“ Genre: Television - Doctor Who / Theatrical Release: 2009 / Suitable for 12 years and over / Director: Graeme Harper, Euros Lyn / Actors: David Tennant, Lindsay Duncan ... / DVD released 2010-01-11 at 2 Entertain Video / Features of the DVD: PAL „
* Prices may differ from that shown
the end is near
it's time to face
the final monsters...
By the time these Winter Specials were broadcast, it was widely known that they marked David Tennant's last adventures as The Doctor. However, as the old showbiz adage goes, if you've gotta go, go out with a bang. And go out with a bang he certainly did with one reasonable final tale (The Waters of Mars) and one absolute cracker (the two-part End of Time).
The Waters of Mars
From its title to its setting, its unseen infectious monster to its growing sense of paranoia, The Waters of Mars is a tribute to the films of John Carpenter. It's also a good adventure, although one which lacks a certain something,
The Doctor lands on Mars on a fateful day during which the first pioneers from Earth will die in mysterious circumstances. A parasitic organism infects members of the crew, turning them into water-oozing killers. For once, The Doctor is paralysed, powerless to intervene because this event is one of the fixed points in history which must occur at this moment in this way.
On the plus side, the episode gives rise to a far more arrogant, darker doctor (something which, sadly, was not followed up in the final episodes), some cracking performances (particularly from Lindsay Duncan as the heroic space commander) and a creepy atmosphere.
On the downside, it features some terrible effects which look they were created for a PC game circa 1998, some over-the-top gurning from the normally reliable Tennant and a rather pedestrian pace.
The story feels stretched a little thinly, more suited to the 45 minute time slot than the hour plus it is given here. This makes the pacing of the episode rather uneven; wild bursts of action, followed by long periods of watching people run up and down corridors. There are some good dramatic moments and an intriguing ending. Yet whilst you end up satisfied, you also feel that there is some unknown ingredient missing which prevents the episode from being a truly great one.
The End of Time Part 1
The end of Tennant's time in the Tardis gets off to a cracking start with the first part of an adventure that really does have everything. The Doctor's old enemy The Master (John Simm) returns, but is now even more unstable and apparently being manipulated by some unknown force, a dark secret from The Doctor's past.
This is one of those Who episodes that offers something for everyone. There is a fair smattering of excitement and intrigue, a strong sense of impending doom mixed with a great deal of emotion. The physical and mental breakdown of The Master is well handled (Simm does a much better job with the character this time around) and the level of concern The Doctor shows for him is also pitched perfectly, emotional without being over-sentimental.
There are some genuinely touching scenes between Donna's grandfather Wilfred (the always excellent Bernard Cribbins) and The Doctor, two "old men" confronting the reality of their age and mortality This gives the episode far greater depth than the standard Doctor Who adventure, whilst a sprinkling of comedy (courtesy of a great cameo from June Whitfield) prevents the atmosphere from becoming too heavy.
Add in a great cliff-hanger ending in the finest Doctor Who tradition, and it's hard to see how the final episode can possibly top this.
The End of Time Part 2
Yet against the odds, top it it does. It combines all the best elements of the series. A fantastic storyline that is exciting and emotional, some lighter comedy moments (particularly from the Cacti people and Bernard Cribbins) and an excellent performance by Timothy Dalton as... Ah, now that would be telling.
Once again, a series of touching exchanges between Wilfred and The Doctor add a more serious undertone to create the perfect blend of action, comedy and tragedy. Once you see it, though, you really appreciate the cleverness of the writing and how all the earlier episodes have been building up to this climactic moment.
OK, so there are some inconsistencies with previously established Doctor Who mythology (how can this Doctor jump out of a spaceship thousands of feet up and survive, when Tom Baker's Doctor was killed by a much smaller fall from Jodrell Bank? How can this Doctor temporarily hold off the Regeneration process when previous Doctors have had no control over it?). However, this is such a strong episode that such questions only occur to you later (if at all) and even then, they're not really important unless you're a serious Who pedant. Even some slightly dodgy special effects can't dampen the enthusiasm for a superbly written episode.
And then there is the ending.
