‘Doctor Who’ Christmas countdown Day 6: ‘The End of Time’

First things first: why the heck is Martha married to Mickey?

As far as swan songs go, ‘The End of Time’ certainly is one. Doctor Who bids farewell to the Tenth Doctor over two episodes that run the emotional range from zany to heartbreaking to downright ridiculous (often within the same scene), concluding with a series of pre-regeneration codas which run only slightly shorter than the goodbye sequence at the end of Return Of The King.

While I will say that this isn’t my favourite festive Doctor Who special by a long stretch, seeing as it’s Christmas, it seems only fair to focus on the things about it that are good.

Doctor Who Wilf End of Time

Here are six such things:

The best thing about the episode is obviously Wilfred Mott, played with such heart by the legendary Bernard Cribbins – so much so, that I’d have quite liked to see a two-part special devoted to the exploits of Wilf and his chums, especially the magnificent Minnie (played by the equally magnificent June Whitfield).

Every emotionally-charged scene between the Doctor and John Simm’s decidedly unstable Master – albeit with apologies to the significant corner of fandom bemoaning the wasted opportunity to get those two to finally kiss.

Donna’s new husband seems like a lovely gentleman. Every heartbreaking memory wipe should have a silver lining. (I’m looking at you, ‘Hell Bent’. And, for that matter, I’m still not over ‘The War Games’.

John Simm’s many, many costume changes. He looked especially fetching in that disconcertingly incest-y evil daughter’s posh pink ensemble.

Verity Newman. We see what they did there.

Everybody’s favourite James Bond, Timothy Dalton, spitting all over the place and making the Master look quite rational really.

Next Christmas, the Doctor is tweedier, his hair is floppier and he’s lost his eyebrows.

It’s been fun revisiting Christmas with Tennant. If nothing else, go back and listen to the way he says the word “shimmer”. Trust me.

> Buy the Christmas specials box set on DVD on Amazon.

> Buy the Christmas specials box set on Blu-ray on Amazon.

What’s your favourite moment in ‘The End of Time’? Let us know below…

> Read more by Sami Kelsh on her website.

  • Helles

    Nadir of the show – simply an embarrassment on all levels and the perfect riposte when anyone gets nostalgic for the so-called “good old days” of Tennant and RTD. Guaranteed to induce nausea and boredom in equal doses. Appropriately this was a bloated ego fest of a farewell for a doctor/actor/era equally swollen with smug self regard and now best forgotten.
    Bernard Cribbins is sweet.

  • Dr. Moo

    Tennant wimps out for most of the story and ends by pre-emptively making us want to hate Smith. That’s unforgivable. For the previous Doctor to make us want to dislike the next one is criminal. Thank God that Moffat took over when he did and managed to right so so many wrongs within the Smith era and showed how the next Doctor should be welcomed by the last guy, not sabotaged.

    • Dr. Moo

      Having said that, Cribbens is fantastic. The scene in part one at the café is beautiful. “The Silver Cloak” is a nice idea as well and one that Big Finish ought to consider.

      Overall it’s a crap story but there are all-too-few silver linings.

    • Helles

      In many ways and putting aside who awful the actual story in End of Time is and how poorly it is then acted and presented on screen, you are absolutely right that the biggest crime was to try to sabotage Smith by presenting Tennant as some kind of ‘ultimate’ Doctor and the be-all and end-all. It’s just completely unbridled egotism from Davies and Tennant. The show had been pointing that way throughout series 4 where Tennant’s doctor more and more was presented as a God like being at the centre of the Universe’s mysteries. BBC were also party to raising Tennant above just being another in the line of 10 Doctors (which had been sufficient for all of the previous actors in the role) by shoe horning him onto our screens throughout December 2009. It became a joke after a while with one newspaper clocking Tennant’s appearances at more than 20 during that month.
      Incredibly disrespectful to both Smith and Moffat of course and one which still riles me today.
      Moffat did manage to get some kind of sweet revenge by lampooning Tennant’s doctor spectacularly well in Day of the Doctor as an impotent and shallow ladies man full of hot air and ego. It was nice to see that Tennant played along gracefully to this ribbing.
      Ultimately, Moffat’s and Smith’s best response to Davies’ attempts to undermine their time helming the show before they had even started was to go on to produce the most critically acclaimed series to date at that time (series 9 probably edges it now) and to head up the massive international success which the show had never achieved with Davies and Tennant.
      Such a sorry end all up to Tennant’s tenure but for many people, including me, he was miscast in the role and hampered by some truly self indulgent and awful writing. Fortunately, Smith and Moffat came in to save the day and despite a couple of dips in quality (looking at you Widow, Forest of the Night and Nightmare in Silver), the show has really gone from strength to strength with both Smith and now Capaldi perfectly cast and both brilliant and tireless ambassadors and lovely and modest chaps to boot.

      • Edward Delingford

        The way Smith’s incoming doctor is undermined in this episode is disgusting. The episode is a bloated incomprehensible mess anyway but using it to try to sabotage the next actor in the role makes it such a low point in all of the show’s 52 year history.

  • Ben H

    Love it and I don’t care. Sick of all the cynicism from this entire ‘fandom’ which does nothing but moan about the show it’s supposed to love.

    • Dr. Moo

      When you love something you see its flaws more clearly. Glad you like it, shame I can’t say the same. Thankfully there’s not many DW stories I dislike on this level but TEoT is not very good IMHO.

    • Helles

      You can love a show and also see its inadequacies. In many ways, that is a better fandom than one which praises unthinkingly. I personally love most of Moffat’s era but do also recognise that there are some faults, which to his great credit he has addressed this year (lack of two parters, for example and the lack of a doctor with real gravitas which has been rectified with the casting of Capaldi).
      Too often the Tennant era has been viewed through uncritical Rose-coloured glasses and its many flaws glossed over. It’s by recognising these flaws and acting upon them (which Moffat, unlike RTD, has been willing to do) that allows a show to grow, improve and attract new viewers.
      I am going to be singing the praises of the show very loudly now we are into the Moffat era of Christmas specials in this countdown but I will also be able to see his flaws and won’t be singing too many hymns of praise about Widow when we get to it!
      Many, many fans truly dislike End of Time not just because it is a poor piece of television, but because it makes an emphatic statement that Tennant is the one true version of the doctor and that is some kind of martyr who ‘dies’ rather than bravely faces his regeneration. It also strongly implies that Matt Smith is an inferior or lesser doctor which is insulting to both him and Moffat and borderline offensive. I think if a lot of the demagoguery has been taken out of the final part of the episode and the endless and highly self indulgent farewell lap had been removed (any script editor worth two pence would have ripped that out of the final text) and Tennant has not whined, snivelled and carried on about the regeneration, the bitter taste it left for so many would not be there. It probably still wouldn’t have been a great episode but it would at least have been an episode of Who, not some kind of God-like worship of Tennant and Davies.

      • Derek Der King

        You can love a show and also see its inadequacies.

        Nobody has put this better.

        Although, it’s just as easy to argue that you don’t truly love a show until you recognise and appreciate its inadequacies. If you’re just mindlessly suckered into it, you don’t really have an opinion as to why you like it. So you can’t exactly say you love it lmfao.