerity underlies playful flirtation. Davies creates entertaining individuals too. Cassandra gets good lines. The plumber gets good lines. The Steward gets good lines. A shame they dont get to interact all that much, though
Through these carefully constructed overarching structures, TeoTW is able to continue the slow reveal of the Doctors backstories. This, if it was going to be handled at all, could only be done gradually. Anything else would have been not merely incomprehensibly complex to almost all the audience, but far more importantly, a total waste of the series greatest dramatic asset Just who is the Doctor? How much of that backstory is, as we go on, going to feed in to the later episodes and start to drive plots along is something we must wait for, but with so much effort and thought having gone into the set up, it would be a major surprise and disappointment if there are no pay offs somewhere down the line.
The care with which this potential arc is established, and the effort taken to draw the characters is in stark contrast to the lack of depth in the episodes murder mystery plot. Its not a whodunnit. And dont even begin to think about the whytheydunnit because Russell didnt waste much more than an afternoon on it. Its there to get the characters, especially the lead characters, plural, to those already legendary last five minutes. It might be the best thing Doctor Whos ever tried to say. Or it might be a load of mawkish sentimentality. Probably the former, in fact.
But as long as its one or the other, theres something there for the geeks to slather over. And as long as theres lines about bitchy trampolines theres something for mum and dad to laugh at. And as long as theres a blue scottie dog with a tulip for a head getting roasted, theres summat for the kids too. Its Doctor Who, you see. At least for as long as they dont oil that door.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
It's interesting how marketing alters your expectations of a show - you know I really thought that the Moxx of Balhoon would be of some consequence in the episode, that the amount RTD went on about him and the report that there may be a toy version available made me think that he might - just might - affect the plot or have more that one and half lines. Oh well.
RTD seems to be fond of taking fairly ridiculous but nevertheless very inventive concepts and trying to make them work in a science fiction (or rather fantasy) context. I get the impression that this really started in the novels published since the television series ended in 1989 - for example, when Lance Parkin's 'Father Time' comes along a thinly disguised Transformer and a council tower block turning into an enormous column of roses are made wonderful and believable parts of the narrative because of the way they are explained and the serious manner in which they are done.
RTD pulls this kind of thing off wonderfully in this episode with the Earth belonging to the national trust whose lease has run out. It's ludicrous, but in a carefully put together stranger-than-fiction world it can work as sci fi and be quite funny at the same time. However as usual things are taken a bit too far. Jabe and her companions from the Forest of Cheem are clearly a flimsy allegorical statement about the rainforest being under threat and should - given that Doctor Who has some pretensions to being science fiction - be provided with some context or backstory. It's a bit much to ask us to just swallow a sentient biped is a direct descendent of the rainforest with no suggestion of how trees' evolution took this turn (it's as infuriating as R2D2 being given a medal for bravery - he's a robot, don't give him a medal - unless he's a sentient cyborg in which case make that clear!!)
In any case it is becoming clear that the new series isn't supposed to be serious sci fi, which is a shame as I believe you could achieve all of the pace, wonder and emotional drama that RTD wants and still maintain some credibility. Unless of course you have Murray Gold's score constantly undermining any credibility what you are seeing may have had. The opening shots of the space station have perfectly nice and unintrusive music and similarly when the Earth explodes, the music is fine - but when the alien guests enter the viewing room a jolly march is played as though we're watching Noddy. The music actually seems to suggest we should find the aliens funny rather than mysterious or intriguing - which is clearly the intention RTD has from a culture-shocked Rose's comments on how 'alien' they all are. Similarly the use of 'Tainted Love' as a soundtrack when Rose first gets the willies from the extraterrestrial assembly could work really well - but only with a more art-house and daring direction style. You get the impression that an American production team with the greater genre experience they have would just get these things that bit closer to the mark.
There are some great hints (or rather revelations) about the Doctor's recent past - the Time War and the destruction of Gallifrey. We now of course have to figure out for ourselves if this is a direct link to the mythology developed in the novels or is it something else? The moment with Jabe and the Doctor where Ecclestone actually sheds a tear is wonderful - but overall Christopher Ecclestone's leaping from manic excitement to austere seriousness is looking a bit forced. Interestingly it's only really Tom Baker who ever did this successfully and that was probably because it's part of who he is anyway. All three preceding Doctors and the successful performances after the fourth were when the actor was allowing their own personality to come through in the part rather than pretending to be Tom Baker which is the trap most actors seem to fall into with the part.
I do feel however that RTD's sexual references are getting a bit too frequent and just stick out as quite self conscious. The moment with Rose's mother in the first episode was fine but the
Doctor: 'there's more where that came from'
Jabe: 'I bet there is'
exchange regarding the Doctor's gift of air from his lungs and the queries about Rose and the Doctor's relationship being sexual both here and in 'Aliens of London' are starting to grate.
My final bit of ungrateful wingeing is about the closing scene. Taking Rose back to the 20th century to a shopping street to emphasise how small minded we can be focusing on the present as the extent of our world we are treated to an embarrasing shot of someone selling the Big Issue - it really starts to look like something from Comic Relief or other emotionally angled documentary. I have no problem with that kind of broadcasting but not when it stands out as needless preaching in a drama like Doctor Who. This scene however is rescued by the most wonderful delivery of 'can you smell chips' from Billy Piper who has been constantly a shining example of how to act and how to take something seriously.
More Rose please and music that we don't notice. (Toxic was good though!)
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Reprinted from somewhere or other in the treasure trove of mid-seventies-to-mid-nineties fan opinion that is License Denied, there's an article by a fella named Thomas Noonan entitled 'Television, Technique and Convention.' Discussing attempts made by the production team of season 18 to move the show in a more cinematic direction, Noonan argues that 'Doctor Who is (...) essentially television, and television is a medium between stage-drama and film', and suggests that 'efforts to make the programme more like film (are) misguided.'
1980 was a long time ago, wasn't it. I mean, Rose Tyler wouldn't even have been born then!
Jump-cut to Doctor Who 2005. To episode two of the brand new season, 'The End of the World', to one of the most thoroughly entertaining forty-five minutes of television I've seen in absolutely ages. To the only show I can think of since Roseanne in its heyday that's had me doubled over with laughter one minute and fighting back a little tear the next. I mean, yeah, I'm used to Doctor Who being this wonderful ... but it's unexpectedly shocking to see television being this wonderful!
It's been my opinion for a while now that Doctor Who doesn't really need TV. Certainly that's where it started, and certainly that's what Doctor Who was to me when I was a kid. But having drifted away from Who fandom around the age of twelve, returned to it around the age of twenty-two and discovered that it was still going in the form of books (and to a lesser extent audio plays) that could go places and do things that the TV show never could have done, I've always been perfectly satisfied with Doctor Who as the offscreeen 'cult' thing it's been these past fifteen years; the 'long wait' posited by the heroic slogan emblazoned on the homepage of this very site never actaully existed for me, because until The Announcement, I neither thought Who would actually find its way back to the small screen, or harboured any particular desire to see it do so. For those of us who are already fans, there's no shortage of new and old stories in various media, and that's always been enough for me.
But what I overlooked there, and what Andrew Wixon rather wisely pointed out after I said something to this effect on the Doctor Who Ratings Guide, is that TV - in this banal, degraded stage of its history where a Channel 4 announcer can in all seriousness refer to a repeat of the first episode of Sex and the City as 'the dawn of a legend', and where bloody Ant and Dec can be considered a viable alternative to anything other than self immolation - really, really needs Doctor Who.
(erm, those weren't Andrew's exact words, by the way)
And what makes Doctor Who great television in 2005 is precisely that movement towards filmic technique Noonan was railing against all those years ago. Seems to me that in - as the sturdy old adage has it - trying to keep up with Star Wars, the show was moving along the right lines all along. Misjudged that one, Tommy!
Mind you, how was he to know what TV audiences would stop accepting with the passage of time. That - for example - the idea of a science-fiction/adventure serial made on videotape would become unthinkable little more than a decade hence. It'd certainly be true to say that though the show was right to fumble in the direction of a more filmic style throughout the eighties, the fact that it needed to do so was symptomatic of a major loss of imagination on the part of audiences. But, you know, you can't control circumstances, only your reaction to them.
It's my view that in the latter seasons of the show's 'classic' run, the Cartmel/McCoy years, the primary factor which made the show work, where it did work, was the direction. Not that there hadn't been a lot of great direction in earlier periods of the show, but by the late eighties it was no longer, for want of a better phrase, an optional extra; the halfway-house narrative between stage-drama and film was on the road to obsolecence.
Come 2005, the residual 'stage play' element of the particular variety of television to which Classic Doctor Who (?) belonged has long since become obsolete. Or certainly appears to have done so. Noonan's hybrid style persists only in sitcom and soap opera, presumably because those formats have allegedly realistic bases, and believing that that a well-lit set is a living room doesn't amount to as great a leap of faith for a viewer as believing that this other well-lit set is a time/space machine, and that the man in the rubber suit coming through the door is an alien from another world. For the purposes of New Who, television has become a form comprised of the basic essence of the old episodic format, and the techniques of filmic storytelling. In fact, what with so many fantasy/SF movie franchises coming either in trilogies or with sequel-whoring non-endings, the only real differences between 'adventure' film and 'adventure' television seem to come down to running time and budget.
'Forty-five minute stories' sounded short, didn't it. I suggested way back when while reviewing season 22 that if Who were on screen now it would be in the form of self-contained one-hour stories. But even to me, knocking another fifteen minutes off that seemed to be pushing it. Matthew Harris (another DWRG chappie, still at a time when this was all just speculation in our crazy minds!) looked back for precedent and found... The Awakening and The Sontaran Experiment. Somewhat lacking.
What I think we underestimated is the extent to which the variety of 'filmic TV' to which Who now belongs is a different animal from old-school televised Who. And also, the amazing malleability of a format which we fans constantly praise as being able to do anything, and then constantly criticise for not doing the exact things that each individual one of us want it to. Myself included, I'm sure.
Character-driven Doctor Who? That's something which has worried a few fans in the reviews I've read since the series commenced (for readers of the future, I'm writing this one between the broadcast of episodes 3 and 4!). Only a minority, I should point out.
But, well, why not! 'Character-driven' was the way it was going when it was last on screen with Ace's hijack of season 26; it was a prime factor in the success of the New Adventures; it was the thinking behind the generally well-received 'Caught on Earth arc' in the EDAs. The very title of the first episode, Rose, was a pretty good indicator that the new show has a rather different emphasis than before (as Lawrence Miles pointed out, it's like imagining Terror of the Autons being called Jo) - but in Rose, because of having to get all the introductory I'm-the-Doctor, this is the TARDIS stuff out the way, the mixing of character-based story (bored shop assistant in a rut gets a chance to go off on a wonderful adventure with a bloke she obviously fancies) with Who's customary morality play plot (desperate alien invades Earth) unavoidably became unbalanced and the Nestene suplot - for that was what it was - ended up wafer thin and hackneyed.
Introductions are difficult. In a way, The End of the World is (oh the irony) the real beginning of this series. Doctor Who as character-driven drama and moral drama at the same time, Doctor Who as television and film at the same time. And the amazing thing is it's done utterly perfectly straight from the off.
On the, admittedly scant, evidence so far - and isn't fun to be reviewing a TV episode without the easy crutch of hindsight -, the storytelling focus of this new Who season is weighted more or less equally between rather slimmed down variations on the indispensable Doctor-defeating-bad-guys template, and a cumulative character drama that will, I'd imagine, become the story formed by the season as a whole.
The Doctor-defeating-bad-guys story in this episode is a silly, camp whodunnit in space. And I have to say... it was utterly, stupendously fab! Much closer to the tone of season 17 than I'd ever dare hoped this new series would be in its initial run, and the Lady Cassandra is a wickedly funny villain who could've come right from the pen of Paul Magrs, but with a brilliantly understated sense of underlying pathos too - a cheap shot at the extremes of cosmetic surgery and at the same time a sad, stretched portrait of the lengths we'll go to to resist the brevity of our existence.
And did I mention funny - I was chuckling throughout, even at those things that have elicited a tut from certain fans; I laughed at the iPod gag, at 'Talk to the face!', at the 'old Earth ballad', at 'the... er... human club!' Okay, the 'When I was a little boy' gag was stolen from The Simpsons. It was, nevertheless, a huge, huge relief to me to find they'd remembered to make this new series funny.
Funny, but - and this is the main point of resemblance to the Williams era - not to an outrageous extent that pees up against the fourth wall, not in a way that undercuts the believability of the drama.
Not mrerely 'believable' drama either; this is that 'full-blooded' gubbins RTD was on about. The Doctor quickly making an emotional connection with Jabe and then losing her to Cassandra's cheap machinations is affecting stuff. His rage, and then his coldness as he stands by and allows Cassandra to die are thoroughly believable and perfectly performed.
('Have pity!' - a deliberate evocation, for those in the know, of Davros' plea in Genesis?)
Perhaps even more impressive, though, is Rose's quiet plea for the Doctor to help Cassandra. Two episodes in and I gleefully retract any doubts I ever had about Billie Piper. Despite everything the 'bitchy trampoline' has done, Rose can't simply stand by and watch another human being die, and Piper's delivery of the line really brings out that sense of naked, compassionate humanity.
