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parrot_knight [userpic]

Journey's End (again)

July 9th, 2008 (02:31 am)


...who liked it, I decided that the key to liking the episode is to accept that everything follows from one selfish act - the Doctor refusing to regenerate completely because he likes being his tenth self too much. ) The way things are going, we are going to have to return to unconscious regeneration when Tennant leaves, to stop the Doctor thinking up some other wheeze, should he not have come to terms with his flaws. He clearly hasn't here, palming off Rose on an ersatz version of himself (who is left just as much a dumpee of the Doctor's on Bad Wolf Bay) and refusing to allow Donna to make her own, Doctorly-informed decision about how to resolve the condition which is killing her. Whaterver Dalek Caan and a contributor to Tuesday's Guardian letters page might think, the Doctor evidently isn't a Trinitarian.

Comments

Posted by: serriadh (serriadh)
Posted at: July 9th, 2008 08:46 am (UTC)

I also read somewhere that the creation of the Doctor double was entirely too convenient in 'meta' storytelling terms, because it provided someone to commit genocide on the Daleks, which the 'real' Doctor couldn't quite bring himself to - and then that 'angry' Doctor gets palmed off with Rose, who "fixed" him last time. (And fixed him so well that he was appalling to poor Martha and near-suicidal by the time he met Donna)

But you're right, the key is partly the Doctor's refusal to regenerate. And, I would add, his pointblank refusal to let either Martha or Jack use their 'solutions' to the problem. (What the hell would he have done if the two doctordonnas hadn't turned up?)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: July 9th, 2008 02:40 pm (UTC)

The existence of the Doctor double helps the Doctor repress his own guilt, as well as get him out of a difficult situation. I'd have been interested to see the Doctor's solution, given that he didn't seem to have reached one...

Posted by: Na'Lon (na_lon)
Posted at: July 9th, 2008 10:22 am (UTC)

The 'palming off Rose on an ersatz' was interesting, I thought. My initial reaction was to think it too simple and convenient: so the Doctor would have been in love with Rose had he been part human, but the 'real' Doctor wasn't?

But on some level it nearly worked for me anyway. The ersatz clearly tells her that he loves her, they kiss - and even as they do the 'real' Doctor and TARDIS leave and both Rose and ersatz are left behind bereft. It was... uncomfortable.

Hm. Hope we'll get a chance to chat more soon. Now I have to see what my off-spring is up to. ;-)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: July 9th, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC)

The Doctor had spent some time in an underplayed thread in series two trying to get rid of Rose; when he saw an opportunity to create for her a home life, he took it. I couldn't see the Doctor doing anything other than taking Rose back to the parallel universe; he was glad to see her again, but believed that he had to be ruthless with himself.

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: July 9th, 2008 05:21 pm (UTC)
b5

"so the Doctor would have been in love with Rose had he been part human, but the 'real' Doctor wasn't?"

I think the ersatz one was *because* the real one was.
But the growing old bit gets rid of the problem first mentioned in School Reunion, so "ersatz" doesn't need to be scared of this. everyone wins 9not necessarily a Good Thing, dramatically, though.) Well, my humble reading anyway... :-)

Otherwise Bad Wolf Bay exasperated me a bit - all the issues people have mentioned, plus I don't really *care* whether they kiss or not...!

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: July 9th, 2008 11:16 am (UTC)

Funnily enough, the non-regeneration didn't annoy me because of the Doctor's self-satisfaction, although it did annoy me for stupidity and for giving the Doctor yet another magic power (now he can partly regenerate, is there any dramatic tension left?).

The way things are going, we are going to have to return to unconscious regeneration when Tennant leaves, to stop the Doctor thinking up some other wheeze, should he not have come to terms with his flaws.

Or they might do the usual thing with awkward continuity and completely ignore it (and by "they" I mean old series production teams as well as new).

The Bad Wolf Bay dumping also annoyed me for a different reason, namely the quasi-Platonic belief that people have an essential self that is unchanged by environmental factors. Half-human Doctor is essentially the same as the real Doctor, just as parallel Pete could replace our Pete back in Doomsday. So much for free will and an infinity of choices.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: July 9th, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
pic#70424010

The Doctor used to have little trouble with partial regeneration - see the end of Frontier in Space, and the injuries received in The Monster of Peladon and Planet of the Spiders.

