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I don't want to go...

I gotta start by saying that Russel T. Davies, Julie Gardner, David Tennant, and everyone else in Cardiff deserve a great deal of admiration and respect for the past 4 years of Doctor Who. Sure, I didn't love all of it, but I at least liked almost all of it and I did feel even more strongly about a good chunk of it. So, before any criticism creeps in, good job to them--and I wish them well. They did a great deal for a show that many of us love and turned it into an international phenomenon--again. Bravo.

Now, on to "The End of Time" itself...see what I did there? Funny! Anywho, on to the episodes, which I'm going to treat together. As a whole, the episodes were a nice, if self-indulgent, send-off to David Tennant and the RTD era of Who. Everything else was, at best, secondary--many of the plot felt even less important--they felt tertiary. The Master's return, Donna's subconscious starting to awaken, even Galifrey's return--they were all just so much sideshow. The real thrust of the story was the 10th Doctor's imminent regeneration, which, amusingly enough, came about almost totally removed from all the other plot devices--it almost felt like an odd retred of The Caves of Androzani in that respect. There was plenty of drama--mainly of the valedictory kind, but millions of tears were shed, and Tennant's last line must certainly be one of the most poignant in the show's history. The episodes wanted us to weep for David Tennant and for his Doctor--and in this, they were an almost unqualified success. Viewed by the standards by which I would judge any other episodes of Who, however, I think they were something of a failure. We had almost 2 hours and 15 minutes of Who over the course of two weeks, but, when compared against other large finales of the new era, there really wasn't much there there, as it were.

But here's where I come to the crux of my problem with "The End of Time"--viewed as a Who story, I really think it was kind of pants. However, viewed emotionally, it was almost perfection. The ever-wonderful Bernard Cribbins made Wilf an emotional centerpiece for the story without drawing too much attention to himself. It is often said (I think slightly incorrectly) that the companion is the audience's representative on screen--here, that was utterly true. Wilf's faith in the Doctor, his love for him, his fear of his death--these are the audience's feelings, and Cribbins made us feel them like we hardly have ever done before. Tennant, too, gave an amazing performance--his last as the Doctor (although, in a quirk of scheduling, not the last filmed).

And that is the entire point and only reason for "The End of Time"--it is to say goodbye to David Tennant and the 10th Doctor. I suspect that one's views on these episodes will hinge on the simple question: is this just another regeneration, or is it something special? For me, I can't quite decide yet. Maybe I never will--and until I do, I don't think I'll ever be able to decide how I feel about "The End of Time."

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