|Davros sounds a lot like that Circus guy...|
I'm gonna get this out of the way quickly. This two parter is one that I have a whole bucketload of contempt for, and unlike The End of Time, I don't even have the kind of grudging respect for it earnt over time and battles hard fought. As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the worst season finales that the show has ever done. Maybe not fundamentally, catastrophically bad by itself, but as a matter of opinion I just find it to be complete and utter tosh. And, with that in mind, we can begin.
RTD had already informed Moffat of his decision, and while the public remained unawares we did get a small clue when this finale had cameos that basically summarised the entire RTD era to date. Fresh from the first series of Sarah Jane Adventures and the second series of Torchwood, Rusty incorporated his spinoffs into the main show, as well as bringing back all of his past companions save Adam Mitchell and giving us our fourth finale return with Julian Bleach's stab at Davros. It was, at the time, a fan's wet dream. To me, right here, right now, it feels a lot more like a bad fan-fiction, with the expected level of coherancy.
Let's not bother with the semantics - let's get to the beefy issues. After a moderately coherant first half, disappointingly not-epic Shadow Proclamation and irritating attempts by Rose to be badass aside, we reach the pinacle of our story, where our thoroughly deified lovers finally meet, and Rusty gets a twitch and decides to cash it in on the ratings by pulling a joke regeneration sequence. I wasn't just shocked, I was pissed. It's one thing pulling that shit back in 1984, but this is the Noughties, the tabloid press sticks their nose into every nook and cranny. We knew there wasn't going to be a proper regeneration, so all it amounted to was unnecessary hysterics. This is Doctor Who, Rusty. You don't abuse the tradition of Regeneration like that, he doesn't get to frivolously pop one out when he feels like it.
|"I tried being a Call Girl for a while, didn't work out."|
Threatening the Daleks leads onto Davros' little tyrannical speech against The Doctor, telling him about how really he's a total douchebag, uh huh, and that ending the Time War and having such violent companions is totally the same as destroying everything in reality and he should totally feel bad about it. Sorry, not buying it - despite the lovely teary montage of every almost every guest character who's died since The End Of The World, The Doctor doesn't really have much of a role in their deaths. That's why it's a heroic sacrifice, it happens anyway, and it's to save lotsa people instead of just him, this isn't some kind of Doctor Who fan club in space who are jumping in front of buses and then saying he inspired them to do it. I'm all for talking down the Doctor, especially when we have the most deified Doctor ever surrounded by his cringey girlfriend and his supercute companions, but this just wasn't the way to go.
Plus, it meant that what happened to Donna actually, you know, happened. Just like in Doomsday, Rusty spent the whole episode repeating that someone was gonna die, and then he chickened out at the last second and instead of dying we just had Donna's memory wiped. This wasn't some great avant-garde decision, or some striking dramatic blow. It was an attempt at tragedy, sure, but instead of empathy I just felt wronged. Donna's entire character, her entire damn story, was about the transformation from someone who focussed on the trivial into someone acutely aware of her own being and self-importance. A woman who screamed at the world finally hearing it echo back. To erase her memories is to defile Donna's character, to stain the memory of what was one of the best companions of NuWho for the sole reason that she was the only female companion who hasn't at one time wanted to bonk him.
|The point in Friends where the audience gasps.|
NEXT WEEK: The audience wishes they could have been on the Planet of the Dead!