I think that there was meant to be a suggestion that half-human Doctor wasn't as mentally agile as the Doctor proper, or the Doctor-Donna; but we've seen since Rise of the Cybermen that 'Pete's world' bends to fit the expectations or fears of Rose.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: July 11th, 2008 12:44 pm (UTC)

I'm probably not the first to make the suggestion, but another alternative suggests itself, namely that this was a chaotic, unthought-through piece of television and that this discussion is taking place at a rather higher level than did the writing of the initial episode.

I'd draw a parallel with LoM: it's quite clear that the creators of the series didn't actually know what happened to Sam, and by not knowing (and by having to make a second series) cornered themselves to the extent that a convincing explanation became quite impossible. Endless web discussions about what the scriptwriters had meant were blindsided by the fact that they hadn't meant anything at all.

To return to Journey's End, which, might I add, gave me a severe headache at the time, I suspect that the (very interesting) concepts discussed here all occur quite by accident: I suggest RTD isn't actually "up to it" and was merely indulging in ego and spectacle with no logic or deep thought behind it.

And this is on a par with everything else that he's done since "Casanova". He lost me rather early on by his failure to live up to the promise of an alien spacecraft demolishing Big Ben. An astonishing visual, so many interesting ways to run with it, one no one will be able to use again in quite the same way, and what does he do.. exercises his contradictory views on modern foreign policy and make a funny plastic alien.

The leap in quality when Moffat takes over might well be steeper than people suppose.

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Dewi Evans (wonderwelsh)
Posted at: July 12th, 2008 09:21 am (UTC)

I don't think we're going to agree about this episode - with the exception of the Rose leaving scene, which I felt was badly handled, though not necassarily a bad idea, I thought the episode provided a very satisfactory resolution to the series.

One point I think I can challenge you on, however, is the regeneration - it was only made possible by the fact that the Doctor's hand was nearby as a receptacle for the excess 'regeneration energy'. I don't understand how this is an act of selfishness, nor yet out of keeping with anything else in the show's forty + years. After all, the second Doctor clearly doesn't want to change at the end of The War Games - in fact, he bitterly resents it and would surely have defied the Time Lords had he been able to. I imagine the Sixth Doctor would have something to say about his untimely demise too (indeed, he does in one of the BF plays, if I recall correctly). Most of the other Doctor's have been unconsious or paralysed at the time of their demise as well, which has to be a factor.

All of which meant that the regeneration scene really wasn't at all out of place.

Clearly this is a 'marmite' episode - but I'd suggest the key to enjoying it is to accept the major flaw, which is the lack of any unifying 'theme' or 'tone' (unusual in the new series) and to enjoy each successive set-piece moment as it comes. Much like The Five Doctors, it's clearly rubbish, but as a celebration of an era it really does work - yet it only works if your willing to go along with it. Martha's to-camera wink as she flies the TARDIS says it all really - it may be self-indulgent, but it at least invites the viewer to join in the fun. This isn't a justification of the episode's obvious flaws - just an explanation of my own enjoyment.

As for Donna's ending, Donna would have died. Simple as. I don't think it's out of character for the Doctor to take drastic action to prevent that. Sending Rose back to earth in The Parting of the Ways with a knowledge of her adventures with him is another example and is arguably as bad - at least Donna doesn't know what she's missed, and her family have a clearer sense of her potential. There's also almost everything the seventh Doctor ever did - and if you look for more examples you're bound to find them. The fifth Doctor, knowing that the cyberman freighter is about to explode literally at any second is quite willing to risk Nyssa and Tegan's lives to save Adric's. When faced with death or an emotional dilemma, the Doctor doesn't think - it's a character trait we've seen again and again.

I'd love it if, in a future episode, we hear that Donna has become a succesful, self-made business woman or something - like I said, her family have a greater idea of how special she is and will probably be more encouraging in the future (one hopes). It's still unbearably sad and colours the entire season upon re-watching, but it's nice to see the new series (or, indeed, the series in general) doing something properly nasty for a change - dying seems a bit passe after the emotional roller-coaster of that conclusion!

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: July 12th, 2008 09:27 am (UTC)

I was trying to say less that the Doctor was selfish but that viewing his actions in that way might be better thematically.

I agree, though, that you are right about the Doctor's actions towards Donna at the end. He wouldn't do anything else.

This is definitely a homage to The Five Doctors, and superior to it as a reunion episode, I'd say.

