Dr. Who – The End of (his) Time – A Review Overview

Neither this blog nor the other place is meant to be a full chronicle on the life and interests of dmcd.  So much could be written about what I love and the history of it and that like, but let’s face it, there are not enough hours in the day to cover all of that and there’s a present to be getting on with.  Yet it’s good to know from time to time some of the history of where I’m coming from that informs present opinion.  When it comes to the Doctor the last review I put up on The Waters of Mars went to some degree to explain some background in how I came to engage with the programme

There’s been quite a bit written recently about the last story of the tenth Doctor online and it’s been fascinating to read some of the reviews.  Some of them actually cover what I feel about the programme so it’s worth looking at some of my views on the reviews that are online.

This review from Mark Lawson makes the fatal error of adjudging previous Doctors to have played it camp or for comedy with Tennant playing it for pathos.  Lawson evidently doesn’t know his Doctor very well at all.  The plot, based on Hamlet?  Lawson’s working out of this premise is as flawed as the Dane himself.  In fact such are the flaws in the article you’re not quite sure if the brother even watched the programme properly.

Only got this review from Den of the Geek because of the BBC covering the fact that the audience number for the programme was over 10 million.  It is interesting that he looks at the 20 minute dragged out ‘getting his reward’ regeneration as a good thing.  The phrase ‘we’ve never had this’ is exactly the thought I had for very different reasons.  Den is glowing in his praise of the episode. Don’t agree, but it’s fair enough.

Meanwhile over at the Times Caitlin Moran’s review does just that – it reviews what happened and then gives the briefest of summaries at the end as to how good it was.  Now that may work in reviews for some, but actually there’s got to be a lot more view as in what you thought of what you viewed not just what you viewed.

From the fan’s perspective on the Behind The Sofa (BTS) web-site I came across three reviews.  Neil Perryman appears to have actually paid attention to what was going on in the episode touching on the whole who’s the woman question which a lot of us have taken to be the Doctor’s mother and plays into Lawson’s erroneous Hamlet offerings even though the Doctor only actually sees the woman just the once.  Perryman points out how RTD (Russell T. Davies – Executive Producer and Lead Writer since its return to the screen in 2005) doesn’t bother with the explanation of much – like who the woman is, what about Donna’s brain burning to death, what’s with the Rassilon reference, etc.  It’s a very humorous review highlighting quite a number of the plot and overall storyline inconsistencies as well as the redeeming factors that Perryman enjoyed.

What makes BTS enjoyable, however, is the range of opinion, so for Perryman’s critiques and reservations, Stuart Ian Burns is overflowing with praise for the episode, the franchise, the actor and the production.  Fair enough and at least again it shows a man who obviously watched the show.

Just to further BTS’ place in my admiration for the two polar opinions given above we have Frank Collins offering a middle of the road perspective on the bits that did and did not work in the episode.  Good reviewing in the midst of site that evident knows it’s Dr. Who.

Finally here is a good summary of the Tenth Doctor’s incarnation – glowing tribute as it were.

So that should give you a fair idea of the views out there and some indication to where my own preferences are in terms of viewing it.  For what it’s worth it was clear to me that RTD’s emphasis has been on what makes for entertaining television.  That issue has been his priority over other issues like continuity.  Thus he can afford to indulge in the longest drawn out regeneration in the Doctor’s history, because he’s going for the jugular in terms of viewers’ emotions.  There are elements of this approach that work to me, and others that don’t.  The bottom line as far as the show’s success is concerned is that he’s got the thing up and running not just as television programme but a franchise with spin-offs, online attention, awards and mass media attention. (It even made it to No. 3 in the best programmes of the Noughties – sure it was on C4 which gave the No. 1 slot to Top Gear, but the recognition is still worth highlighting.)

David Tennant as the Doctor has been tremendous both in the role and as the ambassador for the programme in all the extra bits.  You’d argue there hasn’t been such a sold out Doctor in the role since the heights of Tom Baker.  That’s probably the point of the success of the reboot that Tennant will be the Doctor in the eyes of a generation and it will take Matt Smith the best part of the next season just to get people to accept him.  I loved Smith’s first moments on the TARDIS and I’m just excited about what will be in Spring when the new season starts.  It can be completely new and the slate is clear for Moffatt and Smith to make a stamp with their own vision of the development of the character.

So I’m grateful for the Tennant years regardless of some of the storyline disappointments and inconsistencies.  It establishes the figure in a good stead and now roll on the next Doctor.




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