The End of the World

You lot. You spend all your time thinking about dying. Like you’re going to get killed by eggs or beef or global warming or asteroids. But you never take the time to imagine the impossible. That maybe you survive. This is the year 5.5 slash Apple slash 26. Five billion years in your future. And this is the day – hold on. This is the day the sun expands. Welcome to the end of the World.

The Ninth Doctor

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.

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

Cast: 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)

Writer: Russell T Davies

Director: Euros Lynn

Behind the Scenes

  • This episode is the first to establish that the Doctor is the last of his kind and to feature mentions of the conclusion of the Time War, although the Time Lord’s foes are not named here.
  • The psychic paper makes its debut here. Russell T Davies devised it as a time saving mechanism to prevent the Doctor spending time being distrusted and locked up, something that happened in the multi-part serials of the Classic series.
  • The first story of the revived series to feature a cold open, something that would be consistent up until Series 11. The Classic series featured cold opens sparingly, with them only being included in Castrovalva, The Five Doctors and Remembrance of the Daleks.
  • This marks the first appearances for the Face of Boe and Lady Cassandra, who would both appear in New Earth and the Face of Boe would also appear in Gridlock.
  • Due to complexities regarding the animation of Cassandra, the episode ran short necessitating Russell T Davies to write scenes with Rose and maintenance worker Raffalo.
  • First contribution of director Euros Lyn, who would direct a number of episodes including the final story of the Russell T Davies era, The End of Time.

Best Moment

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

Best Quote: 

Everything has it’s time, and everything dies.

The Ninth Doctor

The Daleks

If they call us mutations…what must they be like?

Alydon

Synopsis

The TARDIS brings the Doctor and his companions to the seemingly dead planet of Skaro, where they encounter two indigenous races – the evil Daleks and the peace loving Thals. The TARDIS team convince the Thals of the need to fight.

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

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)

Writer: Terry Nation

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

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

Behind the Scenes

  • Terry Nation created the Daleks, however, the script for their debut story was heavily edited by script editor David Whittaker who revised a lot of character development and dialogue.
  • Nation would benefit greatly from his creation of the Daleks thanks to his agent. One of the people who worked on this deal was Beryl Vertue, who ensured that he was made a co-owner. Vertue would later become a producer, founding production company Hartswood Films which would be involved in a number of comedy series, including The Vicar of Dibley and Coupling, a series written by Steven Moffat, and Sherlock. Vertue is also Moffat’s mother-in-law.
  • The Daleks was significant for ensuring Doctor Who’s survival. Despite Sydney Newman’s insistence that he didn’t want any ‘bug-eyed monsters’ in the series, Verity Lambert stuck to her guns and was rewarded by high viewing figures for her gamble and ensured the show’s continued survival.
  • This story kickstarted ‘Dalekmania’ in the 1960s, which would see the Daleks elevated to an iconic status and the Daleks would reappear in every Season up until Season 5, when Terry Nation tried to sell the Daleks to American television.
  • The Daleks have appeared opposite every incarnation of the Doctor to date, including Paul McGann, who has faced them in Big Finish productions.
  • The story marked the first contribution of directors Christopher Barry and Richard Martin, designer Raymond Cusick, costume designer Daphne Dare and future director Michael Ferguson.
  • The success of the Daleks would also lead to a feature film and a sequel starring Peter Cushing as Doctor Who.

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.

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