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DVD Shopping Bag: Doctor Who The Complete Specials

A Bang or a Whisper, the Doctor’s End

By Robert T. Trate     February 02, 2010


David Tennant as the Doctor in his final episodes
© BBC America/Bob Trate

 

I got into Doctor Who just a little over two years ago. I devoured the new adventures of the Doctor and right away knew not to get too attached to Christopher Eccleston. The show had obviously been on for some time so I knew the skinny, crazy haired David Tennant would be around for the duration. I quickly found myself a huge fan of the show and Tennant as an actor. My DVR quickly filled with episodes that I had already seen and talk shows such as "The Graham Norton Show" that Tennant would appear on. The sad news came that Tennant, along with producer Russell T. Davies, would leave the show and the reigns would be passed to another Doctor (Matt Smith). I had mixed emotions about that. Understanding that the Doctor does regenerate after each death and that a new actor takes his place is an ingenious way to keep the show going. It also helps explain all the Doctors that have come before stretching back to the sixties making it the longest running Sci-Fi TV show ever.
 
There wasn’t a final season packed with the usual assortment of episodes bouncing the Doctor and his companion through time. Instead the Doctor, now alone, has to face a chilling prophecy that his time is ending. We know that Tennant’s time is ending but now the Doctor knows that this particular part of his life is ending as well. The BBC released special episodes (Doctor Who: The Complete Specials) that chronicled his final days. Each was to be savored because they were his very last. But as a fan of the show it all left me with a mixed feeling of emotions. So I ask you did the Doctor, Tennant, leave on a bang or a whimper?
 
“The Next Doctor” was a big tease. Web sites and magazines showed us the “next doctor” portrayed by David Morrissey. Was this the Doctor that Professor River Song knew in “Silence in the Library”? It was not, but the episode was the typical blending of genres that make Doctor Who fun. It was a Gothic tale set with Cybermen, a mystery about the Doctor’s future and let’s not forget it takes place at Christmas. This was a fun episode to go out on if Tennant would have left in his Tardis and we would have stayed with David Morrissey as the next Doctor. Alas that wasn’t how it was meant to be.
 
“Planet of the Dead” was an even bigger tease as to how a fifth and final complete season of Doctor Who could have happened. Michelle Ryan (formerly the Bionic Woman) plays a jewel thief on the run that gets transported to the other side of the galaxy. Fortunately for her and every one else the Doctor was transported with them. The two quickly bond and we see what could have been the Doctor’s greatest companion. I say this because Michelle Ryan was almost the next companion after Billie Piper’s Rose left the show. It seems like all fun and games in typical Doctor Who fashion until the prophecy is said and the show turns very dark.
 
“The Waters of Mars” is the dark note that should have ended the series. The Doctor visits the first human base on Mars and knows there is nothing he can do to stop its destruction. There is a parallel made between this episode and “The Fires of Pompeii”. The Doctor is torn between allowing these doomed explorers to die or allowing them to live. He knows that their deaths inspire a new generation of space exploration and saving them which will change history. The Doctor has always found a way to bend time’s rules but here he goes too far with dark results. This alone could have sent the show in a very dark direction. The Doctor could have lived with these consequences and even witnessed the birth of a new time line. Instead he leaves with a dark place in his soul. A story of this magnitude should have come sooner or been properly dealt with in “The Fires of Pompeii”. Here it is too much to digest and nothing really comes of it.
 
In “The End of Time, Parts One and Two” the Doctor faces The Master (John Simm) for the last time and must set the world right once again. However this time the Doctor faces off against the Time Lords who found a way to avoid their destruction. That part of the story is ingenious and was properly seeded all the way back before “The Sound of Drums”. Yet here again we are left with an interesting question. Was that Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) with the Time Lords? If so how did she get there? The episode ends with the Doctor saying goodbye to all of his former mates in one way or another. It was an emotional journey but one I found myself dreading and even questioning why that particular person? When the big regeneration does happen I found myself curiously not interested in what the real next Doctor has to offer.
 
Tennant’s demise, though brilliantly executed, left me emotionally flat. Perhaps I thought his end would be something more grandiose. Not the long drawn out good bye it was. Living with him leaving for almost a year was probably enough time for me to be ready to move on. A great chapter in science fiction ended and I found myself glad it was over. It was a fun ride and the show ended properly at the height of its popularity. I feel as if it should have just ended as it began, with a great adventure. Tennant’s departure was addressed more than anything and this hurt the final two stories. The show does end on a whimper and it is made by a whole new generation of Doctor Who fans. Why? Because their Doctor is now gone*.
 
