Forewarned and with a sense of foreboding, The Doctor races to return to Earth fearing that The Master will somehow return. He has good reason to worry since The Masters minions have in fact found a way to reconstitute him. Re-united with Wilfred Mott, The Doctor desperately tries to locate The Master only to find that he is being held by Joshua and Abigail Naismith who are using alien technology to create a new future for Earth. It's too late however, for The Master has now turned everyone on Earth into his own image. Little does he realize the greater danger that awaits them all. Written by
Shallow, derivative plotting and some poor acting makes for an unpromising start to Tennants Swan Song!
After four long years, 64 televised episodes (not counting the animated stories and charity specials) David Tennant was finally hanging up his sonic screwdriver as the tenth incarnation of the now contemporary and reinvented Time Lord. Having just previously featured in two one-hour, one off specials rather than the now requisite thirteen episode (ten story) which would comprise of a whole series (a move made to ease in the transition as new executive producer Steven Moffat took over the reigns from Russell T. Davies and the production team made redesigns to the next series TARDIS, opening credits sequence etc.), Tennant's long anticipated swan song, a two part Christmas special entitled "The End of Time" hit television screens across Britain. The subject of much hype and much speculation considering the ominous prophecy imparted to the Doctor at the conclusion of the passable "Planet of the Dead". The cryptic enigma of who would knock four times would soon be answered. But as if much of the fare that we have come to expect from RTD the premiere instalment of "The End of Time" promises much but delivers little in the way of a totally coherent or inspired and original plot.
The premise focus's on the Doctor having to return to the planet earth having received a vision with the aid of the elder of the Ood, whose home planet he was visiting. A vision which concerns the resurrection of the Doctor's arch-nemesis the Master who will in some way play a part in the end of time itself which will mean the destruction of future events that the Doctor currently inhabits with his alien associates. What soon follows is a rather poorly constructed and stilted resurrection scene which utilises the necessity of the inclusion of the Master's widowed wife Lucy Saxon (who married him when he had adopted the moniker of Harold Saxon) requiring the adage of a number of one dimensional Harold Saxon cultists as best be described who with no coherent rhyme or reason (apart from that they're devoted to their "Master") are willing to sacrifice their lives to revive the deceased Time Lord. As you might imagine things don't go according to plan (due to a rather miffed Lucy throwing a figurative spanner in the works) and things come to an end rather disastrously. But not after some mind blowing OTT performances from all involved, yes even Simm.
The story more or less develops from there and not well as would be hoped. With the Doctor being reunited with Wilfred Mott, one of RTD's more sublime and wonderful creations and played beautifully by the brilliant Bernard Cribbens it allows the pair to have a ingeniously acted but at times nonsensical moment (given the context of the series history) in a café. The brief moments involving former companion Donna played by comedian and actress Catherine Tate do add an emotional weight to proceedings and do to a slight extent forward the plot but the whole more "spiritual" angle which RTD has rather limply applied to past stories just seems like a rather lazy method of not allowing the Doctor to use his deductive powers and discover things for himself.
On top of this is Simm's given interpretation of the Doctor's adversary and fellow Gallifreyan who believe it or not is even more maniacal and twitchy than was last seen in series three's closing episodes. Although his performance is more, fine tuned than in his initial appearance in this episode I miss wily sociopath who the villain was, rather than the crazed Hannibal Lectre prototype that he has been moulded in to. A confrontation between the two rivals within a barren London wasteland though featuring some electrifying and eye-popping special effects is reasonably well handled and allows once the dust settles for Simm to deliver a solemn, reticent performance as he eloquently mulls over he and the Doctor's past childhood on Gallifrey and what they have both become. Both actor's cope with the repartee between their respective protagonists/antagonists well but unfortunately it's a moment that is all too brief and the Master is whisked away by paid mercenaries in the employ of potty millionaire (is there ever any other kind?) Joshua Naismith who requires the ingenious skills of the Master for his own ends which entails the Immortality Gate, a humdrum creation by RTD which is merely a variation of the Nanogenes seen in series one's "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances" and themselves were ripped off from an old episode of "Red Dwarf". If this isn't bad enough Naismith's need for the Master and the gate which involves his daughter Abigail,(Tracy Ifechaor in a cringe-making and lamentably artificial performance)is shallow and trite to the point of boredom.
The Vincocci, a pair of alien scavengers played by "Being Human's" Sinead Keenan and Lawry Lewin are nicely realised by the two and do add something to the part and help move things along although it's to a rather nonsensical conclusion which isn't merely laughable and looks like something out of a bad sketch of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" not to mention it makes the inclusion of the Naismith's practically unnecessary, as they add little if anything to the plot making them nothing more than disposable, gratuitous fodder.
But as the episode comes to a close and we hear the beautifully resonant and strengthening tones of former Bond star Timothy Dalton which culminates in a spectacular although not altogether surprising reveal given a certain photo that leaked on to the internet. I couldn't help but get a tad excited as to the prospect of what the following weeks concluding part might bring. But given this was Russell T. Davies who had penned this story those hopes as had been the case before could be so, rudely shattered as had ultimately my hopes for this opening morsel.
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