Doctor Who

Episode Special

The End of Time (1)

6
Aired Saturday 8:00 PM Dec 25, 2009 on BBC America
8.0
out of 10
User Rating
349 votes
20

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT

The Ood warn of a danger that spreads across the whole of the universe. On Christmas Eve, the Master is reborn.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • The End of Time (1)

    10
    The End of Time (1) was a fantastic and very entertaining episode of Doctor Who. I really enjoyed watching because the story was awesome, the acting was superb and the character and plot development were awesome! I liked how The Master made his return and The Doctor did what he could. I liked how every thing played out because there was action, drama, suspense and intrigue. I look forward to watching what happens next because the ending was spectacular!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • Horrible

    3.0
    The show is filled with horrible childish-humor, cliche generic over-dramatic evil laughter (probably at least a full minute of it throughout the first hour), generic bad guys, a predictable plot, too many references to past episodes and specials (none of the characters are original, as far as I know), horrible special effects (seriously, what were they thinking?) and boring characters.

    ~~~ The aliens are generic humanoid Star-Wars/Star Trek aliens (basically draw a human, give it an odd skin tone and add an animal feature somewhere), the lightning effects are laughably bad and the jumping in the air makes me feel like I'm watching some attempt at a comic-book movie. ~~~ None of the characters have any real emotion or personality; if they started dropping like flies I wouldn't care (a good show would make me care if a main character died), the plot is predictable: I can already say without having even seen the second half that the good guys will win and most of the main characters live.moreless
  • Russell T. Davies has decided to wave an enthusiastic goodbye to all sense of perspective and bash his own brains in with the typewriter he traditionally uses to pen his scripts.moreless

    5.0
    Okay. So it's the end of an era. The man responsible for the rejuvenation of what was once the most vilified science fiction show on British television, who has made it absolute must see TV, not only for the cultists among us but for the entire sodding nation, is bowing his cap, throwing down the gauntlet and joining the - metaphorical - choir invisible... and he's taking his finest star with him. Yes, this is Russell T. Davies and David Tennant's mutual swan song and, understandably, they're both rather excited about it. Tennant's been all over our screens for the past few weeks, giving 'revealing' press interviews, hosting Never Mind the Buzzcocks, appearing in Hamlet, flying around the BBC's Christmas trailers... it's actually something of a surprise when a minute passes by in which his unfathomable quiff ISN'T blocking your view. But of course, we don't really mind. Not when he's the best thing to have happened to Doctor Who since Jon Pertwee transformed into a Bohemian lunatic. Davies, meanwhile, has chosen to express his excitement in an altogether different fashion... yes, the man who is probably the second best thing to have happened to the show since that delightful moment at the end of 'Planet of the Spiders', has decided to wave an enthusiastic goodbye to all sense of perspective and bash his own brains in with the typewriter he traditionally uses to pen his scripts. And then sit down to write 'The End of Time, part one.'



    You see, the trouble with Russell T. Davies, ladies and gentlemen, is that he just doesn't know when to stop. Hand the man a simple premise with stringent parameters - werewolf terrorises the residents of a house, for example - and he'll deliver the goods. Tell him that he was to write the finale to end all finales and that all restrictions are lifted, and a wealth of ideas, some promising, others execrably ludicrous, will flood his brain, flushing out any notion of what makes a good story. Faced with the prospect of upping the ante, he'll try to outdo himself ten times over and in the process, will start blindly throwing things at the page in the hopes that somehow, some way, they'll stick together and produce something watchable. Sometimes, miraculously, this process actually works; the fourth season finale, as big a clusterf**k as it was, ended up being the most fun Who has had since its initial regeneration. At others, however, it results in the most cringe worthy television this side of a Hollyoaks omnibus and unfortunately for us all, when faced with the biggest challenge that he's been given in his five years in the hot seat, it seems that RTD has dropped the ball one final time.



