I'm sure this will come as a huge surprise to precisely nobody, but I watched Doctor Who this evening and I imagine that quite a few other people did likewise. So here are some thoughts about The End of Time, Part Two:
Our tale begins on Gallifrey, where everything's on fire, they can't afford any walls for their conference room, and Timothy Dalton is all cross and stompy because he's got a huge bill for broken windows that not even Autoglass can fix. Not to mention the fact that the Time War's still raging, and everyone's worried that the Doctor could destroy both Skaro and Gallifrey with "The Moment", whatever that is. (Personally, I reckon it's a big power ballad. Now THAT would be a scary way to go.)
Blimey, the Gallifrey edition of The Apprentice is really tough. Put up the slightest argument in the boardroom and you're immediately fired - into a zillion little smoky pieces! Meanwhile, the Visionary (who's a bit like Margaret Mountford but with more henna tattoos) sits in the corner, scribbling obscure fan art. Apparently it all boils down to Doctor/Master 4EVAR but I really can't see it from this angle.
Back on Earth, it's the Doctor's turn to have a go in the Master's kinky bondage chair, and the Master's having lots of fun giving orders to himself. Rather less enticingly, Wilf's been tied up and is made to watch the whole thing, which, as the Master points out, is rather like trying to do it with your dad watching. Not sexy, is it?
"He LOVES playing with Earth girls." - Well, it's a well-known fact what the universe thinks of Earth girls, innit? But let's ignore the Master, ladies: I'm sure he's just jealous.
In a stunning moment of plot convenience, Donna's brain contains a don't-think-about-it override switch that knocks out a street full of Masters and puts her neatly out of action for the rest of the episode. So much for all the Donna-will-do-this-or-that theorizing, then: it turns out that she was nought but a red(-headed) herring.
"I wonder what I'd be without you." - I'm not generally behind this as a ship, but this was a lovely little Doctor/Master moment if you're in the market for one. It did sound suspiciously like another cue for a power ballad, though.
The Master conveniently stops to explain the whole Untempered Schism thing to Wilf. I'm surprised Wilf didn't offer to pop round with some Polyfilla to block that up. You can't just leave schisms lying around these days, there are health and safety regulations to consider.
It's a little weird that we never get to hear the cactus folk's real names; they're simply credited as Addams and Rossiter. Though maybe these are sexy and exotic-sounding names if you're a Vinvocci.
Now we have an odd pause in the plot, in which the good guys manage to beam up to the Vinvocci's Starbug spaceship for a bit, Wilf does a bit of sightseeing (hey, it's the whole Earth! It's like that bit out of The End of the World revisited!), and the Tenth Doctor gears up for an even bigger bout of moping than all the bouts of moping he's so far managed to cram into this storyline. And don't worry, viewers, he'll somehow squeeze a few more mopes before the day is out.
And while this pout-fest is going on, the Time Lords are cooking up a slightly half-arsed plan that involves fucking up the Master's entire life and chucking cheap jewelry through space. Oookay, whatever you say, Timothy. It's plain that everyone's too scared of your magic glove to suggest anything more sensible.
"Do you think he changed them, in their graves?" - Poor Wilf, you do have one hell of a creepy imagination. It did make me think, though: if the Master could work out a way to control the dead, he could have his own zombie apocalypse. Make a note, Moffat, you might need that one if you ever run out of ideas...
"I'd be proud. If you were my dad." - SNIFFLE. It's strange; Tennant can pout and weep all he likes and I'm unmoved, but the minute Bernard Cribbins gets a crack in his voice, I'm a-snivelling.
Meanwhile, on Gallifrey's Got Talent Trouble, the Time Lords are having a VOTE to decide what happens next. So, if you're a bleeding-heart liberal traitor who actually cares about the scum population of other planets, call 01981 555 F-A-L-L-S. Alternatively, if you're a lily-livered milksop who is scared stiff by the metal hand of Simon Rassilon-Cowell, call 01981 555 R-I-S-E-S. Calls cost 30 galactic credits; mobile plans may vary. We'll be right back with the results, but now, a round of applause for Wilfred Mott, because tonight he's going be Luke Skywalker! Or is it Han Solo? One of those two, anyway.
Oh dear, most of the population of Gallifrey are under the evil sway of Rassilon and only two voted for Fall. They will henceforth be required to do Weeping Angel impersonations at his command, until the plot deems it convenient for them to put their hands down or until their agent gets them a better job (this applies particularly to the upstanding but unseen Time Person on the left).
Look, it's the Doctor falling from the sky like a stripey, falling thing. My ability to spot Star Wars references is really shaky, but doesn't Luke Skywalker (or someone) fall through a glass dome-thingy at some point? Can I mark a tick on my sci-fi clichés card?
It transpires that Rassilon is not only Chief Executive of the Time Lord corporation, he's also the local Equity representative and is here to make sure that the supporting cast get their rightful screentime and fees for this episode, rather than John Simm just running away with everything including the pink cocktail dresses.
No, Wilf, don't go in the box... oh dear, you did. Spot the plot, everyone. And knock four times when you've guessed what it is.
"The Could-Have-Been King with his Army of Meanwhiles and Never-Weres" - now, who could this be referring to? Simon Cowell again? David Cameron? Andrew Cartmel? It's a field day for conspiracy theorists and no mistake.
And finally, Wilf's (or is it Chekhov's?) gun gets its big scene, and rather refreshingly, Wilf himself is not behind the trigger. The whole this-way-that-way Mexican/Gallifreyan stand-off business may have dragged on just a mite too long, but the double "Get out of the way" climax was pretty darn classic and provoked satisfying cheers of joy from my armchair. Hoorah!
