You know I was planning on writing a normal review of David Tennant’s Doctor Who swansong, but ultimately that’s pointless. The End of Time really sums up the Russell T Davies era of Doctor Who perfectly. Within the 135 minutes of story is everything that was great and everything not so great about his version of Doctor Who. You can pick apart the details from End of Time Part 1 and Part 2. There are certainly flaws, some of them quite big, but that’s really not the point.
When Davies returned the show to television after it’s long absence, he had a very particular vision in mind. While I really liked Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor, really it’s clear that David Tennant embodies how Davies sees Doctor Who. So their departure really is the end of an era even more than a regular regeneration is.
The End of Time isn’t the best Doctor Who story. It’s not the best regeneration story. It’s not even the best 10th Doctor story. But it is a very fitting send off for Tennant and Davies.
What we get is an epic, mainstream, Doctor Who story with John Simms playing a wonderfully insane Master and Timothy Dalton as an equally manic Rassillon. The scale was huge, the big action sequences were interspersed with some great one on one acting between Tennant’s Doctor and Bernard Cribbin’s Wilf. Action, pathos and explosions. That’s Davies’ approach to Doctor Who in a nutshell. And if you don’t like his vision, you won’t like this story.
There were of course also some unanswered questions (which I can forgive) and some rather large plot holes. There was also an overlong send off to all the Doctor’s companions. But in the end the flaw’s don’t really matter because the emotion of the regeneration is hard to ignore. It’s a formula that works judging by the viewing figures and audience ratings. But it’s not to everyone’s taste of course. It’s not 100% to mine.
That’s one of the great things about Doctor Who though. It changes. We’ve seen radical changes in style over the years. Pertwee’s “James Bond” era followed by Tom Baker’s “Gothic Horror” era, followed by his increasingly comic era. It’s not just the actor that changes Doctor Who, it’s the producers too.
And for those who didn’t like The End of Time, take heart. Something different is coming. Steven Moffat’s vision of Doctor Who is not Russell T Davies. We got the briefest of tasters of Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor. Not enough to judge the man (though I’m sure it won’t stop people), but enough to see that he will be different to David Tennant.
So appreciate the Tennant / Davies’ era for what it is an enjoy The End of Time on that level, then wait impatiently for the beginning of the Matt Smith / Steven Moffat era.
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