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New Who 4.13, Journey's End

So, well. There ya go, then.

I am actually seriously impressed at how much of that was correctly predicted by livejournallers: largely people on doctorwho, I think, though I could have got mixed up. To be fair, a lot of it was predicated on set reports of the scene filmed on the 'Bad Wolf Bay' beach, in which David Tennant was seen wearing his two different suits; and once you've got the basic idea of two Doctors from that, many of the rest of the predictions follow logically. Also, with the entire blogosphere feverishly generating crack!spec for the last week, the law of averages dictates that there will be a few hits amongst the misses. But still! Fandom clearly does have a pretty firm hold on the RTD psyche. Over the last week, I've seen the following correctly called:
  • The Doctor being 'saved' from a normal regeneration by glowy!energy 'arcing' to the hand.
  • The Doctor noticing the remarkable resemblence between Gwen from Torchwood and Gwyneth from The Unquiet Dead when he sees her.
  • Martha and Mickey going off to join Torchwood.
  • Rose returning to her Universe with her own version of the Doctor (which - GAH!).
  • Donna going home at the end, but without her memories of the Doctor.

Then again, we didn't get everything. No one quite figured out what would happen to Donna (probably mainly because it was unsatisfying hand-wavey bollocks, of course...), guessed the true nature of the Osterhagen key (which was wonderfully bleak and awful in the end), predicted Unexpected Naked Ten, OR called the appearance of K-9!!!! And I really hope my neighbours didn't think I was being killed when he turned up, because I can tell you, I shrieked like there was no tomorrow!

So the RTD era, and its major themes, is neatly wrapped up. I didn't like all of it, and there's one thing in particular I do envy Donna for: having no memory of that desperate, awful kiss on the beach between a broken teenager and a blow-up doll. There's also a very definite case for characterising it as all one big, breathless, unregulated run through the tropes and events of the last four seasons - on drugs. But Davros was great, and the TARDIS was great, and having all RTD's major characters around the console at once was great. Also, much kudos is deserved for Jack's reaction to the idea of three Doctors: "I can't tell you what I'm thinking right now!"

Then again, I don't know why the Osterhagen key didn't control twenty-seven nuclear warheads instead of twenty-five, since that would underscore the awfulness of what it meant by drawing a comparison between humanity and the Daleks. And Donna's ending? She's not the first companion it's happened to - but just why? I suppose the answer is meant to be that if she remembered anything about the Doctor, it would 'reawaken' his Time Lord mind within her. But it felt awfully, awfully unfair - although I suppose that was the point, really. It was meant to traumatise the viewers by doing something even worse to this plucky, loveable character than just killing her off. :-(

Anyway, on the whole, it was fun, in the epic-yet-strangely-forgettable way RTD season finales tend to be. He's done a pretty good job while he's been around, and it's pleasing to see him tying up all his loose ends, even if in a predictably icky way in some cases. But it's good to know things will be moving in a different direction now.


( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 5th, 2008 08:00 pm (UTC)
When K9 made his appearance I thought "I know sommeone who'll be chuffed" :-P

Apparently RTD won;t be writing any episodes once Moffatt takes over, saying that he's "finished with it".
Jul. 5th, 2008 08:08 pm (UTC)
Hehe - you were not wrong. :-)

I think that's probably the right decision on RTD's part on the whole. But I wouldn't mind him coming back to write occasional episodes, actually, especially after Midnight and Turn Left. And I also wouldn't be surprised if, in the end, he does!
(no subject) - paulgregory - Jul. 5th, 2008 09:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gillywoo - Jul. 6th, 2008 08:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strange_complex - Jul. 6th, 2008 11:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paulgregory - Jul. 6th, 2008 03:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 5th, 2008 08:04 pm (UTC)
Yes, I think that's a good summary.

that desperate, awful kiss on the beach between a broken teenager and a blow-up doll
That's a very good summary.

It's the last RTD season, but I thought he was involved in next year's "specials", so it's not quite the end yet?
Jul. 5th, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC)
No, of course - but we won't be having full-blown season arcs from him any more, and it seems pretty clear that he was getting all the major stuff wrapped up here for that reason. Now, he can just keep the home fires gently burning for a while, until the new Head Honcho is ready to take over.
Jul. 5th, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC)
"epic-yet-strangely-forgettable": very good.
Jul. 5th, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC)
This finale has got to be the saddest I've seen out of four series. The Doctor wnds up alone again - and this time, two of his companions are clearly damaged. And I hated what they did to Donna - over the series she's developed from a gobby, shallow loudmouth to a thoughtful, plucky character. Reducing her back to a one-dimensional staeretype was awful.

