New Series Review #13: The Parting of the Ways

“Purify the Earth with fire…The planet shall become MY temple and we shall rise…This will be our paradise!”

When we began the “Trip of a Lifetime” in Rose, little did any of us think it would end this way – Autons, Daleks, Slitheen and Gelth have all been encountered by the Doctor and Rose. Captain Jack has joined the team, and knowledge and equipment has been gained along the way. None of us knew, or could foresee, the magnitude of the threat facing Earth that the Doctor would stumble upon.

Before we go any further – and apologies to any foreign readers – let’s deal with Bad Wolf. The ongoing thread, hidden in places throughout the series (spot the reference in the takeaway this week – didn’t see that one did you?), has taken on a life of it’s own, demanding media attention and setting Doctor Who discussion forums from one side of the Internet to the other ablaze with opinion, theory and ridicule.

So what actually happened? Was Rose Bad Wolf? Or was the TARDIS Bad Wolf? Or was it a Rose-TARDIS amalgam/gestalt? Whichever it was (probably the latter) that caused the phrase to follow Rose and the Doctor around, it has succeeded in keeping us hooked for 13 weeks and allowed the Doctor’s ninth incarnation to develop away from the one-time destroyer of millions to a true hero. Thanks to Rose-TARDIS, once again “everybody lives”.

The realisation of the Emperor Dalek was frankly breathtaking, and again massive big up credit to the fantastic team at The Mill responsible for the remarkable sense of scale and depth achieved in their depiction of the Dalek mothership. No doubt debate will rage for some time whether or not the Emperor was a future incarnation of Davros, whether it was the same Emperor as seen in Power of the Daleks, or if it was the Dalek seen in the episode Dalek… Whoever it was, it was truly fearsome, and the added ingredient to the Dalek repertoire of insanity – religion – was a welcome addition. Not only had the Emperor shrouded the eyes of Humanity and controlled them with the diversion of televised games on the Game Station, he used religion as a tool to divert his human-derived Daleks; a not-too-shrouded dig by Russell T Davies at other methods of controlling mankind.

In this series we’ve had allegories of corrupt government and war(Aliens of London), allusions to Roswell (Dalek) and digs at the media in The Long Game and Bad Wolf. Whether Russell T Davies wrote any or none of these is irrelevant. He is writing in a voice that has long been missing from television. In these supposedly more enlightened times, how often do we step back and think about what is happening, what those who represent us (both democratically and autocratically) are actually doing in our name, and in the name of a god that people like them created. Russell T Davies – and this is by no means to ignore the talents of other contributors to the series – succeeds in writing on two key levels. One is aimed at the populist, soap opera watching viewer tuning in for a glimpse of Billie Piper. The other is one that pulls mirrors out, points them at real life and the world at large, and demands that we question our position both in this world and the Universe. Davies succeeds in the same way that the much missed Robert Holmes succeeds.

The departure of Captain Jack is one that was half expected, and to be fair his contribution to this final tale was again one of a redeemed man. Hopefully we will see him again – possibly during the missing two years of his life – but his character served its purpose as a foil for the characters of the Doctor and Rose. But now there is a new character in the TARDIS…

Rose’s transformation into sexy vortex-goddess was outstanding, and touching. The Doctor’s departure (he was so good he got to say goodbye twice!) was breathtaking. I was convinced regeneration could not be achieved on a higher quality than the seventh one that gave us Paul McGann. I had myself believing we wouldn’t see a change, that Rose would leave in the TARDIS and come back to find a man claiming to be the Doctor. I was totally and utterly gobsmacked – having stayed away from the Internet since Wednesday – to see the stunning transformation. As for the first words of Doctor number 10? I’d like to think they’re a hint as to how David Tennant will play the part. But I know we won’t get any hints until filming begins next month.

We’ve got six months until the next episode of Doctor Who. But let’s face it – does that trailer on New Years day seem that long ago, really?


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