Sunday, 2 June 2013

Rooksburg Reviews: The End of the World

Doctor Who s1e02: The End of the World

5 Billion years in the future, the Earth is being destroyed as the sun explodes- but the Doctor isn't there to save it, instead he's there to witness it.  However trouble soon arrives as the station they are on becomes a victim of sabotage and all guests are about to be cooked alive.

This episode showcases the CGI more than any other episode, and for the most part it's impressive.  The
Well there goes the budget...
station looks great, the explosive effects are good, even the alien prosthetics aren't too bad; the only problem is Cassandra, the last human who has had so much surgery she's now little more than a piece of skin stretched across a frame.  In my opinion the CG used for her was very fake looking, but I blame the concept more than the execution.

The story for this episode is very character driven, mostly concerning Rose's culture shock on meeting all these new alien species and coming to terms with seeing the destruction of her home.  The whole story is no doubt littered with Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy references, considering Douglas Adam's involvement in the classic series, but thankfully no direct references are made.  Unfortunately, there are other pop culture references that are unforgivable- references to ipods and Britney Spears specifically.  This is done all too much in science fiction; 5 billion years have passed yet inexplicably everyone's obsessed with the 20th century, making the subject feel dated in just a couple of years.

Cassandra, the last 'pure' human
The characters themselves are interesting and varied.  The Doctor shows his dark side, and shows his lack of  sympathy except when motivated for vengeance.  Likewise, Rose shows that she is considering that she may have been too hasty taking up the Doctor's offer, but the feeling soon passes and she's already completely forgotten about Mickey- even to the extent that at the end of the episode she implies she's dating the Doctor.  Cassandra is a bit of a mess of a character; starting as someone who's only present because she's 'the last human' she then becomes willing to kill high ranking officials just to claim enough money to fund further surgery, and to top it off she's revealed as being transexual for the sake of a cheap gag.  The supporting cast don't get much screentime, but it serves in their favour as the viewer wonders what their stories are.  Also the less the viewer knows of them, the more the viewer can identify with Rose as everyone around her is alien in both appearance and manner.

My first impressions on this episode are that it was a little bland and boring.  Sure there are aliens, but they don't have much impact because everyone knows there are aliens in Doctor Who.  The 'villains' (The Adherents of the Repeated Meme) are nowhere near developed enough to be believable, and it's painfully obvious that Cassandra's the true enemy based on screentime alone.  The Doctor's resolution to the story is extremely out of character as well, even abandoning his one rule from the previous episode 'everyone gets a chance'.  We also get some exposition on who the Doctor is and why he's so reluctant to talk about his past, but again we get nothing more than a tease- other species are aware of the existence of Timelords, and that there was a war the Doctor was involved in.

On rewatching, my opinion hasn't changed.  Nothing significant to the overall plot of the series aside from the introduction of the Face of Boe (who does nothing) and a casual mention of the arc words 'bad wolf', and no real character development as the Doctor is out of character and Rose merely comes to the conclusion she should have reached before this episode.  In all honesty, when I came back to this episode I knew I'd seen it before but the story is so forgettable that I had no idea what the danger was and forgot entirely about the repeated meme, which is terrible storytelling when they are major plot points.

Next review: The Unquiet Dead.

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