The End of Lousy Writing, With Any Luck

I just got to watching The End of Time, the two-part final instalment of Russell T. Davies' writing stint on Doctor Who (he's been at it since the series was reborn in 2005).

Spoilers below, et cetera.

Again, not very good. I pretty much agree with Frank at Cathode Ray Tube. And with the whingier commenters, too.

I even almost agree with the "gay agenda" criticisms this time. In the coda where the Doctor takes a moment to see all of his buddies for the last time, saving a life here, handing someone 20 million quid there, he stops in to a polyglot space cantina on Earth Music Sung In English Night to... set Cap'n Jack up with a hot guy.

Who Jack may need to be with in order to save the universe or something, but way to agree with fundamentalist preachers about the one and only focus of all gay men, Russell. Jeez.

The bit my inner fanboy latched onto as particularly obnoxious, though, was after Earth suddenly found itself populated by 6.7 billion Masters, at the end of the first instalment.

The next bit'll be rich, said I. A planet filled with billions and billions of "I am the Master and you will OBEY ME!!" megalomaniacs! It'll instantly granularise into millions of tiny warring fiefdoms, everyone scheming against everyone else, everybody with access to three tin cans and a bottle of bleach cooking up mind-controlling super-viruses, demons being raised right and left, legions of clanking K1s fighting pitched battles against pithed Silurians with Dalek beam-guns grafted onto their arms all slaved to the brains-in-jars of as many Masters as one lucky other Master managed to catch in a stasis trap...

But... no.

All of the Master-duplicates cheerfully stayed in exactly the position in the world's countless chains of command that the human they'd replaced was previously in. And they all happily took orders from the Masters above them. And said "Yes, sir!"

The new Masters in Donna's house didn't even seem to sodding move from their spots next to the dining table.

One can only presume that the Masters who took over the bodies of burger-flippers didn't bother to remove their paper hats.

And then they gave up all their technology and sent their ship into the sun, and a major character vanished into thin air.

(Wait. That might have been a different show.)

The new Masters had to act nothing like the actual character, of course, because otherwise the Grand Evil Scheme Davies had spent all of three minutes thinking up wouldn't work at all, and the Reset Button at the end when the human race all turn back into themselves would be hindered by the population of the planet having dropped by a factor of 100 in a couple of hours. But I like to think that even young viewers would have been wondering why The Crazy Baddie suddenly turned into The Peaceful... Obedient-ie.

TV Tropes calls this phenomenon Writer On Board, and has many examples. This one was an absolute corker, though.

14 Responses to “The End of Lousy Writing, With Any Luck”

  1. Michael J Says:

    I reckon there was too much borrowing going on. That tactic of taking over the bodies of everyone was similar to Agent Smith in the Matrix Revolutions. The Galifrey parliament was a bit Phantom Menace. The Star Wars bar was obvious enough to be homage rather than copying.
    Captain Jack would really have needed cheering up after what happened in Children of Earth. I think the Doctor set him up with Alfonso(?) for this reason.

  2. namsupo Says:

    I know the gay agenda comments are non-PC, but I mean really.

    % of all Doctor Who episodes with gay references, pre-R.T.D: 0%
    % of all Doctor Who episodes with gay references, post-R.T.D: 75% *

    (* may not be accurate)

  3. Alex Whiteside Says:

    What's truly baffling about it is that RTD wrote "Midnight", a low-budget, freaky-as-hell bottle episode with a wonderful premise. The guy can write drama, and he can evidently write SF, but series finales seem to light up some one-upmanship centre in his brain and he leaps into creating a world-shattering catastrophe that few writers can pull off successfully once, never mind once a year.

  4. pittance Says:

    I found the episode unsatisfying, the introduction of the new Doctor more so - I'd hoped that they would allow some time to introduce the 'new' character at the end, not just 30 seconds of whooping.

    It always takes a while to get used to a new Doctor but this didn't strike me as an auspicious start.

  5. Daniel Rutter Says:

    % of all Doctor Who episodes with gay references, pre-R.T.D: 0%
    % of all Doctor Who episodes with gay references, post-R.T.D: 75%

    Davies was Head Writing Person for the revival of Doctor Who, starting in 2005. He's only now moved on.

    The "Original Series" of Doctor Who, with which Davies had no involvement, started in 1963, and ended in 1989.

    So the questions you should be asking are

    % of all Doctor Who episodes with gay references, 1963-to-1989
    % of all other TV shows of that period with gay references


    % of all Doctor Who episodes with gay references, 2005-to-January-2010
    % of all other TV shows in that period with gay references

    I think it's also fair to say that your analysis of non-Who TV of the earlier period shouldn't include shows like Are You Being Served? where there's just a flouncy comic-relief faggot, just as a study of "depictions of black people in television" probably wouldn't count The Black and White Minstrel Show in the "positive" column.