    Let's face it guys, 'The End of Time, part one' is a mess. The plot, if you can even call it that, is treated with such wilful disdain that you find yourself uncertain of what exactly it is that you're watching. Stuff happens, then more stuff happens, and then a whole truckload of stuff happens, and then we're done. Logical narrative progression? Pah! Reasonable pacing? Sod that! Explanations? Who needs 'em? We've got an audience to impress and they want action, they want amateur dramatics, damn it, they want John Simm! Pile it all on before they get restless! Quick, mother's getting up, make something explode! Now! This clambering for the money shot, the constant preoccupation with oneupmanship, makes the episode feel hopelessly disjointed and frankly, at times, rather embarrassing. The Master's 'resurrection', a development that should be terrifyingly dramatic, falls depressingly flat because it's treated in such a throwaway manner. Davies speeds us through half an episode's worth of plot in two minutes with some ridiculous gumf about 'the hidden books of Saxon', spouted from the mouths of a bunch of woefully one-dimensional archetypes, and then obliterates every semblance of credibility that the character of Mrs. Saxon ever had by having her deliver the kind of deux et machina that would make a staff writer on Voyager cringe. Where did her 'followers' come from? How were they able to produce a potion that would 'obliterate' the Master, or rather, counter whatever the hell it is that the other barking mad individuals are doing? Hell, when did she have time to orchestrate any of this when she's been in jail for eons? Davies clearly doesn't think we should bother ourselves too much with this stuff; he'd probably tell us that it's Christmas, that we're all full of turkey and, more than probably, a little alcohol, and that we should just sit back, relax and "enjoy the ride." Let it all wash over us. Well frankly, screw that. There's only so much you're getting away with Mr. D, and treating us all like brain dead morons certainly isn't on the list.



    Of course, Mrs. Saxon doesn't succeed. Oh no, she just blows herself up, along with several others, and proceeds to turn John Simm into the kind of relentlessly irritating comedy villain that made Who the butt of so many jokes in the old days. It's a nicely disturbing idea, I suppose, to have him restless and hungry, although exactly how he managed to survive the gargantuan explosion and why he turned this way is anyone's guess. Mind, the character inexplicably survived at least seven brushes with certain death in the 1980s, so what's one more for the record books, eh? Russell probably thinks it's "a good laugh" or something. Yeah, that'll be it. So anyway, Simm lives to fire electricity at the Doctor (don't ask) and have at least a couple of well written scenes with Tennant but inexplicably, he decides to put on his very best thespian garb and utterly ham everything up in the process. Oh sure, he was never particularly subtle in his former appearances, but at least he didn't attempt the dreaded 'villainous cackle' every thirty seconds. Here, it's practically the only line he has. Why is it so difficult for actors to understand that their audience will see straight through insincerity? An actor of Simm's calibre should realise that, in order to scare the viewer, to horrify them and keep them on the edge of their seat, they should play megalomania completely straight, without any hint of irony or hyperbole. The plainest villains are the most terrifying precisely because they're recognisable. Start gesticulating wildly and making bombastic exclamations and a distance is immediately established. It just doesn't work. And now, of course, we're faced with the prospect of an entire planet's worth of John Simms in part two, each scene filled with countless copies of his maniacal head, guffawing endlessly to one another. Great.



    As if all of this wasn't frustrating enough, we're also forced to endure the pathetic Naismiths, a pair of completely plastic pseudo-villains whom Davies barely even bothers to introduce, let alone actually explain (and in light of this, you can't really blame the two actors for putting in utterly horrible, over-the-top performances), another pair of throwaway aliens (cacti this time) who could actually be slightly interesting if the plot bothered to stop and give them some attention, and a load of witless nonsense involving Wilf and a gang of elderly citizens, concocted solely to give June Whitfield the cameo that Davies probably thought she deserved. In amongst this depressing hotchpotch, David Tennant and Bernard Cribbins try to salvage some good and they do sometimes succeed. Predictably, the pair bring a naturalism and grace to everything they do and their scenes together are positively electric. The highlight of the episode, undoubtedly, is their quiet conversation in the cafe, in which the Tenth Doctor finally begins to face the reality of his impending 'death.' Tennant is outstanding here, flipping emotions in the blink of an eye, effortlessly conveying the alien nature of the character but simultaneously tugging at every one of our heartstrings. This is what we need to see more of, Davies. This is what you're good at. To be fair to him, it does seem like the second instalment will be a quieter affair, in part at least, but we could have done with seeing more reflection and pacing in this episode, rather than so much drama and apocalyptic bombast.



    It is entirely possible, of course, that 'The End of Time, part two' may put some of the inconsistencies and loose ends of its predecessor to bed. There's still time for Davies to better explain the Master's resurrection, his wife's attempt to kill him, exactly how the Time Lords are back in business and so on and so forth. And to be honest, I don't doubt that, at the very least, the latter point will be afforded the attention it deserves (the miraculous healing machine, anyone?) However, that doesn't change the fact that far too much blindly occurs here that we, as an audience, are simply expected to chew up and swallow without question. If you have an explanation, Russell, give us it now instead of making it seem like you're just winging it all the way through. It also doesn't forgive this episode its horribly scatter shot plotting; often, the narrative feels like it's been cobbled together out of a series of discarded post-it note ideas, barely hanging together at all. And as for John Simm... please, please, please can someone take him back to Acting 101 and show him to portray a convincing villain? The prospect of seeing him laughing his way through every sodding scene of the next instalment is enough to make you want to gouge your eyes out with a spoon. There's still time to salvage this one guys, to give Tennant the respectable send off he deserves. I'm crossing my fingers and toes for New Year's Day... and ignoring the naysaying voices in my head.moreless
  • Doctor Who at its worst.

