NOTE: EVEN THOUGH WE’VE DONE OUR BEST TO KEEP SPOILERS OUT OF THIS, IF YOU STILL WANT TO WATCH THE EPISODE ABSOLUTELY COLD, THEN YOU MIGHT WANT TO TURN BACK NOW.
WE DON’T GIVE AWAY STORY OR PLOT POINTS, BUT JUST TO BE ON SAFE SIDE, PLEASE BE WARNED 🙂
Hear those drums in the trailer down below? You’re going to be hearing that a lot more in the coming week, as the BBC gets ready to screen The End Of Time Part One on Christmas Day, bringing with it the return of The Master.
We saw the episode at the press screening on Thursday night, and were generally very impressed. We’re desperately keen not to spoil things here, so forgive us for giving things very vague indeed. We’ve got lots and lots to say about the episode, but we’re going to hold the bulk of that back until after it’s screened.
For us, anyway, it’s the best Christmas special by distance since The Christmas Invasion, and while it doesn’t match the standard of The Waters Of Mars, it’s still a very good episode of Doctor Who. We had a few problems with it, which we’ll talk about in our full review once the show has been broadcast, but there are a lot of very good things in there.
Chief among them is Bernard Cribbins. The decision to promote him to effectively the assistant’s role is a masterstoke, and he’s the best thing for us in the episode. He balances the odd moment of comedy with some much darker, more emotive moments, and the man acts everyone else off the screen, including Tennant (who is superb again here).
The bringing back of The Master, and the episode gets down to business very quickly, isn’t quite so impressively done, although it’s done quite swiftly. It’s also utterly fair to say that he’s even more insane than he was in The Last Of The Time Lords. This is not a quiet and reserved Master at all, and we suspect he’ll remain as divisive as the last time we saw him. We’ve always liked The Master a lot though, so were pleased to see him, and he does get some quite scary moments. He comes across as frenetic, random, hungry and very, very dangerous.
Elsewhere, directors rarely get the credit for Doctor Who, but Euros Lyn’s work here is very strong, varying pace, style and tone exceptionally well as the material demands. He’ll do a big feature film at some point in the future if he wants to, and we’d be very keen to see it.
Script-wise, we were surprised that the episode was happy to explore darker places as much as it does. That’s acknowledging, obviously, what’s around the corner on January 1st, yet traditionally the Christmas episode has to be a little bit upbeat for stretches. But the tone here is quite serious for the majority of the running time.
The last ten minutes, incidentally, we expect to be discussed at great length in the week between Part One and Part Two being broadcast. Some are going to like it more than others, and the reason we can’t bring you a full report of the Q&A with Russell T Davies, John Simm and Bernard Cribbins that took place after the screening is that the ending was what attracted the vast bulk of the questions (we also learnt from that Q&A that it’s the kids who very often ask the very best questions).
To say too much more would genuinely be to risk spoilers, so we’re going to leave it there. We’ll just say this: The End Of Time Part One is a very good episode of Doctor Who, and Russell T Davies manages to pack in a lot of exposition, and a lot of characters, without it ever feeling bogged down. Furthemore, the BBC, in spite of the avalanche of promotional material, has managed to keep a lot of fun and surprises under wraps.
With that, we’ll leave you now with the latest trailer from it…
The episode screens on Christmas Day at 6pm. We’ll have our review live, if all goes to plan, by Boxing Day morning.