Oh great; now this page'll get a load of hits from people googling 'Billie Piper naked'
Anyhow, a compassionate impulse has always been at the core of Doctor Who, and I'm glad that, even if it's being challenged (again), it's not being forgotten.
Course, compassion is one thing. Love is another...
The End of the World is a silly whodunnit, but it's also the second chapter of an love story that's set to progress as the series goes on. The love story of the Doctor and Rose. Oh, it'll stay between the lines - at least I shouldn't expect there'd be any of that 'hanky panky' the tabloids like to go on about. But it's shaping up as the spine of the series, and I must admit to finding it a bit moving - a fella who's been newly reconstructed as loneliest guy in the universe, taking to the interstitial road with a kindred spirit. The cool thing about this is that it works in subtle as well as overt ways - Rose's confusion and jealousy over Jabe's immediate bond with the Doctor ('You two go and pollinate') is obvious, her kidding-on-the-square reference to him as her 'date' is obvious, but other things only hit you when you think about it afterwards; could it be, for example, that the Doctor, who in this incarnation evidently isn't too good at the touchy-feely stuff, chooses to take Rose to see the end of her own planet for the very reason that it then makes it easier to tell her about the loss of his own? To make her understand by showing rather than telling? The Doctor is, after all, a man who can rely on showing things rather than talking about them. It's telling that he refuses to say what's outside those TARDIS doors at the beginning, eager for Rose to see for herself. Also, his angry 'This is me, right here, right now is what counts!' response when she questions who he is and where he's from suggests that a good part of his interest in seeing Rose enjoy the journey comes from a desire to escape from himself; to experience a sense of wonder again through her. Theres a hint, not overplayed and indeed often undercut, of this very romantic (by which I mean, Romantic) notion of the possibility of redemption though another person.
"Perhaps a man only enjoys trouble when there's nothing else left" says Jabe.
"There's me", says Rose.
Rusty is indeed a great scriptwriter - pluck lines out and mix them around, they still work.
Speaking of scripting, the emphasis on the word 'alien' is interesting - it's used very liberally in this episode, as it was in Rose, and moreso than at any time I can recall in the show's past. There's an episode coming up called Aliens of London, so I'd guess this is going somewhere. Rose actually used the phrase 'The end of the world' in that first episode when the Auton attack began, which for me adds to a nice sense of threads running in and out across stories, even if obliquely.
What makes it all work so well, though, what binds old elements and new seamlessly together, is that filmic style I was on about. In traditional televisual terminology, (bloody hell, I sound like Henry Gordon Jago), the original run of Doctor Who was indeed a 'show'. New Who is, by contrast, an Experience; look at the number of POV shots we get from Rose's perspective, then try to remember any similiar use of the camera in the original series. The jumbled, random-looking shot of all the aliens mingling, for example, which brilliantly represents Rose's disorientation. Think of the shot we see of Rose's mum from inside the washing machine, something we'd be remembering as the height of creative direction if it had happened in the middle of Terror of the Autons or something. Compare the scuttling spider-droids to the Cybermats or the Marsh Spiders... the development of CGI, of course, means that special effects of a quality corresponding reasonably well to those of movies are now available on an - albeit inflated - TV budget (and though its fashionable among the more discerning of us geeks to diss CGI for not 'keeping it real' or whatever, let's not forget that the development of that facility is what, more than anything, has allowed Who to get back on screen at all). 'Tainted Love' and Britney Spear's 'Toxic' are used in the episode for laughs, but even then, the editing is so slickly, tightly done that the lyrics don't just waft off, they match what's going on onscreen ('Sometimes I feel I want to get away', 'There's no escape'). The bit with the Doctor gearing himself up and stepping through that fan blade is pure cinema; or more accurately, pure Star Wars. When the Doctor takes Rose back to present-day London we don't go through all the rigmarole of going back to the TARDIS, materialising on Earth and so on. Rather, we cut straight there and get a far more powerful emotional hit from the sudden contrast. None of this remarkable in terms of current day TV and movies, of course, but it's striking because we've never seen a Doctor Who narrative done this way.
And it is genuinely powerful. Plot complexity may of necessity be lessened, but - and I don't say this merely glibly - you can't have everything. The End of the World has a thoroughly enjoyable story with characters we care about. If it sets the tone for the rest of the series I'll be more than happy, and the only other TV Who stories I can recall ending on such raw, alive emotional notes are The Curse of Fenric and Survival ... hmm, both in the last televised season; in some ways TV Who is picking up right where it left off.
In others, of course, it's leaping into a whole new realm altogether. But in retrospect it's a place it's been heading to from, ooh, at least The Leisure Hive onward. Big screen storytelling on the small screen. 'Fits and starts' doesn't begin to cover the bumpy journey here but now, finally, it's totally at home with that fusion.
And now, finally, I know what I'm paying my license fee for...
Slightly trivial afterword: I do hope episode three doesn't open with the Doctor and Rose eating chips and then heading straight off to the 19th century. Remember, all this has happened for Rose on the same day she went to meet Clive - - - the girl needs sleep!
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
This episode was certainly an improvement on the slapdash opener although I was less enamoured to Ecclestons portrayal this time round: seemingly an alien setting heightened the Doctors compulsion to assert his earthly bloke-ish mannerisms and worryingly contemporary, slangy vernacular. When he told the delegates to chill in one scene I felt a shudder of awkwardness go through me. Maybe Im old-fashioned and too mindful of the classic Who portrayals but I really dont feel such every day-style language suits the character. It also detracts from his alienness. It is also an irony as so far this Doctor seems to demonstrate that, despite hanging around a lot on Earth, he is actually a bit of a misanthrope which I think is an interesting development of the character and harks back to Hartnells original incarnation. The contempt of this last Timelord for Cassandra the last human, at the end, contrasts sharply with his far more diplomatic attitude to the Nestene in Rose. This is very interesting and his line everything has an end and the Earths times up and thus his flat refusal to save either the last human or her dying planet smack of the hair-shirt amorality of Tom Bakers early interpretation of the role and at least offers a challenge to the audience as well as thankfully adding to the Doctors alienness which is essential to the series. But I still feel this Doctors casual, average bloke vernacular (and appearance) detracts from these better qualities to this incarnation. Theres obviously nothing wrong about having a more working class version of the character arguably about time with a noticeable regional accent, but as long as this does not hamper articulation and gravitas. Eccleston has facial/physical gravitas but his moody glowering is not quite enough: we need more in the way of vocal gravitas, such as Tom Baker most memorably demonstrated.
The aliens were well realised, particularly the Face of Boe (sadly underused) and Moxx of Balhoon (equally underused). The other aliens I felt were nothing better than those seen in stories such as 1972s Curse of Peladon, with which this story has obvious similarities (group of alien delegates etc.) and which is in my opinion infinitely superior in every sense, and Curse was not even a particularly brilliant story either. I cringed as the (admittedly wittily/well-acted though ludicrously Star Trek-esque blue-faced) controller announced Trees as if this could pass as a convincing name/concept for an alien race. Oh but theyre not actually alien are they? Jabe is a direct descendant of the Tropical rainforests where did this idea come from RTD? Perhaps Trees realised more along the lines of Tolkeins Elks or even the superbly realised tree demon from the otherwise appalling serial Strange would have been more convincing than three Star Trek rejects who are obviously wearing make up. When one remembers the excellent Draconians from as far back as 1973 this puts these new additions to shame.
I suffered the Cringes (or even Scringes) from several almost JNT-esque awkward moments (remember those peppering every McCoy episode circa S.24/25?): the Doctor doing his bizarre breathing introductions to sundry aliens; the Moxx spitting; but most of all, and Im surprised how little has been made of this by reviewers so far, the frankly unforgivable gimmick of Cassandras jukebox inflictions! That in the year 5 Billion some pop music might be regarded as classical is nothing too far-fetched in itself, but why O WHY O WHY O WHY should it be these particular two tracks, and why from this era, and why more specifically one from this very year 2005 as opposed to the eons passing before this episode is set? So RTD inflicts his record tastes on us with Tainted Love the Doctor bopping to it was utterly embarrassing even more so than McCoy burbling jazz into a microphone in Happiness Patrol, and that was embarrassing enough! However, I could have stomached this intrusion into the episode had it been all but no, the production team couldnt resist being ultra-contemporary and, instead of playing a single which is vaguely bearable in quality, they choose the atrocious Toxic from the equally atrocious Britney Spears! For me, this practically destroyed any credibility this episode might have otherwise possessed. This is even more unashamed than the contemporary sculpted haircuts visible in RTDs other series Casanova. Both are equally incongruous in their settings of future and past respectively. No one surely, even in 5 Billion, would consider anything produced by Britney Spears to be anything other than throwaway rubbish. RTD missed a great opportunity here: he could have played anything, an era-defining song from The Beatles, even Imagine by Lennon, something truly classic and thus potential classical in the future. I suppose it could have been worse: he could have played a Robbie Williams song. But this intrusion, nay imposition, into the episode makes the jazz score playing over a shot of space in Silver Nemesis comparatively poetic. Yes, The Chase had a cut from The Beatles Ticket to Ride, which was then also a contemporary gimmick, but at least that was a good song. In Three Doctors, Jo recites some lyrics from I Am The Walrus but not only is this cited about six years after it was released as a single, it was also picking up on a lyric/song embedded in the public consciousness for its seminal quality as, again, an era- defining piece by an era-defining band. Britney Spears Toxic does not define an era it only defines a forgettable, overly commercial moment in a pop vacuum. Frankly RTDs choice could hardly have been worse.
Onto the plot: well, there isnt much of one really is there? A standard who-dunnit with a less than interesting conclusion. Zoe Wannamaker voices Cassandra expertly and has some fairly good lines here and there, though a bit too tongue-in-cheek, but unfortunately her character is completely undermined by the fact that, although the idea ofa stretched piece of skin bla bla bla is quite unusual, she cannot possibly exist as she has no lungs, heart, brain etc. The concept is thus rendered ludicrous; a vague abstract fancy which should have had more thought put into its realisation in order to make it convincing. I did notice on second viewing some sort of blue glass tank at the base of her metal frame perhaps this is her cerebral cortex/life support system? If so, it should have been mentioned in the script. What is, again, clumsy, unimaginative and absurd is to actually have her announced as Cassandra OBrien! Couldnt RTD have thought up a slightly more imaginative and impressive surname or is he deliberately going for a mundane-sounding one? If so, why?
Apart from the oft-mentioned giant fans and the 'silly place to put an off-switch' platform design etc. why on earth does the space station have switches to turn off the sun-filter? In what event would this be used exactly, except a mass suicide? Of course these filter scenes are reminiscent of Dragonfire too.
The robotic spiders look very derivative to me - wasn't there something similar in the atrocious Lost in Space film? They were ok but still looked like computer graphics as all computer graphics do. And what the heck was an ordinary tea mug doing on an alien's desk? Had one of the camera crew left it there accidentally after a tea break?
The idea about the National Trust restoring the Earth to its former continental glory is potentially quite good but is rendered absurd by the fact that such a project would have surely involved the charity changing its name to the International Trust which would have been a more imaginative semantic alteration which would allude rather than clumsily spell out a contemporary name we recognise; again RTDs obsession with contemporary Earth/UK references all the time!!! He does not have to graphically spell things out to us like this a bit of subtlety Mr Davies, please, and imagination too, just examine the scripts of Robert Holmes to learn this. For example, RTDs National Trust reference is the equivalent of Holmes calling the cleverly implied Inner Retinue (The Sun Makers) by its real life satirical target, the Inland Revenue!!! That would have sounded ludicrous wouldnt it? Well if RTD had taken a leaf out of Holmes book, he would have come up with a subtler allusion as Inner Retinue, such as, as I suggested, the International Trust. The concept of the whole Earth being restored by the National Trust of one tiny island nation is utterly laughable and completely implausible. RTDs terrestrialisation, nay, Anglicisation of the Who mythology is clumsy, unimaginative and sloppy. The series needs much more subtlety or are modern viewers really as cretinous as modern programme makers would like to think they are?
The pace of the episode was ok, a little rushed in places, with a pointlessly long scene between Rose and the blueberry plumber. Mind you, this scene was slightly reminiscent of the old series I could have imagined Ace having this conversation too. The scenes between the Doctor and Rose are reasonably well-handled and scripted, but I still feel a little too much emphasis is put on Rose (as was done with Ace) at the expense of developing the Doctor. Should the series perhaps be renamed Rose Oh, and the bloke in the leather jacket? Piper is a credible actor though, I admit, and her character is believable and three-dimensional so far, so thats something I suppose. But Im frankly more concerned about the Doctor Im not a fan of companions particularly (for me the best were Tegan and Turlough (circa S.20), as they were more three-dimensional characters than the rest) and would prefer a Deadly Assassin-style solo Doctor who has different companions in different stories.
The revelations about Gallifrey (though it is not mentioned by name, as the Autons werent either) is pointless: with a TARDIS the Doctor can presumably go back to the Timelords anyway if he wants though possibly by their very definition, the Timelords cease to exist throughout all of time if destroyed in one part of it!?). I dont actually mind the idea of the Doctor being the last of the Timelords as it re-emphasizes the solitary nature of the character. However, if this new precocious development in the series aims to detract emphasis from the Doctors origins, I predict it is already showing signs of doing the opposite, as witnessed in some protracted scenes on the subject in this story. Having said this, the theme of the Doctor now being homeless (though as an exile he always was anyway) was nicely juxtaposed with a Big Issue vendor in the last scene.
