Monday, 31 December 2012

Review: Doctor Who Classic: The Horns of Nimon

Happy New Year, everyone. 

Soldeed has just read this review. And he's very cross.
Doctor Who - Season 17, Story 5 - The Horns of Nimon
Written 6/10/12. 

I like Bad Doctor Who. I'm a sucker for the bad acting, bad design choices and downright terrible plot holes, and nothing makes me laugh quite like an absolute catastrophe. Time-Flight is a camp classic, Time and the Rani makes me laugh like nothing else and Timelash, well, that's just awesome. So when I heard of this story's horriffic reputation as the shodily made filler for an story that was never produced (Shada), I was looking forward to ending the series on a camp high note of mischeivous fun. What more can a man ask for? A lot more, it would turn out. My responses as I go through Tom's era, however topsy turvey I may be doing it, aren't encouraging, and this story pretty much nearly wiped out any enthusiasm I had for it.
     The best thing in the story is the semi-villain, Soldeed, played by Graham Crowden. He stands as a Minos in a story filled with badly executed references to Greek Mythology, and the campyness with which he plays the role delivers the story's few laugh-out-loud moments. Of course most reviewers would criticise these lines, rightly, as some of the worst deliveries in the program's long history, but for me they came as a few glorious moments of entertainment in 100 minutes of solid tedium, stupidity and disappointing lack of effort. Crowden at least seems to know how bad the serial is, and seems to be hamming it up just so he can get something out of it, and if I was in the position (and I have been in similar positions in the past) I couldn't blame him.
     The story's main influence is Theseus and the Minotaur, the six tributes from Anthea being sent by Minos (Soldeed) through the Labyrynth to feed the Minotaur (The Nimons). I can see where this is coming from, and it would be a decent base for a story if it wasn't so shoddily executed. On the face of it, the story's adaptations to the Doctor Who format could be seen as rather clever - K9 is used as the ball of golden wool to guide the way back through the maze, the maze is constantly changing its dimensions to avoid people escaping; it could have been something quite innovative. But it's acted and directed in such a lacklustre style that doesn't even attempt to provide any sort of tension or excitement... I just got bored. I very rarely get bored by Who, this is a new thing for me.
So much fiddling around in the TARDIS for no
reason in this season...
     If there was a cutting off point between hope and despair for me while watching this story, it came in the third episode. There was a shot that lingered rather unnecessarily upon the back of the Nimon's head, and when the actor reached up, the helmet came half-off. Why was that left in? Why didn't they catch that in the recording and do it again from a different angle? It wasn't even that long a scene! All it amounts to is the fact that obviously the producers on this story didn't actually care. At all. The reason for this is probably that Adams was driving through the story so he could get to his "masterpiece" story Shada - a story that, due to another one of Who's famous strikes, was never made. Nevertheless, it feels like such a bad work ethic - it doesn't matter that this one comes out crap, the next one'll be fine. No, that's not how it works. You need to put effort into every single one of your stories. The Art Department definitely tried their damned hardest every single time, I don't blame them, but I do blame this story's lacklustre acting, directing, music and most of all, the damn script editor for not ironing out the creases.
     I came into Horns of Nimon hoping that it would be bad in the right way for me to get the most out of it, but even on that front it disappointed. It had a few decent ideas that would have worked well, but their executions as well as the overall execution of a poor script meant that this project was doomed from the very beginning. As it stands, this story alone is enough to see why Graham Williams would go on to leave the position of Producer and hand it over to one of the crew, John Nathan Turner, who would go on to make Who more powerful, insightful and at least, when it was bad, more fun than this.

Thanks for nothing, Nimon.

