In short: Well I promised myself I would review each episode of season four, and it seems I have. I might even do a season retrospective in a few weeks…
Anyway, onto the end of all things.
Journey’s End has none of that. It’s just a throw everything at the wall and see what sticks sort of story. And if not for that marvellous ending with Donna, and that look of loss on the Doctor’s face at the end, just as the theme tune crashes in, Journey’s End would have left me hollow.
Let’s be fair here. Some of Journey’s End was good – even great. I enjoyed the Doctor’s reflexive moment where he realises what he does to his companions. It was nice that someone as mad and as insane as Davros led him that realisation. And I did like the TARDIS team ferrying the Earth back home. Yes, it made no sense at all, but I liked the symbolism of the Doctor’s friends all working together to do something brilliant. And, I thought the moment where the Doctor wipes Donna’s mind was fantastic. In fact, the last five minutes were easily the episodes highlight. I didn’t shed a tear, but I came close.
But in between these moments, there was so many stumbles. If I hadn’t been spoilt a few weeks back, the cop-out regeneration would have been annoying. But because I was spoiled I was able to come to terms with my disappointment. But I can see how others would have been throwing things at the TV. Too take something that big and make is such a non-event was simply poor writing. It might have worked better if the second Doctor had of appeared then and there – but we had to wait for that.
Unfortunately Davros, for the most part, becomes another loony mad scientist who just happens to be in a wheel chair. And that’s a shame. Bleach does everything he can with the material, and the bit where he recognises Sarah is wonderful. But from the moment Davros mentions the reality bomb, everything goes down hill. And as for the reality bomb… I don’t know… it’s a big idea but it also feels so anti-climactic. I was expecting something more from the stealing of 27 planets.
What the episode didn’t need was more additions to the Children of Time. Other than get SJS out of jeopardy, Jackie and Mickey add nothing at all to the story. Martha is also treated badly. Yeah, it’s nice that the key isn’t actually a reset switch. But for all its build up, to find out that it’s just another bomb showed a paucity of ideas on the part of RTD.
As for the Daleks… well they don’t actually do very much, do they? One thing they seem to forget to do is actually exterminate anyone, except for Jack – who we know can’t die. In fact, they seemed quite impotent. And when they’re actually put to the test, they’re vanquished with a flick of a switch.
Which leads me to the magic button ending. RTD has given us the Deux Ex Machina (Parting of the Way), the Magic Lever that opens the rift ( Doomsday) the Reset Switch ( Last of the Time Lords) and now the magic silver keys of doom. The idea of Donna becoming part Time Lord is actually quite clever and interesting. But it is totally undermined by having Donna just babble technocrap at us and press a few switches. I mean, it’s funny as a joke, and I did smile. But as a resolution of a story, it just makes you roll your eyes and groan. RTD tries to give it some gravitas by having the fake Doctor use it to blow up the Daleks – and that’s genocide, don’t you know – but to me it was just lazy, lazy writing. And a real shame.
There are other rubbish moments. All the stuff on Bad Wolf Bay made me groan. I don’t hate Rose, but Christ she’s a self absorbed tosser. “But he’s no the real Doctor, he’s just some rubbish copy. Oh, wait a mo, he can age can he? Well I suppose he’ll do then!”
And the bit where Doctor Mark 2 speaks in Donna’s voice is the biggest cringe moment in the episode.
I knew Journey’s End was going to be indulgent twaddle. So I shouldn’t be disappointed. Except, RTD gives us an episode that has the potential to be something really special and wonderful. I would have forgiven everything if there’d been a proper resolution that didn’t rely on incoherent dialouge that I’m sure even the kids didn’t understand. (And what the fuck is Human Time Lord meta-crisis anyway?). You can have Donna with a Time Lord mind, as humanity’s only hope, but then make her do something clever, something that requires a bit of improvisation. Don’t make her flick a few switches while spouting rubbish.
And that’s where Journey’s End fails for me. It has no sense of ambition. No sense of being more than the sum of its parts.
And that’s why I give Journey’s End is a 5/10 – and mostly for the last five minutes.
All my criticism aside, I want to thank RTD for the ride he’s given us both this year and since 2005. Yes, we’ve had our issues, but RTD has left us all with a wonderful, special legacy. And while we might not agree with all his creative choices, you can tell in every word and every scene and between every pause, that RTD loves Doctor Who. And I thank him for bringing the fun and joy back.
For the next 12 months, Doctor Who will be written entirely by RTD. Unfettered by back-story and companions it’ll be interesting to see what he does. And then we move on too Steven. Someone who loves the show as much as RTD and who’ll take it in his own direction, filled with laughter and wit and silliness and big explosions and fearsome monsters. And I can’t wait for that ride.
But RTD, I will miss you!