The End of Time and WhatTheHellHappenedToRusselTDavies!?!
(Originally posted posted to my Livejournal on December 29, 2009.)
Jesus Christ in an ambulance, did Russell T Davies have a stroke between co-writing The Waters of Mars and Christmas Day's utter travesty of craftsmanship, or did Phil Ford just cover for him?
Whatever happened, and whatever happens on New Year's Day, if there was ever any doubt that Davies has bad days to go along with his good ones, part one of his grand Doctor Who finale, The End of Time was not just the worst episode in Davies' five year run as the Boss of Who, it was one of the worst pieces of television craft I've come across since an sub-par episode of the original Battlestar Galactica. (No link. Just google it, people!)
Yes folks, I'm going to blather on in fanboy mode, with spoilers galore. If you're not interested, or don't what to be spoiled about the plot twists in this remarkably inept episode of the venerable series, just scroll on down.
I'm now kind of regretting using Davies' first Doctor Who outing as an example of what was so wrong with the recent Star Trek movie, because The End of Time (part one) does everything the J.J. Abrams' Star Trek did wrong, only worse.
Where Davies was once able to introduce a brand new character (Rose Tyler) and re-introduce The Doctor after a 15-year absence in two minutes, he now gives an already-familiar audience less of a story in 50 minutes.
Within the first five minutes, we find out that the Master is returning and that he likes to laugh. Bernard Cribbins's Wilf gets to hear some mysterious but pointless exposition in a church and (much later) will organize a horribly unfunny bunch of fellow senior citizens to find The Doctor. If people were offended by the portrayal of Chinese people Turn Left last year, anyone over the age of 60 has a bloody good case for organizing a lynch mob to go after Davies this time.
But disrespecting old people is hardly the worst of Davies' sins here. Oh no, there's much worse.
Truth to tell, nothing makes any real sense. There's a nefarious group run by a billionaire bent on making his daughter immortal through the use of some alien technology who manage to kidnap The Master just after the latter has displayed, well, the ability to shoot energy blasts out of his fists and to er, leap tall buildings at a single bound. (Also, he eats quickly, a lot and without much regard for table decorum.) Though he's managed to take The Doctor out, some guy dangling from a helicopter is able to surprise him with a syringe to the throat and take him prisoner.
Anyway. Did I mention none of this make sense?
By this point were about at the 35-minute mark and I haven't even mentioned the pointless coffee and cry The Doctor has with old Wilf, where the rehash old adventures and remind us that his grand-daughter (and The Doctor's former Companion) Must Not Remember Him Lest She Go Insane and (then) Die.
Then The Master is given access to the alien machine which will allow him to ... well, set up the upcoming finale — let's just say that, if one Master is tedious, seven Billion are even more annoying.
Also, there are two other aliens — green ones — who also want the alien tech but who don't play any important role here, except to let The Doctor show he's cool by recognizing them through their disguises (maybe in Part 2? Maybe — but Davies has a history of introducing supporting players only to more or less forget about them).
Where was I? Oh yes. At 43 minutes, The Master — in loose red dog collar and straight-jacket, no less, is brought in to repair the Magic Alien Machine and the above-mentioned aliens reveal themselves (to us) while they have a long expository dialogue the Real Russell T Davies would have tossed off in 15 seconds.
Over the final 5 minutes, The Master laughs a lot, heads spin, and Everyone on earth ... Changes. Except Donna and Wilf. Poor Wilf has to shout such gems of dialogue as "What have you done — you monster!" and John Simm laughs and laughs and laughs.
Did I mention that none of this makes much sense? And if somehow it will tie together in Part II, did I mention that the Good Davies would have tossed all of this out in a few minutes rather than an hour?
Bad jokes, extended (and extended, and extended) histrionics, and (admitedly) one Big Reveal at the very end that just might, sort of, redeem this travesty ...
No. Nothing can redeem this travesty. The finale may be worth watching on its own, just as The Waters of Mars was a very good piece of stand-alone television as well as, at the same time, an excellent preparation for what (we hoped) was to come, but this episode is, well, a travesty. That no one looked at Davies' script and said, "No son, we're not going to let you do this to yourself," is almost impossible to believe.
So shoddy, so insulting, so full of itself ... I'm not even going to proof-read this rant, but just make sure the links work then let it rip. Had I written a "review" (I suppose "spitting response" is a better term) after watching it the first time I might have taken more care; but after forcing myself to watch it a second time, I simply can't be bothered.
Dear god, may the coming of Steven Moffat not be delayed another second!