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Kaitlin

"The End of Time"

"The End of Time"

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Cross-posted from my Tumblr ... I've been watching a lot of Dr Who lately with Glenn (we watched this episode specifically to quantify how much it sucked), and blanking on anything to write about, so I thought I'd do Dr Who reviews for awhile. I’m playing around with the format of them, so future reviews may not look exactly like this one. And may not be so surly, if I don’t keep watching episodes this terrible.


Starting at the top … is there any point to the Ood prophecy other than to let the Doctor know he’s about to die? First problem: prophecies are lazy. Second problem: all this foreknowledge does is start the Doctor whining. Maybe some regeneration angst at the end would have been ok, but this goes on for two and a half hours. Whatever sympathy you’re supposed to have for him gets wrung dry by the millionth iteration of it. Plus, it’s sort of hard to ignore the fact that he’ll just regenerate, now and a million times after (unless you think the BBC will junk their cashcow to validate 30 year old trivia). And it’s a lot of buildup so he can regenerate in the least practical nuclear containment system ever.


Over the course of two episodes, three seperate groups orchestrate the return of the Master. A women’s prison cult, a millionare father-daughter-and their hired commandos team, and the Time Lords. Any one group trying to get ahold of the Master is already too many. Involving him in your plans is at best a wash, and at worst, the biggest detriment your evil scheme can possibly have. His plans are impossibly complicated, he betrays allies at the first sign of trouble, and he’s easily distracted by the Doctor. Three different agendas relying on the Master are way too many, and most of these plans are terrible ideas to begin with.


- The prison coven wants I have no idea what from the Master, besides his continued existence (he hypnotized them beforehand, I guess?). They get his psychic imprint off his wife, three years later, from her lipstick. She semi-foils the resurrection attempt with some kind of anti-Master potion that she got ahold of in a Master-worshiping prison. I guess the writers wanted to do something with the Master’s wife, since she was part of his thing last time, but it would’ve been awkward to visit her in prison during the big farewell tour and so they did this.
- The father-daughter duo thinks the Master can build an immortality stargate for them. Why choose the Master for this? If I’m remembering “Last of the Time Lords” correctly, everyone’s memory of him got rewound to about the time he revealed the Toclafane, and then he disappears. So, as far as these people know, the Master had one scheme, which achieved nothing and ended about 2 seconds after it started. The Earth is lousy with aliens these days, there had to be at least one with more credibility than the Master. Torchwood’s pretty shady most of the time, convince some of those people to help out. Also, unbeknownst to the father and daughter, some cacti have also been working on the project, because shrug and the machine turns out to be theirs, anyway. Technically, they’re a fourth group involved in all this, but they don’t seem to have a real purpose other than moving the Doctor from set to set, so I’m not going to bother with them.
- The Time Lords made a backup copy of Gallifrey and left it in the Master’s head. If they had to pick one of these plots (and I think they should’ve stuck with just one), this is the one I would pick. It’s still pretty silly, but in theory the return of the Time Lords is what these episodes are about, and something the new show’s being building towards for awhile. And it’s the only one where involving the Master makes at least a little sense. At first, it seems kind of risky to make the plan that will save your entire planet and species hinge on the Master surviving the Time War, but if there’s one thing the Master really excels at, it’s his cockroach-like inability to die. Between that and the constant betrayal, it’s not too crazy to assume he’d weasel out of the war intact. (I guess there’s also a prophecy, but man, fuck prophecies). The plan from here on out is to drop a Time Diamond on the Master to remind him he has shit to do, and to buzz the Earth with the Time War - for pre-apocalypse entertainment, I guess, cause the endgame is universal oblivion. Rassilon’s operating off a theory that this will propel the Time Lords into Star Trek-like energy beings, rather than destroying them along with everything else. He’s also Rassilon solely to annoy old fans, and to make new fans wonder if they missed something.

So what’s the Master himself up to in all this? His wife’s interference gave him THE HUNGER, and some of the silliest bullshit in an already ridiculous episode. The hunger mostly amounts to him squatting in trash, shredding through hamburgers and hobos. It also gave him video game powers, so now the magic lighting he shoots from his palms can make him fly. Or rocket around a quarry like a tennis ball. Or turn into Skeletor. These aren’t quite the stupidest looking things he’s ever done, but his past includes a snake form filling Eric Roberts’ mouth with semen, so he can plumb all kinds of depths before he outdoes that. His plan is ok - turning the human race into him is about as big a “fuck you and fuck your humans” message as he can possibly deliver to the Doctor, and that’s Master Objective #1. Master Objective #2 is domination, on various scales (I think he once broke a galaxy in half trying to rule it). That part feels kind of half-assed - it just adds some action and kills some time before the Time Lords show up. The Master changes his opinion about this development maybe 5 times in as many minutes, then settles on blasting Rassilon (“no one kills the Doctor but me!”) and disappearing.