Certainly the series has some way to go, this Doctor certainly has something about him and could potentially be every bit as good as his predecessors (bar, I predict, Tom Baker and Patrick Troughton, with whom, ironically, the Ninth has most in common) and End of the World was, despite its impeachable embarrassments, a significant improvement on Rose and in places, much more reminiscent of the original series. But it is still only good enough to rank alongside the more mediocre stories in the original canon in terms of scripting; I would say End of the World ranks alongside stories such as Dragonfire, Mindwarp, Creature from the Pit, you know, that sort of mediocre space opera style of the old series - it also detectably has a few elements in common with satires like The Sunmakers, but its thin script doesn't compare to Holmesian standards by a long shot. This story, ultimately, is acceptable, with a few good scenes/visuals/lines, but is still severely depleted in terms of credibility by its ill-thought-out terrestrial allusions and Britney Spears intrusion.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
It's a sorry state of affairs when the National Trust no longer has the money to keep the Earth together as a conservation site. If the Doctor can find the money for a mammoth phone bill to Rose's Mum, couldn't he have spared some for his favourite planet? Even if he used it all up on the phone call, couldn't he have started some relief aid from the assembled alpha creatures turning up for gifts and a sun tan? Bad (wolf?) financial planning, if you ask me. He should have spoken to Clive at the Abbey...oh, thats right; he got shot by living plastic. This continuity is killing me.
It is far better, then, to have continuity through a Time War arc bubbling away than in house style. Suddenly, Doctor Who has contrast. Doctor Who on speed has been replaced by Doctor Who with a social conscience. There are sound bites of political correctness so we can all bask in the fading light of the world, firmly in front of the sofa. Wealth (chinless wonders), vanity, revenge and racism (Mongrels) fly by, as the central story trundles on as if Pip and Jane Baker have been brought in to sketch an Agatha Christie outline whilst Russell T Davies gets the characters firmly embedded. This time one has to care. This time it is all about understanding the adjustment. It is still not about story or suspense, because, lets face it, a human trampoline setting up a sting to pay for yet more cosmetic surgery is probably more a statement of intent, rather than a plot. An alluded repeated meme, if you will.
The whole script is an opportunity to give a gift of the air from the shows lungs (sic). In its witty, impish way, it is about solidifying the character of the Doctor and Rose. It is about reminding the audience that there is a hero on Platform One who feels the force, the cold, and has watched Galaxy Quest and knows the override switch is in the same place.. It is about Rose understanding exactly what we she has got herself into; to give her a sense of perspective; to make her understand that everything has its time. Rewritten history is Toxic, and Rose is in a soft cell. She has to survive this, and to do that she has to grow.
The Doctor, meanwhile, has to prove that he is not gay. There is ample time for him to spend time with his woody friend er Jabe (outstanding performance, by the way, from Yasmin Bannerman), and to use those method acting skills to get all wistful about the loss of one world, so that he can juxtapose this with the loss of the one he is just whisked Rose away from. In fact, loss is another strong agenda throughout, if that be planetary, humanoid, or plain simply the loss of a good moisturiser (you can never get the staff to teleport back when the ostrich egg is cooked, can you?) In between, he gets all pissed off and undertakes a particularly brutal act, and does a lot of derring-do as one comes to expect from everyones favourite socially defective fruit loop, which given he has very little real-time to accomplish it all, is quite an outstanding job.
Black curtains aside, the standard of production on this episode was equally outstanding. There were so many money shots in terms of visual effects, direction and performance that one feels the heat. Euros Lyns direction, in particular, seemed to dovetail the dialogue with thought and sympathy, bringing together scenes with an empathy rarely seen in family drama. Whilst there is a mood to gush emphatically, the Mill should be happy as a Dyson ball with the work accomplished here. Murray Gold, also, seems to have released himself from the Hot Gossip soundtrack in Rose to compose some lovely themes for this episode. All three areas pull together to bring together the best, hope-inspiring final 10 minutes of Doctor Who seen in many a moon, or should that be floating continent.
Most impressive of all has to be the simplest of writing devices everything has its time. Thankfully this is clearly not the case with this new regenerated Who. Under this umbrella, the episode took its shape, and negotiated the tricky path that is the second episode. Having set the right agenda, it then showed how you can make stories set in space mean something to an audience firmly grounded on a planet where reality TV, and light entertainment, are getting high on the equivalent of Skol and chips. The end of the world managed to, in the right hands, bring it all back home.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
There is a problem faced by all critics at some point during their writing career, a dilemma which is especially prevalent to those of us under the self-delusion of objectivity; What do you do when you see something of such outstanding quality that making any criticism of it becomes no more than a futile gesture? Suddenly youre panic stricken, trying to find something, anything, to pull apart so you might live up to your highbrow ideals. But as an exercise in pedantry its best if you dont bother because there are some shows that deserve all the shameless plaudits and backslapping that they can get. And Doctor Who; The End of the World is one of them.
Many people may think this sentiment typical of a fan, a person who watches a 35 year-old story about giant maggots and calls it a classic. But I am more than a fan of Doctor Who, I am a fan of television. It is as a modern piece of TV that I have chosen to sit down to watch these stories and it is as a modern piece of TV that this story succeeds so brilliantly.
Mixing liberal amounts of humour, wonder, emotion and excitement in the big ol mixing bowl of imagination this story succeeds on so many levels. Where else but in Doctor Who would the idea of an Earth preserved and run by the National Trust get past the planning stages? Where else would we be treated to living trees, disembodied heads, metal spiders and spitting blue solicitors all in the same story? Add to this some slightly psychic paper and a slightly psychotic paper-cut of a villain and we see with perfect clarity that Doctor Who still has the wit, charm and imagination that etched it into the public psyche.
Whereas in the pilot, Rose, I found the humour nearly overwhelming the story here I thought it better balanced, complimenting the action rather than clashing with it. Part of the reason that the humour works so well is the sheer other-worldliness of its setting. With the laughs based mainly around the culture shock experienced by Rose we are less inclined to question why we are laughing or how silly it all is (and it is all rather silly, isnt it?) because we are already suspending our disbelief.
There are several laugh-out-loud moments in this story that really hit the mark. Of particular note is the rather risqué aside from Cassandra when she tells Rose of the time when I was a little boy,.. that had me rolling on the floor. Another belly laugh came from the Doctors phone bill quip and Cassandras put down of the Moxx of Balhoon was so delightfully vicious that you couldnt help but chuckle.
RTDs quirky sense of humour shines through and there is a great sense that the series isnt taking itself too seriously as a result. When we are challenged head on with a well-known sci-fi cliché (a fix-all switch behind some deadly fans!) its as if the production crew are sharing a private joke with us in a little knowing wink.
We can see the antithesis of this jollity in the dreadfully mis-judged Star Trek; Enterprise, where self reverence, a stern adherence to style, format and the colour grey left things without any real sense of fun. Happily, based on the evidence of these first two episodes, it is not destined to be the case with Doctor Who.
Its partially the heavier material, juxtaposed with this wit, which makes this episode such an enjoyable experience. Creating the effect of a roller-coaster ride we are confronted with ironic and hilarious pastiches on modern pop culture (an iPod?!) before being thrown a tragic curve ball as we discover the root of the Doctors loneliness. This creates a journey for the audience that, even with a relatively thin plot, is both fulfilling and rewarding. The dramatic scenes are such a marked contrast to the jovial nature of the whole that they become much more powerful as a result. So too the comedy lightens the mood enough that you dont spend the episode in tears. It is a fine line to walk but the balance is just perfect in this story.
Once again the writer and stars of the piece deserve the most praise. Davies script is of an order far higher than we usually see on modern TV, balancing all the right ingredients and having a good time with the resulting cake. Small moments, such as Rose being heartened by the idea that there are still plumbers in the future, are worth their weight in gold and even superfluous characters, such as the aforementioned plumber, are fleshed out enough for you to care about them. Also the scenes of high emotion are written softly enough for them to be brought to life by the quality of the performances themselves. There is always a danger for these to be bogged down in dialogue and its a testament to Davies that these moments are given time to breathe. Notice how, in the saddest moment of the episode, as Jabe comforts the Doctor in the maintenance tunnel, he doesnt say a single word. Thats superior writing.
Russells aim to keep the series anchored in humanity is also cleverly handled. For all its alien science fiction The End of the World still remains humanitarian story. It is essentially all about the importance of the Earth and our need to have a place to call home and as a moral message it is kept just far enough to the side so as not to become preachy. Children may watch this story for the wonder and excitement but somewhere in there theyll catch that message and run with it. One day all this will be gone so appreciate it and look after it while you can. But be we can survive it all, so put aside your petty worries. These are the two parables that Russell cleverly smuggles into the story and I cant think of two more worthy messages for primetime TV to be giving.
As for our two co-stars, once again Ecclestone and Piper shine as The Doctor and Rose, however while it was Billie who shone brightest in Episode 1 it is Chris who steals the show here. The Doctor seems to be very much in his element for a lot of this episode, ready to meet and greet strange aliens or to save his companion from a severe case of sunburn with equal gusto. Ecclestone captures this spirit of adventure and eccentricity perfectly but it is not this that makes his performance so memorable this time around. Returning again to the scene in maintenance tunnel, we are shown why Chris is lauded as one of the greatest British actors working today. He literally brings a tear to the eye as he receives Jabes sympathy and his reveal to Rose at the end is one of the greatest, and most heartbreaking, scenes of television Ive seen all year.
As for Billie, Rose finally gets into some believable jeopardy and Piper handles it brilliantly. At no point do we find the character as limp and helpless as many of her predecessors but her panic at her impending death still kept me on the edge of my seat. She is one of a very rare breed of Doctor Who companion who you feel for as a person and it is down to Billies dazzling performance that Ive warmed to Rose so much. The moment where she realises what she has just done, running off with the Doctor, is excelled only by her brilliant reassurance to him that theres me at the end. Her lament at the un-witnessed death of the planet is also handled brilliantly, helped by Davies thoughtful scripting.
The other supporting characters are played with equal relish by those involved but special mention must go to Yasmin Bannerman and Zoe Wannamaker. They created very unique characters in situations that may have left other actresses giving wooden (Im so sorry) or two dimensional performances (so very, very sorry).
The production on The End of the World was superb throughout. The choice to use a location for the observation deck rather than a studio made it seem more solid than it might otherwise have been. It also provided inspiration for the other sets, giving Platform One a unique feel instead of creating just another generic Sci-fi space station. The design throughout was excellent, creating a plush and believable environment for all concerned to inhabit and creating a varied and imaginative assortment of alien races, all of which were superbly realised
As for the effects, this was the episode when The Mill really showed what they were capable of. The CG and other effects were stunning and so far beyond what has become expected of British sci-fi that you wonder just how much of the series budget was handed to them for this story. While the exterior shots of the station amaze it is the Spiders that The Mill should be most proud of. As well as looking the part they were animated with a sense of mass that made them particularly believable. In fact the only time the effect fell down was at the end when the Doctor put one on the floor but this was just one shot of many of which the majority worked flawlessly.
With television stations across the board mired in the drab day to day of Reality TV and Lifestyle programmes, this one story is really going to open some eyes. Where Rose was the introduction, bridging the gap between the mundane and the potential, this is the first story to deliver on RTDs promise that the new Who is like nothing else on TV. And how! Great scripting, great effects and great performances have conspired to create possibly the greatest single piece to Science Fiction/fantasy that Ive seen in the last three years. Where there may be diehard fans quibbling over the smaller details and boycotting the series as a result (Gallifrey dead?!?!?!? Get over it) they really will be missing out on something quite special. This series is taking the programme forward into what can only be seen as a bright future and I for one will be along for the ride.
Five out of five, Doctor.
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At last! At last! At last!
Credible science fiction to expunge the PAST!
Auntie Beeb has delivered Dr Who, most credible
Glossy looking, witty, sharp with ne'er a moment dull.
Rose didn't scream but looked logically bemused
And worried at such creatures on a ship broken and fused.
Had she made the right decision human plotline nicely bubbling
Under the 'science-fiction' story most troubling.
With effective links to Episode 1, continuity
Succeeded to make us feel as we too were on Rose's journey.
Simple sets were few but stopped the endless wandering
Of previous Doctors through that 'ship' again re-visiting.
A super portrayal of the Doctor we were given
Who performed on so many levels, being character driven,
Witty, charming, angry, sad,
Lonely, amused, amusing, bad!!!
So many layers, slowly being unpeeled
With historical, explanatory and emotional traits revealed.
We convincingly learn more about his background, his timely role
His loneliness as the last of his race, one fish swimming into the shoal!
We have become so used to good sci-fi- from America imported
That this is the first time we have got 'it' 'sorted'!!
Our effects and backgrounds were up there with the best
Production values to match the rest.
The Blake's Seven music over the spaceship sounded dated
That or me with memory saturated.
4 legged spiders and villians were menacing on the space station
With all horror of death off screen and left to my imagination.
So all in all, slower with many themes and good effects
Leaving many questions, hope, and curiosity as to what comes next!