What's interesting about Martha's wink to camera is that the camera at this point seems to be standing where the Doctor is - we are sharing his exhilaration at being able to rescue Earth surrounded by his friends.

Posted by: Dewi Evans (wonderwelsh)
Posted at: July 12th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)

Oh yes, I hadn't noticed that. Interesting.

I understand what you mean about selfishness in this respect too now - and I agree that would be more interesting thematically.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: July 12th, 2008 11:03 pm (UTC)

Truth be told, I'm all over the place with this episode. I viewed it with a group whom I expected to be largely sceptical, which I probably allowed to shape my judgement up to a point; but while there was much which worked a lot of the material seemed overextended. I don't agree with a lot of what the anonymous commentator says above, but see why RTD's style might lead them to draw those conclusions.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: July 15th, 2008 05:52 am (UTC)

Further to my earlier comments, I agree with Daniel here:
"Clearly this is a 'marmite' episode - but I'd suggest the key to enjoying it is to accept the major flaw, which is the lack of any unifying 'theme' or 'tone' (unusual in the new series) and to enjoy each successive set-piece moment as it comes. Much like The Five Doctors, it's clearly rubbish, but as a celebration of an era it really does work - yet it only works if your willing to go along with it."

But I'd add that going along with it is one thing with an underfunded '70s programme that's working under extreme time pressure and relatively little support, and one which has the time, money and tech to make the most of its opportunity. There's rather a lot of well-backed TV at the moment that is basically relying on its audience to respond to laziness and box-ticking with affection, with "it's so bad, it's good!". This is fine now and again, but if it's most of the time, then isn't it time to reach for the Powell and Pressburger DVDs once more? "Bonekickers" isn't part of this discussion, but I hope I'd be forgiven for mentioning it in the same breath as that last Who episode.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: July 15th, 2008 09:45 am (UTC)

I couldn't see how Bonekickers could possibly work, and didn't watch it. The Guardian's reviewers on the Media Talk podcast gave it the Torchwood award, which was not intended to be flattering.

I'm not sure that Doctor Who has all that much more time, money and tech now than it had in the 1970s - all those scenes on the Dalek spaceship made great use of one set. I'd deny that this was going for the "so bad, it's good" effect; but it did presume that the audience would just enjoy watching all the regulars and semi-regulars from the past four years interacting, with the obvious exception of the Eccleston Doctor.

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: July 15th, 2008 05:35 pm (UTC)
dunwich

Moving seriously off-topic now, but someone in RT suggests thet the similarity of the title _Bonekickers_ with "bonkers" is not entirely coincidental...

Personally I enjoyed some of it, but there was some serious screen-shouting as well...
(give it a try tonight!)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: July 15th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)

I was out tonight so didn't see it... I will have to explore alternative sources!

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: July 16th, 2008 05:53 pm (UTC)

Well, it's fun, but not good enough to put any effort into getting hold of it :-)

Posted by: eruvandeaini (eruvandeaini)
Posted at: July 16th, 2008 10:18 am (UTC)

Actually, I'm doing a bit of a rewatch of the entire four series, and I think a review has softened Donna's fate considerably. I've said elsewhere that on a couple of occasions, it's made clear that a memory wipe won't stop some things bleeding through (like Agatha Christie, or even John Smith). Despite the way her story ended on screen, there's nothing to prevent bits of the Time Lord mind sneaking unconsciously through into who she becomes - hopefully with a more appreciative mother this time round.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: July 16th, 2008 10:34 am (UTC)

Have you heard the commentary for Journey's End? Julie Gardner vetoed the broadcast of a scene recorded where Donna hears the TARDIS dematerialise and remembers, only to dismiss the sound. Julie thought this was offering the audience a false promise, but I think some viewers would have interpreted it as restoring some agency to Donna.

Posted by: eruvandeaini (eruvandeaini)
Posted at: July 16th, 2008 10:44 am (UTC)

Nope, not heard the commentary yet. I'm really not sure how I feel about knowing that. I think it might bug me because the Doctor said if she actually remembers, even for a second, she'll die. I don't mind the idea of Time Lord brilliance coming to the fore in her without her really being aware of what it is, but I'm not sure about that sort of overt reference.

But I also do quite like it as an idea, and I know that a lot of friends who were fairly distraught over Donna's fate might have liked it. But then, maybe they wouldn't - it is a little bit like rubbing salt in the wounds.

*disappears in ever-decreasing circles*