Doctor Who: The End of Time Part Two

Last week, when writing about the first part of the Tennant/Davies swansong, I talked about not making any predictions, as well as the possibility of expectations not being met. On the predictions front, I’m glad I didn’t bother (although one of the few that I did make may actually be true – more on that in a bit), because there’s really no way I could have predicted the bizarre manner in which this tale concluded. The narrative meat of this episode – the stuff involving the Time Lords, Gallifrey and the Master – was quite frankly difficult to wade through on the first viewing; a second viewing alleviated some of that, and yet I’m still not convinced it all makes perfect sense. Perhaps I’m looking at it too deeply, and wanting more than there is?

I’d also be lying if I said I went into this episode without any expectations – I mean, how can you not? Many, if not most of them weren’t met, although there were plenty of other treats on display that made up for that. Indeed, this episode was hell bent on subverting expectations. “The End of Time” as a whole, which is how it should be judged, is a landmark slice of “Doctor Who,” even though the writing isn’t as tight as the intricate standard set by “The Waters of Mars.” Oh well – based on previous finales, I didn’t really expect it to be, and on that level it can’t be called a letdown. It’s so steeped in the mythology of Davies’ vision of “Who,” that it’s difficult to imagine it could possibly work as a piece of standalone drama for anyone unfamiliar with the past five years of the series. But that also can’t be a criticism, since what it really is is a jagged love letter to everyone who’s been paying attention during that time. Davies really backed himself into a corner with this one, because “Journey’s End” very much felt like the end of the era, only it wasn’t. So this proper ending, which feels more like a coda or an afterward, had to be a horse of a different color, and it most certainly was.

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Doctor Who: The End of Time Part One

Before moving on to the actual write-up, let’s take a moment to offer some high praise to BBC America for showing this episode a day after it first screened in the U.K. A day! For the first time on American TV, we aren’t seeing the premiere of a “Doctor Who” Christmas special when it’s warm outside, and the Christmas-themed portions of the story don’t seem hopelessly out of place. Back when I wrote up “Journey’s End,” I pleaded with Syfy to show the various David Tennant specials in a timely manner, so that audiences wouldn’t be forced to go elsewhere to get their “Who” fix or, even worse, get bored and forget about the show altogether. Good thing Syfy no longer has first-run rights here in the States, because I highly doubt they would’ve made the same programming move that BBC America made. Further, BBC America is committed (at least for the time being) to showing the episodes uncut, which is just as if not more important. Keep it up BBCA, and you’ll keep building a devoted audience. Heck, even a week or two after the U.K. premieres would be more than acceptable in my book.

It’s always difficult to write about the first half of a two-part finale, and never more so than in this case. This episode is all over the place in tone, and yet hangs together quite nicely, although it took me two viewings to realize the latter. Yet whatever one might think about “The End of Time Part One,” there’s no denying that the bigger picture has yet to be seen, and what Russell T. Davies unveiled in this hour is only a setup for the real finale. About the first 15 minutes of this thing just zoom by, setting up one aspect of the story after another. In fact, there are so many elements that are set up throughout the hour that one wonders how they can all be addressed in the finale proper.

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TCA Tour, Day 2: “Doctor Who”

There are no two ways about it: it’s a great time to be a fan of the “Who”-niverse. Not only did the awesome “Torchwood: Children of Earth” miniseries blow away BBC America ratings records, thereby almost certainly insuring that we will see more of Captain Jack and company in the future, but we’ve just been witness to another great “Doctor Who” saga (“Planet of the Dead”) and will have two more coming up in the next few months, with “The Waters of Mars” premiering in the fall and the inevitable Christmas episode arriving…well, you know, somewhere around Christmas, probably. In fact, there’s really only one thing to be sad about: the imminent departure of The Tenth Doctor, otherwise known as David Tennant.

Oh, dear, I’m already starting to get sad about it. Let’s switch gears, then, and talk about how Tennant came to be The Doctor in the first place.

“I first met David when we did ‘Casanova’ together for the BBC,” said “Who” reinvigorator Russell T. Davies. “I remember doing rehearsals, and we used to make ‘Doctor Who’ jokes, which amused us. So he was already there in a way. When you work with these great actors, when you find a great actor, you just cling to them. They’re just so limitless and inspiring. So when it came to putting it together and writing it, we talked surprisingly little about it, really, didn’t we?”

“You just wrote it,” confirmed Tennant. “That was it, really. I just got the script and did it.”

So what was Tennant doing that was different from the other actors who were under consideration?

“He’s a great kisser,” replied Davies, before getting serious. “Actually, I’ll tell you what: it was the ‘Casanova’ audition, because that’s when I sort of thought, ‘Oh, my lord, that’s someone I want to spend many years working with.’ He had auditioned for ‘Casanova,’ and, you know, playing the world’s greatest lover, everyone came in and gave us very heavy and very serious would-be romantic portrayals. And David could just dance over dialogue like…”

At this point, Davies turned and addressed David directly. “I think you’re one of the few actors who understands that dialogue is sort of irrelevant,” he said. “You throw it away and you rattle across it with real speed, and it’s all going on underneath. You get the humor and the comedy, and there’s not many actors who do that. They take it very seriously. And I like stuff on the lighter end, no matter how dark the actual stuff is. It has that throw-away quality to it, and I love that.”

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