    2.5
    (SPOILERS)



    Doctor Who has just been raped.



    I watched this episode and felt it was very slow and dull and The Master's character being toned down alot more than his last appearance on the show.



    As for his storyline and the "shock" ending has been the worst idea I have seen in the show and has made Doctor Who seem like a joke.



    In the future you will see this episode on a site like Cracked.com as one of the "25 Most Ridiculous Sci Fi Episodes Ever"



    David Tennant's ending has now been tarnished with this ridiculous episode and now I am not really sure if I want to watch the next part with a storyline as cheesy as a Dairylea Dipper.



    I have never criticized the writing for Who before and I am in love with the show but for the first time, I feel embarassed for watching the show.



    As for The Timelords, well when Timothy Dalton appeared on screen, we knew they would return.moreless
  • Perhaps not as good as the best of the regular series, but certainly the best special yet.

    8.5
    So it is here. The beginning of the end. And... well, it IS decent, and it is clearly Doctor Who. Gone are the sense of irrelevance of most specials and the overly dark and brooding feel of the last few. Our beloved bipolar Doctor is back through the endlessly talented Tenant who, as usual, nails the comedy in the middle of the drama and the sudden humanity whenever it is needed.



    Even better, once again John Simms is a brilliant, over the top sounding board for Tennant. That man, my friends, is fun to watch, in the way a Nicholson or a De Niro are fun to watch when they decide to go overboard with their acting. Even better, Simms never once feels like he doesn't care, regardless of the insanely exaggerated stuff he's given to do. The only bad thing of his casting as The Master is that now we won't get to see him take a stab at The Doctor himself.



    The rest of the criticism is mostly valid, though. The plot is generally glossed over to make way for more of the iconic moments and tender emotional wrap-up... but I prefer that to the alternative. There is, after all, a whole lot of emotional wrap-up to do. What is there, though, is only slightly short of classic, as quirky and fun as the stuff that brought the series back.



    Oh, and, for the record, Bernard Cribbins is as endearing and funny as ever. He nails the sympathetic old friend vibe in the slow stuff and he gets the best out of both the verbal and the physical comedy ("He's a cactus!" --Nuff said).moreless
Claire van der Boom

Claire van der Boom

The Woman

Guest Star

June Whitfield

June Whitfield

Minnie Hooper

Guest Star

David Harewood

David Harewood

Joshua Naismith

Guest Star

Alexandra Moen

Alexandra Moen

Lucy Saxon

Recurring Role

Paul Kasey

Paul Kasey

Ood Sigma

Recurring Role

Silas Carson

Silas Carson

Voice of Ood Sigma

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (3)

  • QUOTES (21)

    • The Narrator: It is said that in the final days of planet Earth, everyone had bad dreams. To the west of the north of that world, the human race did gather in the celebration of the pagan rite to banish the cold and the dark. Each and every one of those people had dreamt of the terrible things to come, but they forgot because they must. They forgot their nightmares of fire and the war and insanity. They forgot... except for one.

    • The Doctor: I was told, 'He will knock four times'. That was a prophesy. Knock for times and then...
      Wilf: Yeah but I thought...when I saw you before you said your people could change...like their whole body.
      The Doctor: I can still die. If I'm killed before regeneration, then I'm dead. Even then...even if I change, it feels like dieing. (pause) Everything I am dies. (pause) Some new man goes sauntering away. (pause) And I'm dead.

    • The Narrator: And so it came to pass that the players took their final places. Making ready the events that were to come. The madman sat in his empire of dust and ashes, little knowing of the glory he would achieve. While his savior looked upon the wilderness in the hope of changing his inevitable fate. Far away, the idiots and fools dreamt of a shining new future, a future now doomed to never happen. As Earth rolled onwards into the night, the people of that world did sleep... and shiver, somehow knowing that dawn would bring only one thing. The final day.

    • The Master: I had estates. Do you remember my father's land back home? Pastures of red grass, stretching far across the slopes of Mount Perdition. We used to run across those fields all days, calling up at the sky.

    • The Master: I like you.
      Joshua Naismith: Thank you.
      The Master: You taste great.