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After the intensity of watching 'Rose' and hoping the series would be as good as it appeared in the monumental build up, things calm down with the wonderful episode 'The End of the World'.
'The End of the World' follows the Doctor and Rose as they arrive on Platform One, where all kinds of aliens are gathering to witness the destruction of the Earth.
The plot is good, with a well-paced storyline that doesn't disappoint. It is a shame there was not more of a 'whodunit' factor to the episode, but the revelation of the true villain is fitting enough. The relationship between the Doctor and Jabe is touching and the last few poignant minutes are some of the best in the series history.
The one plot-related problem with the story is the lack of characterisation to the other aliens. Of course there is not enough time to do this in a 45-minute programme but you can't help but feel a bit irritable that the alien species seemed used on the off chance. Perhaps if each of the species had not been given such an introduction, the scene would work better (a-la Star Wars: A New Hope).
The acting is good, with both Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper settling nicely into their roles as the Doctor and Rose. The guest artists are good, particularly Zoe Wanamaker as Cassandra the last human being. The characterisation of Cassandra is superb and the tongue-in-cheek references to the taboo subject of plastic surgery give the episode its best bits of humour.
In all, 'The End of the World' is a nice story, with a nice mix of humour and drama, and maintains the quality of the series, which was established with 'Rose'.
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Although this is the second transmitted episode it becomes the nonth to be review by myself. Already, I feel guilty that I have put it trailing at the end of my popularity list.
As far as I was concerned, this episode more than "Rose" would win or lose the television audience not familiar with Who. After all it's set in the far future so pure sci-fi which either becomes your bent or not. It features a large collection of aliens of which some appear rubbish in early pictures (The bird-headed people, even the Moxx). It does have blue oompa-loompas and a blue painted steward. This as far as I was concerned would not appeal to the "general" (or "normal" as Gary pointed out) audience. The episode didn't help by having a kind of pantomime element when it began and I thought in all honesty, Ant n Dec would be victorious that week and the audience would move on.
However, they didn't and are still here. I know guys in their 70's who think it's great and senior citizens in my experience don't think anything is. Generally after much sole searching and repeated evaluations of this episode it's actually pretty good. We get the first proper scene in the TARDIS which certainly looks alien but I haven't quite got accustomed to it's revamping. I think I, like others would like to experience it's expanse by looking at other rooms. I personally am a campaigner (in spirit) of the Davison TARDIS based stories. I did enjoy all the fast cuts and camera angles and bicycle pump gags but din't feel it was big enough.
The first reveal of the space station's view of the earth was breathtaking and I think this episode has a quite effective pre-credit cliffhanger. The episode itself gets started and this is where I find it a little disappointing. The set (hanger) just harks back to the days of wobbly sets. I am sure it wasn't supposed to look like anything else but it just doesn't portray the awe of being inside a space station. This also goes for the viewing room that doubles for most of the early banter between Rose and the Doctor. Jumping ahead briefly it doesn't help that the ducts under the space station look like the lower levels of a BBC building with some extra wiring attached. It looks like concrete. At the end during the Villain's uncovering, it just looks like a bunch of actors waiting for a curtain call.
But then I guess the money was spent on costume and make up (ranging poor to brilliant - I suppose it depends on what you expect your aliens to look like), the superb Sun and the earth vista, the mechanical spiders and Cassandra. The spiders were terrific and generally visualised well apart from a couple of dodgy shots. I adored them "bumping" into the camera, the laser searchlights and electronic mumblings. The highlight though has to be Cassandra who was the perfect threee dimentional (2D) creation. The effects work was spot on, down to the veins through "her" skin and the reverse shot which implied that this creature had a mouth rather than just a pair of lips. Zoe Wanamaker plaid her perfectly. I had some doubts previous to using staple BBC/TV celebrities worrying back to the days of Beryl Reid and Kenn Dodd, but after watching this episode and subsequent performances from Simon Pegg, Penelope Wilton, Richard Wilson, Bruno Langley et al., I realise that the casting of "actors" has been paramount. Saying that Ann Robinson is still on my "hit" list until I check out that episode later in the season.
Backtracking to the effects the Cooling room with the fans was well realised and is not in my opinion an inferior reworking of similar scenes in "Galaxy Quest". (Dr Who has always paid homage to other sources). I do agree that although a gripping and tense set piece, I can't quite fathom why it took the Doctor so long to get to the other end.
The saviours of this episode were the cast Eccleston and Piper in particular show their fondness for each other from the start and Im sure must be rated as the best partnership in the series. There is a lot of feeling in this episode despite the story being so out-there and these verbal interactions between the Doctor and Rose and even the Doctor and Rose brings it all back to Earth (pun not intended). Again there's no real plot, the same as "Rose" but I do consider these two episodes as setting up the overall premise.
On re-evaluating this episode, it is still thoroughly enjoyable but (and maybe because it's purely down the the "blue" children) it still sits in last place.
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Following on directly from the events of the first story, The Doctor takes Rose on a trip to the far future. There, the Great and the Good gather aboard a space station to watch Earths final moments, little realising that there is a murderer loose amongst them
Following on from the breathless debut of Rose, The End of the World is more evenly paced. The first act shows Rose as an Outsider above her own planet, staring aghast as a bewildering array of alien dignitaries arrives to party. The entrances of the magnificently realised Face of Boe and Moxx of Balhoon (yes, he does exist!), along with various other races, evokes memories of The Curse of Peladon, and the setting is a nod to Douglas Adams Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
Roses sense of isolation is wonderfully portrayed, Billie Piper managing to effectively cast off any lingering doubts that she won the role on merit, rather than on the ability to fill tabloid pages. Indeed, her performance in this episode (shot in the second production block) shows that she has got to grips with her character in the filming of the first set of episodes. Throughout, she is convincing as the Innocent Abroad, cast adrift in Time and Space and wondering what she has got herself into.
The episode better structured than Rose was: it doesnt all run at Warp 10. The story is split, effectively, into three sections: the first sees Rose encounter the aliens and discover her sense of loneliness; in the second, the pace hots up, cranking Danger Levels to maximum and ensuring that everyone sweats. The final section, really only a coda, allows Rose time to reflect on what she has seen on Platform One, and to learn something about the magnitude of The Doctors suffering.
Ah yes, The Doctor. Hes at the heart of things here, all bristling energy and flirtatious charm. After repelling Jackies charms in Rose, here hes making eyes and blowing "air from his lungs" at Jabe, a Tree-lady from the Forest of Cheem (I suspect a Tony Hancock influence there). Indeed, during the second act, Jabe acts as a surrogate companion, used to further the story development and to help The Doctor in his frantic efforts to save Platform One. Yasmin Bannermans performance is exquisite, and her scene in the service duct with The Doctor is underplayed and touching.
Another of the gallery of grotesques deserving of mention is Cassandra, portrayed by Zoe Wannamaker. Cassandra is the last Human, although after 2000 years and over 700 cosmetic surgeries, you wouldnt know it. The realisation of her appearance is superb, and worth every penny of the CGI money spent on her. Her character, vain and bigoted, shows how little Humanity has changed in the five billion years between then and now: Cassandra is held up as a mirror to the Human Race, reflecting both the best and worst traits we see in ourselves.
The Mill have worked wonders in this episode, with numerous Special Effects shots dotted around the episode. It is likely that there are many CGI effects which have gone unnoticed amongst the many shots of Platform One, a dying Earth and the four-legged spiders which have infiltrated the station. That alone should be testament to how far Doctor Who has come, no more fuzzy-edged CSO or wobbly set walls.
But, even with the effects, and even with the Monsters, The End of the World would be nothing without a story. Rose was, effectively, two characters in search of a story, with an alien invasion thrown in for good measure. The End of the World is a proper, space-station-in-peril, companion-under-threat, whodunnit style story which Doctor Who has been doing for over forty years. And yet, it hasnt been doing stories like this one, either. This is too smart, too clever, too witty and too frantic to have been part of the original run of stories. RTD knows how to write for modern TV audiences, and anyone coming up with stories in the style of The Ark in Space, however good that was, just wont be entertained in an executives office.
And then, after the world has been consumed in the coronas of the Sun, and the villain of the piece has been thwarted, The Doctor returns Rose to a busy London street. Here, we get reflection and introspection, with revelations and hints to what has gone before which we expect to be revealed over the next few weeks. Comments made by Jabe are expanded and explained to some extent but the scene makes it clear that RTD has something more in mind than a series of individual 45 minute episodes. The best comparison would be the final seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, where the plotlines dovetail and interlink. Here, well be getting more of the same, and I cant wait to see how it develops.
The end of the world? No, not really. Just the start of another voyage in the good Ship TARDIS. Long may she sail.
Overall: a steady improvement.
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Well, having just sat down and watched 'The End of the World', I am extremely impressed that Russell T Davies has managed to put together a script which starts off humourous in the extreme, before becoming extremely tense and dramatic. Anyone who felt that Rose was too lightweight, and focussed on wit to the detriment of a dramatic plot, will almost certainly be pleasantly surprised by this new offering. It's a great all-rounder in the true spirit of the show.
The Doctor takes Rose to Platform One in the year 5 Billion, where he wishes to allow her the chance to witness the Earth's natural end. Rose, however, is not the only one assembled to view the planet's ultimate destruction. A cornucopia of aliens have also assembled on the station, but one of them is a murderer and a saboteur. Before long, the Doctor and Rose are fighting for their lives, because the end of the world is coming, and it'll go out in a blaze of glory...
Russell T Davies script manages to almost flow flawlessly on from 'Rose', with the wit of that episode being the driving force of the first 10-15 minutes. After that, however, it begins to move into its own territory - that of tense drama. We move from humourous scenes of the Doctor breathing all over aliens, to the other end of the spectrum, with the Doctor depressed over the extermination of his entire race. Russell's script is ambitious, and it works well.
There does indeed seem to be a story arc in place over the course of this series, with more references in this episode about a "war", which after two episodes we now know involved both the Nestene Consciousness and the Time Lords of Gallifrey. The fact that it's been clearly sign-posted that the Doctor is the only Time Lord left in the entire universe is a sobering thought, but it does explain the run-down appearance of his TARDIS. Let's hope they don't bugger it up, eh?
Generally the acting from all involved in superb, with top marks to Billie Piper for managing to echo the feelings Ian and Barbara felt 42 years ago when they went on their first trip in the TARDIS. Her initial enthusiasm quickly turns into shock and horror as she realises she didn't understand what she was letting herself in for. The assembled guest cast all do a superb job, with not a single person letting the side down. Zoe Wanamaker does a brilliant job as Cassandra!
The production values of this story are uniformly great, with the interior realisation of Platform One looking suitably superb. The sets for this story are so good, it's hard to tell if they are dressed-up locations, or actual physical sets the BBC Wales team constructed. Oh well - whatever the case, it works well, with a lovely leisurely interior for the station. Costuming is generally very lavish, and the production values generally avoid looking like a Star Trek rip-off.
Special effects-wise is where the story really shines. Russell T Davies was ambitious by featuring the character of Cassandra in the first place, so top marks to The Mill for creating such a realistic CGI character. The exterior shots of Platform One are breathtaking, as are the shots of Earth and it's Sun - both before and after "detonation". The robotic spider creatures are also a great piece of work, well realised. The final action sequence is supported well here.
Murray Gold's music manages to take a slightly more subdued approach when compared to his work for 'Rose', which goes some way towards proving that his choice of incidental score for that episode was a deliberate choice. Here we are treated to a much more traditional orchestral score, with some truly lovely touches. The music is never too intrusive on the main soundtrack, thus allowing it to serve its purpose well - to heighten the drama, and not swamp it. Top stuff.
Euros Lyn's direction is pretty smooth, with some lovely camera angles allowing us to really feel the breath and scope of this story. A lot of people are complaining that the series is being shot on Digibeta, but at the end of the day it's clear when watching this series that it does look damn nice, with the whole thing looking very expensive, and not at all cheap. The new series continues the show's long standing tradition of filming everything on videotape - which is cool.
Overall, 'The End of the World' is an absolute triumph for the new series, but more importantly, for the state of British sci-fi on TV. It proves that the British have what it takes to match the Americans shot-for-shot when it comes to producing space opera-style sci-fi, with Russell T Davies scope being nothing short of breathtaking. Euros Lyn brings it all together in a wonderful package that actually had me crying by the end, I was so moved. Bring on episode 3!
Overall Score: 6 / 6 (Perfect)
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Yay blue body makeup in the year 5,000,002,005!
Lady Cassandra is probably the single-most strangest looking thing I've ever seen on TV SF ever. Ever ever ever. The point that she's supposed to be the "Last Human Being" makes it even wackier.
Loved the old Wurlitzer jukebox being rolled out, and Lady Cassandra calling it an "iPod"! Also loved the first song we hear in it ("Tainted Love" by Soft Cell) but for Christ's sake, did we really need "Toxic" by Britney Spears as the music leading into the sun roasting the Earth??
Jabe was a fascinating character, and it's a damn shame she had to die in this. Her reaction when receiving the Doctor's gift in the exchange was almost sheer arousal. She would've been fun to see more of, but, so it goes...
What was the point of the Moxx of Balhoon, or that giant head in a bottle??
