While waiting for The Doctor to return, most Whovians find themselves either spinning up the dvds or activating the hard drives of their choice viewing platform. This gives me a chance rewatch and review the series. I’ve been a fan of the show since the Baker era, and have followed it faithfully till the current day. I could do reviews on all of Doctor Who’s 50 plus years, but I feel that covering the vintage New Who series should be more relevant to most of the current audience of the show. That being said, let us begin the review of the second episode, The End of The World.
Aired on April 02, 2005 The End of The World kept up the energy and momentum of the pilot. Writer Russel T. Davies does a wonderful job on this episode. He really brings the wonder and awe that Doctor Who is known for to the screen. Opening with our sun exploding and being contained brought audiences a sense of joy tinge with a touch of fear. This was our Earth. This was our sun. The dialogue and actions were engaging and the story as a whole drew you in. This episode also was the beginning of the exploration of The Doctor.
Alright, now I get to say something that will probably upset long time viewers. Christopher Eccleston did an okay job as the Doctor. The problem I’ve always had with him is he “plays” the Doctor. It never feels as though we are watching the Doctor. His performance, while good, always left me feeling like I’ve watched an actor. Now in contrast, (I will try to keep the comparing of the Doctors to a bare minimum and will try to rate each episode on its own merits.) Tom Baker, David Tennant, and Matt Smith were the Doctor. Every fiber of their being screamed that they were the Doctor. And it shows on camera. Now that being said, Eccleston did a decent job of portraying the unending loneliness, masked by the jokes and good humor. His flashes of anger do well give The Doctor that bit of fear that all those around him feel.
This episode, Billie Piper was truly the star. Rose being taken from London, a total innocent in the galactic sense, shoved into what most of us would consider impossible still has the gumption to ask questions and try to be friendly even though she feels lost and confused. Every action she takes you can feel the “Dorthy from Kansas” vibe, trying to enjoy the experience yet scared out of her mind. The fear she feels is something tings all her actions, yet she still is able act like a human and not let it consume her. Even down to bantering with the Doctor and smiling.
That leads us to the Monster of the Week. Casandra. With all the aliens in this entire episode, I found it quite poetic that the monster in the room was human. Well human at one time. Zoe Wanamaker obviously had a blast voicing a woman so vain that she had every internal organ and bone removed, leaving her brain in a jar and the rest of her flat as a pancake. Using her mechanical spiders to take the platform as hostage then destroying it for simple greed really proves how human she still is. Casandra is one of my favorite Who villains.
This episode was also the beginning of a couple trends. Psychic paper, the multi-threat, the heavy dependance on the Sonic Screwdriver, and the biggest trend that started in this episode, the new met friend that dies for the Doctor. Yasmin Bannerman plays the tree Jabe. She did a wonderful job, making you care about the character. She was interesting and fun. Then when needed to help, she sacrificed herself for the good of all. As I said this become a recurring theme in Doctor Who. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it all began in the New Who with this episode.
The special effects in this episode were fantastic. They still hold up to this day. They are a wonderful blend of practical effects and computer generated effects. It is one of the examples I point to when I say that there can be and should be a balance between practical effects and cgi.
The music was fantastic. Murray Gold does a wonderful job making the emotions that are portrayed on become all the more poignant, complementing without overpowering what is happening onscreen. Except for two examples. I understand they were needed for the set up of the jokes and showing that Casandra didn’t know much about her own history, but I found Tainted Love by Soft Cell and Toxic By Brittany Spears to be jarring and interuptive to the mood and story telling. But they were two little bumps in a wonderful soundtrack.
So final thoughts. Was it great t.v.? Absolutely. Was it good Doctor Who? It was fantastic Doctor Who. This episode is really the beginning of the cast and crew hitting their stride, coming together to tell good stories, and their love of their job shows in every detail.
Till Next time my fellow Whovians.