TV Review – Doctor Who: The End OF Time Part 1

Christmas, biting your lip at ‘these days’ stream of consciousness rants by the older generation, spending the best part of your day slavering over  a meal demolished by a tipsy pack of hyenas and of course – Doctor Who.

Somehow new Who has become as Christmassy as feigning delight at inappropriate present or a Boxing Day hangover. Christmas episodes have on the whole been light romps this and being the sole member of humanity to have not enjoyed ‘Waters of Mars’ I was not expecting to be bowled over.  But as Half Man Half Biscuit so wisely sang ‘It’s easy to be cynical at Christmas.’

Spoilers follow.

Well the start was great taking as it did Wilf as our Point of View. This really played to the strong Earth bound human viewpoint that has marked Russell T Davies run. It played much better and creepier than the Ood sequences that had been trailed at Children in Need.

I will just establish now that Bernard Cribbins is an brilliant actor and his performance in this parallels his great turn in ‘Turn Left.’ The recurrence of Wilf was taken hands on and pushed into the plot. Wilf had some lovely moments
including mobilising the ‘Grey Cloak’ and a very Doctor moment when he refused to see not having killed someone as a shameful thing.

The Ood sequence came and went and it did what was needed. What improved it was it’s ending generating as it did a race through time to try and prevent the Dennis Wheatley-esque summoning. That was topped by a twist which saluted human ingenuity and spirit. It fitted in well the humans ‘doing it for themselves’ spirit of Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures and provided a nice swan song for a character from Season 3.

A calming hand appeared to have been placed on Murray Gold’s shoulder or perhaps he had more confidence in the content of the episode because the scoring was appropriate, restrained and didn’t stamp all over the acting like Godzilla on Tokyo.

The main adversary’s hunger was well used to poke satirical fun to Seasonal gluttony. I am unsure of the ‘up, up and away’ moments but in providing a spectacle, danger and a neat solution to the Doctor corning a cackling rival it made sense.  John Simm’s performance was creepy a twist from former incarnations and in some places more restrained.

A Bond villain wannabe with an obsession about his daughter becoming immortal and nice line in Blake’s 7 Federation inspired private army (with a pay off in the end for that costuming decision,) was a change. When initial photographs where being taken I though myself cursing the Gods of drama for giving us another Evil Prime Minister but fortunately the bullet was dodged.

By necessity we had very little of Donna but given the ending I can’t help wondering what if any part she will play on New Years day. Will she be a tragic footnote or somehow feature implicitly in helping the Doctor regenerate?

I was curious of the use of the real President’s name something Doctor Who has traditionally backed away from but given an ending that spoke to human uncomfortable fears of assimilation, absorption and lack of individuality it was a good tool to show how general the calamity was.

The use of voiceover initially grated but the pay off in the final moments of the episode gave it wonderful narrative sense and added an additional fission of anticipation for the next episode. Teasers earlier on helped keep one’s patience for it. As much as I personally think the heavy burden of Gallifrey helped stilted later Old Who weighing on it’s shoulders like a leaden cloak of continuity – I can’t help but be excited about a come back. I just hope it’s brief or future use of them is subtle. Mind you as recurring adversaries they’ll be a pleasant change from the old pepper pots who deserve a rest.

All in all a terrific episode I just hope I can  resist wishing away the time between now and New Years Day.

GS Reviewer: Andrew

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