In the second half of the final 2010 special of Doctor Who, I WILL NEVER HEAL. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.
“I don’t want to go.”
I came into Mark Watches Doctor Who with some very basic and naive preconceived notions about what this show was. I knew there was The Doctor. And companions. And a big blue box called a TARDIS. And the Daleks did a thing that was bad and I should be afraid of them for being things that did evil stuff. I knew David Tennant and some dude with fabulous hair was on the show. I knew Catherine Tate spent some time ’round some of the Doctors. And I knew that millions of people, especially people on Tumblr or in my comments on Mark Reads Harry Potter, were UNBELIEVABLY OBSESSED WITH DOCTOR WHO.
It was pretty easy to pick this show as my next project after Firefly. I wanted to do something that was not a single season and wouldn’t be easy to conquer. I will admit that I was afraid of disliking the show, that it wouldn’t be SRS BSNS enough for me or that it wasn’t my style of comedy. I knew, additionally, that there would be a lot of people watching me as I journeyed through this show. What if I hated it? What if it bored me? What if I simply didn’t get it? WHAT IF THE WHOLE INTERNET HATED ME BECAUSE I DIDN’T LIKE DOCTOR WHO?
Thankfully, after all this time, that’s simply not the case. Doctor Who isn’t a perfect show, and I am perfectly ok with that. Sometimes the tone can wildly oscillate from episode-to-episode. It doesn’t have a perfect track record with people of color or women. There have been a few stinkers (I WILL NEVER BE OK WITH “FEAR HER” EVER), but there have also been a lot of brilliant, shining gems. I’m introducing this review in this manner because I’d really like to make a point. And that point is that, unless Matt Smith seriously blows me out of the water in just one season, David Tennant will always be my Doctor.
I don’t mean to say that he is the best Doctor. I haven’t seen Matt Smith, and I’ve only seen pieces of the classic Doctors. (I’ve still got a lot of Who to watch!) But I have spent the most time with David Tennant. All of the Doctors have varying personalities, but Tennant has come to be the gateway to the silly, goofy, at times serious, and always caring Doctor. I know that I’ll continue watching older episodes long after Mark Watches moves on to other shows, and I’ll continue blogging the show when it airs in real time. But my real, honest introduction to this show will always make my brain think of Tennant. I don’t mean to suggest that Eccleston isn’t important, because he is. He’s very important. I’m just saying that my experience with this show will probably always gravitate towards the man I’ve spent the most time with.
I know that there are people who don’t like Ten in general. It’s not like you need my permission, but I don’t feel any particular need to defend him to anyone. But he’s gone through three companions and a whole lot of drama, and I can honestly say that I feel that his character has actually changed and grown since I first met him. Which is nice! I like character growth! And that’s actually a challenge to me. How do you “change” a character that is over nine-hundred years old? Or, for that matter, a character that has existed in the public consciousness for almost fifty years most certainly must be difficult to give character growth.
I don’t really think that all of “The End of Time” is perfect and, after reading through a lot of comments on yesterday’s review, I did realize there is a lot of WTF-ery abounding in how this story came to be. But the execution of it all is what works for me. And the last twenty minutes. Which I will get to. While choking back tears. AGAIN.
Knowing that this was the last episode before series five began, I knew that the time for David Tennant to bow out had come. Yet I found myself more occupied with a different question than how the Doctor came to regenerate.
HOW THE FUCK ARE THERE TIME LORDS
NO, SERIOUSLY, HOW IS IT EVEN POSSIBLE. Is it someone’s imagination? Is it a narrative trick? How can there be Time Lords if the Doctor ended them all during the Time War? Russell T Davies, though, completely delivers on this one. If there was any lingering question I had about this show, it was always regarding the Time War. Why was it always such a mystery? Why was the Doctor so reluctant to reveal what actually happened? While Davies provides us with the answer to this, he also gives us the reason for the Sound of the Drums, the method that brought the Master to this very point in space and time.
How many times have I said that I love time travel? Because I fucking love time travel. The revelation that the Time Lords placed the sound of the drums inside the master’s head ON PURPOSE to act as a signal made me grin out of delight. It’s so…DEVIOUS. And EVIL. SO EVIL. But why is it so evil?
A Time Lock. The Doctor placed a Time Lock on the Time War, preventing the Time Lords from ever escaping. But why? As Wilfred said, why wasn’t the Doctor happy that his people had returned?
Simultaneous to this, I worried about another development: Donna was remembering. She was remembering her past and her mind was going to burn up. The Master, foolishly so, thought that he still had control of the situation as he sent out his clones to find Donna after he discovered she wasn’t converted. Even though Donna leaks out her defense mechanism and destroyed the copies of the Master (WHO, BY THE WAY, ARE ACTUALLY HER NEIGHBORS), I worried that this would be the way that Davies would dispose of Donna. HER STORY IS ALREADY SAD ENOUGH, DAVIES, LEAVE HER ALONE.
