“The Parting of the Ways” – Review: Redux

The Doctor “Time Lords have this little trick, it’s sort of a way of cheating death, except, it means I’m gonna change. And I’m not gonna see you again, not like this, not with this daft old face.”

The Parting of the Ways

It was the worst kept secret in Doctor Who circles (and pretty poorly kept in general public circles too) that, once the departure of Christopher Eccleston had been leaked on to the front pages of the papers, Series One of the relaunched show would conclude with a regeneration. Some may have speculated that the first Christmas Special would focus on the regeneration story but anyone who had kept a beady eye on CE’s various interviews around launch time would have known this was not to be the case. “I’ve already done the long haul” he bemoaned to everyone listening, suggesting no more of his incarnation would be forthcoming. It was a great ambition for production team to include a surprise regeneration as the ending but, perhaps it was to be one ambition too far for such a young show.

The final episode was nigh-on perfect throughout. Picking up the pace from the conclusion to “Bad Wolf”, this episode barrelled along frenetically. The Doctor delivered on his promise of rescuing Rose from the middle of the Dalek fleet and along the way confronted the Dalek Emperor, who had been rebuilding the Dalek fleet from the humans they had been stealing from the games. This human component to the Dalek make-up would be a recurring theme in future encounters and here too the impact was touched upon as their inability to cope with being part-human had slowly driven them insane. However, the as-good-as defenceless human inhabitants of The Game Station, or Satellite 5 as we prefer to remember it, were outnumbered and outgunned and, despite rescuing Rose, there needed to be a plan to save the people.

Just when you thought that this unfolding tale of the intergalactic war was far removed from Rose’s domestic life that had been revisited so often throughout the year and had become a signature of RTD’s vision of Doctor Who, then the Doctor dispatched Rose back home to the Powell Estate to save her from the inevitable carnage and to keep his promise to Jackie to look after Rose. The subsequent “emergency hologram” speech was the first in a series of highly emotional scenes as we hurtled towards the conclusion of the series. Jack did his best to keep the Daleks at bay before his eventual extermination and, just when we all started to wonder the Doctor’s regeneration would be triggered by a self-sacrifice to save the Game Station workers, then it was inevitably, Rose that came to the rescue.

When Rose merged with the heart of the TARDIS and absorbed the time vortex, she developed god-like powers, literally, if not figuratively, deus ex machina. The events that then unfolded were simplicity itself: the Daleks were atomised from existence, Jack was brought back to life, and the words “Bad” and “Wolf” were scattered across time in a wibbly-wobbly way such that they formed a message for Rose herself to encourage her to find a way back to the Doctor. Before we knew it, the Doctor had saved Rose from the enormous power of the time vortex by sacrificing himself and leading to that final scene. Anyone who ever doubts the prowess of Russell T Davies’s writing talent should just sit back and watch this last five minutes… absolutely perfect in every sense. All of a sudden, David Tennant was the Doctor, with new teeth and everything. Deep down I wish that Christopher Eccleston could have stayed on board for another year or so but that would have deprived us of one of the finest 45 minutes of TV that I’d seen in a long time. And unbeknownst to everyone watching we wouldn’t have to wait till Christmas to see what happened next.

Highlight: The regeneration

Lowlight: Jackie driving the truck (but, in truth, even that was good)

Talking Point: The kiss

Demon’s Run Rating: 19 out of 20

Original BBC1 Broadcast: 18th June 2005

Marathon Status: One series complete but what a series it has been!

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