NEXT WEEK: I pick up where I left off with Tennant and look at Girl In The Fireplace.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Review: Doctor Who 7.Y: The Snowmen

Clara and The Doctor work well together. Like, really well.
Written between 25th and 30th December

In the past, Moffat Christmas Specials have taken a story from Classical Christmas Literature and given it a Doctor Who twist, with the main companions and storyline firmly out of the action. Taking a leaf out of RTD's book, Moffat has used this Christmas special as an opportunity to introduce the next phase of his era, with a new companion, title sequence and TARDIS interior. While it did come at the cost of some of the main plot, the sheer charm with which the new setup was introduced has got me thoroughly primed for the series' return in the spring. Even if Moffat's riddles confuse me a little.
     The Doctor is in mourning after losing Amy and Rory, and is hiding out in Victorian London under the protection of Madame Vastra, her wife Jenny and their Sontaran servant Strax. Clara (Jenna Louise Coleman), is a barmaid who, in her spare time, pretends to be the wealthy governess of a Stately Home. She accidentally comes across The Doctor while out, and follows his investigation as he discovers that sentient snow has been terrorising the peoples of London. The snow is being controlled by the Intelligence, an accidental creation of the mind of Doctor Simion (Richard E Grant, whose played non-canon Doctors twice). After Clara helps The Doctor to escape a solid-ice creature that the Intelligence was trying to give form, she falls from a great height and lies dying in the house. While the Doctor faces the Intelligence, the sadness of the Governer's family crying for Clara causes the psychic snow to turn to tears, releasing the Intelligence out into the world. The Doctor realises that Clara and Oswin from back in Asylum of the Daleks are different versions of the same person, hundreds of years apart, and goes to look for another version.
Jenna-Louise Coleman doesn't disappoint, again.
     While I was a tad annoyed that our companion is once again getting up and sexy with The Doctor, this felt different. Unlike River and Amy, whom the Doctor accidentally imprinted himself on when they were young, Clara has an instant chemistry with Eleven that's quite fascinating to watch. Moffat still ended up writing her with his obsession with sexual promiscuity, but it was a tad more tame here than in Asylum and worked a bit more smoothly. In a really intuitive way, there's something about Smith and Coleman that just really works on the screen, and it makes the episode a joy to watch. It was a shame that Richard E Grant's character, Dr. Simion, wasn't as well characterised.
     It was this lack of characterisation in our villains that actually provided the episode's main issue - while strong in its leads and very interesting conceptually, the main threat of the story was painfully underdeveloped because of it. Our solution is incredibly rushed and the "family crying on Christmas Eve" line was both cheesy as heck and on par with similar "Power of Love" feats that the series has thrown before. I suppose it was Christmas and all that, so we were due some doughy sentiment, but I got the feeling that the episode became so bogged down in the new mythos that it often failed to make a cohesive plot for itself to follow. The snow feeds on thoughts, suddenly it's made a body, we can't let the snow touch the body, it wants physical form, wait now it's the creation of a child's mind, now it can control people. There was a strange level of inconsistency behind the villain's actions.
      Strange, when said villain formed a major part of this episode's almost slavish reliance on the series' past. I think Moffat did manage to balance between entertainment for new viewers and references to the Classic Series, but he sure didn't make it easy for himself. The new title sequence borrows heavily from past versions and is the first since Sylvester McCoy's era to show the Doctor's face in the credits. The new TARDIS is much darker and features, rather wonderfully, a hexagonal console not unlike that ubiquitous in the old days. And, more relevantly to how I began this paragraph, the villain of the story is taken from two 1960s stories: The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear. It's really weird and awesome that Moffat saw fit to write a prequel to two stories that no longer exist in their entirety. (Even if it does have me thinking back to the Eighties and the hubub caused by the continuity references in Attack of the Cybermen).
Richard E. Grant's sociopathic Simeon comes off a bit wooden.
     My rambling aside, The Snowmen did have a lot of flaws when it came to ensuring that the story held together. But it was a balance of so many different influences and ideas both old and new that it's really a miracle that the main leads' had room to do their thing. The end result, on the face of it, is two very charismatic actors creating two very interesting characters, and a TARDIS team that promises not only to be unlike anything we've seen before and to take influences from the show's history. It wasn't perfect, but it was Moffat's best Crimbo special and one of the best things he's written in a long while.


Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

I hope, dear reader, that you've been a very good little boy or girl this year so Father Christmas will come and deliver some presents under the Christmas Tree. As usual here on Nostalgia Filter, I'll be writing only one more review to cap the year off - the Doctor Who Christmas Special.

Whatever. Stop reading this blog. Go and enjoy Christmas. Merry Christmas, everyone.


Monday, 24 December 2012

Review: Merlin 5.12-13: The Diamond of the Day

I'm sorry. I'm emotional right now, and I shouldn't really get emotional at a show like Merlin. I was never particularly fond of it, but it was like that little nick you have in the edge of your desk that you're not quite sure is very good for your writing surface but that you feel a bit empty without. I never expected Merlin to be good but I did have this tiny niggling hope that it would all turn out in the end. I can, of course, trust these asshat writers to completely dash that hope, and while in some respects this finale was everything we've asked for, in others it was a cop-out of truly epic proportions that has made sure this seires will go the same way as its spiritual predecessor, the terrible Robin Hood.
Merlin gets old for no reason.
     Morgana, now in the knowledge that Emrys has been Merlin this whole time, marches her forces towards the battlefield of Camlan, where Arthur is prophecised to die. She's used a magic slug to suck away Merlin's powers, forcing him to leave the battle and go to the Crystal Cave. There he has a chat with his spirit Dad and, while watching Arthur's forces go bravely to Camlan, he looks into the light and is recharged as an old man for some reason. On the battlefield, Mordred stabs Arthur with a magic sword and gets Excalibur to the gut in return, but Merlin's deus ex machina isn't in time to save him. He ages down and explains to Arthur all about his magic. As they try to make their way to a place where Arthur can be healed, Arthur slowly comes to terms with Merlin's loyalty and bravery over the past five series. They meet Morgana, whom Merlin stabs with Excalibur, but then despite Kilgarrah's help, Arthur dies in Merlin's arms and Gwen becomes Queen. And then Merlin is a hobo in the Present. Or something.
     Morgana and Mordred worked well together, but their characterisations were completely shoved to the side to make way for the main plot. I was suprised that Merlin has never done the "protagonist loses his powers" thing before, and I was a bit disappointed that it couldn't have had an episode of its own to pan out instead of being sidelined into the end Prophecy, which itself hasn't had the right buildup because of that stupid four weeks of Brainwash!Gwen.
     Merlin telling Arthur was, I'll admit, well done. Arthur reacted how he really would react in that situation, and it was good to see them smoothing over their own ignorance of character development so that Arthur could finally come to appreciate all that Merlin has done for him. It seems an eon ago that this was a cheesy monster-of-the-week show in the vein of Smallville, and this was the confirmation of just how far Merlin has come. And then, then there was something else. Something that told me the exact opposite.
     There were many ways for Merlin to end. The one we all expected, the one that made the most sense, was the one in which Arthur would go on to rule, with Merlin by his side, and create a more free and just kingdom for all. It's something we've taken as granted over these past five years, that while the plot may be swerving away from the Legend, that we'd always end up there by this episode. The writers don't know when to just do what needs to be done, and so for whatever stupid reason, they chose to end the series by having Arthur die and Merlin live forever watching over his body. And that really, really just angered me to the point of blind rage.
Morgana gets a pretty shit death, to be honest.
     I was fine when Lancelot snuffed it. When Mordred randomly grew up far faster than he should have. I was ok when Uther's death was handled in the worst possible way, and I was less annoyed when Merlin himself went out of his way to stop Magic being accepted. But to end the series with Arthur dying, with the added circumstance that he is pretty much gone forever, and that Gwen will reign and will probably have the same views on magic that Arthur had... it's pretty much the biggest fuck you that the writers could come up with without actually saying it.
     After five years, I'm glad to say that the finale was, for the most part, enjoyable. It had good characterisations, good story, nice themes... until, regretfully, the last ten minutes. Those last ten minutes took everything I ever liked about Merlin and threw it all away, choosing to go out on an ending that was less appropriate than anything that LOST or Ashes To Ashes could ever accomplish. The end of the BBC's series of high-quality, Saturday tea-time Family Dramas has come at the cost of the last bit of integrity that Merlin ever had, and it's a horrifically tragic way for it to go.


