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Doctor Who XXX[4].17: The End of Time, Part One

December 25th, 2009 (07:32 pm)

I really enjoyed that. Finally, a pay-off for the use of the name 'Harold Saxon' (which presumably got lost along the way the first time round); an intriguing extension for the Donna-coincidences trope which incorporates her grandfather and looks as if it's going to have some substance; convincing madness from John Simm and general revelling in a sick sense of humour (though I thought the Master would have demanded red meat); and lots of strong visual ideas which are an RTD trademark. Non-fans of Russell's interpretation of Doctor Who are probably unlikely to be admirers of this episode, but it's written for David Tennant and Bernard Cribbins to provide coherence through the solidity of their performances, and so they do. A pity, perhaps, that the Master is once more fragile, as it feels like we've been here before. Next week, and probably for the last time, the Time War!

ETA The Obama stuff was corny, but we are used to that; the "making do" was an unsubtle reference to the recession. David Tennant as credit boom Doctor?

ETA2 And that looks like a Seer from Ribos in the trailer (and the scene on the website), judging by her make-up... perhaps that's the really fannish thing Julie urged Russell to include anyway?

Comments

Posted by: thanatos_kalos (thanatos_kalos)
Posted at: December 25th, 2009 07:45 pm (UTC)

Finally, a pay-off for the use of the name 'Harold Saxon'

In the sense of the Saxons invading and assimiliating/being assimilated? Or am I missing a medieval ref? (My history ends about 500AD with the words 'Nunc aliquid diuersum omnino erit' (and now for something completely different).

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 25th, 2009 07:48 pm (UTC)

It's the idea of Harold II as England's lost hero-king, whom legend said survived Hastings and lived as a hermit/to a great age/to return at a time of England's greatest need. More obscure than Arthur in Britain or Fredericks I and II in Germany and Italy, but I'm sure it's occurred to Russell.

Posted by: thanatos_kalos (thanatos_kalos)
Posted at: December 25th, 2009 07:50 pm (UTC)

Ah! I didn't know about that. :)

Posted by: Andrew Gray (shimgray)
Posted at: December 25th, 2009 08:38 pm (UTC)

Interesting - I hadn't encountered Harold-as-lost-myffic-king before.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 25th, 2009 08:48 pm (UTC)

There's certainly enough there for Russell to half-remember and amplify for his own purposes.

Posted by: Virgers! How are we doing with those explosives? (tree_and_leaf)
Posted at: December 25th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)

It surfaces in Kipling - "Rewards and Faries".

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 25th, 2009 09:43 pm (UTC)

So it does.

Posted by: Edmund Schluessel (st_lemur)
Posted at: December 25th, 2009 07:48 pm (UTC)

Blond, Saxon, Master Race...

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 25th, 2009 07:48 pm (UTC)

I'd not thought of that, but that's there too.

Posted by: thanatos_kalos (thanatos_kalos)
Posted at: December 25th, 2009 07:49 pm (UTC)

I caught the blonde/Master race bit (and now I have to bloody account for that, too... *watches word count dribble away*) but not the Saxon ref.

Posted by: Edmund Schluessel (st_lemur)
Posted at: December 25th, 2009 08:05 pm (UTC)

Rule 1 of TV/film textual analysis is "It's Always Nazis".

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 25th, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC)

The updated version of this rule, already seen in Doctor Who in 2005, is "It's always al-Qaeda".

Posted by: thanatos_kalos (thanatos_kalos)
Posted at: December 25th, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC)

I thought Rule 1 was 'always use big words when writing it up'?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 25th, 2009 08:23 pm (UTC)

That too. (In the humanities, no-one knows you can't count. If you know that 2+2=5, that's social sciences.)

Posted by: thanatos_kalos (thanatos_kalos)
Posted at: December 25th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)

Which is why all the maths in my various projects scare my supervisors... ::evil laugh::

Posted by: Penny Paperbrain (pennypaperbrain)
Posted at: December 25th, 2009 11:34 pm (UTC)

Ponder says I'm to say that Ponder says that even a scriptwriter of the calibre of Robert Holmes had some trouble writing good scripts with the Time Lords in, and Russell T Davies is not of the calibre of Robert Holmes.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 26th, 2009 12:02 am (UTC)
Tom

I think Russell T is of a similar calibre to Robert Holmes, but they are different sorts of writers who've had different careers and have contrasting outlooks on life. Holmes never had to run the series in the way that RTD has. As for the Time Lord question, I like The Deadly Assassin and think Holmes manages that well.

Posted by: Dewi Evans (wonderwelsh)
Posted at: December 26th, 2009 02:03 pm (UTC)

And going by his comments on Confidential, Davies's take on the Time Lords is heavily influenced by Holmes's interpretation.

Posted by: Dewi Evans (wonderwelsh)
Posted at: December 26th, 2009 02:02 pm (UTC)

Completely agree with your mini-review, Matthew.

I enjoyed it immensely, although clearly it was just an extended prelude to next week's finale. I wasn't sure about the Master's actions at first - they seemed a bit too 'out there' to take seriously. But the idea that such a drastic turn of events was actually a massive red herring - and basically a whimsical spur-of-the-moment decision taken by a madman for absolutely no reason - is truly creepy.

So the big reveal at the end saved the episode for me - not because it shocked me into forgetting what had gone before, but because, like all good twists, it transformed the way I saw the rest of the story so far.

I also agree that the use made of the recurring characters (Donna, Wilf and the Master) was effective in terms of their development and in terms of the actors' performances. Kudos to Tennant and Cribbins, in particular, who played that cafe scene beautifully.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 27th, 2009 01:14 pm (UTC)
Davison Clock

It's appropriate for a last story for a regime that it should be crammed with incidents and plotlines that apparently are going to lead nowhere (though they yet might); and also a reflection on how many people experience their lives.

Posted by: Dewi Evans (wonderwelsh)
Posted at: December 28th, 2009 10:07 am (UTC)

Definitely, and it's even more appropriate for the first episode of a two-part story. I enjoyed it a lot and can't wait to see what happens next!