In Fifth Place: Bad Wolf/The Parting Of The Ways
It’s strange that the first new-era Doctor Who finale was only two years ago, but somehow in that time the sheer wonderfulness of how the double episode came together has been forgotten under an avalanche of hubristic wonderment at the Who in general.
We’ve now come to expect the T Davies to leave little clues throughout the series as to where it is going, so that the denouement manages to pull together aspects of the series that you didn’t even give a second thought. At the time, though, the Bad Wolf clues seemed like a work of logistical genius.
It was also the last time that we saw the Daleks before they got fanwanked into the Cult of Skara, and they had a right dastardly plan (also, being set in space, we didn’t have to suffer through the now-compulsory shots of humans suffering in their own homes, which is a thoroughly unwelcome distraction in more recent Big Doubles).
It was also a great swansong for Christopher Eccleston. In the stampede to crown David Tennant the Best Thing To Ever Happen To Television, Eccleston’s been strangely forgotten. But he managed to bring a great balance between being an intergalactic funster and responsible Time Lord. Seeing him save Rose and then die was a truly wrenching moment that, for my two cents, was better than when Rose left.
Sure, it wasn’t all good. The pop culture overload is presumably not going to date well, considering the ‘Anne Droid’ jokes were never that funny to begin with. Jack’s rallying of the people was oddly mawkish. And this was back in the early CGI days when a flock of Daleks looked like they’d been drawn with crayons.
But we also managed to see two major characters die on screen. It’s not often a programme has the balls to do that in the first series, especially not a British one. But there we have it – Jack carking it so he can go and spend a hundred years in a basement in Cardiff, and the Doctor regenerating into a gurning children’s entertainer. As a climax to what was already a story with an impressively large scale, it has yet to be beaten.
We now expect big finales from the programme because of this double, and for that it’s earned its place in the chart. Now we just have to wait until Saturday to see if series three can top it.