The end of the episode...oh yes, I've seen some of TEH WANK~! about it, people bitching up a storm about how now we need to go read the novels, and now it's become about Faction Paradox, and this that and the other.
First off let me tell you all: you are absolutely positively way off. Trust me on this one.
Second: even if you weren't, so what? Keeping in mind, this show is done for new viewers, and the new audience. Not you. The new audience (sadly) doesn't give a frag about the books, or the audios, or anything else. The new audience knows just as much as Rose Tyler about the Doctor and what he's all about. And that's as it should be.
In other words, you're wrong, chill out, shut up, and wait for "The Unquiet Dead" next week.
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It truly is a wonderful experience to get to Saturday, and be able to enjoy a brand new episode of Doctor Who. Absence, for many of us, has made the heart grow fonder. And even though I love many stories in the Comics, the Audios and the Books TV tops them all in the sheer anticipation stakes.
We had a story set in the present to launch. Now it was time to go to the Future (the next goes to the Past so the Triangle is complete). The Future is my least favourite place to go of the 3, to be honest. Ive always favoured the pseudo Historical story type over all else but after Russell T Davies boundless enthusiasm I was hopeful that for once Future would be better. I was expecting something special, with really weird aliens.
I dont think we got something really special, but the weird aliens were out in force. After basking in my peers backslaps for a week, I knew I wouldnt be as comfortable on the Monday morning in the office. This was the kind of Who that alienate many, because it really is so far away from their world. Personally I think far away from the normal world is a good thing but even I cringed a little at various slices of the bizarre presented here.
The monsters of Doctor Who are an acquired taste. Personally Im not monster obsessed. Doctor Who is brilliant with or without them. Certainly the monsters at the End of the World divided my house, with their alien-ness. Cassandra was the best a brilliant comment on the excesses and vanity of this world we live in. The Droids, with their Spider robots, were superb a golden star for the Special Effects Team. The Trees were marvellous too, especially Jabe all credit to the Costume and Make Up there. The Moxx was a disappointment though. After adorning the DWM cover, I expected something more from a character our beloved leader has harped on about since he began devising this enterprise. My opinion of the background aliens was that I was glad they stayed in the background cant think of one I wanted more at the forefront.
So thats the aliens and to be honest, now I have written about them I see I reacted more positively than negatively. Maybe subconsciously I loved it all (probably that DW fan gene that makes me love all Doctor Who!).
The script positively jumped with energy. There were some lovely comments by all the major players that had me nodding my head in approval, and throwing my head back in laughter. This was the kind of script that Douglas Adams would have been proud of a kind of hybrid of serious and comedy futuristic Sci-Fi. What strikes me is how impressively Russell T has written the Doctor and Rose especially Rose. Interviews with Russell T indicate he would rather have been the companion than the Doctor and his grasp of how brilliant the Doctors companion can be, emphasizes this. Billie Piper is brilliant in this episode and for a great deal of it she is very much on her own, the Doctor going off doing his own thing, with Jabe more a companion for large chunks of the story.
The 9th Doctor is now like one of your favourite relatives that you really get on with, but will only be around for a few weeks. Soon they will be heading off out of your life again, only to pop back every now and again. We havent had enough of Doctor Number 9 for me to be happy or sad about his leaving but I know so far hes been brilliant. I also know, like all the other Doctors he will always be around, even though Christopher Eccleston is departing. Im actually more excited about a 2nd Series than the lead departing. DW has always been so much bigger and broader than one single personality and it is no different now.
The Special FX was the major star of The End of the World. I am currently doing a Time Team, and have nearly finished Pat Troughtons Doctor its an incredible contrast between The Seeds of Death (which I watched the afternoon before) and new DW. And I l love that contrast I really do. As the series was then the FX are state of the art but after 240 Black and White episodes, it all looks so marvellously real. I cant think of one ropey effect in this show, and we have been reliably informed theres hundreds of FX set-ups within. Brilliant FX, and I really felt there on Platform One watching the end of the world.
This Russell T script was also notable for its Last Time Lord references. I find is hugely interesting to see where this goes. After following the 8th Doctor arc in the BBC Books for the last few years, where Gallifrey was destroyed I cant help but think of that. But would the TV programme pick up a Book notion? Or, as I suspect, has Russell T taken Justin Richards marvellous idea to destroy the Time Lords, and leave the Doctor wonderfully alone? It will be fascinating to see.
I thought the conclusion with the Doctor and Rose in present day (Chips and all that) was glorious. It kind of shows my preferences in storytelling though that the few minutes I enjoyed the best was not at all representative of the story as a whole!
The End of the World was above everything else supremely entertaining. It might not be my kind of Doctor Who, but it still has a place in the mass of ideas that DW can present. There were some marvellous scenes (Doctor conquering the Ventilation fans, Cassandra exploding, the World finishing, the Doctors emotion at being the last Time Lord). Theres a mass of wonder here mostly brilliantly diverse and entertaining. I am loving this new series even more than I expected. 7/10
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However much I would like to pretend otherwise, I must confess to finding The End of the World somewhat disappointing. It reminds me of watching a horse race, willing your favourite on, seeing it trying mightily only to eventually come in fourth; one of those stories where the more you think about it, the less satisfied you become.
Perhaps I should address some positive aspects first. Once again the Doctor and Rose make a fine combination, their on-screen chemistry truly being something to appreciate. The humour was also enjoyable, generally hitting the mark well - "I give you air from my lungs" and the I-pod jukebox being particularly memorable. What story there was to execute I thought was executed proficiently, although I have some reservations about the general style of the new series, which I shall discuss shortly.
The episode has one major fault, almost unforgivable for Dr Who: a weak villain. Cassandra was certainly very amusing and would have fitted in well amongst the cornucopia of aliens on show, but not as our hero's main adversary. Rose's quick put-down is, unfortunately, most accurate, as there was really nothing more to Cassandra; she was a "bitchy trampoline" rather than a true villian. Feel free to differ, but I think Meglos was more menacing! I doubt the Doctor, or even a five year old, will wake screaming with nightmarish flashbacks of Cassandra.
The setting of the story was reasonably interesting, but very reminiscent of Douglas Adams' Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and without a decent enemy to distract us, simply comes across as unoriginal. Let's not get confused - Dr Who has often payed homage to other stories, or translated them into its own unique format. This was not the case with The End of the World, it was not a nod to RatEotU at all. This, combined with the mediocrity of its villain, means that viewers get to see nothing significant that they really haven't seen before and denies them the opportunity to experience what has made this program so special and different over the years.
Two episodes down and I remain unconvinced that this new 45 minute per story format is working. What might suit other genre programs does not necessarily suit Dr Who, because we have only two regulars and with each new story we are (usually) introduced to an entirely new scenario, often strange even for a sci-fi series (I adore that "left-field" quality of good Dr Who), which necessarily takes some time in order to properly appreciate. This is not helped at all by the breakneck speed at which events are flung at us. The opening credits, not bad in themselves, give us a good indication that this is indeed the producer's aim (compare it to the more leisurely pace of Tom Baker's time tunnel opening). Now, whilst speed is good for action or for effect here and there, it can detract from mystery, suspense and horror. Of course, I don't see the makers even trying to change this style, and I realise today's viewer is more capable of immediately identifying a concept and moving on. So can I, but I don't have to like it. I prefer ideas to be more fleshed out. I suppose this style just doesn't wash with the spoon-fed, attention deficit crowd. Maybe new/young viewers don't understand the misgivings of older fans, but remember: there wouldn't be Dr Who without an older fan base, and those who grew up with the program probably have a fair idea of what worked and what didn't. Nor do I believe they are especially adverse to more modern storytelling; they just want it to remain faithful to some of the basics (of Dr Who and storytelling in general) and by all means update the rest and improve it where you can.
A few random comments. There was good acting across the board. Nice to see some decent special effects. A pity all those aliens, except for one tree and a steward, had absolutely nothing to do (loved the Face of Boag, could have done without the blue Oompa-Loompas). Some suspense managed to be generated in the second half, only it was all over too quickly to savour.
I'll keep watching, that's for sure. I'm not pining for a traditional story, but at the moment would prefer one. Perhaps The Unquiet Dead fits that bill...
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
I liked Rose. I really did. I didnt love it perhaps if Id watched it ten more times in the week leading up to the second episode, Id have ended up adoring it or analysing it to death, like so many of those who downloaded Rose weeks before its initial broadcast. But I knew this was not the way to properly view this new series. I watched Rose once on broadcast, with my family, then a second time alone in the dark. So I had the regular-viewing-audience experience, and the obsessive-fan experience. And that worked quite well. So I decided to do the same thing with each following episode.
So, The End of the World. The pre-titles sequence worked more effectively than I expected thatll teach me. I was dreading the line about the year Five Billion a Fifties sci-fi idea if ever Id heard one. (Of all the dumb luck the Earth explodes in exactly Five Billion AD?) But then the line changed. Regenerated, if you will. It wasnt Five Billion AD. In its place, a very clever line that immediately restored my faith in the writing skills of Russell T. Davies. I sighed with relief.
Once the episode got properly started, I began to feel comfortable. A space station, a gaggle (or whatever) of aliens, murders, intrigue this was the Doctor Who I grew up with. The Moxx of Balhoon, for instance, looked, spoke and acted like a classic Who monster, despite his regrettably small role. And of course it was contemporary. Just as Sarah Janes hairstyle was contemporary. And Dodos taste in clothes. Et cetera. I loved the contemporary style, even more than in Rose. Surprisingly, the songs worked, as did the jabs at beauty therapy and the National Trust.
The Doctor and Rose are finally getting to know each other as Rose points out, she hardly knew the Doctor when she jumped onboard his ship. But now theyre bonding. Theyre bickering, theyre bantering theyre slowly becoming friends.
Some of these scenes were golden, the stuff great Who and great television are made of. I especially cite the short scene between Rose and the blue cockney vertically-challenged plumber. (I cant tell you how much I enjoyed writing that description.) And the scene between the Doctor and Jabe, where in my second viewing, at least I saw a tear fall across the Doctors face. Wow. This wasnt what I expected. I cant imagine Tom Bakers Doctor weeping. Or even the slightly wet Peter Davison. But then again, neither of their Doctors saw their home burn. This is a war-ravaged Doctor, a Doctor who let Jabe sacrifice herself because hes now truly learned about the nature of survival. A Doctor who destroys Cassandra because, as he puts it, everybody dies. And all his family, all his friends theyre all gone.
Thankfully, he has Rose. And she tells him so in a beautiful, poignant end rivalled only by the end of Survival, all those years ago. Somewhere else the teas getting cold? Thats as may be, Professor, but Rose wants chips.
So I liked Rose. It was quite good. But I really liked The End of the World. It was very good. The fact is, this is real Doctor Who. A space station, a whodunnit, the Doctor and his companion arguing, an ensemble finale with practically the entire cast, a comic-book villain, a big explosion this is Doctor Who.
Dont believe me? Did you even see those corridors?
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
After the entertaining but flawed Rose, Doctor Who continues with a special-effects laden trip to the far future, full of monsters, thus throwing the Doctors new companion right in at the deep end of culture shock. And its really rather good.
The End of World has more plot than Rose, although it is still rather slight, something Im starting to realize is going to be a limitation of the single fifty minute episode format. Nevertheless, there is intrigue aplenty as sabotage and murder break out on Platform One, and there are a couple of nice twists. The Appearance of the Repeated Meme are obviously the culprit behind the robotic spiders, but I wasnt expecting them to be revealed as androids, despite the clue in their name, which the Doctor picks up on. I also wasnt expecting the deeply unpleasant Cassandra to be the real villain, and the teleport feed hidden in the ostrich egg was also rather a nicely unexpected moment since Id completely forgotten about it by that point, as writer Russell T. Davies had obviously intended. There is a slightly tongue-in-cheek feel to parts of the episode, which also works very well, an example being the presence within the Platform of a gantry hung beneath three massive fans; from the moment we see it, it is obvious that someone will have to run across it, and it seems likely that this someone will be the Doctor. There is an explanation for why the sun would so slowly expand, with the technobabble explanation being that gravity satellites are holding it back, but even better is the Doctor explaining that the continents look just like they did in Roses time because the Natural Trust owns Earth and restored its old layout. This is magnificently silly, especially since the production team obviously has the ability to make the CGI Earth look different if they want. This being written by Davies, there are also elements of adult human scattered throughout the script, usually in the form of innuendo that might go over the heads of the younger audience members. There is Lady Cassandras fleeting comment, when I was a little boy, and Lianas gentle flirting with the Doctor, most notably the moment when he tells her Nice liana and she blushing replies, Thank you. Im not supposed to show them in public. Rather less subtly, she also casually and non-judgmentally asks if Rose is the Doctors wife, girlfriend, concubine, or prostitute, prompting Rose to indignantly respond, Whatever I am, it must be invisible. Do you mind? One criticism however, is that the same joke was used in The Chase without involving music that makes me want to jam pins into my ear.
