Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The End Of The World


Originally Broadcast 2nd April 2005
Written by: Russell T. Davies

In a nutshell: For her first trip in the TARDIS, the Doctor takes Rose Tyler to the year five billion to witness the end of the world.

Review: I’m going to take a moment and do this review in two halves, as I love this story for thirty minutes, therefore my opinions are going to separated into good and bad, starting off with the good, proving it can’t only get better.

Good: RTD made the brilliant best decision to make episode two big budget and bold, with aliens left, right and centre. The fact that director Euros Lyn can’t make a camera shot without showing someone blue or a tree really shows off what this television series is to the new audience. With ‘Rose’ the idea was to sell the characters slowly, tell us the Doctor is alien and make us love Rose, which we do, so the idea with ‘The End Of The World’ is to throw us into the deep end and give us aliens. But at the same time, we get a mix of the odd aliens with the familiar; it’s our planet about to burn (we instantly relate) and Rose goes through all the human emotions we expect and love from our good ol’ British drama.

I wonder if that set will be reused a few times this year?
Performance is on top form from everyone too, I love all the characters here, Eccleston in particular being fantastic at expressing his love of the aliens and trying to impress Rose. I love Zoe Wanamaker’s voice over, Jimmy Vee’s Moxx and, of course, Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler. All the elements really come together here, actors are given good writing and deliver all their lines with amazement and awe from the audience.

Another reason this is good is because it’s just so wacky, there’s fun contained in every minute of the episode, with lines like “He’s blue?” and Cassandra’s idea of Ipods and Ostrich eggs as well as “I give you air from my lungs”. We get given so many alien concepts but we get so many jokes to introduce them it gives a sort of mild Douglas Adams feel to the episode, this could have easily been one of the (few) stand out episodes of the 1979-1980 series of the show, but the fact it’s made with a 2005 budget exaggerates how good the episode really is.

Yasmin Bannerman (Jabe/Tree lady) with Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor is a really powerful, emotional journey hidden away in this episode, I could actually see them have a relationship and reminds me a little of the Doctor getting engaged from ‘The Aztecs’ (1964) but with more tears. It’s great we’re given this introduction into the Doctor’s personal history through a once-off character as she’s really needed to push the Doctor in a way that Rose couldn’t as this point in her journey. There’s some really sad scenes here and Eccleston gives possibly his best performance as the ninth incarnation more than once in these thirty minutes.

"What sort of date are you?"
But then, we reach the half hour mark and we get…

Bad: Giant fans. Who on earth thought giant fans would work in this? I have to give a small credit to RTD, he laughs about this scene (in interviews such as a 2006 DWM) and admits it’s just a bit of fun, but it’s the weakest part of the story. And for someone who’s told “Stop wasting time, Time Lord”, the Doctor doesn’t half take his time to walk through the first and second fan, making poor Jabe burn like a tree, oh, wait a minute. Anyway, moving on to:

Cassandra. I really just don’t like her. She’s definitely got her good points, such as Wanamaker providing the voice and she’s quite funny at times, making stereotyped jokes about her many husbands, which I must admit I do like, but I can’t quite put my finger on why I don’t like her. She was written in as the villain too obviously although there is a moment where RTD throws in the robots to keep us off the scent (which doesn’t work). She works decently as a one-time villain, but not twice, this isn’t the review for it so don’t even get me started on ‘New Earth’ (2006)!

Cassandra: A marmite villain?
There’s not really a lot more to add, bar little things that just grate me like the sun filter stuff and how the characters can touch the wall a second after the suns burnt it to a crisp, as well as Billie Piper’s acting paired up with green screen. It’s ten of the last fifteen minutes where the ‘adventure’ has to kick in, giving us loud music, explosions and other stuff that apparently the twenty-first century audience has to have in everything.

Luckily, we come back full circle and the episode works wonders again from Cassandra’s apparent death, giving us more insight into the evilness of Eccleston’s Doctor (something I love the payoff for, three years down the line in 2008’s ‘Journey’s End’) before the final scene, where we learn what has become of the Doctor’s planet. There’s some very powerful emotions RTD plays with in just forty-five minutes, forcing the audience to feel love, then sadness, then fun and excitement, it really sets the tone for the new series tenure. Overall, I love this episode, but it’s definitely full of faults, which sadly drag the episode down in many people’s minds.

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