At least there were Daleks and K9.

Edited at 2008-07-05 08:45 pm (UTC)
Jul. 5th, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC)
I did guess what the Osterhagen key was, though I got everything else wrong - I suppose I was thinking of what I'd have written and as I don't really like RTD's writing it's not especially surprising there wasn't much overlap.

I think the problem I had with the ending is that while RTD's scripts are all about ordinary people and life, he also always seems to disdain ordinary people and ordinary life. What happens to Donna is a lot worse than what happens to Zoe or Jamie; it's not far off being a lobotomisation. It almost felt that RTD couldn't possibly allow for a companion that was as smart as the Doctor, so he had to punish her for it.

I thought it was interesting to compare what happens to Donna with what happens to one of the audio drama comapanions, Charley in her 'last' story: http://www.drwhoguide.com/who_bf103.htm

- K
Jul. 6th, 2008 12:04 pm (UTC)
Totally with you on the 'ordinary people' issue. It's also annoying that Rose was able to breathe in the heart of the TARDIS and go back to normal afterwards, while Reinette was able to look into the Doctor's mind and comprehend what she saw there perfectly easily - while Donna must be thrown back to ordinary obscurity by the whole experience. I'd at least like to have seen her choosing that existence for herself - perhaps even knowing before she ever became the DoctorDonna that that was going to be her fate if she did, but still doing it anyway to save the world.
(no subject) - rosaguestlist - Jul. 6th, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strange_complex - Jul. 6th, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paulgregory - Jul. 6th, 2008 03:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 5th, 2008 10:53 pm (UTC)
I didn't document my prediction of K-9's appearance anywhere on the interwebs, but I did encourage my parents to watch a few SJAs before they saw 4x12 as I felt it was important to know who SJ's son is, who Mr Smith is (at least in broad terms) *and* where K-9 is. I *would* have put money on K-9 being in 4x13 - although my only published prediction re Other Characters Not Yet Seen was that Noel Clarke would be a funny 11th Doctor for Rose. But instead of a Timelord looking like a human she'd once loved, she got a human looking like a Timelord she loved. (I do have a concern about the way they conveniently forget that he's part-Donna, which I raise in my own LJ).

I also encouraged my parents to drop their original plan of watching 4x12 and 4x13 back-to-back as this would Totally Ruin The Fun Of A Cliff-Hanger - and because I feared RTD would ret-con the highs of 4x12 with some cop-out in 4x13. Thankfully I was wrong on that point. Arguably showing the Doctor "his soul" and pointing out his use of others as weapons gives additional purpose and worth to some previous adventures, but I'm not entirely sure a master villain should consider it to be a great victory to emulate Tony Head from Doctor Who Confidential.

I think having the same number of planets as nuclear warheads would have been confusing rather than helping draw a parallel. The key is interesting - a cyanide pill forced on the rest of the Earth in defiance by 3 parties (albeit relunctantly in Not In My Name guy's case).

I'm in two minds whether "calling" plot points is a good or bad thing. I guess I did back up the hand thing last week. I did think about saying "I bet K-9 does something useful in the last episode", but I wasn't sure it would enhance the show for anyone. Do you find yourself thinking "yep, X called that" during the episode itself or just on reflection? Mind, part of me wouldn't mind you thinking of me mid-squeegasm. I will miss your reviews - I'll have to watch some of the other stuff you've covered.
Jul. 6th, 2008 12:14 pm (UTC)
Do you find yourself thinking "yep, X called that" during the episode itself...?

Yes, very much so. Largely because I go into the episode with a list of theories already washing around my mind, so it's natural to be looking out for them and crossing them off as they crop up.

It's more a case of me thinking 'Yes, that was called' that 'Yes, X called that', though. If you have doctorwho on your friendslist (which I do), every other post at this stage in a season features someone or other propounding their latest theories. Amongst that hubbub, the identity of who predicted what very quickly dissolves into an undifferentiated blur - especially since many posters are building on earlier theories already established by others, so that some ideas have become quasi-canonical by the time an episode actually airs.

