Tag Archives: Phil Collinson

Tying Up the Loose Ends

In talking about episode twelve of Doctor Who last week, I expressed the hope that we wouldn’t get a total cop out of a resolution to the Doctor regenerating cliff-hanger – so what did we get? A total cop out of a solution where the Doctor directs his regeneration energy into his hand in the jar. If the Doctor is able to partially heal and then stop the regeneration by redirecting remaining regeneration energy somewhere else, why hasn’t he done it before? It’s not as it it hasn’t been established that the Doctor has special healing capabilities before – the climax of Frontier in Space leading in to the beginning of Planet of the Daleks for example – however it wouldn’t have had quite such a big climax to lead into Journey’s End if they had done that. The regeneration energy is also needed as a vehicle for the creation of another Doctor from the hand in the jar, and to give Donna the abilities to save the universe, but also the reason why she must leave the Doctor.

Sadly, much as with last year, the cop outs extended to the way that the threat of the Daleks is dealt with. As the Doctor and his companions are trapped by Davros and the Daleks it becomes clear that Davros is very much not in charge – however this idea once started is just abandoned as the whole plan to destroy reality is defeated by a technobabble based solution revolving around a convenient machine in the Dalek base that allows Donna, now embrued with all of the Doctor’s knowledge having touched the hand in the jar, to remotely disable all of the Daleks, and for the half-human clone of the Doctor to destroy them all.

The previously unknown powers that might have been useful previously pop up again after this with the TARDIS hauling the planet Earth back home (although don’t thing too much about the effect of the Earth vanishing and then being hauled back into place might have on the rest of the solar system) and then in the final scenes the Doctor seems to be able to telepathically erase bits of Donna’s memory, again something that has not been seen before. This scene is equally frustrating because it is just rushed through – indeed it could be argued that Donna was mentally violated by the Doctor in that she is not given any choice about what happens – whether to die as a result of the effect of the merger with the Doctor’s mind, or to have those memories and all her memories of the Doctor removed, but to live. Certainly I think there would have been more pathos to the whole thing if Donna herself had to choose.

However, like much of the ending, it was rushed, as there were quite a lot of farewells to get in. First off, Sarah Jane heads off, then Jack heads back to Torchwood apparently taking Martha and Mickey with him. Rose and her mother are deposited back into their parallel world, along with the clone of the Doctor – when you think about it, a bit of a lousy consolation prize for the girl who has declared undying love for the Doctor, being left with his potentially unstable clone. All of this then leaves the Doctor heading off alone once again, as he has done at the end of each season aside from the first.

I think what bugs me most about this, is that much as with last year, and probably more than episode twelve, this is a reminder that Russell T Davies was a childhood fan of the show, and through his series finale episodes in particular he produces the kind of massive spectacular stories that most childhood fans produce. But having to produce a vaguely coherent story he then has to resolve all of these spectacular ideas, which is where the whole thing falls down. When you look back at episodes such as Midnight it is apparent that he can produce a good story, however all to often he goes for the big spectacle ideas that end up coming over as being not much more than fan fiction with a budget. When looking back at the last four years it is interesting to note that the well respected writers such as Steven Moffat and Paul Cornell are the ones that are producing stories that push the format with new ideas, and who generally avoid dealing with established characters or monsters. Whether Steven Moffat will continue to eschew established monsters, and especially avoid the kind of end of season spectaculars we have come to expect remains to be seen. If he doesn’t, we can only hope that Steven Moffat will realise that at the heart of the story we still need a coherent plot.

So were there any redeeming features? Once again, Julian Bleach delivered a fantastic performance as Davros, and certainly I hope he gets the opportunity to reprise the role, perhaps with a bit better plot to work with. Bernard Cribbins again gave a good performance in the closing scenes as the Doctor returns his granddaughter. Certainly you can’t help wishing that perhaps the character would have got at least one journey in the TARDIS during his time on the show. There were a few laughs during the programme too, with a running joke between Donna and Jack, and the return of characters such as Jackie and Mickey giving the opportunity for some reminders of previous relationships.

All in all, with the departures of Phil Collinson, Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner, this was very much a swan song episode for the three of them, tying up a load of loose ends and finishing up the stories for characters created during their era in charge of the show. Much as in the past, when the next full series returns in 2010, I’m expecting that it will feel rather different, as Steven Moffat makes his mark. Whilst there may be elements that will be carried over, certainly other things will be rather different – getting rid of fanfic style finales for a start we hope.

Evolution of the Daleks

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So there we have it, the hybrid Dalek is no more, ousted by the original Daleks who now regard it as impure. Those who were grumbling about why the Daleks created pig men when in previous stories they have created Robomen got their wish, with the ‘final experiment’ mentioned in the previous episode which I, like I guess most viewers assumed was the hybrid Dalek proving to be somewhat more extensive, with thousands of humans kept in stasis until a solar flare causes enough gamma radiation to merge human and Dalek DNA. Unfortunately the Doctor gets in the way, and what are produced are human/Dalek/Time Lord hybrids who won’t obey orders. Then of course at the end we have the customary escape scene with the last Dalek shifting away to give the opportunity for another Dalek encounter.

Although it was fairly predictable, it was none the less an entertaining episode – lots of chases including some funky Dalek shots as they chase the escaping Doctor through the sewers. We also get some aerial destruction as Daleks attack Hooverville. It also includes Solomon, one of the main characters from the first episode getting ruthlessly despatched. He tries to reason with the Daleks, saying that they are outcasts, just like the people in Hooverville, giving a grand stirring speech. There is a pause, just long enough for you to think that maybe they will agree, before the reply comes, and Solomon is dead. The rapidly changing hybrid Dalek, still in charge at this point steps in and saves the Doctor, but that action leads to the other Daleks questioning his position even further, before ultimately they push him aside.

So, whilst it was good to see a scheming Dalek plot-line, perhaps it is time to give the Daleks. Although the title of the episode was Evolution of the Daleks, perhaps there needs to be some evolution of the plot-lines to do something original with the creatures from Skaro before they next appear…

Incidentally, I mentioned in my posting last week that none of the actors got a trip across the pond – whilst the producer Phil Collinson joined the special effects team when they were putting together background shots. Doctor Who Confidential featured the filming of the actors for the Statue of Liberty scenes – in the car park of Penarth Leisure Centre. During a piece interviewing Phil Collinson, where the sequence is doing some self-congratulation about having found a suitable bit of wall that matches, David Tennant comes over to grumble about the fact that the producer, and even the Doctor Who Confidential crew got a trip across the pond, but he didn’t. Probably fair as even in the cash strapped days of the old series Tom Baker got a trip to Paris, and Peter Davison was taken to Lanzarote. I guess he thought that if they could afford to send the producer, they could have done a few shots of their star in front of New York sights!