ACTION / ADVENTURE / KUNG FU/ THRILLERS / WESTERNS
 
Bad City ~ Lance Reddick, Mike McGlone, and Austin Pendleton
 
Circle of Eight (Ws Sub Ac3 Dol) ~ DJ Qualls, John Bishop, Kirk Bovill, and Ryan Doom
 
The Delightful Forest **SHAW BROTHERS** ~ Lung Ti, Mu Zhu, and Ching Tien
The Departed [Blu-ray] ~ Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, and Mark Wahlberg
 
Heroes Shed No Tears **SHAW BROTHERS** ~ Alexander Fu Sheng
 
The House of the Devil [Blu-ray] ~ Jocelin Donahue, Greta Gerwig, Tom Noonan, and Mary Woronov
 
L.A. Confidential (Keepcase) ~ Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, and Kim Basinger
 
The Last King of Scotland [Blu-ray] ~ Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, Kerry Washington, and Gillian Anderson
 
Mystic River [Blu-ray] ~ Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, and Emmy Rossum
 
Ong Bak 2: The Beginning [Blu-ray] ~ Tony Jaa
 
Ong Bak 2: The Beginning (Two-Disc Widescreen Collectors Edition)
 
The Shining (1980) (Keepcase) ~ Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, and Scatman Crothers
 
Training Day [Blu-ray] ~ Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, and Tom Berenger
 
The Trap ~ James Burns, Nancy Weyrauch, Brooke Lyons, and Jason Russow
 
Triangle [Blu-ray] ~ Liam Hemsworth, Michael Dorman, Melissa George, and Rachael Carpani
 
Triangle
 
ANIME
 
Dragon Ball: Season Three ~ Stephanie Nadolny, Tiffany Vollmer, and Sonny Strait
 
Nana: Uncut Box Set, Vol. 3
 
PIANO: THE MELODY OF A YOUNG GIRL'S HEART DVD Bundle Collection
 
Skull Man: Complete Collection (2pc) (Full Sub)
 
CARTOONS
 
Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Vol. 3
 
G.I. Joe A Real American Hero: Season 1.3 ~ Michael Bell, Frank Welker, Arthur Burghardt, and Chris Latta
 
Hellboy: Sword of Storms & Blood & Iron [Blu-ray] ~ Ron Perlman
 
Planet Hulk (Two Disc Special Edition) ~ Kevin Michael Richardson, Mark Hildreth, and Rick D. Wasserman
 
Planet Hulk [Blu-ray]
 
Planet Hulk
 
Super Mario World: Koopa's Stone Age Quests
 
Wolverine & X-Men: Fate of the Future
 
HORROR
 
The House of the Devil [Blu-ray] ~ Jocelin Donahue, Greta Gerwig, Tom Noonan, and Mary Woronov
 
The House of the Devil (VHS/DVD Bundle)
 
Pan's Labyrinth [Blu-ray] ~ Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi López, and Maribel Verdú
 
Sensored [Blu-ray] ~ Robert Picardo
 
Sensored
 
Spiral [Blu-ray] ~ Joel David Moore (see my review of the DVD)
 
The Wolf Man (Special Edition) (Universal Legacy Series) ~ Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains, Warren William, and Ralph Bellamy
 
Zombieland [Blu-ray] ~ Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, and Abigail Breslin
 
Zombieland
 
Zombieland [UMD for PSP]
 
SCIENCE FICTION / FANTASY
 
The Dead Sleep ~ Chris Armstrong, Sara Foret, Rob Fente, and Joshua Close
 
Doctor Who: The Complete Specials (The Next Doctor / Planet of the Dead / The Waters of Mars / The End of Time Parts 1 and 2) ~ David Tennant, David Morrissey, Michelle Ryan, and Lindsay Duncan
 
Doctor Who: The Complete Specials (The Next Doctor / Planet of the Dead / The Waters of Mars / The End of Time Parts 1 and 2) [Blu-ray]
 
Doctor Who: The End of Time, Parts 1 and 2 ~ David Tennant, Bernard Cribbins, John Simm, and Timothy Dalton
 
Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars ~ David Tennant
 
Doctor Who: The End of Time, Parts 1 and 2 [Blu-ray]
 
Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars [Blu-ray]
 
Man From Earth [Blu-ray] ~ John Billingsley
 
Universal Soldier: Regeneration ~ Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Andrei Arlovski
 
Universal Soldier: Regeneration [Blu-ray]
 
TV LAND
 
Beverly Hills 90210: Season Nine ~ Jason Priestley, Brian Austin Green, and Ian Ziering
 
Murder, She Wrote: The Complete Eleventh Season
 
She-Wolf of London: Complete Series ~ Neil Dickson
 
UNDENIABLE CLASSICS ON BLU-RAY
 
An American in Paris [Blu-ray] ~ Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, and Georges Guétary
 
Casablanca [Blu-ray] ~ Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, and Claude Rains
 
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas [Blu-ray] ~ Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Tobey Maguire, and Ellen Barkin
 
