Swan Song for Ten: David Tennant’s Final Doctor Who ‘The End of Time’ Begins

-by Amy Yen

Technically speaking, David Tennant was not my first Doctor. Like a lot of new Whovians, I started with “Rose,” & I knew Chris Eccleston as Claude the Invisible Man in Heroes before I ever laid eyes on Nine. Nine was charming & wonderful & fantastic. But it was Ten & Tennant, out of longevity if nothing else, that became my Doctor.

The End of Time, Part 1″—the first half of the Tenth Doctor‘s final adventure—is an incomplete & flawed story. It took too long to get going, it was so confusing it was almost completely incomprehensible at times (Obama? Really??), it was way too over-the-top, it featured almost none of the promised guest stars &, in many ways, it failed to properly feature the greatness of David Tennant as the Doctor.

It did have its moments. Tennant’s quiet scenes, in the cafe with Wilf in particular, were his best. Wilf was wonderful, even though it took too long to just get him in the TARDIS already. Lucy Saxon‘s redemption was nice, if a little inexplicable (how was she able to do all that when she got locked away right after all the stuff on the Valiant? why was that random guard helping her?). Donna’s scenes were heartbreaking. And of course, that final scene, with Timothy Dalton & all the time lords…well, it was enough to bring all the anticipation for part 2 roaring back, even while the Master’s subplot disappointed.

The thing is, the Master always sounds good in concept. The Master’s coming back, you say? This is going to be awesome! But then, it turns out exactly like last time. The Master, it turns out, is bloody crazy. And not in a so crazy, it’s awesome kind of way. John Simm is great, but he’s given material so over-the-top here that it makes dancing around the Valiant to the Scissor Sisters seem subtle. He’s exhausting, in that cartoon villain kind of way. You kind of feel like saying, really? Again, with the taking over the world?

Still, you can’t judge “The End of Time” without seeing part 2, & as noted, there were just enough awesome bits in part 1 to make the next week seem very long indeed. Because, what’s so riveting & intriguing about this particular Doctor’s anticipated regeneration is that he dreads it so much. “Even if I do change, it feels like dying,” he tells Wilf, “Some new man goes sauntering away.” And so Ten rages against the dying of the light & it’s impossible to turn away, even as we know Matt Smith & Eleven are waiting, just on the other side of 2010.

Come on, New Year’s, get here!


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