Doctor Who in Review: Season Four, Episode #13 – “Journey’s End”

Rick Marshall

Rick Marshall was Online Managing Editor for ComicMix before joining MTV's SplashPage. Previously, he was Online Content Manager for Wizard Entertainment. He has written for several daily newspapers, alternative weekly newspapers, trade magazines and online media, and was named "Writer of the Year" by the New York Press Association in 2005.

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12 Responses

  1. Kevin Makice says:

    My favorite episodes in the recent incarnation of Doctor Who are Blink and Midnight, both of which easily stand out as fine examples of what television can do. My big gripe with the last two episodes was that too much was crammed into too little time. At least, it should have been a three-part finale that would allow the inclusion of all the companions to be drawn out a bit. Maybe everyone wouldn't talk quite so fast to get to the cliffhanger.I've looked forward to this series of posts each week, btw, avoiding the comments for fear of spoilers. I like surprises.

  2. ed zarger says:

    The 6 persons to operate the Tardis was public knowledge for at least a few years. Maybe I heard it first on one of the story-behind-the-story clips when PBS showed some of the new Doctor Who's.I was disappointed with how predictable both Donna and Rose's fates were. It would have been too big a change to the Doctor's standard plots for either of them to have remained with him, or for both (though that could have been interesting). But all in all, I was pleasantly impressed with this season, even though Donna could compete with Jackie for least liked character, in my book.

  3. Pete says:

    As far as I could make out, the Daleks would survive the reality bombing because they were inside the Medusa Cascade and thus 'outside' normal reality.If memory serves, the first time I read of the six pilots of a TARDIS wheeze was in the Virgin book "Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible" by Marc Platt, back in 1992.Cheers.

  4. Neil Ottenstein says:

    I thought it was great. I thought the line of the week was from Captain Jack – "I can't tell you what I'm think' right now." That was outright hilarious. Dalek Caan's statement last episode calling the Doctor the "threefold man" came into play this week with three "Doctors" of a sort in play. I watched the Doctor Who Confidential on YouTube and listened to the commentary (Executive Producer Julie Gardner and Producer Phil Collinson). They suspect that if needed, Davros did have some kind of trap door waiting for him to escape. Phil Collinson says that Harriet Jones had a trap door while Julie Gardner says she didn't. As we didn't actually see her dead body … Also in this commentary they mention that Harriet Jones got her money from the Mr. Copper foundation. I didn't remember hearing that on SciFi (but when I see it again with my son after he comes back from vacation I'll keep my ears open). Mr. Copper of course came from the last Christmas special – Voyage of the Damned.In the Confidential Russell T. Davies said they had to have a scene with them all around the TARDIS. It looked like they were having a marvelous time together. Over at the BBC Fact File… they say that the 1992 novel Doctor Who – Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible said that 6 people were supposed to fly a TARDIS. There is a lot in the Confidential and the commentary about filming the two Doctors together. In the Confidential you can see his double – who looks quite impressive. Also on the confidential Freema talks about speaking in German. The German and the translation is over at the Fact File. One surprise to me about the episode is that I thought they were going to hit a big reset button on Earth as if it never was stolen. They didn't do that. All those people taken to the Cruicible are dead. There is still untold damage to the Earth. Speaking of people dying – they said that the reality bomb test was originally going to be a much longer scene.

  5. Rob says:

    I enjoyed the last episode. Yes, it wrapped a lot up into a nice, neat package, but it was flying by so quickly that it wasn't really an issue for me. Probably it would have been better to deal with Rose in a parallel universe and the flooding of Donna's brain with timelord knowledge in separate episodes. This way it makes it feel like not enough time was devoted to either companion. But, because it all happened in a single episode, including the creation of a human/timelord Doctor, I didn't have time to think about the solution before it happened. Also, I was too busy trying to figure out whether it was Rose or Donna who was going to 'die', than to worry about where the Human Doctor was going to go.I do think it's a cop-out to have Dalek Caan say that a companion is going to die, and then to have the memory-wipe on Donna. I think the key thing that happened is that this resolved the Rose issue. The Doctor is no longer going to pine for her. As he knows she is happy, and that somewhere, an aspect of him is happy with her. And also that he can never go back for her. That chapter is closed, and never needs reopening. So, all future episodes of Doctor Who begin with a clean slate. And it opens up the Doctor for the possibilities with Professor River Song, who I would think is destined to be his great love. But we shall see! I'm just pissed that I have to wait 2 years for a 'season' of Doctor Who. LOL. Those five specials better be really REALLY good.

