Doctor Who – The End of the World Review (or “Settling The New Show In”)

Moving swiftly on from Rose and the new Doctor and his companion take their first trip away from modern London.

And what better place to go to sell the concept of time travel than to The End of the World

Doctor Who – The End of the World Review: What’s This One About?

Take a wild guess?

Well, to be fair, it could be many things based on the same premise.

Here, the Doctor takes Rose five billion years into the future and to a VIP Party on a Space Station observation deck to witness the final destruction of Earth (hey, and just think, at the very same time the First Doctor, Steven and Dodo are on the Ark)

Anyway, there’s treachery afoot, as one of the guests plans on ruining the party by breaking down the Station’s defences and either creating a hostage situation, or killing everyone else on board for money.

Thoughts – What I Thought At The Time

I remember in the lead-up to the new series, a lot of focus went on the End of the World. The marketing for the show, which obviously wanted to  accentuate the colourful aliens and out-of-this-world destinations put the likes of the Face of Boe,

Gagging for it

Gagging for it

The Moxx of Balhoon and the Tree People into the spotlight.

That was all fine, but it meant that I was expecting more from the characters when they did take their bows.

On the whole, I thought it was good, and I was pleased to see that – although in some respects being played up for a younger audience – they maintained a sense of grimness and terror with the deaths of the likes of Jabe, Raffallo and the Steward.

Thoughts Now – Another Settling Story

What’s interesting about The End of the World is that it now feels very much of its time.

It’s not just because of the strange use of the Britney Spears song, Toxic, which seemed a bad idea even then, but also because of the use of an actress like Zoe Wanamaker who was all over TV at the time but is barely seen today.

That’s not necessarily a problem, but compared to Rose, it feels more dated for sure.

Really though, the End of the World is another episode designed to settle the viewers in to the concept of the show.

Whereas the opening episode was more to cover the back story of Rose and to give us a glimpse of the Doctor through her eyes, this episode lets us know about the Doctor, what his TARDIS can do and how he operates.

It’s good that RTD has explained stuff like the way everyone seems to speak English early, to avoid…not so much the viewers but the smart-arse critics from complaining about it.

His introduction of the Psychic Paper is also a masterstroke. It only recently occurred to me that it was brought in to remove the old Episode One thread of the Doctor having the prove who he is, so it’s a clever addition to his repertoire.

By the end of this story, we also learn that he’s alone in the universe; the last of his species. That came as a shock for regular viewers no doubt, but thankfully it’s spared us from any tedious stories set on Gallifrey and – deeper than that I suppose – pissed all over this stupid 13 Lives nonsense. (Writer’s Note 2014: Well I got that wrong, didn’t I?)

The Visuals

The biggest thing to take from The End of the World is how seriously the BBC are taking Doctor Who now.

This man has incredibly broad shoulders

This man has incredibly broad shoulders

The show which – at the time and perhaps unfairly – had the reputation for being “The One With The Wobbly Sets” looks like some serious money has been spent on for once.

The size of the space station, the use of CGI, the makeup and the design of most of the aliens (with the exception of the station’s workers who are just normal people painted blue) look superb and though the CGI might date the further we go into the future, it’ll surely still look impressive.

In particular I thought the makeup on Jabe was top-notch. You really could believe she was a sort of human tree, in an understated way.

Random Observations

  • Being in many ways a new series, RTD has the opportunity to do things with the characters and scripts that haven’t been done since the Hartnell days. Had the writers of Doctor Who spent ages with every new companion dealing with their reactions to being taken out of their own time or struggling with the weight of it all, it would get boring. But Rose is the Ian & Barbara of the 2000s, and so it’s justifiable to spend time examining her reaction to suddenly being away from home.
  • And though it’s utterly ridiculous and brings up plenty of potential issues, the idea of the Doctor tweaking her mobile to allow her to phone her mum at the pace of her own personal
    Just an example of how much more expensive the show looks now compared to the Classic Era.

    Just an example of how much more expensive the show looks now compared to the Classic Era.

    timeline is a nice touch.

  • What potential issues? We’ll get to that in The Aliens of London.
  • Ok, I’ll bite; I don’t just how the Doctor can just walk through those giant fans going at that speed without dying.
  • And in that scene, we see the first example in the new series of the Doctor letting someone die for him.
  • But what is does well is it actually adds a bit of drama to the death of Jabe. Old Who – especially under Eric Saward – treated death as a dramaless and unimportant act. Death should always have a sense of heavy heartedness about it.
  • Oh, Bad Wolf alert, although it means nothing to the viewer yet.
  • Rose comes across a bit like a ned here. “Ned” is Scottish for “Chav” which is English for “Trailer Park Trash”. She’s more than a little bit rude and aggressive on occasion, especially to Cassandra.
  • Ah Cassandra, one of the most startling and utterly stupid characters of the new series. How she manages to exist is one thing, but – and here’s a potential plothole for New Earth – she’s supposed to have been a boy at birth? Ok then.
  • There’s one brief moment, where all the kids and/or midgets painted blue wander around while twee music plays where you think “Oh, this is all a bit kids-TV”. Thankfully it only lasts a moment.
  • Having Cassandra’s motives be for money is a nice little touch to keep the characters grounded in a sort of 21st century reality.
  • Rose is going to end up with back problems with posture like she has displayed in the two stories so far.
  • DWK Mighty 200 Ranking: #94

Doctor Who – The End of the World Review: Final Thoughts

So this is another episode that seems more about settling in than really going  for it in terms of plot.

Again, I like it, but I don’t think it’s anything special. Certainly not as good as Rose.

It’s a necessary part of reviving the show, so it deserves credit for that, even if a rating of #94 is a little high.


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