I Don't Want To Go

Regenerate

The Time Has Come
The king is dead, long live the king! In this case the former is Russell T Davies and the latter Steven Moffat who wrote, by all accounts, the final, post-regeneration minute or so of RTD’s swan-song opus, The End of Time, shown in two parts on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Now that the baton has been well and truly handed over it is (almost) time to put together a complete analysis of the 60-episode era. There will be time enough for that another day and if you’re really, really quiet you can hear fanboys up and down the country tapping on keyboards about gay agendas, deus ex machina and how Paul McGann should be in it any day now. However, today it’s all about bidding David Tennant a fond adieu and greeting the dynamic Matt Smith to the role of “Eleven” as he shall henceforth be known. The End Of Time was a massive tapestry of plot threads that needed to be woven together and developed into a coherent whole, it might just have been the most complicated Doctor Who tale of all in the five years of Mr Davies’ stewardship that we have enjoyed.

It began with Wilf, Bernard Cribbins acting his socks off to widespread if not unanimous praise, being drawn into a church during a choral performance. A mysterious woman, played by Claire Bloom, appeared and talked to Wilf in portentous and somewhat vague terms about the Doctor. This was the first of a number of visions that this woman made to Wilf before finally being revealed as a Time Lady in the service of (but rebelling against) the Lord President of Gallifrey during the climax of the adventure. Quite who Claire Bloom was actually supposed to be, has set fandom’s tongues a-wagging as if RTD wanted to give us all one last, parting tease/gift to argue about for years to come. Yet it doesn’t really matter. I got the impression that it was she who was behind the Ood’s accelerated capabilities as her projections to Wilf were exactly like the Ood’s projections to the Doctor that we saw in The Waters Of Mars, no doubt using some largely irrelevant wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey techniques. Although I was surprised that it wasn’t more explicit. One could argue that this ability of a Time Lord to communicate from inside the Time War to the outside universe, has set up the opportunity to incorporate the Gallifreyans into events at some point in the future although, having seen the ending here, I’m not sure this would necessarily be a good thing.

Where there’s Wilf of course, there is Donna but her return seemed somewhat secondary, if not tertiary, to the main events. It seemed to be a bit of a cop-out that allowed Donna to begin to remember her travels with the Doctor during the cliffhanger to part one, only for some sort of emergency shut down process to have been “installed” by the Doctor to protect her and reset the memory blocks. I was pleased that she was given a happy life in the end but more on that later. Catherine Tate was on good form in the role that so many people doubted her for prior to the start of series four, but if truth is told the acting of Tennant, Cribbins, Simm and Dalton overshadowed all around them.

The next big return for this story was the Master. His resurrection and the plan, apparently put in place while he was still gadding about in the guise of good old Harold Saxon, for what to do in the event of his death was a little on the silly side. A Saxon inspired-cult somehow got its red finger-nailed hands on the Master’s ring, created a set of strange potions in one of Her Majesty’s prisons and, using the genetically transferred Time Lord DNA from the lips of former wife Lucy who clearly never washed her face since Harry’s death, recreated the errant Time Lord in a resurrection ceremony that, later on, Ten seemed to have some kind of knowledge about and took a little for granted. Lucy’s final act was to have persuaded one of her prison guards to supply her with an anti-potion that caused the resurrection process to go somewhat awry. As a result, the Master’s life force began to be dispersed in fairly extraordinary ways that effectively gave him some rather spectacular powers of leaping tall buildings and shooting energy bolts from his hands. His only course of action was to eat a lot of food in a Gollum-esque style, in order to stave off some non-specific, but probably unpleasant demise. Easy, eh? Why didn’t we all see that coming?

It was then that we got to the Naismith / Vinvocci scenes, which were absolutely vital to tying all these strands of plot together. The innocent Vinvocci, on a straightforward mission to reclaim a mysterious alien artifact, were caught in the middle of a whole heap of trouble as the Master was kidnapped from the Wastelands by Naismith and brought in to fix the Immortality Gate. A little bit of sabotage, and suddenly the whole population of Earth bar Donna, Wilf, the Doctor and the two Vinvocci, were turned into versions of the Master. And so the scene was set.