So who WAS that mystery weeping Time Lady? Chancellor Flavia? Romana? Or my own pick-if-I-have-to-pick-one, the Doctor's mum? Admittedly, this wild stab is based almost entirely on Wilf being the Doctor's symbolic dad, so it would make sense for his mother to be involved too. But I guess we may Never Know (unless RTD told all in the Confidential and I missed it, that is).
"Back into the Time War, Rassilon!" - It took me ages to pin down what this line reminded me of, but then it clicked: "Into the mud, scum queen!"
The Master gets caught up in the big bright light, so I assume he's also been transported back into the Time War. At least that means he can flounce around in some velvet robes, and perhaps explore a few kinky uses for that oddly shaped conference table. he'll enjoy that.
The Doctor catches up with what we all noticed several minutes ago, i.e. that Wilf is stuck in a box and has become a tragic fait accompli waiting to happen. Come on, Ten, pull yourself together. We know you'll do the right thing for the loveable Wilf, and all the foot-stamping and self-indulgent yelling of "It's not fair!" cannot convince us otherwise.
After all the gratuitous Star Warsing about, we get a nice bout of Trekkiness with the Tenth Doctor's totally Wrath of Khan demise. (This was rather interesting, given that as of the new Trek reboot, Spock is now the Last of the Time Lords... well, not literally, but in a "let me pull girls with my tragic loneliness" way.)
Alas, Ten is deaded! No, he's not deaded! Fake out, he IS deaded, he's just doing it REALLY slowly. Never mind, Ten. Wilf will hug you now. **squish** And Wilf is so good at weepy scenes that we'll get him to do several more before the night is through, so get your hankies out, viewers.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away (i.e. last week, before I watched Part One), I was full expecting this special to be quite satisfying right up until the climax of the plot, at which point it would all become ridiculously stupid and make precious little sense. But as it turned out, this special was ridiculously stupid and made precious little sense right up until the climax of the plot, at which point it became quite satisfying. So, I suppose that's actually not a bad result. Just like bad endings can spoil all that came before, a decent ending can do a surprising amount to redeem a big ol' pile of silliness. Who'd have thought it?
But as Time Lords, clockwatchers and those in possession of intuitive aptitude will tell you, we're still 15 minutes from the end so there's time for a big old dessert portion of self-indulgence before the final bow is made. So now, citizens, THE EPILOGUE:
Martha married Mickey?? Well, if they say so, it must be true, but it is a little random. Alas, Tom Milligan, we never really saw thee, but maybe thou wert a git and Martha was better off without thee, who knows? And her new hair is pretty swish, so that's something.
If Luke needs help to avoid being hit by oncoming traffic, it doesn't say a lot for his basic life skills, does it? I think it's time to break out the Tufty the Squirrel videos, Sarah Jane.
Mind you, if Jack needs help copping off, that says REALLY something tragic about him, or more precisely his post CoE-state of mind. Still, it was an unexpected delight to see Alonso Frame again (a guest star I hadn't been spoiled for, hooray!) and pairing him up with Jack offers so many charming possibilities that I'm rather keen to see whether the fandom takes this one and runs with it. Massive ticks on the Star Wars scorecard for the cantina setting, too, even if it was rather corny. Plus, I had to wonder: do the drunken dregs of the galaxy commonly imagine pink Adipose on parade?
And speaking of unexpected significances, I must confess that Human Nature/Family of Blood has never been a favourite of mine, but the scene with Verity Newman was a nice way to give it retrospective weight, as well as lingering sadness. (Her statement that her grandmother had been happy didn't sound all that convincing, did it?) Mind you, she needs to have a word with her publishers: don't they know that those His Dark Materials-inspired jackets are SO last decade? Why don't they try ripping off the Twilight cover, like everyone else seems to be doing?
As I mentioned earlier, I was surprised that Donna's mindwipe wasn't fixed, but on reflection, I prefer it that there's no magical undo button, and at least she seems pretty content. Nice little nod to Donna's late father, too, and yes, MORE sniffling at Wilf, especially the blowing-a-kiss bit. (It's true and heartwarming LUV, you cannot deny!)
And finally and fittingly, it's Rose, in cosy knitwear, in the dim and distant past of 2005, wandering through the fake snow with Jackie in tow, on her way to Mickey's house (and totally unaware that he'll end up marrying her future man's rebound girl, ha ha). Despite some ongoing issues with her lips/teeth interface (has Billie P. been Botoxing?), it was surprisingly touching to see her again, especially as it created a pleasing full-circle link back to where RTD came in.
And as a final climax of climax, the Ood arrive to sing the Doctor to his sleep. Was Susan Boyle unavailable? I bet the Ood's debut album will be out next year, and will feature the tracks Ood Glorious Ood, Behind Red Eyes, and The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face Full of Tentacles.
So, not so much a full pudding course, but a nice selection of petit fours after the main event. Indulgent, yes, but I can't object when most of them were pretty tasty.
"I don't wanna go!" - Oh, come on, man, pull yourself together. You wanted to leave, Tennant, that's why you're leaving! Don't drag it out for another 20 minutes or you'll overrun into EastEnders and the whole nation will be up in arms. Go on, just let those fingers get a little more sparkly and see what happens...
HELLO ELEVEN! Blimey, you're a fresh-faced young thing. You may also like to note that the galactic standard way to establish that you are not a girl is not generally to feel your own throat: other areas of the body can often be more informative in this respect. And of course, you're still not ginger, but on the plus side, you can kiss your own knees, which can't be bad. I'm guessing that you're going to need to do a little TARDIS redecoration, given that you've resoundingly broken most of it, but hey, you'll soon get used to the new look. I only hope that I can do the same, but I guess we'll find out in a few months time...