  6. Vinnie Bartilucci says:

    This episode was a tightly written as they come. Plenty of last-second reprieves (I fully expected that pommy bastard Davies to off Mickey and Jackie) a series of heart-breaking endings and a tragic end for Donna that is as exploitable in later stories as The Master's ring from last season. And let's admit it, we all marked out when K-9 showed up.The idea of the Doctor's assistants becoming weapons was spectacular. Really a nice observation, and Tennant's play of the scene was quite moving.DALEK DEUTSCH – The word the Daleks were using in Germany, "Extermenieren", is indeed a german word, but not commonly used. In the German dubs of the series, the Daleks' warcry is "Vernichten" (literally, "reduce to nothing"). Of course, that's not as recognizable as the same word to an English audience, so they went with the more recognizable (and funny) but more obscure word.ONE SMALL DETAIL – the rebuttal – as anyone who has watched old school science fiction and comics can tell you, the mad scientist who wants to destroy the world is a classic cliche. Indeed, he's not thinking ahead, but I think we've all had the odd moment where we'd sacrifice everything just to be "right" at last. (No? Just me? Okay, moving on…) If you want to get technical, the Dalek Crucible is in a pocket of space out of phase with the rest of the universe, so firing the gun INTO the universe would likely render them safe. But still, ruling the universe is somewhat less of a victory when there's no one TO rule. I'm reminded of a Gahan Wilson cartoon featuring a lone soldier, standing on a battlefield that resembled the interior of a cuisinart. He is covered in blood and smiling. The caption reads, "I think I won!""Something on your back" had a double meaning – there was the obvious one of the time beetle in Turn left, but the REAL thing on her back was Dalek Caan, gently guiding her through history, arranging her to be in the right place at the right time to set the motions in place to end the Dalek story as she did. Indeed, if there's a real hero in the story, it's Dalek Caan, without whom the story would not have been possible.Considering we've had two complete ass-pull deus ex machina endings in the series so far, I didn't mind this one at all. It gave Donna, who's shined more than once in the series, a chance to absolutely shimmer and sparkle. And as opposed to Rose's godlike power in Parting of the Ways, Donna may have gotten a goodly portion of the Doctor's intelligence, she had to think up her plan all by herself, and then implement it, not just wave her hand. And there's PLENTY more stories to be told with Donna. Threat to her mond and body be damned; she'll be back at least once more for sure. I only hope that Bernard Cribbins will as well.The idea of the TARDIS needing six pilots may have popped up in the books a couple times, but in the Confidential, Davies remarks that he got the idea from one of the set designers. He was looking over the hexagonal console of the ship He was used to the design of realistic dashboards and consoles, and calmly remarked that it must be designed for six operators, each with a separate job. Apparently that's something RTD's been keeping in his back pocket all along, subtly foreshadowing it by the far more manic piloting method The Doctor uses in the new series.RTD is still going to be running the five specials coming up through 2009 (the Christmas episode featuring the Cybermen is already filmed), but Julie Gardner and Phil Collinson have already moved on. Moffat will take the reins for the full season in 2010, presumably including the 2009 Christmas special. So RTD has a few more chances to leave his mark on the Who legacy. I can only imagine what sort of things Moffat will have planned for the series. Lots of people are already whipping up rumors left and right concerning writing staff, casting, story ideas, what have you. Moffat said clearly he was starting to work on the first script while on the way over to SDCC last week. so anyone who tells you anything about anything is likely just looking to get himself in the papers.But the part that's amazing is that in a mere four years, the fact that ANY Doctor Who-related news is worthy of getting space in the paper is a triumph. The show's once again in the center of British culture. I'll go so far to say that it's more centered in British culture than ANY sci-fi show in America ever has. Unlike the red-headed stepchild (no offense to Ms Tate) status shows like Star Trek have here, EVERYONE watched Doctor Who (albeit "As a kid") in Britain, and are happy to say so.

    • Neil Ottenstein says:

      In terms of ratings share, what Doctor Who gets in the UK is probably higher than most shows get in the US. As far as Journey's End, Outpost Gallifrey (July 16) reported the following: "Journey's End, the final episode of Series Four, was the UK's most watched television programme of the week with an official rating of 10.57 million viewers…. The high chart position, combined with the outstanding Appreciation Index scores, make the two final episodes of Series 4 undoubtedly the most successful episodes of Doctor Who ever made. With the repeats on BBC3 and the IPlayer downloads included, the final episode has been seen by nearly 13 million viewers within a week of broadcast." For a show that a few years ago many people still thought might never have new episodes again, it is just amazing.