Review: Doctor Who Classic: Nightmare of Eden

Warning: Do Not Expose To Electricity
Doctor Who - Season 17, Story Four - Nightmare of Eden
Written 2/10/12
"And, uh, as for drugs, well, drugs are bad. You shouldn't do drugs." South Park

I'm not the type to want to do drugs, but I certainly don't intend to stop others using them in a healthy and controlled manner. I don't mind you smoking pot if you smoke it out of my vicinity and you control it to the extent that you're not some drug-addled stoner sitting in cat urine on the streets waiting for your next hit. However, I wasn't too bothered by this very rare occasion in Doctor Who - one that tries to get across a message for the viewing public, in this case that kids, don't do drugs - Drugs are bad. This message very quickly becomes the story's focus and everything else gets a bit messy, but ultimately it's an enjoyable enough bash around and you get some anvils for the kids as a bonus.
     The Doctor and Romana end up on a passenger spacecraft that's collided with a vessel on its way back from a planet filled with rare life called Eden. The leader of a zoological expedition, Tryst, is very keen to share The Doctor's expertise, but in the process the Doc discovers traces of a rare and devastatingly powerful drug known as Vraxoin that has wiped out entire populations. The animals from the study are being kept in a box called a CET that manages to project another dimension within which a chunk of the planet has been dropped. As the hunt for the drug smugglers goes on, the two Time Lords must evade capture as they discover why Tryst is so interested in keeping the monsterous creatures known as the Mandrels alive and well.
     When I watched Nightmare I often found myself drifiting away. It wasn't so much of a boredom but more of a feeling of quiet apathy at how "ok" everything was. The character of Tryst was comfortably well-characterised, the other characters suitably hammy and high-handed. Despite this story's reputation, the story never mentions the effects of more mainstream drugs in our society but instead shows us the effects of Vraxoin - which appear to be a sort of gas-and-air sensation but with negative consequences at the end. From a scientific standpoint it's just a bit weird; the drug can either be synthesised from the extract of a certain type of fungus or it can be left behind by electrocuting Mandrels.
Cos I go' high, cos I go' high, cos I go' high...
     What I've ultimately come away with from Nightmare of Eden is a weird sense that I've just watched something incredibly powerful and intelligent that's littered with Doctor Who's standard chase scenes and humour. There's so much good in here, but there are little niggles that hold it back in certain points. At its heart, Nightmare of Eden is a very good story with a very good idea of what it's doing, and that's characterised by a straightforward, adult aesop surrounded by normal Who fluff. It's just that, well, it's not that obvious.


P.S. Happy Christmas Eve.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Martin Freeman's Bilbo is too often left to
the sidelines, but captivates when he is
the focus.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - 2012, Directed by Peter Jackson
Written between 22nd and 23rd December