The final episode of any Doctor's career is always a special one as you wait anxiously to see how they will transform into their new self, and this one is no exception. The Ood prophecy that foretells The Doctor's death ("He will knock four times") is fulfilled in a completely unexpected way that will floor you, whilst at the same time impressing you with the skilful way that the script has mis-directed you.
This ending has it all. A powerful combination of tragedy, hope and emotion, Tennant's final plaintive words as The Doctor ("I don't want to go") are so heartfelt, so tragic that they have Mrs SWSt reaching for the tissues every time. Occasionally during his Time Lord years, Tennant has had a tendency to overact; not this time, though, as he goes out on a perfectly judged performance.
It's just a shame that by the end of the episode The Doctor has regenerated into a blithering idiot.
This is a collection of episodes that no self-respecting Who fan should be without. It might start off with the OK-but-not-great Waters of Mars, but the two part The End of Time alone is worth every penny of the £8 purchase price. It's almost impossible to imagine a more perfect ending to the reign of a truly great Time Lord.
(c) Copyright SWSt 2012
It finally came round, the promised thrilling ending to David Tennant's 5 year reign as the Doctor. The many months of guaranteed entertainment as all the Doctor Who fans waved goodbye to the tenth Doctor and shook hands with the Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor.
All fans of the time travelling time lord had all been looking forward to the grand finale since Easter 2009, with the prophesy of the 10th Doctors death still fresh in our minds.
So now it is time for the final few appearances of David Tennant, with his song about to end and his chance to either fade out of time travel or to leave in a blaze of glory, always to be remembered throughout history as one of the greatest time lord of our time.
As I said, this is the final three Doctor Who episodes for the 10th Doctor, David Tennant, introducing the 11th Doctor, the little known, for most, Matt Smith.
For some reason you can not buy these final three episodes separately, so you have to buy the two together in a 3 DVD box set. (This may change in the future, who knows).
Anyway, for this review I am going to give you a brief description of each episode, the final one being in two parts but told as one, this will hopefully try and make it easier to understand.
So we begin with the first of the box set, the one they call...
** THE WATERS OF MARS...
Writers: Russell T Davis and Phil Ford
Director: Graeme Harper
Producer: Russell T Davis, Julie Gardner and Nikki Wilson
David Tennant as the Doctor,
Lindsey Duncan as Adeliade Brooke
Peter O'Brien as Ed Gold
Aleksander Mikic as Yuri Kerenski
Gemma Chan as Mia Bennett
Sharon Duncan Brewster as Maggie Cain
Chook Sibtain as Steffi Ehrlich
Michael Goldsmith as Roman Groom
Lily Bevan as Emily
This 60 minute special was first broadcast on the 15th November 2009, being released onto DVD in January 2010.
** BRIEF PLOT...
The Doctor lands on Mars in the year 2059 and soon discovers that there is a team of humans living in a small base called Bowie Base One, the first humans to build a base on the red planet.
The team, headed by Captain Adelaide Brooke, are beginning to grow there own food and have tapped into a water supply, in the hope of being able to colonise the planet, but when something strange starts to happen to the water supply the small team of humans must decide how to deal with it.
Unfortunately for the Doctor he soon realises who the people on the base are, especially the Captain, and has a tough decision to make when things on the base turn critical... forcing him to choose between the crews life and death.
** MY OPINION OF THIS EPISODE...
In my opinion this was a total let down, being about as thrilling as watching a cocker spaniel do its business on a sloping grass verge, although the cocker spaniel would be funnier to watch.
Davis and Ford seems to have been watching there tap running when they came up with this idea, obviously not on a water meter then, with the entertainment value being flushed down the drain, together with any credibility they had achieved during there career.
It is a rather terrible storyline, involving more water than there is in your local reservoir, which then seems to go down hill with the speed of a thousand gazelles.
I don't want to spoil the story as I believe any Doctor Who fan should actually watch this, just to see how far fetched and utterly pointless the show has become, and when I say far fetched I don't mean that in a good way either.
As for the acting, well, all I can say that it wasn't as bad as the story, although a little close, but even Tennent, with his continuously dodgy grimace and single style acting, couldn't rescue this drip of a special episode.
