The End of the World

end of the world

Writer: Russell T Davies

Director: Euros Lynn

Starring: Christopher Eccleston (The Doctor), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler), Simon Day (Steward), Yasmin Bannerman (Jade), Jimmy Vee (Moxx of Balhoon), Zoe Wanamaker (Cassandra), Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler), Beccy Armory (Raffalo), Sara Stewart (Computer Voice), Silas Carson (Alien Voices)

Synopsis

The Doctor takes his new companion, Rose, to the year 5,000,000,000 to witness the death of the world party on Platform One, along with some of the richest beings in the Universe. Meanwhile, robot spiders brought onboard by the Adherents of the Repeated Meme as gifts to the others on the station are infiltrating and sabotaging Platform One.

Behind the Scenes

This episode is notable for being the first episode in where we discover that the Doctor is the last of his kind and about the ending of the Time War, although who the Time Lords were fighting is not answered at this point. This episode also marks the appearance of the psychic paper, which was devised by Russell T Davies as a time-saving mechanism for the show, as it prevents the distrust of the Doctor and his companion commonly seen in the previous era of the show. With the show now being a one episode story, it removes episodes of the Doctor being locked away.

The episode also marks the first appearances of Face of Boe and Lady Cassandra, who would reappear in Gridlock and New Earth respectively. It also starts the tradition of episodes starting with a cold open, something which has continued through the revived series, and only happened sparingly during the classic era – in Castrovalva, The Five Doctors and Remembrance of the Daleks.

Behind the camera, we see a directorial debut for Euros Lyn. Lyn would go on to direct nine episodes of Doctor Who from 2005 until 2010, including The End of Time.

Due to the extensive use of CGI in this episode, the majority of the effects budget for the entire series was spent on this episode.

Review

The End of the World is a bold second episode for the revived series. The story takes us to the far future, introduces us to a series of new aliens and shows us the destruction of their world. The episode does also briefly touch on humanity and what it means to be human – Cassandra regards herself as the last “true” human, despite her never-ending cycle of cosmetic procedures, as opposed to the rest of the human race, who went out into the stars and “mingled”. It is an episode that you’d expect to come perhaps slightly later in the series, with perhaps an iconic classic foe such as the Daleks or the Cybermen, but the fact that we get an episode like this is great.

It seems strange to praise an episode by jumping straight to the ending scene, but this episode really puts Eccleston in particular through his paces emotionally. He has to convey great joy at one moment, burning rage another and almost unimaginable sorrow at yet another. This is the first mention we have of the Time War. Taking Rose to witness the death of her planet almost gives them something to share, although, as the Doctor states, Gallifrey went “before its time”, meanwhile the death of the Earth is something much more natural. The way he says “my planet’s gone”, is so matter of fact but so weighed down with sorrow. It has parallels with the scene at the end of Gridlock, where the 10th Doctor tells Martha that he’s the last of the Time Lords. I love both of those scenes equally, but the scene here is slightly better as it’s the first occurrence.

There are several nice moments in this episode, and what surprised me is how well this episode has aged. There are pop culture references, such as the use of Tainted Love by Soft Cell and Toxic by Britney Spears, however, these don’t date as badly as some later on in series one (I’m looking at you, Bad Wolf). There is also a nice conversation between Rose and the plumber Jaffalo where Rose realises the absurdity of her situation and perhaps how foolhardy she has been coming travelling with a man she barely knows. I gather that this was an eleventh-hour addition, and if that is the case I’m very glad it made it.

End of the World 2

That being said, the episode does have problems, especially surrounding the ending. It feels extremely rushed and the climactic scenes with the Doctor and Jabe with the spinning fans is a bit anti-climatic. However, the Doctor and Jabe are two of the most interesting characters in this story, and to spend more time in their company is definitely a positive. I also like the fact that immediately after Jabe’s demise, the Doctor goes to inform her people before reversing the teleport and bringing Cassandra back to the ship. However, the whole conclusion is ultimately rushed, although I do enjoy the fury and anger that we see come from the Doctor in this final confrontation. It is the first time we see this Doctor truly angry. I do also feel that there are perhaps too many aliens thrown in here, who serve no real purpose except to be in peril. This does allow us a fleshing out of the new universe but does seem a bit of a waste, especially when some of these creatures are never seen again.  We also don’t really care when characters like the Moxx of Balhoon die, for instance, because we spend absolutely no time with them.