Of all of cinema's themes, the most abstract yet ubiquitous is that of adventure. As children we are told that our lives are driven by the quest to leave the familiar and go off on daring deeds in places far and wide. In adulthood, the spirit of adventure is somewhat lost to us, and becomes an ironic statement on the mundane - adventurous spirit drives us to pick the slightly more expensive, sun-flower seeded bagel over the standard plain, drives us to take a turn onto the A-Road through the hills rather than sit in traffic on the M6. Still, it lies at the heart of many a tale, especially the prelude to Tolkein's Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit.
     In its most recent publication, The Hobbit is not a long book; it is a breezy 80 pages long and contains a fair story that explores the early adventures of Bilbo Baggins and explains how the One Ring came to be in his possession. Peter Jackson, the director of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy from the early Noughties, is not a man satisfied with brevity. Through some divine intervention, this 80-page story is extended into a very, very long three hours of some astounding special effects, sorta ok acting and writing that seems to make the actors do all of the work when it comes to characterisation.
     The Hobbit is a strange film in that while much can be said to happen, very little feels as if it is happening. Usually is film is broken up into large action setpieces and quieter moments of acting and exposition, and while it was true here neither really lived up to their purpose, with the quiet scenes hardly used for anything other than grand prophesising and telling ancient tales, and action scenes often being unnecessarily long. The nadir is probably a scene around the two-hour mark where a walk through the mountains is interrupted by the mountains coming alive and beginning to fight one another.
     Effectively, the film manages to expand its source material pretty much to breaking point, leaving out very little of the book and yet leaving the viewer with a strange sense that very little has actually been accomplished. The Lonely Mountain is still so far away at the end of the three hours, and yet most of the plot from the book is done with. Frankly, I fail to see exactly what they have left that they can fill six entire hours with, when even this was padded to the gills with what felt irrelevant flashbacks and random songs cramping up the place.
     Notable beyond the main performances were those of a few minor characters. Richard Armitage's Thorin was a bit one-note here or there, but he did give off a commanding presence as the Dwarven leader. Sylvester McCoy, who we know as the Seventh Doctor, gave a rather wonderful turn as Radagast the Brown, a delightfully mad wizard harnessing the powers of nature. And, of course, Martin Freeman continues his long string of successes after Sherlock with a performance that, while not particularly bold or immediately fascinating, is for the most part captivating.
    Oh, and Gollum. Andy Serkis is always someone I've had a great deal of respect for, especially in 2011 where he followed up a brilliant episode of Accused (where he played a creepy taxi-driver) with his Oscar-worthy mo-cap performance as Ceasar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. He returns to the role of Gollum after a nine-year gap, and the megalomania with which he imbues the role is absolutely brilliant - I was beginning to get tired in the cinema at this point, and Gollum's appearance at the 2 1/2 hour mark perked me right back up again.
     I suppose the main problem with The Hobbit was just that it made me feel tired more than anything else. In its deepest essence it is a kid's film, with very simple characterisations and a plot that is about a group of people going from one place to another and having encounters along the way. While that's by no means a bad thing, I just don't think that there was anything here to justify the run-time, and that is one of the biggest crimes in cinema. I didn't feel motivated, I didn't really want to find out what happened next beyond getting out of the tedium of the current scene and onto something that was at least slightly different. It contains some of the most beautiful special effects shots that I've ever seen in cinema. But visuals alone do not a good film make. And that was the The Hobbit's biggest downfall.


Thursday, 20 December 2012

Review: Doctor Who 4.17-18: The End of Time

Yeah, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Doctor Who - Season 30, Episodes 17-18 (Third Christmas and New Year Special) - The End of Time
Written between 2nd and 17th November 
If you like The End of Time, read at thy peril.

