Monday, 15 July 2013

Review: Doctor Who 4.12/13: The Stolen Earth/Journey's End

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Davros sounds a lot like that Circus guy...
Doctor Who - Season 30, Episodes Twelve and Thirteen - The Stolen Earth/Journey's End
Written 23/4/13

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.
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"I tried being a Call Girl for a while, didn't work out."
     And that of course leads on to the horrendous 10.5. But we'll leave that for now, that's gonna come later, no, we've gotta talk about the whole Children of Time thing. See, mad Dalek Caan from New York popped back into the Time War (idk how, it's never explained) and came out a little worse-for-wear, but with a Dalek cruiser strapped to his jacksy. Ever since he's been prattling about the Doctor, his return and the way that he turns his companions into weapons, which is adequately displayed through the use of two magical Macguffins which his companions use to threaten the Daleks, including the Osterhagen Key (a German invention, featuring a perception of Germany straight out of Cold War propaganda with actual German language that's as shoddy as you can really get). The Osterhagen Key is a worldwide suicide bomb that destroys the planet when two people turn a key somewhere. Cos that's clever.
     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.
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Ta-ra, pet.
     Did I just call Ten.5 "supercute"? Probably. The creation of a human clone from The Doctor's severed hand thanks to a single touch to the glass of the casing by Donna was the point in 2008 where I began to question my devotion to the show that I'd followed like a religion for several years. It was too whack for me to jack. While duplicates would later become rather sickeningly common in the Moffat era, in the RTD Era it still stunk of the lowest kind of sci-fi silliness, and reduced the finalĂ© to this otherwise okay series into soap opera mush. The ending, where the human Ten is banished from this world for the genocide of the Daleks (i.e. destroying the hateful killing machines whose only continual purpose is to destroy the universe) and then used as a human sex toy for Rose to bonk until she dies just cemented what a ridiculous turn of events had just transpired. (I apologise if that came out a little crass, I'm looking into it.)
     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.
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The point in Friends where the audience gasps.
     I often find myself comparing this finale to Dimension In Time, and the comparisons are, I feel, warranted. It's all very well and good having a massive cross-over, and it's a fun thing in general. But if your mechanism for doing that creates a script with such stupid leaps in logic and really abuse of what the show stands for, then you change your script and you cull the strays. As a last outing for our continuous Who series, following a consistent run over four years, it was a fittingly epic finale, but in acheiving that atmosphere it sacrificed common sense. The following year would see the four specials, the end of RTD's tenure, the series of Torchwood that never was, and the transition to the current showrunner. This isn't quite the end of my RTD reviewing, but it's damn close.

Thanks.

NEXT WEEK: The audience wishes they could have been on the Planet of the Dead!

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