Gangs of New York (Remastered) [Blu-ray] ~ Leonardo DiCaprio, Jim Broadbent, John C. Reilly, and Henry Thomas
Gigi [Blu-ray] ~ Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan, and Hermione Gingold
 
The Music Man [Blu-ray] ~ Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, and Buddy Hackett
 
Unforgiven [Blu-ray] ~ Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris
 
BOX SETS
 
TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Sci-Fi Adventures (Them! / The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms / World Without End / Satellite in the Sky) ~ James Whitmore, Paul Hubschmid, Hugh Marlowe, and Kieron Moore
 
TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Romance (Splendor in the Grass / Love in the Afternoon / Mogambo / Now Voyager) ~ Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Gary Coope, and Audrey Hepburn
 
*Side Note: Last week I learned that it is not all said and done for Tennant and his Doctor. Tennant will reprise his role in an animated adventure called Dreamland much like The Infinite Quest (2007).This time the adventure will be with digital animation. If you are quick enough you can see it on Red Button before BBC America pulls it off the web.
 
 
 
Check out Robert’s interview with David Tennant and his Top 10 Doctor Who Figures. Robert also participates in a pod cast that reviews movies, comics and celebrates all things geek. Check it out at You’ve Got Geek on You.com.
 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 12
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gauleyboy420 2/2/2010 1:54:24 AM

I completely agree with your review of the specials...

The finale was more lackluster than I wanted. But overall I was pleased, but sad to see tennant gone.

 

I'm looking forward to see what Smith brings to the role.

 

The Doctor is dead, Long live the Doctor

redhairs99 2/2/2010 2:58:29 AM

(scratching head)

Donna Noble was with the Time Lords?  Are you saying she was the old woman who kept appearing to Donna's Grandfather?  That never entered my mind.

I guess it did kinda go out on a whimper, but the specials were still good.  I think maybe we were all just given too long an advance notice that Tennant was leaving and each of these specials played up his leaving.  I think the antipaticipation of his regeneration was what made it slightly lackluster.  I was totally taken by surprise when the regeneration process started in that two-part finale to season 4.  While I liked having the extra time with Tennant, maybe that should've been his exit.

I think the most disappointing thing with the End of Time two-parter was the tease with Timothy Dalton and then he really didn't do anything.

And I doubt we've seen the last of The Master.  He's managed to come back time and again and he's also managed to regenerate more times than the Time Lords are technically allowed.

karas1 2/2/2010 3:53:46 AM

Now I have something to spend my Best Buy gift certificate that I got for Christmas on.

Kara S

tacid 2/2/2010 5:16:04 AM

Actualy it was hinted by Russell T. Davies that the old woman was the doctor's mother

Doctorwannabe 2/2/2010 5:44:50 AM

I didn't know that Davies had previoulsy hinted the old woman was the doctor's mother, but I did indeed wonder if that just might be the case as I watched the episode.  My thought was that they purposely left that vague to be explored in the continuing series. The idea that she might be Donna never occured to me...and seems really unlikely.  Afterall, she was time-locked with the other Time Lords long before Donna ever came along!

Tennant will be missed for sure (my guess is that we might see him in a reunion special in a couple years in a reprise of the "one-hearted" Doctor that is growing old with Rose off in the parallel universe), but Davies writing was starting to plod a bit.  Stephen Moffatt's episodes were always the most interesting and now with him at the helm, hopefully we are in for something that still remains very special.

goldeneyez 2/2/2010 6:11:15 AM

I thought the old woman was his mother as well.  As far as the specials, I think I was a little let down by all of them.  The Waters of Mars may have been the best thematically as far as pushing the Doctor (as played by Tenet) to darker places.  I was also let down by the Time Lords as well.  I wanted them to do more.

BTW, was the gauntlet, that the leader of the Time Lords used any relation to the gauntlets on Torchwood?  Just curious.

parallaxview 2/2/2010 6:11:38 AM

I might be wrong on this, but I took it that the woman who kept appearing with the Time Lords was the Doctor's mother.  It makes more sense than it being Donna.

And If I were to read the posts previous to this, I see that others join my thought.

arycogre 2/2/2010 7:03:41 AM

It was also my understanding that the old woman was the Doctor's mother, but there was another who voted against and stood with her; covering her face. My guess is that might represent Romana, who is rumored to show up in the next season, possibly played by Gillian Anderson.

jedibanner 2/2/2010 7:39:37 AM

On a different note....just saw the PLanet Hulk movie......meh. Not really close to what the whole series was and the Hulk itself isn't as mad as he should be compared to what the book showed.

Very disapointing...

redhairs99 2/2/2010 8:02:08 AM

Yeah Tacid, that's what I was thinking when watching it too.  It just seemed like that could've been The Doctor's mom.

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