Next year, I'm gonna go back to Tennant. This run of episodes has convinced me to do that. Maybe he's not as bad as I've thought he was over the past several years. The End of Time, though, does have a lot to answer for. It's an important story for me, for the simple reason that this is where pretty much all of my Ten-hate began. Seriously. I liked Ten, and then I watched this story, and for the past three years now, that's the way I've felt about him. What could be so bad about a story that it could literally change my mind about one of my favourite characters from light admiration to complete and utter hatred? Well, The End of Time'll do that to you. Journey's End, the "series finale" of Series Four, had been a messy, messy thing. But The End of Time took that to new levels.
     At a base level, what annoys me about The End of Time is the level with which RTD attempts to make it grandiose and epic and then fails on such a tremendous scale. This began a few episodes back with the “he will knock four times” prophecy from Planet of the Dead, one that still plagues this episode and which makes very little sense considering the vast number of times someone does four successive knocks in the interim episodes. There are so many set-pieces and grand pronouncements that RTD has to ignore things like reason and coherent storytelling in order to get his characters into these crazy situations. And of course that’s how the story will be remembered – by the big moments, by the stunts. But that a good episode doesn’t make, and thus most of the first half of the special is complete and utter tripe.
     This episode’s actual plot, when you take The Master and the Time Lords out of the equation (which I will cover, don’t worry) has very little new to offer. The bigged-up villains from the opening prophecy, the Naismiths, do little other than have a big house and some convenient guards, and their only characterisation seems to be a kind of weird incestuous tone between them. The other new guys are the Vinvocci, who are another spin on RTD’s “spiky aliens are funny” gag from back in Voyage of the Damned, except this time they’re embodied by the still-very-much-in-Being-Human Sinead Keenan. Both pairs get ridiculously little characterisation, and exist for the sole purpose of hanging the story's already thin plot around. If you cut out the Master's stupid plan, then they really have no reason to exist in the story at all.
Cheap Resurrection, hair-dye included with the price.
     No Daleks here, no Cybermen, but we do have to put up with RTD's version of The Master. I'll get into greater detail when I cover The Last of the Timelords next year, but I always felt uneasy with his approach - the Master has always had a problem with being taken seriously as a villain and this cross from the Moriarty-like figure to something of a more Joker-like archetype doesn't do the stories any favours. Here he manages to use a piece of alien tech to transplant himself on every human being on the planet, providing one of NuWho's most ridiculous cliffhangers and proving ultimately pointless when it's easily reverted in the second half. The Master most definitely improves in the second half, when he's acting like a person and not like a weird, randomly-resurrected monster, and despite the blatant pandering I do enjoy some of the more slashy scenes between him and the Doctor.
     And yes, "Randomly resurrected" is one way of saying it. There are lots of things in The End of Time that I can forgive, but this is definitely not one of them. In his desperate attempt to bring back The Master after he'd been lazily killed off at the end of The Last of the Time Lords, RTD seems to have forgotten the concept of plot and common sense and instead randomly throws a whole barrel of bullshit at the screen and hopes some of it will stick. So Mr. Saxon randomly gets a parliamental cult who use magic (they don't even bother throwing technobabble at it, it's magic and potions from ancient books) to ressurect The Master, while his wife throws a potion at him that turns him into a super-hungry skeletor with magic electro-powers. It's completely and totally insane and is also completely unnecessary, or would be if RTD hadn't been so insistent during his reign of having ridiculously poignant finalés. It's a big whalloping great ten minutes of most puerile drivel and is, without a doubt, the worst scene in the history of Doctor Who. Worse than New Earth. Yeah, that bad.
     Davies did try to do something interesting with this story, in bringing back the Time Lords for one last go and revealing some of the backstory to Davies' big Time War storyline that he's started the series off with five years prior. However, despite the wonderful aesthetic that he manages to bring up around the Time Lords in this story, they're essentially just turned into hammy villains that have none of the political satire attached to them that the Classic Series so revelled in. Timothy Dalton's Rassilon, while enjoyable hammy in itself, comes off as an over-powered villain who is then too easily defeated - it's the worst of both worlds. Especially at certain points in the first half, in which RTD saw fit to make him add narration. What narration effectively does is show that you, as a writer, don't have the ability to put your message across on screen and have to resort to someone actively telling you the plot.