And as for whether the practice of calling plot points in advance enhances the show for anyone, I really don't think that's why people try to do it. It's about proving how clever they are! Which is all good fun - although it does tend to backfire somewhat when their predictions turn out to be far cleverer and more interesting than what RTD actually serves up...
Jul. 6th, 2008 10:07 am (UTC)
I thought I heard shrieking in the distance when K9 materialised ;-)
On the whole I thought it was pants albeit exciting pacey pants that rattled along and was highly entertaining.
Things I did enjoy - german daleks, Dalek Caan and Davros and Donna being fabulous and of course Sarah Jane, all of them (except Rose's Mum) piloting the tardis
Things I didn't enjoy - what I thought were clunky references to nuclear bomb creation/testing/use in Japan and Nazi Germany, the mention again of handy get out of a tight spot plot device 'emergency temporal shift', Rose s+dding Tyler and ending up with 'her' Doctor - that was just yucky and Donna's return to ordinary human-ness when she was anything but, and did I mention Rose Tyler - oh how I loathe her character.
Jul. 6th, 2008 04:02 pm (UTC)
exciting pacey pants

Hehe, yes - exactly right!
Jul. 6th, 2008 11:07 am (UTC)
I do envy Donna for: having no memory of that desperate, awful kiss on the beach between a broken teenager and a blow-up doll

I'm not sure if I agree with that or not. Yes, she's abandoned by *her* Doctor (*the* Doctor) but the alt Doctor has all of his memories and all of his feelings (he wouldn't have finished the sentence to Rose if he didn't). And it was proved/shown that *the* Doctor really loves Rose ("Does it really need saying?") but realises that here's a chance for Rose to be happy because there's a version of him which does love her and which can stay with her forever. In the Confidential episode afterwards, it mentioned that they both love Rose but that because *the* Doctor isn't human in any way that he can't stay with her forever and it's fairer, in his eyes, to give her a life with the Doctor even if it's not actually him. If that makes sense...
Jul. 6th, 2008 03:56 pm (UTC)
I still think it was pretty awful from Rose's point of view. And actually, the difference in the way the two Doctors responded to her insistence that he finish 'that' sentence underlines for me why that is. The 'real' Doctor responded to that in a completely different way from the 'alt' Doctor - and that in itself is to me enough to show that what she's walking away with at the end isn't really the man she fell in love with at all. OK, so maybe she'll find her own kind of happiness with him. But I think there'll always be a sort of empty, hollow ring to it all the same.

All that, of course, is putting aside the fact that I would have preferred her arc just to be left to rest as it was at the end of Doomsday, anyway. I had no problem at all with the Rose character, or even her relationship with the Doctor, up to exactly that point. In fact, I quite liked her. But I'm afraid almost everything that's happened with her in season 4 has only damaged my opinion of her. :-(
Jul. 6th, 2008 12:53 pm (UTC)
I've flipflopped at least twice on this since last night. I've managed to swallow The Kiss as more than just a climactic emotional bleurgh that could be resisted no longer, but actually a coherent response by Rose to her situation: a life with the 'real' Dr would be tragic and hopeless too, as she would age and die and he wouldn't. Perhaps we saw her recognising that. But yes, of course it was tasteless, and desperate is probably another helpful word. As for Donna, I can't recall seeing anything so viciously cruel in a fiction. It's not just what happens to her - after all, she doesn't know how cruel her fate has been - but to her family who now have to hold her secret themselves, and the Dr who has to remember and deal with her lack of memory. Her dismissive goodbye to him, as someone she no longer recognises, was heartwrenching. I never saw Runaway Bride so I had no prior expectations. But the character has been wonderful this season, developing into a brave and sensitive person - and I kept increasingly thinking how beautiful Catherine Tate is. No wonder all those people who denounced the idea of Donna have apparently been won over.

Yes, I really enjoyed the German Daleks - although there was a slight shudder from the conceit being rather too close to history ... And I'd love to know whether the idea of the Daleks needing precisely 27 planets to build their weapon, and everything going wrong if one dropped out, came before or after the Irish voted down the Lisbon Treaty! Julian Bleach was marvellous, as I'd expect (having seen him in Shockheaded Peter AND The Gorey End with the Tiger Lillies, so nyah), even carrying off the maniacal laugh. His goading the Dr was splendid and so needed to be said, and Davros then lurching to impotent disbelief as everything falls apart (again) was enormously funny.

But overall, as you say, it had all the virtues and vices of the RTD era. The wit, moral ambiguity, invention and style on the plus side, and on the other the colossal overblown emotionalism and inability to think things through beyond the stunning images and grandiose concepts which the stories are framed around. I can forgive everything and everybody being chucked into this final stage though - as somebody said to me today, it was the end-of-school party. I'm looking forward to something a bit more restrained now!

I hope you can find more Who to watch. Your wonderful reviews will be all I have to keep me enthused until Christmas ...
Jul. 6th, 2008 04:16 pm (UTC)
Yes, you sum up those virtues and vices very aptly. And I like the end-of-school party image, too. There's quite a case for saying that most of those characters didn't really need to be there from a plot perspective, and that having so many robbed each of them of the chance to experience any very significant character moments. But it was damned good fun, and I'm glad that amongst all that, RTD chose to keep the real star role for Donna.

