Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Of Doctor Who Season 4.....and why the Finale Sucked

Welcome to a trilogy of blog posts. They won't be related but it will be three posts in three days. Yay.

I start of this epic trilogy with a rant. Doctor Who season 4 was great. It had some amazing episodes (unsurprisingly Steven Moffat's episodes "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead" spring to mind straight away.) However my favourite episode of season 4 would have to be "The Stolen Earth." Yup Russell T. Davies wrote a cracking episode here. He once again proved that whilst he can write fantastic episodes about characters. Every single pre-finale episode has been superb and near perfect. And this year he outdid himself.
Whilst it was only a set up it was still fantastic setup. RTD shows the strength of all the characters that have been built up over four years of the new Doctor Who as well as two years of Torchwood and one of Sarah Jane Adventures. He also proves that Daleks can be scary. I got serious chills when they blew up that house. Yes it was silly how the Dalek came round the corner and shot the Doctor before he met Rose. I mean really Russell that could have been an awesome scene. Tears, a reunion, Donna getting jealous of these two people who obviously love each other. Ahh yes it would have been awesome. However we did get Captain Jack, Sarah Jane, Martha and surprise appearance from Harriet Jones (one of the best deaths ever btw).

Now I’m gonna preface what I’m about to say about “Journey’s End” by saying it wasn’t my least favourite episode of Season 4 (“Unicorn and the Wasp” I’m looking at you) it was merely a lacklustre finale.

Firstly RTD, please kill of you’re characters. It is three times you’ve backed out of killing a character. Season 1 it was a nice surprise with Jack coming back to life. Season 2 we were expecting Rose to die instead she didn’t but we were treated to heart breaking scene between Billie Piper and David Tennant. Now in season 4 where Donna is supposed to die I want her to die. Not because she’s not a good character, because she was, she was great, it’s just you can’t say “so and so is going to die” and then not deliver. Instead we got a cop out with “her mind has been wiped meaning that the Donna who was no longer exists.” I’m sorry but no. Donna is supposed so why isn’t she dead. We don’t want this bullshit so that she can come back in Season 11 when some writer gets writers block and thinks “lets bring her back through some convenient plot development”.

Secondly RTD can’t write a good conclusion for a sci-fi story. Three years in a row there’s been a Deus Ex Machina ending to end the story. Millions of Daleks killed in seconds. The Master ended by “I believe in Fairies clapping” and now Doctor Donna. In fact Season 4 had at least four possible endings with the Osterhagen Key and Sarah Jane’s necklace. Yes if we actually got some development of these stories they may have felt more influenced. Instead RTD felt more constrained in this feature length episode than normal.

Thirdly RTD YOU FUCKED UP ONE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SCENES OF TELEVSION EVER!!!!! Tennant and Piper were superb in that scene at the end of season 2. Now you decide to revisit and piss away all poignancy in it. Doctor and Rose were brilliant together because it was heartbreaking to know that they could never be together but now you give a human Doctor to give Rose a happy ending. It’s not what was needed. You should have just left fans with the wonderfully constructed scene.

Finally and most significantly camp humour. Get rid of it. Yes it appeals to the kiddies but watching all the companions wheel Daleks, the scariest thing the universe, around a room destroys any future hope of them scaring children again. Also “the TARDIS was built for six”? Just no.

Now the finale wasn’t a complete failure. As always David Tennant was superb as were everyone else. The special effects were good. It’s just RTD can’t write a satisfying science fiction conclusion to save his life. So whilst I’m anticipating his specials next year as long as he focuses on characters and not sci-fi. But I want season 5 even more because Steven Moffat is the true Doctor Who master. Blink is still one of my favourite episodes of television ever and I can’t wait to see what he does with about 4 or 5 episodes a year.

Now this seems to be mostly a critique of the final two episodes but that’s because that is where Season 4 was made and lost. The penultimate five episodes of season 4 were all fantastic with a load of good episodes before (in fact every episode was good apart from the “Unicorn and the Wasp”). “Partners in Crime” blew my mind with that Rose reveal. That is one of the best kept secrets ever. Every other episode was good, with Catherine Tate and David Tennant being superb throughout. It was just the lacklustre finale that let it down.

Overall I would give Doctor Who Season 4 an 7/10. With a better finale it could have easily got a 8 but RTD cocked up

Now other news. Tomorrow an oft delayed post on Lost and the day after tomorrow a post on Screenwipe. Also look forward to my thoughts on many TV premieres for the TV season as well as book, movie and music reviews. And hopefully some ramblings straight from head (including one on why swearing isn’t wrong).

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