However, I was momentarily distracted from this when we learned what was returning, what had been warned about before. (For the record, narratively, I’m going to skip the Vinvocci ship sequences. I like them, but they sort of felt a bit distracting by the end of the story.) In yet another moment where the Doctor was late to arrive, the Time Lord Council manages to locate the Master in Naismith’s mansion and beats the Doctor there. Again, I was totally on the same page as Wilfred during this scene where the Time Lords return. SHOULDN’T THIS BE A JOYOUS MOMENT??? The Doctor is no longer alone in the universe! He’s not the last of his kind anymore!
And that’s when we find out why the Doctor had ending the Time War in the way that he had: At the end of the Time War, both sides, including the Time Lords, created “horrors” to battle one another, horrors that no Time Lord, let alone the humans, could survive. The master plan of the Time Lords was to end time, to ascend to a state of higher consciousness. The Doctor exterminated his own people TO SAVE THE ENTIRE FUCKING UNIVERSE.
oh my fucking god. the fucking time war. fuck capitalization. i can’t even. i cannot even.
Now, ok…I like the next scene, as the Master realizes he was used and the Lord President is about to kill him when the Doctor pulls out the gun Wilf had convinced him to use earlier. I just think that the back and forth of WILL HE SHOOT THE LORD PRESIDENT to WILL HE SHOOT THE MASTER is a little much for me. Yes, this show has a penchant for the ridiculous drama, but I have to draw the line somewhere. A MAN HAS TO HAVE STANDARDS.
What the Master did to the Earth on this series is awful, and I don’t want to every insinuate that what happens during this final battle is completely vindicating for him. But I do think it was brave of him to tell the Doctor to step aside and die for him. If the Master was going to die, this was the most satisfying way for me. (Also, who the hell was that woman???? Don’t answer that if it’s a spoiler revealed later, but WTF.)
Gallifrey disappears, the Time Lords are sent back to the Time War forever, and the Doctor smiles, completely flabbergasted that he has survived what he thought was his death.
And then the knock. Four times in a row.
I clamped my hand over my mouth when it happened. No. NO WAY. WHAT THE FUCK. As the camera panned around to reveal the force of the knock, the sight of Wilf in the radiation containment device brought a flood of tears to my eyes. “He will knock four times,” I remembered. The Master never knocked. His drum sound was four beats. He hit those bins in the landfill four times. But he never knocked.
Unbeknownst to us all, it was the innocent actions of Wilf that would kill the Doctor. The Doctor wails with frustration at the absurdity of it all, that he just faced the Master and the Time Lords and survived, yet a lone man on Earth will kill him entirely by accident. But, in truth, the Doctor has lived too long. And it is an honor to save Wilf’s life, after the man has done so much to help him, to believe in him. So the Doctor steps into the containment area, saving Wilf’s life and taking in all the radiation. Despite that he doesn’t die, his regeneration process is triggered and he knows it’s time for him to begin a new life.
Look, it’s cheesy. It’s melodramatic. And sappy. And purposely made to create an aura of sadness. AND I DO NOT CARE. Watching the Doctor visit all of his companions was a WATERWORKS FACTORY. Saving Martha and Mickey from a Sontaran. HOLY FUCK THEY ARE MARRIED, MAKING THEM THE MOST ATTRACTIVE COUPLE IN THE HISTORY OF FUCKING TELEVISION. GOOD GOD. Saving Luke Smith and giving Sarah Jane a final, quiet goodbye. Bidding Captain Jack Harness so long, while connecting him with Alonso Frame from “The Voyage of the Dead.” Visiting Joan Redfern’s great-granddaughter. (!!!!!!!) Attending Donna’s wedding after traveling back in time to borrow a quid from her late father and buying a winning lottery ticket. (Full on sobs at this point.)
But man, visiting Rose on New Years’ in 2005, before she would meet him? I wondered how the Doctor could talk to her from the shadows without him recognizing her. There’s something so goddamn depressing about him telling her she’ll have a good year, knowing that he’ll never see her again. (I really don’t think Rose will come back again.)
“I don’t want to go.”
The truth is…I don’t want you to go either, David Tennant. You have helped introduce me to this character, this show, and all of these wonderful people in the Doctor Who community. We have so much more to share together, but we’ll never get to see you say, “Welllllllllllll……” again. I will miss you.
On that note:
FUCK YEAH I HAVE MADE IT TO MATT SMITH!!!!! Oh my god, look at that fabulous hair. I AM SO GODDAMN EXCITED!
- “This song is ending, but the story never ends.” OH MY GOD MY CREYS
- “Worst. Rescue. Ever.”
- MATT. SMITH. !@#$%%$^DFGA AS;DFJ ASKLDJF SD