Newest Review: ... 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 ... more
Member Name: SWSt
Doctor Who - Winter Specials 2009 - Waters of Mars and The End of Time (DVD)
Date: 06/02/12, updated on 07/02/12 (40 review reads)
Advantages: A superb blend of great story, action and emotion
Disadvantages: Waters of Mars is mediocre
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
Summary: A fitting end for a fine Time Lord
More reviews in the field of TV Series
- The Witching Hour... well... twenty minutes
- Mad Dogs - A mad story but fantastic!
- A who-done-it to end all who-done-its-
- Sadly All Good Things Must Come to an End!!
- TV at its most innovative, packaged at its worst.
- Hilarious Holy Happenings
- The new HIT musical show
- Back to Nonnatus House (Series 1)
- The Apartment of Hell
- The Complete Obsessive Compulsive Collection