The End of the World is also notable for showcasing a plethora of new monsters, which works to mixed effect. The Face of Boe and the Moxx of Balhoon both look superb, and the Lady Cassandra looks like a comic homage to Hellraiser and is impressively grotesque. The other guests are perhaps less well advised. The guests from the Forest of Cheem are not exactly Ents; of the Trees, Jabes companions look quite good, but Jabe herself is given a more human appearance, with most of Yasmin Bannermans face uncovered. This poses various questions, which irritate me, the main ones being, why would a tree have tits and teeth? The other guests look like cast-offs from the Cantina scene in Star Wars, or worse, most aliens from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Then there is the Steward, who looks like Simon Day painted blue, and his various staff members, who like dwarfs and children painted blue. I should also mention the spiders, which would probably have been made of rubber and plastic in the old series, but here are achieved by CGI; they arent bad, but occasionally do look like CGI images, whereas the genuinely impressive Cassandra does not. Still, this is Doctor Who after all, so Im not complaining, but it is interesting to see what effect the budget has had on the monsters. Nevertheless, Euros Lyn does a fine job of directing, and the incidental music this episode is far more effective than in Rose except when Munchkin music plays when we first see the little blue men. One oddity however is that we dont actually see the Steward or Jabe incinerated, which might be something to do with the time at which the story is transmitted, but contrasts with Cassandra rather gorily exploding in a splatter of blood.
What is obvious about The End of the World even more so than in Rose is that Davies is more interested in characterisation than plot. Whilst I hope the two dont become mutually exclusive as the series progresses, it does work very well here, and unlike in Rose none of the actors put in a bad performance. Christopher Eccleston is less manic in this episode overall, although the opening scene, in which he is visibly showing off as he pumps away at his lever in the TARDIS faster and faster and taunts Rose in to travelling further and further into the future is extremely funny. But there are darker, more emotional moments here, which give Eccleston a chance to show off his acting skills more in this episode. The Doctors quiet speech about humans surviving far into the future seems to be influenced by the Fourth Doctors similar speech in The Ark in Space, but it doesnt work any less well because of this. Other notable moments include his obvious delight at meeting the other guests, as he improvises a gift by offering air from his lungs. He gets some very good scenes with Rose, who is starting to worry about what shes got herself into, and its interesting that the Doctor gets defensive when she asks about his origins and goes into a very childish sulk. His subsequent scene with the awestruck Jabe is excellent, as she tells him, I know where youre from. I just want to say how sorry I am. Impressively, Eccleston manages to bring a tear to his eye at this moment, adding to the pathos of the scene. We finally learn, My planets gone there was a war that we lost and he then adds, Im the last of the Time Lords. Theyre all gone, which builds on the hints about a terrible war in Rose and suggests that this is definitely going somewhere. The Doctor is also visibly furious at Jabes death as well as all the others, and the showdown with Cassandra, as he impassively watches her dry and out and rip apart, is quite disturbing. The fact that Rose whispers, Help her and he coldly replies, Everything has its time and everything has its place makes the moment all the more striking. The Doctor isnt all gloom here however; Eccleston grins happily whilst delivering the line, What youre saying is, if we do get into trouble, theres no one to help us out fantastic! His Use the force, Luke moment with the third fan is also a nice touch.
Rose and Billie Piper also continue to impress. For the first time since Ian and Barbara, we get a companion who reacts to the sheer enormity of what is happening to her in a realistic way. Piper conveys Roses wonder, excitement, confusion and fear when she steps out of the TARDIS simultaneously, largely through facial acting, and she gets dialogue such as The aliens theyre just so alien, which allows Piper to really emphasize the depth of culture shock that Rose is being subjected to. She looks disgusted when she learns that Rifallo needs her permission in order to speak, but is relieved to learn that plumbers are still necessary five billion years in the future. Her best moment in my opinion comes when shes telling Rifallo where she came from and starts to realize how bad her tale sounds, looking increasingly worried as she explains, I just sort of hitched a lift with this man. I didnt really think about it. I dont even know who he is, hes a complete stranger. She also finds out how the TARDIS translates for her, and reacts in a way that, like the Doctor, I wouldnt have thought of, angry that it has entered her mind without her permission. Crucially, Piper also proves good at conveying panic and terror, which she gets to do when Rose is trapped in a room with a descending sun filter and she hammers frantically on the door whilst screaming at the of her voice. This prompts the exasperated Doctor to exclaim, Oh well, it would be you when he realises who hes rescuing. The only thing Im not sure about is the mobile phone scene; I liked Rose because it took the mundane and introduced the fantastical into it. Somehow, giving Rose the opportunity to phone home whenever she wants does the reverse for this episode, especially as the scenes on board Platform One are suddenly punctuated by a shot of Roses mum doing laundry.
Finally, there are the supporting characters. Simon Days Steward comes across as a put-upon fellow, who is troubled by the day-to-day minutiae of bureaucracy, but Davies gives him a brief scintilla of characterisation that manages, very impressively, to give some impact to his death. Its the moment when the Appearance of the Repeating Meme gives him a gift, and he looks genuinely honoured to be considered as anything other than a mere Steward by one of the guests. Ironically of course, there is an ulterior motive for this, but it is still a nice moment. Day manages to make his character likeable throughout, and he also screams convincingly when hes roasted to death in his office. The Moxx of Balhoon, a fussy little fellow who gives the Doctor and Rose the gift of bodily salivas is similarly effective despite being incidental to the story; his general air of amiable excitement and his obvious terror when he thinks everyone is going to die makes him strangely sweet, so that the shot at the end of blue dwarves standing unhappily around his charred commode is rather touching. Jabe gets rather more to do, and shes a great character, who swiftly forms a bond with the Doctor and almost acts a surrogate companion. Yasmin Bannerman gets some great dialogue, especially when she offers a cutting of her Grandfather as a gift, and makes the character utterly likeable. Her sacrifice is so obviously selfless that it plays a large part in the Doctor angrily letting Cassandra explode. Speaking of whom, Zoe Wanamaker is perfectly cast as the last human, a character who manages to by thoroughly loathsome largely by being a distillation of self-important divas of the late twentieth century. The concept of her appearance is mad, but feels perfectly at home in Doctor Who, and although shes rather unoriginally motivated by greed, shes effective enough as a villain. Davies deserves to be punished for giving her the atrocious line, Talk to the Face though, and I do find myself wondering why the Doctors trick with the teleport feed only brought Cassandra back, and not her armed guards.
Overall, The End of World delivers on the promise offered by Rose, and it has a great last scene, as the Doctor asks Rose if shes sure she wants to continue travelling with him. Trying to articulate what she wants, shes distracted by the smell of chips and the pair wander happily off in search of food. Im still not sure about the pre-credits trailer by the way, although it did result in me getting very excited about The Unquiet Dead, which will be like a cross between The Talons of Weng-Chiang and The League of Gentlemen. I hope.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
So what are we going to learn about the Doctor as his travels continue; this very modern Time Lord and his very contemporary travels? This second episode of the first (and only) series to star Christopher Eccleston was an exhaustive journey through the extremes of time travel, that which takes its passengers to the end of the world itself, but also hinted at potentially explosive details of the Doctor's own life.
Now that dust has, to a degree, settled upon the return of Doctor Who, perhaps more focus can be placed on the content of the individual episodes, of which this was the first to hint at the blossoming relationship between the Doctor and Rose. In "The End of the World", the Doctor takes his new companion to just that, a bizarre tourist spectacle of the death of Earth. Amongst a gathering of the peculiar aliens of the galaxies, the Doctor encounters the self-styled last human on Earth, whose own plot to get rich from a none-too-clear business plot is thwarted in double-quick time.
Certainly this episode was in fast-forward, and with a story as potentially muti-layered as this, more the pity that a Part II does not exist. Too much in this episode was left as a glossy sheen, nothing deeper than hints and allegations. An old-fashioned cliff hanger could have been structured to help with the audiences understanding of Rose, her relationship with the Doctor and so on. Just as the sun visers were falling, just as Rose was exhausted with trying, imagine the theme tune screaming in then! Sadly, it can only be imagination, for this new series appears to have no time for genuine nail-baiting tension. Whilst both Billie Piper and Christopher Eccleston shone in this episode, the former quite brilliantly, neither had the chance to save this episode from being a clutch of missed opportunities.
The interesting jewel in all this dust must be the possibility that the Eccleston Doctor will prove to have more a more complex, more dimensional character than any before him; he has been written well this year. His bursts of anger and emotion are genuine, and the information about Gallifrey and he being the last remaining Time Lord should have fans stroking their chins for a while. Just what role does a solitary Time Lord have, exactly, and will we have the chance to find out? Certainly Eccleston seems to have given his status a little weight and gravitas.
If all this 'save you in the nick of time' stuff is a little too much even for the committed fan-base, then celebrate the strength of the minor characters, who did the best with a story no-one could really save from being too thin. Lady Cassandra was a very clever pastiche, and the Forest of Cheem was represented by a very well designed trio, of which applause to the very well acted Yasmin Bannerman. Incidentally, applause to Billie Piper for looking genuinely bemused and confused by the introductory mingling of the crowd.
I wondered if it was possible for this series to be as close to perfect as my imagination could wonder, although thus far I am having to have all my predictions put in check by reality. Surely no-one can forgive the 'mobile phone a billion years' scene, however 'in touch with reality' it was supposed to be. I am not yet disappointed - this was a good episode - but how far towards 'mainstream drama' and how far from 'Doctor Who' is this series to go?
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Its been a long while since televised Doctor Who ventured out into space with hordes of weird and wonderful alien creatures ready to confront the viewer. That Russell T Davies and the rest of the BBC Wales production team decided to leap in and create such a story for only the second episode of the relaunched Doctor Who could be regarded as either brave or foolhardy the audience had become expectant of a high standard of visual effects from such ventures in recent years, and even in 2005, on a BBC budget, or even a British television budget in general, matching US television space opera and Hollywood movies was never really going to be on the cards.
So its a tribute to all involved that they get away with it the CGI may not be Hollywood stuff but it more than passes muster, the only example which I felt looked a little cartoonish being Cassandras mouth, but as Zoe Wannamaker was so busy making such a great character out of her I dont suppose too many people were really that fussed by it. By turns filthy, bitchy, vain and devious, Cassandra is a wonderful example of just how well-written the dialogue and how well-created the visuals of new Doctor Who can be.
Shes not alone in the alien stakes, however officiated over by the Steward, played with great relish by Simon Day, all manner of strange beings are gathering on Platform One, to watch the end of the planet Earth, which is now we are told owned by the National Trust. The National Trust of where is another matter of course, but its a harmless cultural reference that is amongst many to sneak into the script and go unquestioned unquestioned because theyre so joyous and they make us laugh. The labelling of the likes of Britney Spears and Soft Cell as classical music may be a steal from Vickis line about the Beatles in The Chase, but Ill forgive Russell T Davies that for the equally good one about the jukebox being an iPod history, it seems, always gets the details wrong.
The alien creatures are what this episode was perhaps always going to be judged by from the point of view of a channel-hopping viewer, so we are indeed lucky that they look so good. The Face of Boe, the Trees, and of course the near-legendary Moxx of Balhoon. Never has a Doctor Who monsters appearance been so eagerly-awaited, given all of Davies cheeky hints and throwaway remarks about the character in the pages of Doctor Who Magazine over the past eighteen months or so. I have to admit I expected there to be no such character, or if there were for it merely to be referred to but never seen, but no here the Moxx is in all his small blue glory, although in the event he only gets a few lines on screen before eventually being fried to a crisp.
That the Moxx does get so little to say and do is however mainly due to the all-round excellence of the supporting characters and the actors who portray them in general, making this surely one of the most textured and realistic ofDoctor Whos forays into the far future and the depiction of alien races. Its already looking as if any Best Supporting Character poll at the end of this season is going to be hotly contested, and two of those who will doubtless feature in the final reckoning turn up here, in the forms of the plumber and Jabe.
Yasmin Bannerman is nothing short of sensational as Jabe, treating the role of a tree person which, lets face it, must hardly be any actors dream role with great seriousness and sensitivity. Bannermans performance coupled with Russell T Davies dialogue is wonderful, and her obvious rapport with Ecclestons Doctor makes the scenes between the two of them a joy to behold, the most obvious example being the wonderful sequence where Jabe confronts the Doctor with her knowledge of who he is, and consoles him on what has happened to his race. This makes her demise towards the end of the episode all the more poignant, and really rather upsetting, packing more of an emotional impact than the deaths of most other supporting characters from down the years.
The plumber has a much smaller part to play, but is also wonderfully portrayed, and helps Rose to realise what this episode is partially all about her learning that aliens are people too, so to speak. The only missed-step with this character is the fact that Rose never learns of her demise, which would perhaps have reinforced the message and underlined her sympathy for the plumber, both for Rose herself and for the watching audience.
Rose is also involved with what I felt was probably the main structural fault of the episode, in that after shes been saved by the Doctor from the lowering of the sun shield shes simply left locked in a room on her own with no way of getting out, sitting out the end of the episode without much to say or do, and theres no explanation of how she does eventually get out, although we can I suppose assume that some of the Platforms crew eventually opened the door for her.
This wasnt the only plot point that niggled, however the ease and convenience of the transmat recall device to bring Cassandra back, and the fact that theres a big handy computer reset button located at the other end of a Galaxy Quest-style obstacle also grated. The biggest problem I had, however, was the overuse of the sonic screwdriver as an all-purpose Get Out of Jail Free card exactly the sort of easy option John Nathan-Turner regarded it as and why he had it written out of the series. Its not that I dont like it as a device its always been a nice contrast to other heroic TV characters that the Doctor carries a tool rather than a weapon but I think it could be produced a little more sparingly. The psychic paper was another instance of such a device, but as it seems likely to be a one-off Ill let that one go.
