Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Review of Doctor Who's 1x02: "The End Of The World"

Written by Russell T Davies
Directed by Euros Lyn

The Doctor (to Rose): “You think it’ll last forever. The people and cars and concrete but it won’t. Then one day it’s all gone, even the sky.”

Wait a minute, the world is ending? Not the most original scenario ever witnessed in the TV and film world but episode two of the new series has The Doctor and Rose landing on Platform One to witness this historical event unfolds.

It seems The Doctor isn’t here to save the Earth – just to watch its annihilation, along with others alien guests bearing gifts. Rose is a little confused by this strange inaction and so was I for the first ten minutes.

It seems the Earth is a shell of it’s former self. There are no humans to worry about being perished because there’s none left, except for Rose and a creepy spread out shroud of a human called Cassandra, who’s had more operations than we’re ever likely to see and hear in Nip/Tuck’s entire run or read about in the tabloids.

Cassandra is one of many guests on Platform One but oddly enough, she is one of the few who is properly developed throughout the episode. The rest, while props to the make up and prosthetics department, are strangely underused and feel more like show rather than tell.

Voiced magnificently by My Family’s Zoë Wanamaker, the moment Cassandra stepped on the screen, I could tell that she was responsible for sabotaging Platform One and the near assassination of everyone on board. The suspicion had been aroused big time when she was talking to Rose and how she addressed how all the other humans had abandoned the Earth and (supposedly) procreated with other species.

There was a massive element of nastiness between both her and even Rose in that exchange, although it was obviously more understandable to see where Rose was coming from rather than Cassandra.

So what was the reason for Cassandra’s nasty plan? Simple, she just wanted compensation so she could have more plastic surgery done. It proves your master-plan doesn’t have to be grand in order for the baddie to stoop so low and as a villain Cassandra hits the right spots. Not only does she look scarier than Michael Jackson but shock, horror, she exudes better menace than the Autons did last week.

Her lack of remorse when she was caught was also well played by Wanamaker but the fact her plan went awry and Cassandra paid the price by suffering from the heat she had intended to use to roast everyone else was terrific. Sadly another one of our aliens suffered from the same predicament on Platform One and it was an alien worth watching for the opposite reasons I enjoyed watching Cassandra.

Jabe from the forest of Cheam proved that not all aliens on this series are bad. From the moment we were introduced to her, she was charming and sweet. Her interplay and overall interest in The Doctor was a delight to watch and was it me or did she seem to have a thing for The Doctor? She was relieved when she learned that he and Rose weren’t intimate and she was sincere in sympathising for his loss.

The Doctor welling up in that particular scene nearly had me going but Jabe’s most memorable contribution of the hour was sacrificing herself to help The Doctor save everyone else on board. What a brilliant character, who was in the episode for 35 minutes but she showed so much compassion and subtle humour, her presence was missed. It shows how much heart and humanity is in this show.

We saw this in a lot of Rose’s moments too, firstly with her brief conversation with plumber Ruffalo and how politely Rose addressed her. Ruffalo’s death at the hands of those spider creatures was a little sad but her presence brought up some great questions for Rose to think about. Questions which she asked but some which were only half explained. Elements of this are advantageous to long time fans but it slightly isolates newcomers a little.

Rose did jump into the TARDIS without really thinking about. She didn’t really question The Doctor so much and even though she knew danger was always a risk, it’s only now that this becomes apparent to her and started asking questions. The Doctor told her about his race being wiped out but didn’t specify how or by whom.

He also didn’t tell her that the TARDIS can get inside her head and make her communicate with other species, so from her perspective, she is right to be a little annoyed by this and there is good conflict in that for their relationship.

It’s great that their relationship is being explored in this way. It’s new and both of them are out of their depth in different ways but there are enough things that as a viewers that makes you want Rose to stick with The Doctor. The final act with them back in London filled with a street of oblivious passers by we got to see the playful side of their relationship.

The world may always be in danger but it’s nice to know that they can go and get something to eat in between trips. It’s also worth pointing out that Rose will probably grow more as a person through the life she lives with The Doctor than by being with her Mum and Mickey. The Doctor pushes her and she pushes him, even this episode shows that.

Also in “The End Of The World”

The “Previously On” bit had no voiceover. Kind of strange but cool in a way.

Cassandra: “I don’t look a day over 2000. Moisturize me, moisturize me.”

Guests on Platform One included the Face Of Boe, Mox Of Balhoon who brought saliva as a gift, Repeated Mean, Cassandra who brought a Jukebox and an Ostrich egg, Jabe and two followers brought a twig (cutting of her grandfather) and The Doctor and Rose who brought breath.

Rose (re guests): “You look at them and they’re alien.”
The Doctor: “Good thing I didn’t take you to the Deep South.”

Rose: “Five billion years later and my Mum is dead.”
The Doctor: “Bundle of laughs you are.”

The Earth death times were 30 minutes, 25 minutes, 20 minutes, 3 minutes and 2 minutes before the beautiful explosion happened.

The Doctor (re disaster): “Fantastic.
Jabe: “I don’t understand. In what way is this fantastic?”

Nifty Titanic reference from last episode was thrown in during The Doctor and Jabe’s conversation.

Rose: “It’s better to die than to live like a bitchy trampoline like you.”
Cassandra: “What would you know?”

Cassandra’s has had five husbands; her mother was from the Arctic desert and her father from Texas. She’s also had 708 surgeries and referred to humans as mongrels.

Rose: “Let me out.”
The Doctor: “Well it would be you.”

Cassandra: “Burn baby, burn.”
Jabe: “Then you’ll burn with us.”

Jabe mistook Rose for being The Doctor’s wife, partner, concubine and prostitute. Rose’s reaction to the last one was hilarious.

Rose (re Cassandra): “Help her.”
The Doctor: “Everything has it’s time and everything dies.”

Bad Wolf was mentioned during the disaster on board. Didn’t the Nestene consciousness mention that as well?

The Doctor: “You’ve seen how dangerous it is. Do you wanna go home?”
Rose: “I don’t know.”

Standout music: “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell and “Toxic” by Britney Spears.

Would it be wrong to say that I preferred “The End Of The World” to “Rose”? Maybe but I think this episode delivered a lot more in comparison to the opener. It was more complicated and emotional and also a little darker. Both Eccleston and Piper continue to impress and Russell’s scripts show the kind of ambition needed for more UK television drama at the moment.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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