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Jul 08, 2006

This isn't the show it once was.

Fuck me, Catherine Tate.

In a wedding dress.  With a promise that the Christmas episode will be called The Runaway Bride.

This isn't the show it once was.

It's the perfect set up for a new companion of course - the number of times the Doctor's dropped one off only to find another one hiding in a cupboard ready for the adventure.  I suspect much of the special will be about him trying to go on alone but with Ms. Tate tantalizingly close. Perhaps he'll spend his time assuming that she'll be just like Rose before realizing that she's not the companion he's looking for and dropping her back off in the arms of her would-be husband before convincing them that they're made for each other.

Seriously, this isn't the show it once was.

It's been a bumpy year.  When I've got the time to sit down for the inevitable marathon, I know that I'm going to find that as the momentum builds, the episodes I didn't love will seem much better than they did the first time round and all of the subliminal plot points leading up to Doomsday will be clearer.  But really, if you compare pretty much all the episodes with each other this year, they all look like they could have come from a different programme.  As the generic barriers all crash in on one another, does it seem possible that the writer of the languid New Earth would so many weeks later drop in something as ludicrously brilliant as this season ender?  As the infrequent Big Finish audios with Paul McGann drop into a disappointingly esoteric tailspin it's comforting to know that the television version can still knock out thrill, chills and excitement, with big explosions and thousands of Daleks and Cybermen battling each other on screen. 

So what if in the story ended up basically being Torchwood under siege, with the Doctor saving the world from an office and a few corridors again.  That's tradition. 

But still at the centre of it all was David Tennant.  He's been getting a few knocks this series but for my money he was as good as if not better than Eccleston in this episode.  Although he still lacks that visceral quality and deep seated anger he managed to pass the Dalek test with flying colours - just watch his face too as he helplessly watched Rose save the world again and risk loosing herself.  If we didn't quite see the big moment when some of the personality excesses of the past twelve episodes came home to roost there was still a convincing feeling of loss.  So what if in the story ended up basically being Torchwood under siege, with the Doctor saving the world from an office and a few corridors again.  That's tradition. 

You can see why Tracy-Ann Oberman had been so cagey in interviews about whether she was going to be in the Torchwood series.  She had a perfect exit and resurrection, although it is a shame that she wasn't retained - she looked and sounded amazing through to the end.  For the first time ever, I think, I loved Murray Gold's score with all the choruses and big dramatic booms.  Even the returning themes seemed appropriate.    Nick Briggs must have had a ball voicing two alien races at the same time - I'd imagine it was rather like Roy Skelton on Rainbow voicing George and Zippy, but with a finger poised on the ring-modulator for the tonal shifts.  Graeme Harper's direction felt slightly less old-school this time around and actually quite close to Euros Lynn with his funny camera angles. 

As other shows have found out to their cost, robots killing robots is not all that exciting because unless you care about one of the sides it's just computer generated stuff crashing into stuff.

But you know, as usual, despite the fantechnoporn, the most effective moments were between the human  characters.  As other shows have found out to their cost, robots killing robots is not all that exciting because unless you care about one of the sides it's just computer generated stuff crashing into stuff.  This series absolutely understood this yet again, so whilst the war happened on the outside, the inner world of relationships and humanity was all the more touching.  I loved that it took some time to resolve the Pete and Jackie story, give them one final moment.  And that Mickey got to be the idiot again one last time and start the Dalek prison break leading to the death of a tens of people.  Saved the sun at least.

I like that Rose died that way.  The killing off a major character in a series is a tricky escapade.  Get it wrong and you've got an oil slick of the week glooping all over a security officer.  Get it right and you've got a few million Firefly fans actually shouting at a cinema screen.  In this case there wasn't a way in hell that Rose was going into that void.  She was going to be saved in the nick of time.  I hadn't expected it be her Dad, but it seemed right some how, demonstrating that parallel Pete could be just as courageous as his whoniverse counterpart.  Still some cruelty - no final hug from the Doctor.  I didn't cry but I'm glad that he did - it seemed consistent with this incarnation that he cares that much.  Even recalled that moment in Neverland when he told Charlie that he loved her.  Except then he could get the words out and you weren't sure if he meant it in a passionate way.  Here, you knew differently somehow.  If the show has some meta-character arc across i's forty-odd year history, it's about the Doctor learning to feel. 

If the show has some meta-character arc across its forty-odd year history, it's about the Doctor learning to feel. 

Actually a great send off with the driving to Norway and the Bad Wolf Beach.  Reminded me somewhat of the BBC adaptation of The Day of the Triffids with a crusty van driving through a wilderness  As The Lord of the Rings film trilogy demonstrated, sometimes you have to take your time over endings to let the viewer say goodbye and extricate themselves from a story or characters that they've invested so much of their time with.  I thought the ending of The Age of Steel, seemed slightly forced.  This didn't, probably because you knew this was the final walk on the beach.  The last time we'd probably see Jackie and Mickey and Pete and Rose.  Probably.  After just two years it feels like the end of an era and actually the title of last year's finale The Parting of the Ways would have been just as appropriate here. 

How many other shows have lost all but their main character and still have the power to go from strength to strength?  All the excitement about what the new companion is going to be like.  Will they hit it off?  What will the Doctor see in her?  Still those unanswered questions.  Just what does The Face of Boe have to say for himself?  What did happen at the battle of Arcadia?  If the Daleks managed to grab this bit of timelord technology, what else is bouncing around the universe?  Possible escape pods?  You mark my words there'll be more than one known timelord in the universe by the end of the next series.

And good lord I've just thought - if there is another Pudsey Cutaway this year, what's that going to look like?

