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December 28, 2009

Dr. Who - The End of Time: Part 1

David Tennant's time as the 10th Doctor is coming to an end, but he appears to be making the most of it.  Tennant's final episodes as the Doctor are the two-part story "The End of Time," and I've just seen part 1 (which aired on the BBC on Christmas Day).  A tour-de-force, though I can understand why some people may not like it.  Like most of outgoing producer Russell T. Davies' season climaxes, this story is cosmic in scope, very broad, and with the very fabric of Time itself (or maybe just the universe) under threat.
I'm not going to describe the plot at all, as other than the fact that the Master (played by John Simm) returns, it would be too much of a spoiler.  Let's just say that it involves the end of Time itself (that doesn't surprise you?  Gee, how'd you guess that?).  Last season's companion Donna Noble is back, though the main companion is her grandfather, Wilf.  The Master, thought dead at the end of "Last of the Time Lords," is resurrected, and he's even more insane.  The Doctor's been told that his time is ending, but will the Master be involved?  Or will there be an even greater evil coming after him?

Tennant's performance is more of the same.  If you hate his mannerisms, this episode won't change your mind.  If you love him like I do, then it's brilliant.  The thing about this episode is that there isn't a whole lot of humour in it, except at the very beginning.  Tennant does the drama just as well as he does the more light-hearted stuff.  His heartbreak when he sees Donna and Wilf tries to convince him to cure her (he had to erase her memories of her time with him, or else the memories would burn out her brain and kill her) because the Doctor's alone too, the look on Tennant's face, it's all marvelous.

John Simm, back as the Master, goes over the top a few times, but overall he gives another great performance.  He does madness really well, and I seriously hope there was some camera trickery as he tried to feed his starving stomach, because his stuffing his face with food was actually kind of gross.  It would be horrible if Simm had to actually do that.  He's appropriately malevolent, and his good/evil chemistry with Tennant was great to see.

Among other guest stars, Catherine Tate as Donna is very good in a limited role, though it looks like it will be heightened in the next episode.  Timothy Dalton (I can't tell you who he plays) is great too, though again occasionally over the top.  I don't know what it is about guest stars in Doctor Who, but they always seem to think they have to overact.  I could have also done without seeing Dalton's spittle as he's ranting at the end of the episode.

The production values, as they always seem to be in this current incarnation of Who, are excellent.  For those of you who remember the old series, this is nothing like them.  Euros Lynn's direction is top notch, though the finale once again is drawn out way too long.  I'm assuming this is a Davies thing, because it always happens in his two-parters, but the lead-in to the cliffhanger always takes too long to actually get to the actual cliffhanger itself.  There could have been a number of images cut in the final sequence.  But that's just Davies, I guess.

I can't wait until the final episode airs on New Year's Day.  It will be bittersweet, seeing Tennant's final performance.  And hopefully Davies has been able to rein in some of his usual excesses.  Whatever the case, it's been fun knowing you, Doctor.

Note: For trailers, videos, and updates on the good Doctor, you can check out Blogtor Who, the blog I follow for much of my Dr. Who information.  He's got a clip that the BBC just released, and it's a doozy!  Though make sure you watch Part 1 first, or else you will be spoiled beyond belief.

*Note* I could have done without the Obama love-fest as well. Way too much propaganda for a bit of (admittedly, quite dark) Christmas Day fluff.


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