“Doomsday” – Review: Redux

Rose “I… I love you”

Doctor “Quite right too”


The plot here is, on the surface, a little lightweight, with essentially just the Daleks and Cybermen slugging it out for world domination while humanity and the Doctor are caught in the crossfire. However, the depth of the story comes from the various interactions, combining action sequences deftly with scenes of emotional depth, all under the steady directorial hand of Graeme Harper. These scenes are some of the truly memorable ones from the 2005-2013 period of the show. For example, as the two foes size one another up there are some wonderful (some might say wonderfully silly) exchanges: to wit, during their first on-screen tete-a-tete, the Dalek simply dismisses the Cybermen with “This is not war. It is pest control“. (Of course, those in the know will realise that this is just a matter of Nick Briggs talking to himself because he provides the voices for both of them). I have heard that a meeting between the Doctor’s two biggest foes was originally proposed way back in the sixties, so it is something of a surprise that it took this long to materialise. Some may say that it is even more surprising therefore, that the battle, when it did come, was so heavily one-sided in favour of the Daleks.

Contrasting this we are also treated to scenes such as the meeting of Pete (whose wife, Jackie, died in his universe after being deleted by a Cyberman) and Jackie (whose husband Pete, was killed by a car as seen at the end of “Father’s Day“), which gives us a happily-ever-after moment for the pair of them as they seize a second chance for happiness. The quieter beats like that one can initially sit a little uncomfortably given that the Battle of Canary Wharf is raging outside but such worries are soon forgotten when you are caught in the moment. Of course, the emotional impact of that reunion would come to pale into insignificance when compared to final ten minutes of Series Two. However, all is not rosy in the garden, and there is still a scene in here that jars with me a little: that is the slightly nonsensical fate of Yvonne Hartman. Seemingly converted into a Cyberman early in the episode, we eventually find that the conversion did not complete fully after all, leaving one last act of heroism and a little oily tear to fall from her cyber-eye. An unnecessary touch of schmalz.

Before we bid Billie Piper a tearful farewell, it is worth taking a moment to look at her two years on the programme. Her original casting certainly raised a few eyebrows in some quarters but generally seemed to be well received. By the time we arrived at “Doomsday”, Billie had won a string of awards for her dazzling portrayal as Rose. From her eponymous appearance in the first episode of 2005, it was clear that these two years would be as much her story as it was the Doctor’s, and she acted as the viewer’s ‘way-in’ to the world of the Doctor. The decision to give her a mythology of her own, with complex relationships with her boyfriend and her mum, with a sad background relating to her father, even with her off-screen BFF, Sharrine, was a bold move but a necessary one. It anchored the character in a situation to which all eight million viewers could relate, and forced the writers to continually think about the impact that life as a time traveller was having, both in her own developing maturity and on the lives of those she leaves behind. Of course, the blossoming relationship Rose had with the Doctor himself was at the heart of the programme. Her sacrifice towards the end of “The Parting of the Ways” and the Doctor’s subsequent, reciprocal sacrifice of his Ninth incarnation to save her moments later, cemented their relationship as being on equal footing and paved the way for the progress all the way to Bad Wolf Bay.

In a brilliantly crafted scene at the end of “Doomsday”, the Doctor and Rose were on either side of the corridor in front of the breach into the Void, holding on for dear life as all the Daleks contaminated with “void stuff” were pulled back from whence they came. However, having also traversed the Void earlier, they too were being dragged relentlessly back into ‘Hell’. Tragically, it all went wrong leading Rose to risk everything to save the situation. She very nearly paid the ultimate price but Pete came back from the alternative universe one last time, to rescue her in the only way possible. With the breach closed and the two heroes separated in different universes there was one last chance for the lonely angel to say “Goodbye” to his Rose. Even the coldest of hearts cannot fail to have been moved as the Doctor appeared on that beach for a final farewell. Whether her future re-appearances in the show, went on to diminish the impact seen here is a debate for another day but one thing was for certain, Billie was certainly going to be a tough act to follow.

Finally, brilliantly, and demonstrating that in the world of Doctor Who it only takes a heartbeat to change, an angry Catherine Tate showed up in a wedding dress. I think all the viewers must have joined in with the Doctor’s chorus of “What? What? WHAT?” at that point.

Highlight: The scene on Bad Wolf Bay

Lowlight: The Void is completely empty and devoid of anything, right?! So, what’s the hell is “voidstuff” supposed to be?

Talking Point: Did you cry?

Demon’s Run Rating: 19 out of 20

Original BBC1 Broadcast: 8th July 2006

Marathon Status: 27 episodes down, and the end of the Billie Piper era (or is it?)

  1. Yup — cried AGAIN. I thought I’d watched this so many times, that I must be immune by now…but it got me again!

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