Such flaws are, however, easily made up for by everything else in the episode. Whilst Id hope for tighter plotting in other episodes, the scintillating dialogue, packed with wit and vigour and really making all of the characters come alive, the wonderful creation of the aliens and the sets and the ideas behind the episode mean theres so much here to like that criticism begins to feel a little bit churlish. Best of all, theres that wonderful sense of mystery and enigma about the Doctor, which should always be at the very heart of the series, back again more mention of this mysterious war which he spoke to the Nestene Consciousness about last week, his confession to Rose that he is the last of his people and the fact that his planet has been destroyed. Where all this is leading I can only guess at, but its wonderful to have that sense of uncertainty back in the programme in a narrative form once more.
It wasnt the only poignancy to the episode, however Roses realisation that the world she knew is five billion years dead after her miraculous phone call to her mother, and later her lines about nobody seeing as the Earth died are all equally as affecting. All that history, and nobody saw it go Well, if nobody saw that, plenty saw this End of the World, and Im sure most of them will, like me, are very glad to have done so.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
The End of the World tries to be many things at once a whodunit, a satire, a comedy of manners, and a character piece that paints both the Doctor and Rose in deeper shades than we saw in Rose. It simply cant be all these things successfully, but the fault doesnt really lie with Russell T. Daviess script as with Dalek, there just isnt enough *time* to give all the story elements their due, and as a result, the final product has a somewhat compressed quality. Thats the price of this short-teleplay form this is the kind of plot that could have made a great four-part adventure in the old days, cliffhangers and all.
But, despite this problem, The End of the World isnt really all that bad. It brings a wonderful alien color back to the world of Doctor Who these aliens are a bit campy and costumey, but thats never really been out of place in the series, and, indeed, one almost expects Alpha Centauri to show up at this little shindig. Some fans have criticized this first season of the new series as being too Earth-bound, but that seems silly to me stories like this one, as well as The Long Game and the final two-parter, might as well be set on alien planets.
As for Daviess writing contribution, well, his dialogue *is* rather grating in places the satire about iPods is about as sharp as a boxing glove, and will date terribly. Its also true that none of his characters here are terribly deep even Lady Cassandra comes off as merely arch, more the bitchy trampoline of Roses estimation than a Doctor Who supervillain. And Jabe is purely functional. But thats not really so out of place in a story that clearly aspires to be the sci-fi equivalent of an Agatha Christie cozy mystery. As for the acting, Simon Days Steward is amusing in his flips between serene servility and impatient near-panic, the rubbery aliens, as I said, are fun, and the spidery robots are creepy and effective. Plus, Billie Piper gets some good scenes in particular, the one where she befriends Raffalo the plumber has a way of bringing the out-there sci-fi scenario down to earth, which seems to be a major goal of Daviess in his approach to the series. The design is quite beautiful (an obvious homage to eighties Who) and the special effects, especially when the sun shields fail, are certainly impressive.
One last concern is worth mentioning, though, and that is the storys rather ghoulish resolution. I find it hard to believe that the Doctor would stand coldly by and watch the last human being, even a murderer in grotesquely altered form, agonize and explode before his eyes. Even Rose asks him for mercy, but he has none this is not only out of character with his previous incarnations, but with his own later this season, when he cannot bring himself to kill the humans on Earth in The Parting of the Ways. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth, frankly fans should be warned.
Still, this worth a watch overall.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Where does one start when talking about this visual treat? Ah, well the visuals perhaps? This episode is a symphony of sight as well as sound. Lets be honest: this is Doctor Who getting back at the Americans for always saying Star Trek was better because it had better effects and the Doctor did it with style! About time too! I had long hoped that the day would come when we could tell all the Trekkies that now Doctor Who is better in story AND in SFX! HA beam this up! And the music is presented, once again, on a high note. Some stunning moments of sound: the Doctor talking about his people, the Doctor walking through the final fan, Rose crying over the destroyed Earth that no one got to see go amazing!!
Ok so the most notable plot point is that the Doctor takes Rose to the end of her world; in this way perhaps building a relationship with her based on the none-too-healthy foundation that theyve both lost their worlds. Yet for some reason, its ok for the Rose to go back to hers but the Doctor can never go back to his world (a sad, and strange, fact undoubtedly based on the transduction barrier and the Time Lords hyper advanced technology). This bond is not solidified until the episodes end when Rose tells the Doctor (in relation to the fact that he is alone) theres me an essential moment in the understanding that Rose is now the Doctors equal theyve both lost their home and are essentially the last of their kind. Rose even gets to call her mum to bring home just how dead her mum is the moment she hangs up. A strange start to this friendship, I dare say!
But as far as first encounters go, Rose is given a cornucopia of aliens to look at, but once again, as in Rose (the episode), she shows her humanity by needing to escape, to take a breather. This is all totally normal for the Doctor but clearly a bit much for a department store teen! This is an interesting counterpoint to Christopher Ecclestons Doctor, who also gives another stunning performance in the role of public alien #1. Here again we see that the Doctor, while 900+, still acts like a child one moment, weeps over the loss of his estranged race the next and finally is willing to let a woman not just die, but die horribly: an act of vengeance or justice? He is not human, and it shows. Even Rose is willing to release the evil Cassandra (help her); a wonderful statement at least from the writer of the episode that humanity ultimately cares for one another and is willing to forgive. Perhaps that is the human element that no Dalek would even understand! I digress The fact that Rose is willing to help the villain is interesting when thinking back to the conversation she has with Ruffalo that she doesnt really know the Doctor. What must she think of him now that he has let a woman explode?! That conversation too epitomizes Roses humanity. The Doctor again is shown to be not human, though he is initially reluctant to say what he is! Tom Baker once said that to help highlight that difference between the human and the Time Lord, he liked to depict opposite emotions to what one would expect. Chris does this to perfect effect when asking Jabe if there is anyone to help nearby. Her negative response elicits the ubiquitous fantastic! Great stuff!
So what of those moments outside the range of the visuals? The ones that may not push the story one way or the other, but they make for a more believable story: An iPod classic. Why is it that they always get it right in so many SF shows? This hints at the very likely fact that the research would not be 100% accurate after 5 BILLION years! Jabes inability to understand the machin sounds is another superb touch the answer was not readily accessible for the Doctor and it shows that Jabe is a different type of alien! Also, such great lines as use of weapons, teleportation and religion are strictly prohibited stunning, brilliant fantastic! The episode was not hindered by the Umpa-lumpas, nor was it enhanced by them, but Ruffalo was an awesome addition shame she didnt survive. And doesnt Cassandra know that she would have been called a girl or is this again some mistake on her part, being as old as she is (calling herself a boy), or did the research not turn up anything about that? Or did she go through changes ? Is the Cassandra/Rose conversation a hint at the fact that humanity is too concerned with being thin? This is the final result? I commented before that Rose is perfect in form because she is real: not a stick model. This is a subtle testament that there are extremes to size; a lesson long overdue in our society! Is the Appearance of the Repeated Meem an obvious baddie because they are dressed in black, and hooded? Perhaps another subtle reminder that one should not take things at face value. And finally, what of the brilliant comment, akin to todays jargon talk to the hand; this one is more comical for what it means: Talk to the face. HA! Brilliant!
One question about the phone call: how long has Rose been gone when MUM gets the call? We have to assume, based on what we learn later, that this is probably the day after the attack of the Nestenes; but there again, wouldnt mum have wanted her home to make sure all was well? A minor quibble, but worth mentioning. The other is why the Steward doesnt think to leap up and run when the shields go down! Why is Rose, new to all things futuristic, smart enough to get the heck up and run, while the steward (and for that matter everyone in the observation dome) sits there and screams like a pixie ?
So money may still motivate humans 5 billion years from now, assuming we dont eat ourselves to death, egg ourselves, crack from mad cow or globally cook ourselves. But would humanity know what the bad wolf situation is all about? One must assume so, in the episodes to come. But can we then consider how the Moxx meant that they were in the Bad Wolf scenario? I think so but that is for another review. For this, I am glad that the Doctor has come back full force in this second episode. He didnt waste much time; maybe he took Jabes excellent advise: Quit wasting time, Time Lord.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
The scenario: In the distant future, The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) materialize on Platform One an observation station, where motley and garish visitors congregate to observe a dying Earths final moments. Curiously, people start getting murdered Whats this show called again?
Like its predecessor, The End of the World is visually exhausting. In 45 minutes, various story elements and twists have been crammed together in an expensive special effects bonanza. The Doctor is firmly the hero, this time, with more emphasis placed on the arcane Time War back-plot. In a welcome touch, Rose is shown reacting to the appearance of particularly alien aliens. There are some quirky scenes. Its generally surreal.
Aside from details like that, I dont like it. Having witnessed last weeks Next Time preview, I knew I was in for Disappointmentville. Ive never cared for Star Trek-esque humanoid extraterrestrials. Especially the plural. Imagine my delight on being introduced to in random order - Cassandra OBrien (Zoe Wanamaker) , Trees , Jabe [The Tree, naturally] (Yasmin Bannerman), The [Pickled Rastafarian] Face of Boe, Raffalo (Beccy Armory), and The Duck-faced Squad, apparently. They look terrifying (i.e., not scary). That may be the intention, but I dont like it, damn it. Ill let The Moxx of Balhoon (Jimmy Vee) off lightly, as hes sweetly amusing, if underused. I appreciate the importance of treading new ground, and that classic characters like Daleks and Sea Devils only surface every few years/decades, but surely a little more imagination? Imagine my further joviality when Toxic was fittingly played on a jukebox in the year 5 billion. Embarrassing, methinks. And I like[d] that song. This new series direction is evident.
Russell T. Davies first two script submissions seem like pre-first drafts. He may have reintroduced the series, but Im concerned that another reintroduction may be required in a few years, to put it lightly. Ignoring the slightly camp tone, there are some amusing moments. The dialogue is an improvement on Rose. Eccleston slides into his role with relative ease one of the finer aspects of this episode. His relationship with his assistant (to the uninformed: a very vague and general term, referring to a companion another label) is further developed. It appears an unsentimental one, particularly from Roses side. Doctor Who seems more interested in her than vice versa, most notably in the new pre-title sequence, where he attempts to impress her in a testosterone-fueled manner. Relatedly, the TARDIS is amusingly haphazard its operated by a bicycle pump?!
Supporting cast quality is eclectic: Bannerman offers a shaky performance as The Docs dubious and not-at-all coy love interest. A tree with bosoms; what next? Wanamaker voices Cassandra admirably. Simon Day makes for a good war-painted Steward. Camille Coduri appears in a cameo, where were suddenly whizzed back to normality. Sara Stewart (Batman Begins) provides Platform Ones Computer Voice.
Although I dislike TEOTW, the basic premise is a good one. Contradictorily, I like Davies first two offerings, too. Although theyre style over substance, Ive enjoyed the superficial dialogue and gripping emotionality which isnt necessarily a bad thing. The technobabble is ludicrously plausible if that makes sense. Unlike the Classic Series, the bipolar plot first; character second basis has been flipped. Grudgingly, I have to admit, theyve been fun to sit through (before being critical), although I look forward to a refreshing new screenwriter Next Time, where I expect things to slow down. Closing call: End of the Worlds fantastical, but couldve been more fantastic. ***[/5]
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
If Rose was the hors doeuvres, could End Of The World lay claim to being the main course? It was certainly the most-expensive dish on the menu! Whod have ever thought we could see such a lavish episode of Doctor Who on TV?
Russell T Davies, Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper did such a good job establishing The Doctor and Rose in the first episode, I already felt totally comfortable with the two lead characters. Which was quite an achievement after 45 minutes! Even from such an early stage in the series, the interchanges between the Doctor and Rose have become an integral part of the show.
I thought the scene in which the Doctor enabled Rose was able to phone home was a lovely touch. One of the big plusses of the new series over the old one is the back story of Roses family, an area which was rarely explored in any great depth previously. I must admit, I wasnt sure about this move, but Davies was spot on, and such scenes obviously play to his main writing strengths characterisation and dialogue.
But to the actual episode itself. No question that this was a triumph for the special effects team. Whereas I wasnt quite sure the Nestene Consciousness was a visual triumph in Rose, no doubts here. The space station was as good as anything from the big screen. The metallic spiders were perfectly menacing. The various collection of aliens were magnificent. Lady Cassandra (voiced supremely by Zoe Wannamaker) was simply sensational. And the end of the world itself was beautifully done.
It was the big and bold episode Davies had claimed it was. Is there a but coming? Just a little one. Rather like Rose, did the style (wonderful and fun and easy on the eye as it was) sledgehammer the substance?
The aliens were superb, but we didnt see nearly enough of them. This is the problem of the 45-minute episodes. And, as the cost of this one was obviously so high, Im surprised they didnt count make this one of the double-length productions. There surely would have been lots more fun to have had with the various creations, and the whodunit element could have more expansive, rather than crammed in.
No question Doctor Who is now a fast-paced show, and End Of The World wasnt quite as frantic as Rose but, sometimes, theres just not enough time to take everything in. Less can be more.
