Doctor Who: The End Of Time Part One review

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Yet there was something more, and the first clue we got (and, to be fair, we didn’t assume that Catherine Tate had been brought back just to make up the numbers) was when she bought her Grandfather Mr Naismith’s book for Christmas. But more was to come. And her importance to the events of Doctor Who was confirmed though when the only person on the planet to not be affected by The Master’s mind-warping plan – which even took out Barack Obama (or, let’s charitably say a vaguely convincing lookalike of him) – was Donna. Wilf was exempt because he just happened to be in the chamber with radiation sealing (from the moment you saw said cabinet, you figured it had to be a plot get-out-of-jail card somehow). Donna? She’s the only person on the planet, the Doctor aside, who actually resisted it herself.

Why is that? Is that her being half-Time Lord? Whatever the explanation, she’s going to be pivotal to Part Two, clearly, which is where several other familiar faces are going to be returning.

Finally, then, there was the cliffhanger with the multiple Masters. And this, again, was daft, although I suspect it’s a crowd-splitter. I can see that argument that it matches the scale of the story, for instance.

Anyway, I’ve always argued that Russell T Davies writes great cliffhangers and strong penultimate episodes. This, for me, wasn’t one of his best endings. The idea of turning pretty much everybody in the world into The Master was again just, well, a bit silly. It was entirely in keeping with the decision to turn the batshit-crazy meter on The Master through the roof, and John Simm was clearly having a ball (and testing the BBC’s wardrobe deparment to the limit). But all of a sudden it’s transformed what could have been a fascinating one vs one battle between the Doctor and The Master into a one vs eight billion. I suspect Davies has a masterplan for this, and that he’ll pull it out of the bag. But on paper at least, it makes for a less interesting fight right now.

That said, and I appreciate I may have come across over-critical here (although, in my defence, this two-parter has been top of to-watch wishlist for a long time now, so my hopes and expectations aren’t low), I still thought The End Of Time Part One was very good. It managed a delicate balance between delivering a Christmas episode that the family could enjoy, and putting into place some fairly dark stepping stones for the journey ahead. That’s really no small feat when you reflect on it. And behind the camera, Euros Lyn deserves credit for his fast, flowing direction, while keeping things still when required too so that Bernard Cribbins’ eyes alone could bring a lump to the throat.

It’s clear, however you felt that the cliffhanger went, that the second part of this adventure is set to be epic Doctor Who one way or another. There’s a near feature-film length running time, a big cast and no need to pull back on the ending and save everyone this time round.

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