Way back at the end of the Time War, The Time Lords created a plan to escape from the Time Lock that the Doctor was planning to instigate to end the war. They seeded the drumbeat signal in to the Master’s head when he was eight, turning him insane. Then they looked for the signal coming back to them but it’s only when the Master had replicated himself 6 billion times that the signal strengthened itself and could be turned into something more tangible into which a tiny object like a white point star diamond could be sent. Upon receiving this diamond, the Master worked on strengthening the connection even more (“the signal becomes a path”) and the Time Lords got access to come through physically. After breaking free from the Master(s) in the “Worst. Escape. Ever.” the Doctor and Wilf had to head back to Naismith’s mansion in order to stop the Time Lords and the Hell they brought with them from returning. It turned out after much prevarication that all the Doctor had to do was shoot to the Gate thingy to close the pathway and send the Time Lords (Rassilon, no less) back in to the Time War along with the Master who was pretty peeved at the Lord President for seeding the drum beat in his head in the first place.

Just writing the precis in those few paragraphs above, has demonstrated to me that this was an astonishingly complicated story and the text here does absolutely no justice to it whatsoever. I can see why some people, mainly fans, can start to pick apart at the elements that went to make up this tale and look at some of the details to explain why the whole thing didn’t work for them but it was only after the Time Lords and the Master had been sent packing that the core of this story came in to sharp focus. Before discussing that, some huge big dollop of credit has to go to Euros Lynn for directing this epic, cinematic story with such aplomb, and to all of the production staff that turned this in to such a visual treat.

After his success in restoring everything to its proper place, the Doctor regains consciousness on the ruined floor of the Naismith mansion and is astonished and not a little delighted to be alive until he hears four gentle knocks from the corner of the room. All the foreshadowing and premonitions are coalesced in to that moment. Wilf is about to die and the Doctor realises he must sacrifice himself to save the old soldier. Tennant runs the gamut of emotions at this point, knowing what to do but not wanting to die before, inevitably stepping in to the radiation pod and absorbing the fatal dose of. Then we head into a fairly controversial but, in the humble opinion of this novice blogger, a bloody fantastic denouement to the RTD era.

Holding back from regenerating there and then through sheer force of will, Doctor Ten, heads off to get his “reward”. Appreciation of this coda to the story is clearly quite subjective. The Doctor describes it as a reward to himself, which can easily be interpreted as coming direct from RTD’s mouth himself. And you know what? Good luck to him. After 60 episodes of Doctor Who since it came back, I am more than happy with a quarter of an hour of self-congratulation. It was thoroughly deserved. More than that, each scene (the Mickey Smith & Martha Jones freedom fighters, the Cantina scene, the book signing, Donna’s more successful wedding, and finally the pre-“Rose” Powell Estate encounter with Billie Piper’s Rose) was actually rather sweet and touching and gave David Tennant’s final words, “I don’t want to go” all the more power.

I have been known to describe Doctor Who as the greatest piece of artwork that humanity has ever produced. It usually involves alcohol and my unhealthy desire to create unnecessary debate but whenever I get in to that discussion I always call upon the concept of regeneration being one of the smartest storytelling devices in television. When Matt Smith appears in the burning TARDIS he blazes in to our collective awareness with an energy that probably puts Mr Tennant to shame. All the emotion and angst and heartbreak of the final episodes of the Tenth Doctor are washed away within the blink of an eye as the Age of Moffat begins, but there will be time enough to discuss all that when the new series starts in the spring. The final comments here are reserved for David Tennant. His four years in the role have been nothing less than incredible. He has shown us an acting talent that could lead him to become one of Britain’s finest of all time, not just of his contemporaries. I wish him every success in the future and really just want to say, “Thank You”.

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  1. Great review! Agree with pretty much all of it!

  1. January 3rd, 2010
  2. January 6th, 2010
  3. February 8th, 2010

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