Verdict: A strong second episode for Eccleston which gives us our first mention of the Time War. 8/10

Best Quote: 

Everything has it’s time, and everything dies.

The Ninth Doctor

Best Moment: The ending scene is just, to coin a phrase, fantastic.

 

The Daleks

Daleks

Parts: 7 (The Dead Planet, The Survivors, The Escape, The Ambush, The Expedition, The Ordeal and The Rescue)

Writer: Terry Nation

Directors: Richard Martin (Parts 3, 6 and 7)  and Christopher Barry (Parts 1, 2, 4 and 5)

Cast: William Hartnell (The Doctor), William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright), Susan Foreman (Carol Ann Ford), Peter Hawkins and David Graham (Dalek voices), Alan Wheatley (Temmossus), John Lee (Alydon), Virginia Wetherell (Dyoni), Philip Bond (Ganatus), Marcus Hammond (Antodus), Jonathan Crane (Kristas), Gerald Curtis (Elyon)

Behind the Scenes

The Daleks were created by Terry Nation, who also came up with the main idea for the story, however, script editor David Whittaker is believed to have done a lot of work on character development and dialogue.  Nation’s agent negotiated a deal for him that meant that Nation ended up doing very well financially out of the Daleks, as he was made a co-owner.  Coincidentally, Nation’s agent was Beryl Vertue, who would go on to found the production company Hartswood Films, which produced several comedy series, including Steven Moffat’s Coupling in the early 2000s, and is Steven Moffat’s mother-in-law.

The Daleks would prove to be Doctor Who’s saviour.  Despite Sydney Newman’s insistence that he did not want any aliens in his new series, Verity Lambert stuck to her guns and got the Daleks made.  Her confidence in the story and the Daleks themselves would prove to be vindicated, as the story pulled in significantly more viewers than An Unearthly Child, and prevented the BBC from pulling the plug on the series.  The success of the Daleks amongst the viewing public was reflected by Dalek-mania, which would see the nefarious villains return every season up until season 5.  The Daleks would go on to appear opposite every Doctor (Paul McGann has faced them in Big Finish), and are as synoymous with the show as long scarves and blue police boxes.

Review

The first appearance of the Daleks is interesting, if a bit of an overlong story.  One of the most interesting things that I found about it was how early some of the lore that I had almost assumed got introduced in Genesis of the Daleks is actually brought in here.  The Thals, Skaro and the mutants (or gorilla gloves covered in vaseline) are all seen in this story.  Although The Daleks and Genesis can be seen to be contradictory, this didn’t really impact on my enjoyment of the story.  I think that the story does massively benefit from how menacing the Daleks look in black and white, and thinking about the reaction to their first appearance, it is easy to see how they became such an phenomenon.

The TARDIS team here get a bit more development which is welcome and the story does tap into contemporary concerns, with the radiation sickness storyline.  The Doctor here is shown to be quite self-centered and willing to put his granddaughter and her two teachers in danger to satiate his curiosity about the mysterious city.  However, when he realises his mistake, he does apologise to his companions – a bit too late really.  We also get a great exchange at the beginning of the story between Ian and Barbara about their situation and about their doubts about the Doctor too.  Ian is more of a traditional heroic character here, and occupies a role that modern audience would be more likely to associate with the Doctor rather than the companion.  Susan shows initial promise but then seems to blend into the background for most of the rest of the story, except when she screams.  She’s no Mel, but boy, can she scream.

With hindsight, some of the elements don’t work so well.  The question of whether or not the Daleks are actually villains in the first couple of parts doesn’t work with the benefit of seeing episodes featuring the Daleks for the last 55 years.  There is also the issue of the story feeling a bit too overstretched, with the story being made up of seven parts, however, I am never too bothered with this as an issue with ‘Classic Who’, as the stories were never ever intended to be binge-watched on DVD, and this story does benefit from more interesting villains and supporting characters in the Thals than there were in the previous story.

Verdict: A good story introducing an iconic villain, which perhaps suffers from the fact that there are more interesting stories involving them in the show’s history.  7/10

Best Quote: 

“You wanted advice you said.  I never give it.  Never. But I might just say this to you.  Always search for the truth.  My truth is in the stars and yours is here.”

The First Doctor

Best Moment:

The sequence in which they discuss the logistics of food on the TARDIS.  Or the cliffhanger at the end of the first part with the plunger with Barbara.