Comments

More than just tradition, the battle in Canary Wharf was when the whole Daleks v Cybermen slugfest actually worked. Taken outside, the whole thing lost the scale it needed. Millions of Daleks v millions of Cybermen should feel epic. Instead it just felt like the undercard.

I think you could be eeriely dead-on with your prediction for Runaway Bride...we'll see.

The good thing about when it switched to the outside was that you could then have millions of Daleks and Cybermen against each other. When it was just the 4 Daleks they could've just been blown away by sheer numbers, so they used the handy heat shields to have the Daleks soak up anything and basically slaughter the Cybermen wholesale.

When it's suddenly millions vs millions though, no need to protect such a tiny Dalek task force for the sake of the plot.

But then as it starts...we don't see it. They get them in this nicely epic situation and then it's all off-camera...?

Stu, I fully expect Pudsey Bear himself to make an on-screen appearance given how things were left here!

Seriously, this isn't the show it once was.

It never was, this show was never for you. It was for the new generation of dr who fans, the real only bad reviews I have ever heard are from, incredibly die hard Dr who fans. Perhaps you know better? I do not know, perhaps the families who watch know? Perhaps their children onwards, who knows?

I remember watching McCoy, when I was young, I thought he was great... Till I watched them now, I appreciate how 'not so great it ever was' but i still like him. I have watched episodes of Tom Baker and I can appreciate his bad acting, corny and smug performance. I can also say he was good, but never as good as people proclaim. I love jon pertwee, I dont think he is better than baker, but i enjoyed his performance etc ever onwards. My point is, your views are so jaded,

Seriously, this isn't the show it once was

Amen it is not, if we had tosh like the McCoy era, or even the pyramids of mars (I have seen, thank you, along with the tomb of the cybermen, to name a few) i feel that our precious series would have been cancelled ages ago....

you will all argue that u need to critic, it is very important, but dr who has never been that incredible, it is a long drawn out history of english tv, it is not special, it is not clever, it simply is, i love it none the less. I mentioned prior that 'Love & monsters' was liked by my housemates, apparently due to the fact it could make fun of itself. They did like the others, of course, yet, love and monsters was the most liked. Did everyone like it? who knows, did the majority of new viewers like it? I hope so, they count more than people like me. Everything changes.

Enjoy the fact it is back, it is not back for you, it is back for another audience, other people.

.......

Love and Monsters had an Audience Appreciation (AI) score of 76; the lowest since End Of The World when the new series had yet to settle into it's core viewership (thereafter it was 80 or above), so no, Love and Monsters was generally ill-received, not just amongst "die-hard fans". And as for Who being prepared to laugh at itself, it was trying to prove that through much of the last four years of the show. That "don't worry we don't take this seriously either" attitude was part of what killed the old series.

Tom -- do you read the rest of my review or are you just commenting on the whole site or fandom in general? Since you pastiched my structure I'm assuming you were directing that at me, and I'm slightly confused. Seriously, if you look over my reviews of this series I've often been the lone voice in the wilderness saying how amazing it still is. This above is a positive review, it's about as positive as I get without just throwing superlatives in the air with exclamation marks piercing them. I don't understand how you could interpret it as a negative.

Of course it's being made for me, as it's being made for you and everyone else. Like any piece of art we each draw somthing different from it. The franchise is a broad church and you be fans of different bits. When I say 'seriously, this isn't the show it once was' I mean it in a positive way. Because it has the capacity to change, to experiment, to still provide that element of surprise. For all the debate about stunt casting (and I love that it was the zeitgeisty choice of Tate someone who's pretty far from the mainstream) for me the genius of that closing was the incongruous sight of a bride in the console room followed by the reveal of the title, brilliant. I clapped so hard my hands were raw.

Some fans do have an Artistotlian perfect version of the show in their hards and compare any new iteration to that, even though that version never existed, it's an amalgam of everything that was and is good about the show that forgets the stuff like the story repetitions, the cliches, the bland characterisation, and sometimes the camp and the fun. If you take each version as it comes, on it's own merits you'll have a great time.

Except for 'Death Comes To Time'. That was appauling.

Different receipes, that's all it is. Since I love creepy Who and sci-fi/supernatural clashes it was the Impossible Planet/Satan Pit that was the highpoint for me. Others might point to Girl in the Fireplace.

You always pick 'n' choose what you like. Very rare indeed is the Doctor Who season where everyone likes every story.

An AI of 76 is hardly "ill-received". More "liked, but just not as well-liked as other episodes."

Well, I just watched the finale over here in California. After a season of complete ass stories except for "The Girl in the Fireplace" I was bloody surprised to find myself shedding real tears during the goodbye scene on the beach, even after 40 odd minutes of just-okayness. How is this??

Seeings I don't really know who Catherine Tate is, I found the last 10 seconds mildly amusing, but apparently this is something to be dreaded.

Oh well, roll on Christmas Special...

Ted in sunny (well not at the moment, it's 3:20 a.m.) California...

Well said, Stu. It's time one or two posters started reading what people have to say rather than twisting it to suit their own agendas.

>you will all argue that u need to critic, it is very important...

Why is anyone even arguing with this berk? You have to have some standards before you bother to engage surely?

That is totally nuts!

I'm keen to see the BBC's response... I hope it's very ah succint as mine would be ; )

Re the finale: yay!

I do have some criticisms, naturally, which I'll forward here later in the week when I get the chance but the ledger is definitely in the black.

It reaches truly surreal levels where the complaint runs that a joke is: "included only to satisfy a need of the writers to express themselves."

OMG! Writers expresssing themselves! Whatever next? Probably bloggers expressing themselves too.

Thankyou, that man - I feel sane in comparison.

The time, effort and sheer psychosis that's gone into this reminds me of Kevin Spacey in 'Se7en'.

Oh my god. That man is *insane*.

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