However, there were some great scenes in this episode. The pre-credits sequence setting the scene in the TARDIS and then the space station went from breakneck pace to gentle reflection effortlessly not an easy skill. Jade (has there ever been a sexier tree?) offering her sympathies when she realised who the Doctor was also made her a memorable supporting act. And the closing scene back on Earth when the Doctor revealed he was the last of the Time Lords (I also had doubts about this plotline but hats off to Mr Davies again) was simple but extremely effective. All in all, the episode successfully built on the promise of its predecessor.
Its the End Of The World as we know it. And I feel fine . .
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
The End Of The World is a story which sits uneasy in my mind. There is much to like about it: a good musical score from Murray Gold (especially throughout the ending), some truly stunning visuals (the destruction of the planet Earth being the highlight), many laugh out loud moments (especially when Tainted Love by Soft Cell is played on a jukebox), and some great performances (Jimmy Vee makes the Moxx Of Balhoon more memorable than he deserves to be considering his limited screen time, and both Yasmin Bannerman and Zoë Wanamaker are superb). However, I cannot help but feel that overall The End Of The World is a typical example of a story where its parts are greater than its whole.
Again, Russell T. Davies writes some great dialogue; the banter between all characters- human, tree and other- flows so naturally that it gives the impression that the script was entirely effortless to write, which is a testimony to how well the dialogue works. As mentioned previously, the acting is again great- Billie Piper and Christopher Eccleston seem to fit so naturally into their roles that its frightening, and it is hard to see how anyone can criticise them. The plot, however, is where things fall apart.
Now as with Rose this is a story more focused on the back story of the characters as opposed to an actual gripping story; but whereas in Rose the focus upon Rose and the addition of an invasion attempt by the Nestene Consciousness was well balanced, here it appears at odds with itself. On the one hand, we have Roses acceptance of the future and her contemplation of quite what life with the Doctor shall be like; on the other hand we have background details about the Doctor and the destruction of his home planet (Gallifrey) due to a war; added to this, we have the imminent destruction of the planet Earth and the sabotage being undertaken by one of the delegates there. Now, to balance three separate story strands in a successful way can be done, but here- in my opinion- it falls short. Rose simply isnt given enough to do, spending a significant amount of time crouching beneath a door; the sabotage plot thread would be a lot more engaging if we were ever in any doubt as to who was behind the sabotaging.
Of all the story strands, it is the discovery of the Doctors history that proves itself to be both the most interesting and well realised. This in part is due to the subtle performance of Eccleston throughout, but also because it is meant to seem more interesting. We are left wanting more here, whilst this is not the case with the other strands of plot.
This is a shame in many ways since- as mentioned before- the premise of The End Of The World promises much more than it actually delivers. Here is a story which boasts a colourful array of all creatures great and small, but most of the delegates spend their time moping around a small room in crowds of two or three.
Id also say that the direction is a little stale- whilst Euros Lyn tries his hardest to make things seem grand and impressive (an arty shot out of Jackie Tylers washing machine here, a sweeping CGI shot of Platform One there), the slightly cramped scenery somewhat quashes his directorial flair- after all, there are only so many ways you can make a large and rather empty room seem engaging.
However, despite all this criticism, The End Of The World boasts one of the most touching, memorable, best acted and best written scenes in the whole of Series One; I am talking about the final scene set on Present Day Earth. Actually, Im refereeing to just before that too, beginning with Rose gazing longingly out of a window in Platform One at her planet disintegrating into nothingness. It is moments like this that remind you why Davies is such a great writer; it is moments such as this one, also, which make you see just how good the acting is. I guess The End Of The World, looking back, can almost be forgiven for its shortcomings when it has moments as good as this.
Overall though, I must confess that after how impressed I was by Rose, I felt somewhat let down here. Bits of it are great, but bits of it fail to live up to the expectations which it itself sets. It is by no means bad, and parts of it shine out so much that it dazzles you, making you turn a blind eye at its shortcomings. Look at it with unimpaired vision though, and the cracks begin to show. The End Of The World is just above average, but lagging well below excellent. Doctor Who has done worse than this, but it can also do so much better; break off little bits of this metaphorical Easter Egg but dont be surprised if eating it all leaves you hungry for more.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
If there's one thing you can say about The End Of The World, it doesn't scrimp on the visuals. In fact, it's got more effects shots than any other episode ever, which is quite an achievement given that it's only half the length of the average original series episode. Russell T. Davies has stated his intention to compete with American science-fiction shows in terms of production values, but I have to say this doesn't quite reach those heights - the CGI effects still look slightly glassy and like a 3D cartoon, which is of course exactly what they are. Nevertheless, it's a big step in that direction and if you turn off your cynicism then there's a lot of fun to be had in this episode.
This is arguably not clear from the beginning, as I am uncertain what to make of the opening TARDIS scene. The bells and bicycle pumps on the console are a worrying pointer to the indulgences to come for the rest of Davies's contribution to the series, and also show a misunderstanding of what makes the TARDIS what it is. The sheer spectacle of it being bigger on the inside than outside is good for a point, but once this is accepted the viewers need more, which they got in the original series with the space-age, gleaming white interior which formed a stark visual contrast to the shabby exterior. Now it's shabby on the outside and shabby on the inside; an all round piece of junk, in other words. Did he really get Rose a bicycle (see The Doctor Dances), or did he just cobble together something himself? Ironic is the fact that the Doctor now has near-total control over it, which he shows us by never leaving Earth (yes I know I keep going on about it but it really bugs me). What did make me laugh though, as a hardened Who nerd, is the fact that the Doctor glosses over the middle of the 22nd century as being boring when he knows full well there's a Dalek invasion in full swing.
One thing that strikes me immediately, even from the pre-titles sequence, is how annoying the music is. Murray Gold has got a rough ride, but I generally quite like his work on the series (his score for Dalek I think is excellent, and his version of the theme beats most versions other than the original). He is especially good when you consider the average score by Keff McCulloch, Malcolm Clarke or even, in truth, Dudley Simpson. Here however, he really is annoying. When I was younger I used to play the fantasy battles game Warhammer and there's a figure in that that attacks by shooting you full of little needles and then sending an electric current through them; listening to that tingtingtingting noise as the Doctor and Jabe make their way through the power ducts, I know how that feels. However, he does improve towards the end when he resorts to more conventional orchestral arrangements.
Right from the start we are presented with little Douglas Adams-esque touches, a Davies trademark, like religion being banned aboard Platform One. These though are not presented to enrich the setting but simply as a joke: things like that and the frozen vomit from The Long Game give me the uneasy feeling that a comedy universe is being established for the programme. Also of note early on is the introduction of the psychic paper - a lazy writer's device if ever I saw one, with the additional disadvantage of making no sense at all, not even the pseudo-sense of the sonic screwdriver. In fact, with the paper, the screwdriver and then later Rose's augmented telephone I get the feeling that Davies is removing all those elements that might cause problems for the writers (or tension in the plot), but seeing as the episode lengths are so drastically cut down I'll let it go.
Put these thoughts on hold, because here come the aliens! On the whole they are very good, with the exception of the blue childlike workers on the station, who look like oxygen-starved Oompah Loompahs. The sitar music as the trees arrive is an unimaginative hippy sound (what's the first thing that comes to you mind when I say "nature", Murray?). The Moxx of Balhoon reminds me of Sil from Vengeance On Varos and The Trial Of A Time Lord, a reference reinforced by Lady Cassandra's constant need to be moisturised. This is in fact arguably the new series's most derivative episode: the Steward's death is straight out of Dragonfire, while the spiders are half Cybermat and half Minority Report scanner. Their heads also look a bit like the droids from the dismal Phantom Menace.
Lady Cassandra is genuinely impressive and well-voiced by Zoe Wanamaker, with her rude bigotry making her an effective presence in terms of substance as well as style. The jukebox though is very annoying - not least because Christopher Eccleston is so clearly playing for laughs, getting his freak on to Soft Cell. The jukebox is an overwhelming indulgence (there's that word again...it just fits so well), not least because of the music on it. I know I'm heading into dangerously subjective territory here, but if it played out a crackly Robert Johnson record from the 1930s I'd be happy but not many others necessarily would. Similarly, if you don't like Britney Spears then frankly you're screwed. More to the point, it's so camp - not just because of it being Britney Spears, but simply because a mainstream pop record is being used as incidental music. The series no longer looks camp because of the budgetary and technological increases, so Davies is compensating by writing it to be camp.
Meanwhile, Rose has wandered off and met Raphallo before meeting back with the Doctor. Raphallo is a good character, there simply to add detail to the narrative (Davies's strength, but so rarely used to its full effectiveness); we learn nothing from her death as we've already seen the spiders in action. Meanwhile, the Doctor has filled us in on how the TARDIS translates other languages, which was first explained in The Masque Of Mandragora. I'll say this again when I get to reviewing Masque, but it is a good reason to have them all speaking English. Besides, if they didn't then we'd all be inundated with Zygon-English dictionaries and people taking degrees in Raxicoricofallipatorian As A Foreign Language. It did strike me as significant though that what could be passed of as a "Time Lord Gift" in 1976 now needs a proper explanation.
Earlier I mentioned the Steward's death (it's too late at night for me to be thinking about structuring this properly), which leads me to the first of two massive contrivances of the episode, another Davies trademark. The spiders can lower the sun shields with the touch of one button; does this button have "commit suicide" written on it? In fact, why have them able to lower at all, as the only function by doing so is to kill people?
As the Doctor and Jabe the Tree Princess (sounds quite strange when said like that, doesn't it?) investigate the sabotage, we get the first indication that Gallifrey has gone kaboom. This is extremely well acted by Eccleston, and puts at rest any fears of his heart not being in his job...for now, anyway. Now we come to another bone of contention: the air conditioning. It's the year five billion, and the station is kept cool by some whirling blades. Terry Nation once said in an interview that anything you create in you fictional universe is yours to do what you like with; Davies seems to have taken that too literally. Storming back to the plot, Cassandra's threat to moisturise people with acid is straight out of Mars Attacks!. Has anybody noticed that all the life has been totally drained out of the dialogue when it simply concerns the plot? It's as if Davies wants to get it over with as quickly as possible so he can get back to talking about the girl down the post office who looks Greek.
"Sir! One of the machines has gone out of control! We need to find the emergency cut off switch! Where is it!?" "Oh, it's just over on that wall. Watch out for the landmines, though". Yes, now we come to the other massive contrivance: the Doctor is forced into some nifty footwork as some genius has put the emergency override control on the other side of three spinning blades that keep the station cool but don't ruffle a hair on the Doctor's head even though he's right next to one. With Jabe toasted he pulls some grasshopper-zen baloney and spirits himself through the third fan (nice to see the Doctor still has super powers); the fact that he can navigate them himself makes Jabe's sacrifice pointless.
This tells a very simple tale, albeit more didactic than the usual Davies fare, as the end scene shows. This is good for the length of the episodes, something that seems to be lost on Davies in later episodes. Having said that, if it came later I would probably criticise it for being too disposable, but as it's purpose as the second episode is to continue establishing the programmes credentials then it works well enough in its way.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
Ive seen this episode twice now. It grows on me with repeat viewings.
The End of the World is a fabulous looking episode of the type we could only have imagined in Doctor Who prior to CGI. Just look back at The Ark in Space for an example of a space station orbiting the Earth in the old days. The opening shots of the ships docking at Platform One with the Earth in the background and the expanding sun beyond that are vistas that really make the imagination soar. I was never put off the old show because of sub-par special effects, but when theyre good I certainly appreciate them. So we have a convincing backdrop for the story.
Anyone get the feeling that Mr. Davies had The Restaurant at the End of the Universe in mind when he came up with the setting?
There are a lot of good ideas in this episode. The slow reveal of the Doctors history continues with the revelation that Gallifrey (never named as far as I can recall) burned like the Earth, gone before its time. I dont like the loss of the Time Lords and Gallifrey, but so be it. Moving on, we also get the explanation about the TARDISs ability to get inside someones mind and translate, which Rose takes offense to because it was done without her permission. The visual demonstration of this is fun too: the little blue alien hands the Doctor a claim ticket written in some alien script, but when the Doctor looks at it, we can see just what it says. A nice touch. Rose having the sudden realization that shes gone off with someone she knows nothing about and looking slightly panicked is a pretty good moment as well.
The aliens are suitably weird and varied, though mostly humanoid. I dont quite buy the idea of sentient trees though. Not even in 5 billion years will trees have arms and legs and civilization. Cassandra is a suitably nasty villain, with a believable motivation when it comes to money.
One plot concern: why would the reset switch for the shields be across a walkway that is blocked by the fans? I can accept that theres probably another way to the switch, and that the Doctor simply had no time to go and find it, but that still doesnt explain away the proximity of the fans to the walkway. They seem to exist simply to provide an obstacle for the Doctor at the climax of the action, and as such are not too credible.
The coda at the end where the Doctor and Rose stand on the streets of a planet theyve just seen die, and ruminate about the fleeting nature of life is a good one, with music that is quite appropriate to the mood and setting. After the massive spectacle of the sun expanding and the earth dying, we come down to earth for some chips. The contrast between the fantastic and the mundane is a staple Doctor Who ingredient, and its presented quite well here.
All in all, a lightweight, fun little action episode, with an imaginative setting. 8 out of 10.
Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television