    I'm not a walking encyclopedia on the subject of Doctor Who The Original Series; I doubt there are any neutral-or-positive depictions of homosexuality in it, but maybe they sneaked a few in. But there are very few mainstream-TV instances of neutral-to-positive gay characters over the same period either. So... so what?

    Yes, Davies does throw in little gay shout-outs more often than you'll see them in, say, The Bill or Neighbours.

    But so what?

    This is only noticeable because gay people remain strangely absent from mainstream English-language TV. If they get a look-in at all, they're still often gym-toned boy-stereotypes, child molesters, overalls-wearing girl-stereotypes, or of course depraved monsters.

    And Davies' sidelong gay references are, on at least a few occasions, fucking hilarious. Which I think ought to count for something.

  6. bjw Says:

    I'm not sure that even this

    % of all Doctor Who episodes with gay references, 2005-to-January-2010
    % of all other TV shows in that period with gay references

    would be the correct period to be comparing as RTD's gay agenda seems to be a more recent thing given that one of torchwoods main gay characters was quite definaely non gay to the point of keeping a cybergirlfriend in the basement during the first season.
    Or maybe thats the whole point although recently he has obviously felt the need to justify this inconsistency in children of earth.

  7. reticulate Says:


    Dan! By linking to TVTropes, do you realise my productivity has now almost reached negative levels?

  8. corinoco Says:

    I state again my Dr.Who axiom: "Any single Dr.Who episode is better than no Dr.Who episode."

    While this may at first seem obvious, on the whole I find any episode of Dr.Who far more believable and realistic than say, any single episode of NCIS Special Victim Single Female Lawyers Tallahassee, or whatever the plebes are watching these days.

    Speaking of mainstream TV with positive gay characters - Dalziel & Pascoe, anyone? Especially the earlier episodes with Det. Sgt. Weild. Also noted for the "Don't date Peter" effect, whereby anyone Det. Pascoe takes a romantic interest in inevitably ends up horribly dead by the end of the episode. Actually I think this happened to Weild a few times, too.

    Also, while I'm on a rant, at least we get to see Dr.Who, no matter how good; not like poor Stargate: Universe and Supernatural that Ch10 ditched over Xmas. Replaced by crap 90's films and triple-plays of 'Malcolm in the middle' WOW! I bet that raked the viewers in! The only piece of joy from this is that over the following decade we are likely to see the total demise of the concept of broadcast TV stations, and clowns like the programmers at 10 will have to find gainful employment. We can but hope.

    If you thought TVTropes eats your afternoon, try THIS

  9. Eschatonic Says:

    Dan's right the thing was thinner than a wet Kleenex.

    How is it possible to have a year to come up with a plot and fail so badly. I think that you have to blame BBC Wales. The producers shouldn't allow the brand to be compromised by idiot plots and inappropriate homosexuality. The Star Wars cantina scene was so out of place it was truly silly - if they really wanted a homo reference they could have had Captain Jack as a Spartan hanging about waiting for Thermopylae to kick off.

    Still, hope springs eternal and Moffat has been a consistently good writer despite introducing Captain Jack in the Empty Child/Doctor Dances which was arguably the best told story of the modern series'.

    I really do hope we are not to be stuck with the Ood just because they are dirt cheap to cast and film.

    Here's hoping for an undie soilingly creepy new series.

  10. SlowDog Says:

    >if they really wanted a homo reference they could have had Captain Jack as
    >a Spartan hanging about waiting for Thermopylae to kick off.

    Nah. That's a fake Hollywood/Comic reference. Dr. Who would surely know it'd be be Captain Jack one of the Theban Sacred Band waiting to give the Spartans a good seeing-to at Leuctra.

  11. reticulate Says:

    As an aside, and thanks to a bit of inadvertent prompting from Eschantonic, I'm voting for Eccleston as one of, if not the best Doctor ever. He had just the right amount of creepy otherworld nihilism mixed with accessible humanity to make it work. While I didn't mind Tennant, he was a bit more cutesy compared with the previous Doctor's otherworldly untouchable-ness. Or something.

  12. TwoHedWlf Says:

    Eccleston, definitely the better doctor.:)

    If Moffat can make the episodes of the next season half as good as Blink(IMO the best Dr Who ep ever) then it will be epic.

  13. Itsacon Says:

    I was gonna say Blink was great, then I noticed it wasn't written by Davies. Figures...

    BTW, script nastiness aside, I loved Timothy Dalton as the `I'd rather kill time than die' megalomaniac. Hated the deus-ex-machina glove though.

  14. Fuzzyillogic Says:

    I'm just crossing my whatsits for the spectacular and unexpected return of the redoubtable IronGron and Blood Axe - back from the grave!

    Okay, maybe not.

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