Dalton!Rassilon is not happy. Or sane.
     Now, one thing that RTD introduced when he brought back the Master a few years prior was the idea that The Master had been driven insane across his life by the sound of a Time-Lord heartbeat constantly drumming in his mind. This of course provides something of a problem; we have something like 25 adventures with the Master before this, and not once does he ever mention the drumming in his head being the cause of his dickery. Hell, there were times in the past where The Master was a perfectly sane guy who just seemed to like fucking up the Doctor's day (looking at you, Delgado!Master). It introduces something that retcons Who history going back to 1971, and for that it just doesn't make any particular sense. This episode decides that it was these crazy End-of-Days Timelords that put the message in his head, using it as a gap between the Time-Lock and Earth. Well, I'm sorry Rusty, but that's one shitty Time-Lock you got there that can actually pass matter and energy through it. I'll be going more into The End of Time's bad science next Wednesday.
      This story's last legacy, before I get onto the story's good bits, comes in the form of RTD's total and utter inability to leave his role without incredible pomp and circumstance. I've already mentioned the stupid prophecising and the mad Woman who randomly appears for no reason across the special, but there's a much longer bit that not only failed in its original intention but made a lot of things even worse. Even after stropping to his death and accepting his magic radiation-box, Ten flips one up to Caves of Androzani and gets to walk about for a week before he dies. He visits all of the companions of the New Series thus far, and they're all a bit off for various reasons. We find that Martha and Mickey are now engaged and go around hunting Sontarans, which seems to have been for the sole reason that both characters were People of Colour and Rusty couldn't think of a less racist way to tie up his loose ends. The Doctor gives Captain Jack the name of Alonso from Voyage of the Damned so he can have a bunk up, showing that either The Doctor has little to no idea of what shit went down during Children of Earth or just doesn't care, and he then saves the life of Sarah Jane Smith's son Luke. Finally, Ten decides paradox schmaradox and goes to say hello to Rose before she's even met him, which makes one wonder why she didn't initially recognise Ten when he first regenerated only a few months after this encounter.
     I planned to finish this with a rant about Ten's characterisation, so before I do that I'll talk about this story's good bits. Rusty does have a knack for writing certain characters very well in certain situations, and veteran Bernard Cribbins gives Wilf, this episode's effective companion, some of the most powerful and thought-provoking ideas that RTD ever came up with. Wilf is one of the sole reasons why I'd ever watch Season 30; while Rusty may have had some questionable ideas on how to write for PoCs, he got writing for elderly spot on and it's one of the best representations that the series has ever done. The two best scenes, then, in the entire special come when Wilf and The Doc have a nice sit-down chat - firstly in the Café scene where Wilf confronts The Doc on his death wish, and later on the Vinvocci spacecraft where he begs The Doc to take up arms.
Faux choices for a dying Time-Lord.
     Ten. The Tenth Doctor was best in his middle-season, I find, and as much as I find Season 29 a bit meh I will say that The Doctor was a lot more bearable. The End of Time presents Ten as perhaps the most cowardly of all of his incarnations, struck with righteous indignation that someone as awesome as he should ever have to pass on the torch. After nine regenerations before him, all gone to with a certain degree of grace, Ten stinks up the show and has a hissy fit, claiming that regneration is just tarted-up death. Finally, he makes his last words the ridiculous, "I don't want to go," straight out of RTD's own mouth. One of Doctor Who's core themes is about change - unintentionally, perhaps, and the result of William Hartnell's declining health, but nevertheless one that has persisted throughout its time. The End of Time has ultimately created a legacy of Tennant fans who simply cannot accept change any more - who cannot accept change in a series in which change is one of the main attractions. And that's a really, really bad thing.
     The End of Time is not good, let's just clarify. In no sense of the word, be it classically good or So-Bad-It's-Good, no, it's neither of those things. It has some interesting things in it, here or there, but it's also a rather damning dissertation on a producer's misunderstanding of what Doctor Who really is. I'm all for a producer celebrating his time on the program, but it's necessary to the show's ability to change that this be done well. The End of Time doesn't do it well - in its core, it has poor, poor writing instead of actual characterisations and plot, and in its legacy it insults all Doctor Who before or since. The End of Time is something that Doctor Who will be scarred by for many, many years to come, and I can only hope that when Moffat bows out, he does so with a great deal more subtlety.


See you next year, Tennant Era. We still have unfinished business.