Wednesday, November 16, 2011

End of Time Rant - Doctor Who

Well, I can't hold this back any longer. It took me watching a lot of episodes, but I finally got to The End of Time episode in the 10th Doctor's last season. That is very important. Remember that. It was David Tennant (and Davies' entire team)'s last season. And they wanted everyone to know it. They kept reminding you all through the second part of that episode by tugging on your heartstrings and dropping lines like Tennant saying another man would be walking around instead of him. Or that Ood saying "This song is ending, but the story goes on forever." In fact, that last bit from the Ood was the only part of The End of Time that wasn't heart-wrenching hopelessness over losing the 10th Doctor.

So, plowing on! There are spoilers if you haven't seen The End of Time. And if you have, and you have opinions, go ahead and share them. Because I'm about to share mine.

I've really liked Russel T. Davies' work and David Tennant as the 10th Doctor. I liked a lot of the epicness of it all. And we're talking EPIC. Huge space battles, the Doctor as a god - he threw the Devil into a black hole, for goodness sake! The Devil! Davies was big on displays of high emotion, brushes with death, big danger. Oh yes. It was lots of fun.

In retrospect, the display from the 10th Doctor before he saved Wilfred from the irradiated booth was spot-on for his character. But I still didn't like it. I expected the Doctor to be better than that. Less selfish. After all, he knew he'd regenerate. Sure, he'd be another version of himself, but he wouldn't be dead. I expected the Doctor to be a little better than, say, me in a situation like that. I would've probably gotten upset and thrown a timelord-sized babyfit too. And cried, I would've cried. And I would've said "It's not fair!" (oh wait, so did the Doctor)

So, on to the death - oops - regeneration. It reminded me of when I used to write angsty fanfiction. Davies was determined to make this Doctor and his time on the show memorable. And he did. The Doctor visited all the human companions and friends he'd made earlier in the series, giving us a taste of what we were going to miss now that Davies' team of writers isn't going to be around anymore. (I really hope some of them show up again, but I'm trying not to be upset if they don't.)

We got to see handsome, broody, melancholy David Tennant stagger through the snow into the Tardis and sob one last line before he exploded all that regeneration energy all over the place. "I don't wanna go." (See the "I don't wanna go" Really? review.) Here I wanted to smack the writers. It was a cheap shot, aimed directly at the hearts of the David Tennant angsty Doctor fans. It hit me too, but I was already getting tired of the angst by now. I wanted a break from it. I wanted the Doctor to be fun and goofy and weird. I wanted him to be more like the 9th Doctor was.

And along came Matt Smith. Oh yes. If I wanted goofy and fun, I got it. And I was glad for it. It was like I'd just put down a particularly tear-soaked copy of a YA novel and wanted some Terry Pratchett to clear my palette.

Now that I think about it, David Tennant's Doctor was the Timelord of Angst ever since he came on the series. He started out half-dead (due to 9's regeneration), and needed to be watched over and taken care of until he had his strength back. He stormed through his four seasons on the show with tears, rage, and all that sexy sarcasm. Then he ended with a huge bang that set the Tardis on fire, sending it crashing to earth in a smoldering heap. Talk about a drama queen. ...and yes, I loved him. And so did all the female geeks who ever swooned over a bad boy with a tear in his eye. We wanted to hold him and tell him it would be alright. We wanted to ruffle our fingers in his 'sticky-up' hair. We wanted to be Rose. (Well, some of us did.)

Russel T. Davies pushed all our buttons. All the way through what one reviewer called an "epic space opera" Davies built his Doctor up so that when it came time to end it, we'd all be crying like babies. And that's the way it's done. As a writer, I can appreciate it, but as a viewer it made me angry and I want to kick his entire team in the shins.

The End of Time made it out to be the end of the Doctor. They might as well have had a sign that said "Stop watching now. Your favorite is gone. You won't like the other guy. Trust us." That's
what bothered me the most. How hard the transition felt. How jarring. However, now that I've seen 10's regeneration, I feel closure. Like a quick jab of a space syringe, pumping a soothing syrup of Matt Smith into my veins. Sometimes I think about 10 and feel that angsty lump rise in my throat, and then I remember the show's still going. This isn't the end of the Doctor.

"You have to leave!"
"I can't go."

Yep. That's right. Stay Matt Smith. Stay as long as you can.

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