Is this what his final moments of being the Doctor are going to be like? If so his career may well be heading in the wrong direction, no wonder he's jumping ship before it sinks into the pits of hell.
The other actors did there parts quite well, it is just a shame that they didn't have a better script to work with. Duncan plays the leader of the stricken mars expedition crew as best she could, keeping a calm composer as all about her fell, watching as her crew became infested with a severe case of chapped lips and an over the top water infection with some severe side effects.
Another thing that slightly annoyed me about this episode, apart from the bad script and some dodgy acting, was the fact that it relied quite a bit on flash backs to bits of what looked like newspaper reports and plaques, which flashed so fast that if you blinked you'd have no chance of knowing what the hell was going on.
The rather stupid ending was the icing on the bitter tasting cake for me, as the doctor battled with more than he could handle as he raced around trying to be the hero of the day, only to fall at the final hurdle, a little like his Doctor Who career on viewing this special episode.
For me, this was worst than the previous 'special' episode featuring that woman off Eastenders, a big red bus and a bucket load of sand. I mean, that one was quite entertaining and worth watching at least once as it tried to build up Tennants great finale before he steps down from the helm of the TARDIS, making way for the almost unknown Matt Smith.
But this one just seemed to be so badly written, almost rushed by Davis and Ford. They could have done a lot better on scripting a more thrilling tail surrounding the waters of Mars.
** Anyway, now the second episode in this box set...the two part episode which was first aired on the BBC channel over the Christmas period of 2009.
** END OF TIME...
Producers: Tracie Simpson, Julie Gardner and Russell T Davis
Writers: Russell T Davis and Steven Moffat
Director: Euros Lyn
* David Tennant (Tenth Doctor)
* Matt Smith (Eleventh Doctor)
* Bernard Cribbins (Wilfred Mott)
* John Simm - The Master
* Timothy Dalton - The Narrator / Lord President
* Catherine Tate - Donna Noble
* Jacqueline King - Sylvia Noble
** And brief appearances from...
* Billie Piper - Rose Tyler
* Camille Coduri - Jackie Tyler
* Freema Agyeman - Martha Smith-Jones
* Noel Clarke - Mickey Smith
* John Barrowman - Captain Jack Harkness
* Elisabeth Sladen - Sarah Jane Smith
* Jessica Hynes - Verity Newman
* Tommy Knight - Luke Smith
And many others...
** The first of this two part finale was aired on Christmas day 2009, being 60 minutes long, whilst the second part being aired on New years day 2010, being 75 minutes long.
In this two part episode we say goodbye to the old and hello to the new as the Doctor hears the prophesised end to his once beautiful song.
** BRIEF PLOT... (both parts)
The Doctor continues to travel even though he believes that his forthcoming demise has been prophesised by many. So when he arrives at the Ood Sphere to face the truth he uncovers more than he ever imagined as the Ood inform him of an oncoming evil heading towards the planet Earth.
When the Doctor realises that a face from his past has come back to haunt him he is soon trying to stop an old foe, who he thought long dead, from destroying the planet, only to discover that his old foe is only the tip pf the iceberg when faces from his home planet begin to emerge back into his life.
With the Doctor now having to battle against enemies who were once friends, and even family, he is soon having to make a life changing choice to save the world from impending doom.
But with the prophecy of his death still fresh in his mind he is shocked as to his actual outcome and the reason for his song ending
Will the Doctor ever be the same again...
** MY OPINION ON THIS TWO PART EPISODE...
Well, for all the hype surrounding the 'End of Time' for Doctor Tennant this finale was certainly a let down for me, and I'm sure for a vast many of Doctor Who/Tennant fans, the plot being more comical than thrilling and a little dragged out in parts.
This story just seemed to follow in the style of the previous 'special' episode and I felt as though it had been rushed just to get it aired on time.
Davis, this time with the help of Moffat, seem to have lost his ability to write a good, entertaining and semi-believable plot, and that's hard to do considering this is a sci-fi show which can take the story anywhere.