And now the fanfiction finale, in which Russel T. Davies writes a love letter to himself and David Tennant. Ten’s departure has already been drawn out forever, so why not do a farewell tour covering absolutely every single thing he’d done over the past 4 years? The audience is 2 hours deep now, it’s not like 10 more minutes matters. Already regenerating, the Doctor takes time out to save Mickey and Martha (the pairing created so the Doctor wouldn’t have to make two stops), play wingman for Jack, squeeze in the requisite Rose appearance, and whatever else they can cram in from the last 5 years. The Doctor checks in on Donna last, who gets a winning lottery ticket out of the whole ordeal. Not bad, considering most companions are lucky if they end up on their own planet. All this shilly-shallying finally catches up to the Doctor, and after a little more whining for the road, he regenerates so hard the Tardis explodes. Eleven shows up, tries out a terrible catchphrase, and that’s enough of all that.

Random things
- That mysterious (and/or confusing) Time Lady who helps out. I kinda feel like the writers couldn’t decide if it would be more interesting to have her be Romana, or Susan, or whoever the Doctor was with who made whoever eventually made Susan, or the Doctor’s mother (the main theories I’ve heard), and left it a blank to be filled in by fans. Explaining her would’ve meant actually dealing with the Time Lord plot in detail, instead of postponing it for random nonsense. Not that Time Lords preclude random nonsense (they usually provide it in spades), but whatever Time Lord heavy plot they came up with would have to be better than watching the Master suck down a rotisserie chicken in exchange for stargate repair.

- The recurring references to Barack Obama are so weird, I can’t tell if they’re pro-Obama or making fun of him.

- Ten falls from a space ship, through a glass ceiling, onto a marble floor, and somehow that isn’t what kills him. Jesus Christ, he whanged his head on the Tardis console once and it killed him!

- A few things I legitimately enjoyed …

Wilf. And his van of old people.
Brigadier!Master.
How thoroughly they leapt on the opportunity to put John Simm in drag.
The high Doctor/Master content.
  • For real, the only sense I can make of the recurring Obama references is that RTD read this fic and wanted to give a shoutout. I don't think this theory is too silly: this episode is clearly the result of reading a shit-ton of Ten/Simm!Master fic, then watching Star Wars, and then...smoking a truly amazing amount of crack.

    I think what bugs me most is that there's at least three good episodes, and six or so mediocre-to-crappy ones' worth of plot in it, and shoving them all together produces this trancendent ball of nonsense which somehow manages to be quite boring and annoying for a lot of the run time. It's just. Why would you DO this?! Sigh.

    On the upside, I'll never get tired of making fun of it?
    • I think what bugs me most is that there's at least three good episodes, and six or so mediocre-to-crappy ones' worth of plot in it, and shoving them all together produces this trancendent ball of nonsense which somehow manages to be quite boring and annoying for a lot of the run time. It's just. Why would you DO this?! Sigh.

      For a new series show, it has a lot of old show flaws - too padded, too boring, too ridiculous. They seemed to be taking the worst possible cues from the classic era ... except for Doctor/Master material, I felt like that worked out pretty well, and was nicely consistent with the level of gay we've seen over the years.
  • i read this review and liked it. i watched end of time and didn't like it.

    i also never really bothere to think about how totally ridiculous it is to have three plots by three different people that hinge on the master (because i was too busy worrying about how embarrassing the episode was), although i also do like the point you raise about the time lords knowing the master wasn't going to die on them. it's a nice thing that suggests someone has actually watched some doctor who at some stage. and it makes the master special - but in a kind of crap way, which is what's good about him.

    i do believe the show loves obama and just did that really badly.

    man, this episode sucked. although i do like the bit at the end where he sees rose, even though it's also awful for all the reasons you mentioned above, and particularly because the doctor should just have died in the box. and without a massive fuss.

    booooooooooooooooo. anyway. there's that.
    • i also never really bothere to think about how totally ridiculous it is to have three plots by three different people that hinge on the master

      That never occurred to me before I rewatched this, but it suddenly struck me and I couldn't believe how dumb it was. The Master imposing his plans on others makes sense to me - someone saying to themselves "what this scheme needs is the reliability and team-playerness of the Master" does not.

      i also do like the point you raise about the time lords knowing the master wasn't going to die on them. it's a nice thing that suggests someone has actually watched some doctor who at some stage. and it makes the master special - but in a kind of crap way, which is what's good about him.

      I think my friend and I had this exchange about 15 times over the course of this rewatch:
      "This thing the Master's doing is pretty stupid."
      "The Master is pretty stupid. [recount one of many dumb exploits at least as shameful as this]"

      I don't know, I'm just so much more entertained and interested in the Master being crap than in him being an OMG scary bad guy.
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