The End of the World by Russell T. Davies
Doctor Who has three common settings. Contemporary Earth, historic Earth and alien planet/space station in the future. Here we are treated to the latter setting – a space station orbiting Earth in the hours before it is due to be destroyed by the expansion of the sun. The episode features a menagerie of aliens, who have gathered together to watch the Earth’s final moments, showing off a range of the shows ability with prosthetic make-up and CGI.
Russell T. Davies again delivers a story which is good fun, allows the main characters to develop but ultimately isn’t that clever or memorable. There were a few cringe-worthy moments (the Lady Cassandra playing an old recording of ‘toxic’ as an old earth ballad) and a few genuinely funny scenes (The Doctor and the tree-based life-form Jabe flirting, the Moxx of Balhoon spitting in Rose’s face to give her a gift of saliva).
The episode is a mixed bag with elements of murder-mystery, disaster movies and sci-fi (the spider-esque miniature robots). Zoe Wanamaker and Yasmin Bannerman give good performances as Lady Cassandra and Jabe respectively, but the plot isn’t particularly interesting – there’s enough action to keep you engaged, just don’t try and think too hard about the logic behind it. Murray Gold’s soundtrack was suitably alien, but a bit too jarring and weird for my tastes this time.
There were a few standout scenes; Rose criticising the elitist ‘last human’ Cassandra for prolonging her life to the extent she no longer knows what being human means (and is now merely a piece of skin stretched over a frame with only a mouth and eyes left) and the final scene where the Doctor coldly refuses to help Cassandra, who has engineered a crisis aboard the space station, resulting in her gruesome death. It showed a darker side to the time-lord and allowed Eccleston a bit more to work with than the last episode.
We also get a few references to the time war, discovering Eccleston is the last of his species and has lost his homeworld, a fact that will become more relevant later in series 1.
Overall, it was another decent episode but not a great one. Zoe Wanamaker was great fun, even if Cassandra’s villainous plot wasn’t that enthralling, and Eccleston and Piper continue to show great promise as the show’s leads.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Next Time: A trip to Victorian Cardiff, where the dead are getting restless…