The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End
By now I know what to expect with the series finales. They are big, very very big. A little reminiscent, and generally plotwise a massive disappointment. So, keeping that in mind you can’t be disappointed with The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End, because they merely ran true to form. In fact, they were the pinnacle of overblown, over the top stories laced with awful plotting and a very drawn out ending.
Although there are a few specials to go, you could be forgiven for seeing this one as Russel T Davies’ and David Tennant’s swansong. We even got a regeneration of sorts! What really got me was how unsatisfying the resolution was. Which is RTD’s forte it seems, building up on a huge scale and then not really having anywhere to go except a big reset button or exploring the realms of incredulity.
So. We have planets throughout the universe disappearing, and at the start of the story the Earth becomes one of them. Why the TARDIS would not be taken with the Earth is anyone’s guess, it had landed there and so being left in the empty space when the Earth is stolen made no rightly sense to me.
Not only do we have a Dalek army, a Dalek supreme, but Dalek Sek and Davros are back too. Julian Bleach’s Davros is wonderful, perfect casting as the mad creator of the Daleks, and he looks fantastic, true to the original, so a big thumbs up for that. All the important characters are back for the finale – the characters that have made the first four years of the new series. Rose, Mickey, Rose’s Mum (grooooooan), Martha, Captain Jack, Sarah Jane (always wonderful to see her) and Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister. They all come up with ingenious ways to destroy the Earth so the Daleks can’t have it, but it all comes to naught in the end.
Because this series is about Donna. And she’s been saying she’s no-one, so it must be her who saves the day. So here’s the thing that killed the story for me. Donna-Doctor. Doctor-Donna. Whichever it was. As the TARDIS is seconds away from destruction, Donna touches the Doctor’s hand in a jar (this is the hand he lost in ‘The Christmas Invasion’ by the way) and creates a new Doctor, combined with Donna. So yes, we have two David Tennants! Then Donna herself inherits the Doctor’s mind, combined with hers, and presses a few buttons and stops everything.
Let’s look past the fact that pressing buttons is a very weak way to resolve the situation, and consider then that it is NOT Donna that saves the day, but the Doctor-Donna. It’s nothing inherit in Donna perse, but the combination of minds which allows her to be the heroine. For me, that defeated the purpose of having her being the key to it all. BIG TIME.
That for me was the single biggest issue with this epic story which looks great although it’s full of many other crappy elements like the Oster-Haagen key, and the end of the first part where the Doctor starts to regenerate and then doesn’t cause he didn’t want to. Then we have the ending with Rose. Rose is sent back to the alternate Earth and given the new version of the Doctor, who is incidentally human. I’m sorry, but AS IF. Let’s also look past the age difference and oh so much that’s wrong with the idea of a relationship between the two, he’s a friggin’ facsimile. It’s dreadful, awful, shite.
The ending doth drag too, and all we really needed to see was what happened to Donna, who has her memory of the Doctor wiped because otherwise it will kill her. And this is really sad. And again unsatisfying for this viewer. In fact, I may have preferred her to actually die. Dalek Caan is continually saying one of the companions is going to die, and then no-one does.
So, in short, grand on scale, vision and design, short on plot and satisfaction. In short, the antithesis of every series finale RTD has given us.
The Next Doctor
And we’re back with another Christmas special, starring David Morrissey as Jackson Lake, who thinks he’s the Doctor with his faithful companion Rosita (played by the brilliant Velile Tshabalala) facing off against Miss Hartigan (Dervla Kirwan) who is equally brilliant. In fact, the these actors make the show wonderful, seriously wonderful.
The first three quarters of the episode is just a great romp, with some clever twists. I love the idea of the Doctor thinking that Jackson must simply be a future incarnation, and then he has a sonic screwdriver which is just… a screwdriver! Brilliant! And the TARDIS is a hot air balloon! Wonderful stuff! Then we have the Cybermen, and their ‘Cybershades’ very strange creatures with cyber-faces but a sort of shaggy black carpet as the costume. Ok, they look pretty crappy.
The show is full of wonderful moments and reveals, it’s truly magical in places, sad in others. Highly entertaining. It was the best Christmas special of all.
Until… the Cyberking. Oh gawd. What were they thinking? A huge Cyberman walking around London destroying everything with like a control deck and Miss Hartigan at the controls. She appears to be an early feminist too, but the script doesn’t treat her well which I didn’t like and seems almost anti-feminist in the way it portrays her. It looks a bit rubbish this CyberKing, but in concept it’s even worse. It’s a kind of lame concept which may have been used because RTD couldn’t think of anything else when faced with the question – ‘What are the Cybermen up to?’.
The story is the first to be shot in HD, and it looks magnificent. The improvement in picture quality is massive. I enjoyed that aspect and the performances of the guest cast. And the first three quarters is pretty awesome. Hard to get past the CyberKing though…