Runaway Bride I would recommend catching if you can. Like the other two Christmas specials, it leans more towards Big! Action! Adventure! than some of the regular episodes, and lets go of some of their subtlety and careful craftsmanship in the process. But it's pretty good stuff, and will be especially interesting for you now, seeing it with the knowledge of what Donna becomes later.

As for your last line - aw, bless you! Do not fear, though - there is still much Classic Who for me to get through. :-)
Jul. 6th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)

I think it was the whole "far too epic" nature that turned me off the episode. "Well, I'm going to blow up the whole earth" "Well, we're going to blow up the whole universe" "Well, I'm going to blow up your entire race individually" sort of piddling contest... Will just someone stop blowing things up?

Jul. 6th, 2008 07:53 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, I think all concerned (including viewers) need a rest. But (though I know opinion is, as it always is, divided) on past showing I hope Mr Moffat will have more of a leaning towards the contained, the small, and the eerie - he seems to have an admirably Gothic imagination!
(no subject) - steer - Jul. 6th, 2008 08:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 7th, 2008 10:16 am (UTC)
Sorry, nobody called K9? how did they not call that? I jus tassumed that since they were pulling in all the characters from the modern who era that he would inevitably be there at some point... :)

And I am a little confused still about the whole plot of that. Did I misunderstand or did mad-dalek (khan was it?) manipulate time to get the doctor to kill this dalek threat. And to do that he rescued davros first to create a dalek empire to destroy? Why didn't he just go commit emo suicide somewhere or something? I'm a little puzzled...

Also how is it that so many people seemed to foresee what would happen to donna (such as the person on space station while they were working out what the planets did) but none seemed to actually have a clue beyond that or felt the need to say anythign useful to anybody? I'm not sure I like fate and inevitability in this context. I prefer the idea of pompeii and how things hadn't happened yet so when they saw the future it was one without pompeii exploding. How does that reconcile with everybody knowing donna was goingt o have bad stuff happening to her? It all felt a bit flakily put together in the end...
Jul. 7th, 2008 08:55 pm (UTC)
There is perhaps one positive thing about the ending with the Doctor's other half remaining with Rose. If the BBC ever want to do a multiple Doctor / companion adventure in the future, Tennant and Piper will always be able to do it, however old they are.

Just imagine Tom Baker trying to come back to Who nowadays. He's changed so much it just couldn't happen (though BabelColour can help you dream:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4knUJKUNbqI ).
Aug. 12th, 2008 03:14 pm (UTC)
We watched all three parts of the finale on Sunday night and had a great time.

Doctors kissing assistants is still wrong even if it's a human copy of the doctor. I was never hugely fond of the Rose character and I like her even less when she's presented as the Doctor's One Twoo Wuv. Thank goodness they didn't play up Martha's jealousy of her... but what a crying shame that Donna, the one assistant who didn't go gaga over him, has been written out of any comebacks. Especially since Catherine Tate was so damned good at doing Tennant-Doctor.

I was thrilled to see everybody coming back though. Sad that Penelope Wilton got offed so quickly, but great to see that character redeemed, and the running gag, "Yes, we know who you are," was cheesy but I loved it. Mickey's return made up for the fact that we had to sit through Rose again, and I was overjoyed that while Rose got packed back off to the alternate universe, Mickey got to stay in ours. I also quite like Jackie--particularly the bit where the doctor refused to let her take part in driving the Tardis.

Captain Jack is always good stuff, and while I've only had a little experience with Sarah Jane (I've not seen her spin-off and only a handful of her original episodes), she did very well this episode. That necklace she had--was that taken from Classic Who or is it a retcon?

Oh, and Captain Jack's what-I'm-thinking line was pure gold. Ha!

Anyway, while I'm not a huge Dalek fan (I know they're the classic Who villain, but do they really have to show up every damned series?) I enjoyed the episodes overall. Definitely a great end to the Season. Just... shame about poor Donna.
Aug. 12th, 2008 09:15 pm (UTC)
That necklace she had--was that taken from Classic Who or is it a retcon?

It seems to be new. She says in Journey's End that a 'Verron soothsayer' gave it to her - and this is also apparently how she got the puzzle box which features in the Sarah Jane Adventures story, Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?. But I don't know when or where she is supposed to have met this soothsayer, and I'm certain it isn't in Classic Who. I presume it is meant to be a reference to an unscreened encounter, either while travelling with the Doctor, or since then as a result of her investigations on Earth.
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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