  7. Steve Chaput says:

    I have to admit to not being a regular view of DW for the past few years. I tend to be out Saturday nights and we only just got a DVR. I happened to catch last weeks cliff-hanger and decided to put our new toy to the test. Fortunately, it worked like a charm.I liked David Tennant from the very first episode in which he was introduced. He just brought a charm and even flirtatious manner to the character that was nice to see. Every time I've had the opportunity to catch a show or two I've been pleased with how things have been going.As somebody who remembers Sarah Jane from the old days, it was nice to see her in action. For me only Donna was an unknown character, so I was surprised to find that I liked her after only two episodes. It was also wonderful that each of the former companions seemed to have a chance for a nice scene or two either interacting with others or with the Doctor. While the Time Lord is, of course, the 'star' it has often been the companions and other characters over the years that have given each incarnation something special.Devros was correct in saying that we would see the Doctor's true self and it was obvious that the Doctor did not like what he saw. I'm skipping, for the moment, any reviews or previews of the next season, but will definetely be using the DVR quite a bit more.Well done, Doctor!

  8. Rick Marshall says:

    Wow. Great comments, everyone! Thanks so much for the input.Kevin, thanks so much for the kind words about looking forward to this feature each week.Oh, and thanks to everyone for cluing me in on the six-person TARDIS history. I knew you'd be all over that! The explanations offered for how the Daleks would avoid the Reality Bomb have made me feel a bit better about that plot point, too.So what are some of your favorite episodes from this season, folks?

  9. Neil Ottenstein says:

    It is interesting how RTD kept upping the ante in the season finales each year. Season 1 had Daleks in the future endangering Earth. Season 2 had Daleks and Cybermen in the present endangering Earth. Season 3 has the Master actually take over the Earth. Season 4 has the Earth and other planets stolen and all of reality endangered. The only way to top this would be all of reality and time (the Time War?). Whether Steven Moffat will feel the need in 2010 to top RTD is a question. Maybe he'll just go in some other direction.

  10. Vinnie Bartilucci says:

    The big thing that RTD brought to the series was the arc format. Made popular with Buffy (the show that brought us the now ubiquitous term "Big Bad"), it requires the season to end with a big confrontation with the secret enemy who's been sneaking around in the background all along. Bad Wolf was a real surprise that first year, and it excited people. We all knew what the theme was for seasons two and three before they even ran. Season four was more of a surprise, but it was fairly easy to figure out what bits were to be important.I'll be curiuous to see if Moffat even keeps that format. It worked very well, but it got the the point (just look at our own reviews) that people were so keen to discern the big bad that they were poring over details to the neglect of the story itself.The thing that really blew people away in the finale this year was the multi-year concepts that got woven together. I think it may be time to start setting up longer-term plotlines, stuff that may not get paid off until a year or two away. That's what characters like Jenny and River Song might end up being. But it all comes down to "what will make a good story?" I don't want the Big Bad format to become so required by tradition that it becomes forced and tedious. If they can't come up with a threat that really justifies the setup, I don't want to see them do it. And really, they've already used the big ones already. The Daleks entered into the plan three out of four years, the Cybermen once, and the Master once. It may be time to give them all a rest. we'll see the Cybermen at Christmas, but I hope that's it. Every other year is more than enough for any baddie. keeps them special.I'd like to see the ice warriors back – they never really got a fair shot as a threat. I also would like to show classic villains trying to invade OTHER planets. I mean, the Sontarans have taken over lots of planets, lets see one of them.Here's a few ideas I have been toying with for fan-fiction…-A doctor using mysterious blue crystals to cure childhood metal disorders. The kids recover, and become very intelligent. A bit too intelligent. Where'd the crystals come from? Metebelis 3.-Menoptra wings become popular fashion accessories and poaching becomes a problem on Vortis.And I've got a pretty solid parody on Identity Theft bubbling that I might be able to work into a full story pretty soon.

  11. Neil Ottenstein says:

    I just finished watching the end of Turn Left, The Stolen Earth, and Journey's End with my son, who just came back from three weeks away. It was quite good seeing them again with him. I noticed a few things I hadn't noticed before (such as the heartbeat in The Stolen Earth as well as the Mr. Copper Foundation being mentioned there). One blooper that struck me in Journey's End was when the Daleks went to incinerate Captain Jack – how come there was no damage to his clothes? Are his clothes as immortal as he is?