You lot. You spend all your time thinking about dying. Like you’re going to get killed by eggs or beef or global warming or asteroids. But you never take the time to imagine the impossible. That maybe you survive.
Second episode! The End of the World is written, like Rose, by Russell T Davies, head writer and impetus behind the return of the series as it is. It’s also directed by Euros Lyn, who’ll go on to direct a lot of stories later on in RTD’s Doctor Who. He’s a very capable director.
Anyways, this story is about, as the title may have suggested, the End of the World. Not through any diabolical or nefarious schemes however – this is literally the end of the world, as currently expected. The sun expands, and the Earth is consumed. Whilst a party goes on in space.
And, during this party, someone’s sabotaging the station and killing the guests.
That’s one hell of a premise.
This episode starts out great, with some nice interactions between Rose and the Doctor. Like last week, there’s quite a focus on character moments over plot – the Doctor really takes the fore here, as opposed to his background part last week. It makes a very good showcase for Christopher Eccleston’s acting (seriously, there’s some great scenes where he conveys a hell of a lot with just a look. A look) and really advances the Doctor’s character. We’re getting a deeper look, and beginning to understand, all that about the Time War – you can see, if you’re looking for it, all the subtle ways in which it’s affected him. How deliberate this was I don’t know, but it’s definitely impressed me.
The other focus, or aim, of this episode is to show the breadth of Doctor Who’s story telling capacity. Last week we had a home invasion, now we have a space whodunnit. Whilst the detective-y murder mystery side isn’t showcased that much, the space part is really ramped up. There’s some really great alien make up here – the Pakoos and the Forrest of Cheem stand out in particular.
There’s also an interesting idea about money and celebrity, which is partially explored through Cassandra. Although, not much beyond a quite perfunctory “Greed is bad, so’s vanity”. There’s some much more interesting things at work in the background, generally with the Doctor.
The plot… is weak, I suppose. Not weak, that suggests it’s bad. Thin is perhaps a better term, because there’s not very much of it. And the ending does revolve around a pretty big contrivance – the fans. It’s a little bit ridiculous, but also somewhat endearing.
(Also, not necessarily a detraction, but something I noticed – this episode seems to have been written when they weren’t entirely sure if they’d have a child audience. They throw around words like “bitch” and ask if Rose is a prostitute or a concubine. It’s hardly edgy, adult stuff, but I don’t think they’ve ever been in Doctor Who since. So, yeah, interesting to note.)
I’m thinking… an 8/10 for this episode. Good entertainment, and unlike Rose, I think I would watch this one simply for the enjoyment of watching it.