The duo have actually teamed up before and have created some rather good episodes, such as 'The Empty Child/the Doctor Dances, 'The Girl in the Fireplace' and 'Blink', which were all well written and very entertaining episodes, so why has their 'partnership' dwindled in this tow part finale?
I mean, the Doctor is supposed to be the last of the time lords, always has been since he first graced the black and white screens back in the 1960's, that is what made the Doctor who he is, the last of his kind.
But it seems that he is not alone, far from it, what with the Master from the end of the 2007 series and the rather bizarre introduction of several other time lords appearing in this show, somewhat scarily 'semi' narrated by the brilliant Timothy Dalton
As I said, I feel that the story was rushed, spoiling what could have been a brilliant finale for Tennant, with his teeth grinding emotional expression, and a great way to bring in the new Doctor, Matt Smith, but it really did fall well short of all its hype and expectation.
Maybe the idea was to make the show look as bad as it can so that Matt Smith can only make it better when he finally begins his quest through time and space.
And sadly, the introduction of Matt Smith was somewhat comical in itself, his acting, albeit brief, very 'iffy' indeed, his expressions making his face look as if it was made of rubber, remember the puppet show 'Spitting image' and you get the idea.
Don't get me wrong, I am not one to judge a book by its cover, and I will give Matt a chance, but if first impressions are anything to go by then I think Matt may struggle to keep the hardy Doctor Who fans happy.
I have had a go at the dodgy script but I have to admit that there is a cracking twist towards the end, or what should have been the end really, with the Doctors actually destroyer being the last person even he would have thought. ( I hope I haven't spoilt it for you there), giving the audience pause for thought as they gasp in admiration at this single bit of brilliant writing.
As for the acting, well it is once again better than the script, with the brilliant John Simm showing his acting skills to perfection, doing his best to improve the plot and in my opinion really out classing Tennant throughout the two episodes, as he did in there previous encounter in the 2007 finale.
And Bernard Cribbins as Wilf, Donna Nobles grand dad, is again excellent as the Doctors companion, sort of, as the end of his song nears.
So if I had to give a man of the match award for best acting it would be a close call between Cribbins and Simm, but I feel Simm would get it for the shear lunacy he brings to his character once again.
But, for me, the last ten to fifteen minutes of the final episode are a joke as the Doctor begins to regenerate in what can only be described as the slowest regeneration in Time Lords history.
Don't get me wrong, there were some good scenes throughout this double episode, some of them strange and some of them rather comical, especially when 'The Master' begins his quest to take over the world with the help of some, well, look a likes shall we say.
And there is some thrills and spills as well, but Davis could have squashed this two parter into one good episode and still created the same outcome, or an even better one, so why he felt he had to draw out many boring scenes I don't know, forcing the audience to sit through over two hours of silliness.
In all, for me, these last three episodes of David Tennant's Time Travelling career are the worst one's that Davis has put his name too. It relies too much on special effects and seems to stray away from a plot, making it difficult to understand and to believe, even for a sci fi show.
Davis should go back to basics and rely on good old fashioned acting skills from what is a great crew instead of trying to impress the audience with over priced and over rated SFX.
Would I watch these episodes again? Well, not as often as I have re-watched previous episodes but I am one of the minority who actually preferred the 2005 episodes with Christopher Ecclestone as the Doctor, such as 'The Unquite dead', 'The aliens of London/world war three', 'the empty child/the doctor dances' and the finale of the series 'Bad wolf/the parting of the ways. Although pumped with special effects these earlier episodes focused more on the actors capabilities, creating some brilliant episodes indeed.
As for the episodes being sold together as a box set and not sold separately is another mystery...
But, the DVD set contains 3 DVDs showing the final three episodes, 'The waters of Mars' and the 'End of Time', giving you over three hours of time travelling Doctor Who fun, albeit not the best.
It can be bought from Amazon for around £16.00 and includes the Doctor Who confidential, which for anyone who has watched the BBC three channel will know that the Confidential look into the way that the episodes are made.
All these episodes are classed as being a certificate 12, although there could be some scary scenes, especially in 'The Waters of Mars'.