Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Doctor Who - The Stolen Earth / Journey's End

Right. It's about to get SPOILERY around here. So if you haven't seen the final two episodes of Doctor Who season 4 and you plan to, you might wanna skip this one. Go look at the Throwing Muses and Belly videos I posted yesterday, for instance.


Right... the two part finale, "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End." Because De wanted to hear some of my thoughts, here they are. I'm gonna bullet point 'em, though, because it's early and I haven't been visited by the Coffee Fairy yet.

  • Okay, so Daleks. They're quintessential Doctor Who, easily as much a landmark of the show as the TARDIS, and because of the whole Time War thing, they're inexorably linked with the Doctor and all the big events of this iteration of the series I know that, I get it, I love them. But I think we need a moratorium on them for a bit, don't you? Even if they just steer clear of them for the upcoming specials... it's long enough until Season 5 Proper that I might not be so sick of them by then.

  • The return of Davros, though, was a great touch, as was continuing his life of ups-and-downs in the eyes of the Dalek empire (he's never in power for long, but he never stays out of power for long, either).

  • And his "reunion" with Sarah Jane was nicely chilling, and another great example of working in old series continuity without leaving the new fans wondering what the hell everyone's talking about. They've met before, neither of them enjoyed the experience... that's all you need to know.

  • I also enjoyed the use of Sarah Jane as the voice of metacommentary on the greater Who universe - chiding Captain Jack for all the violence connected to Torchwood, yelling at Mr. Smith to stop with the anthem playing and get on with the analysis, stuff like that. Fun jokes if you watch all three shows, but again, nothing that people unfamiliar with them are going to be annoyed by, either. Meta is best when used sparingly... a lesson the producers of American shows should brush up on.

  • And related to that, I appreciated that the scenes with Torchwood and Sarah Jane & Luke both played like scenes from their respective shows without having to make any significant tonal changes while still retaining some of the unique elements that differentiate them. Well-played.

  • And I suppose Erin would want me to mention that she was happy to get another Ianto fix.

  • Okay, so Rose Tyler. Rose, Rose, Rose. I was hoping a couple years on her own would bring back the Season One Rose we all loved. Nope. Just as clingy and selfish as before, though I'm happy they didn't play the Intense Jealousy Over Later Companions card with her. It looked like they were gonna when she first saw Martha in The Stolen Earth, but I did enjoy her reaction to Martha's gambit with the UnpronouncableGermanName Key ("Ooooh, she's good!"). But I mean, come on, she gets returned to her own universe again - with an entire Doctor completely to herself, no less - and she's still gotta complain? Silly, selfish Rose. Go away forever again.

  • Cloned Doctor was stupid. Glad they quickly sent him packing.

  • Silly Plot Theory We Had Which Was Proven Wrong #1 - We wondered if silly, selfish Rose, being both silly and selfish, might have made some sort of alliance with the Daleks in order to get back to the regular universe just to be reunited with the Doctor, essentially selling out the rest of the creation just to get her dude back. Boy, would that have pissed off a good chunk of fandom!

  • Erin and I both liked Donna Noble from the start. The idea of a companion amazed by the wonders and terrors of the Doctor's world, but isn't all swoony over him and is willing to take the wind out of sails whenever it's necessary - or funny - was a welcome change for the new series. And watching her transform not a little unlike a time traveling Eliza Doolittle was one of the real joys of the season. So her ultimate fate was particularly heartbreaking, I thought, and I almost wonder if she would have been better off dying physically instead of metaphorically. That was particularly driven home by her grandfather Wilf, who had watched her become the person he always thought she could be, only to have it all taken away. Just a crushing performance at the end by that man there.

  • Silly Plot Theory We Had Which Was Proven Wrong #2 - Donna's importance, and the fact that the Doctor clearly had to meet her, would end up being due to her somehow being another Time Lord hidden in human form. And given the season's recurring theme of the Doctor's family, and Donna's own relationship with her grandfather, I was kinda hoping she'd turn out to be the Doctor's granddaughter, Susan.
In short, it had a few moments of weirdness, but on the whole, a good ending to what was, for my money, the best overall season so far. There were no hugely stand-outtingly excellent episodes like "Blink," "The Girl in the Fireplace," or "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances" this seasons, but neither Erin nor myself thought there were any real "Daleks in Manhattan" style clunkers, either. Even the not-as-great episodes were still quite good in some way, shape, or form, we thought. And how often can you say that?
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