    • The Doctor: (looking at picture of Joshua Naismith) That's the man. I was shown him by the Ood.
      Wilfred: By the what?
      The Doctor: By the Ood.
      Wilfred: What's the Ood?
      The Doctor: They're just the Ood. But it's all part of the convergence maybe... maybe touching Donna's subconscious. Oh, she's still fighting for it, even now. The DoctorDonna.

    • The Doctor: Now quickly tell me, what's happening? The Master; Harold Saxon; Skeletor, whatever you're calling him! What's he doing up there!

    • Joshua Naismith: Now; Please don't imagine I'm a slavedriver. You can resume work on Boxing Day, Mister Saxon.
      The Master: My name... is the Master.

    • The Master: (As newscaster) Breaking News; I'm everyone, and everyone in the world is me!

    • The Master: Because it's funny, don't you see? Look at me! I'm splitting my sides! I am HILARIOUS! I am the FUNNIEST thing in the whole wide WORLD!

    • The Doctor: You're grafting your thoughts inside them, is that it?
      The Master: Ooh, that's way too easy. No, no, no. They're not gonna think like me, they're gonna BECOME me.

    • (As Sylvia and Shaun turn into the Master)
      Donna: (to Wilfred) They've changed. Granddad, it's like, like this sort of thing happened before. My head, oh my head, oh my head.

      (Donna sees images of Racnoss, Adipose, Pyrovile, Sontarans, Vespiform, Ood, Daleks and Davros).

    • The Doctor: (to Joshua/Abigail, regarding Immortality Gate) Whatever you do, just don't let him near that device.
      The Master: Oh, like that was ever gonna happen. Homeless was I? Destitute and dying? Well, look at me now.

    • The Master: (to the Doctor): All these years you thought I was mad, king of the wastelands but something is calling me, Doctor. What is it? What is it? What is it?

    • (inside the TARDIS)
      The Doctor: Ah. Right. Yes. Bigger on the inside. Do you like it?
      Wilf: I thought it'd be cleaner.
      The Doctor: Cleaner? I can take you back home right now.
      Wilf: Listen, Doctor. If this is a time machine, that man you're chasing, why can't you just pop back to yesterday and catch him?
      The Doctor: I can't go back inside my own timeline. I have to stay relative to the Master within the causal nexus. Understand?
      Wilf: Not a word.
      The Doctor: Welcome aboard.
      Wilf: Thank you.

    • Narrator: And so it came to pass, on Christmas Day, that the human race did cease to exist. But even then, the Master had no concept of his greater role in events for this was far more than humanity's end. This day was the day upon which the whole of creation would change forever. This was the day the Time Lords returned. For Gallifrey!
      Time Lords: For Gallifrey!
      Narrator: For victory!
      Time Lords: For victory!
      Narrator: For the end of time itself!
      Time Lords: For the end of time itself!

    • The Master: (after transforming every human into himself) The human race was always your favorite, Doctor. But now, there is no human race. There is only... the Master Race!

    • The Master: (regarding the Immortality Gate) Ooh, that's not from Earth!
      Joshua Naismith: And neither are you. Quite a good combination, wouldn't you agree?

    • The Doctor: You can't come with me.
      Wilf: Well, you're not leaving me with her.
      Sylvia: Dad!
      The Doctor: Fair enough.

    • The Doctor: I'm going to die.
      Wilf: Well, so am I one day.
      The Doctor: Don't you dare.
      Wilf: All right, I'll try not to.

    • Governor: Hello, Lucy, I'm your new Governor. I'm afraid the old Governer had an unfortunate accident... an accident that took quite some time to arrange.

  • NOTES (3)

    • It is in this episode where we learn what offense the Doctor committed to Elizabeth I to cause her anger at the end of "The Shakespeare Code;" he married and subsequently abandoned her.

    • Barring the flashback seen in "The Sound of Drums", this is the first on-screen appearance of the Time Lords since the Sixth Doctor serial The Trial of a Time Lord.

    • Original Title: "The Final Days of Planet Earth".

  • ALLUSIONS (2)

    • [The Doctor is talking to Wilfred Mott who has asked who he's travelling with]
      The Doctor: No one. Travelling alone. I thought it was better and all...but I did some things that went wrong.

      This is a reference to "Waters Of Mars" where the Doctor changed certain events of a fixed event. Originally, everyone on Mars was supposed to die, but the Doctor managed to save someone. This act started to go to his head, but the person he saved showed him there are consequences by committing suicide.

    • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe:

      The Doctor refers to The Master as "Skeletor", recalling the titular villain of the 1980s cartoon series "He-Man and the Master of the Universe", whose head was just a fleshless skull.

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