Revisionsism: Second Doctor, Second Thoughts
Originally posted to my Livejournal on July 7, 2008.
I take it back. Almost all of it.
On second viewing, the series finale to this, the fourth season of Doctor Who was far less of an anti-climax than I thought it was last night.
Truth to tell, I'm not just re-thinking my initial reaction to this year's Doctor Who series finale, I'm disowning it, almost entirely.
While admitting it didn't have quite the heart-rending pathos of the last episode of series three, with this episode Russell T. Davies proved himself a master of long-form adventure fiction (for, ahem, children).
He gave long-time fans everything they could have wanted - and more! Sara-Jane Smith; daleks; K-Nine; Davros (the evil genius who doesn't just want to conquer the universe but to destroy it completely! Villains just to come any more, er, villainous than that - or much more grotesque)!
For newcomers, the entire old gang was back. Captain Jack, charming and omnisexual as ever; Martha Jones, Mickey Smith and (of course) Rose.
Despite the enormous cast, the episode was filled with humour to balance out the (remarkable, considering we knew that at least the Doctor and the Earth itself would somehow survive) tension, and Catherine Tate did a superb job in taking on the Doctor's mannerisms after a sort of brain-transfer (the details of which even I won't bore you with here.
Though on first viewing, the Dalek's threat seemed to have been defeated to easily, on my second run-through the battle was tense, the background music was amazing and the whole story flowed organically (if not entirely logically. But, as
pointed out to me the other night, we're talking about a 900 year-old alien who flies through time and space in a phone box. We can ask for verisimilitude, but insisting on actual logic vis-a-vis the laws of physics is a bit much).
The I had a tremendous time on the second go-round, I do have a few reservations.
- Happy as I was to see the Return of Rose, that actually was a tad anti-climactic. She'd been showing up in brief cameos all series and yet, in the end, she was once again dispatched ("forever") to her alternate universe. Yes, this time with the second, genocidal (don't ask) Doctor and so a happy ending for her, but still ...
- Donna's fate pissed me off. I suppose it made for good drama and a suitably tragic ending to her stint as the Doctor's companion, but wiping her entire memory of her year as The Most Important Woman In the Universe seemed unnecessarily cruel. She deserved better;
- The entire Torchwood part of the story seemed more commercially-driven than artistically. Sure, it was geeky fun to see Captain Jack again, but the main purpose of having him there appears to be to create interest in that program's next season, since it seems clear that both Martha Jones and Mickey Smith will be joining its cast.
But all things considered those are pretty minor, indeed almost churlish, points about which to bitch.
What more is there to say? I laughed and I (almost) cried. That's more than most television shows can give me.
Russell T. Davies has for four years now consistently reminded this (now) 43 year-old man remember what it's like to be a 12 year-old boy engrossed in a mind-bending and sometimes even mind-expanding fantasy again.
And that, really, is one hell of an accomplishment.