Doctor Who 'The End of the World' [TV-EPISODE REVIEW]

The second episode of first series is also the second episode written by Russell T Davies and it takes our heroes (or the Doctor takes Rose) 5 billion years in the future to witness the destruction of the earth. This is of course why the episode is titled; ‘The End of the World’.

Right from the start, why would the Doctor take Rose to the year 5 billion and show her the destruction of the earth? I mean yes he probably would take some companions and do that but on her first trip? This comes across as very irresponsible (even for the Doctor) and it should put a huge red flag on the guy for Rose who then spends most of the episode walking around the space station trying to calm herself. The Doctor even uses the sonic screwdriver on her phone so she can call her mother who helps her calm down. Not a very flattering first trip in the TARDIS. But of course you cannot (apparently) have an episode of ‘Doctor Who’ without some kind of monster or villain in it so what we have this time is small spider-robots who begins taking over the space station and starts killing some of the guests. This causes the Doctor to begin investigating with a guest character named Jabe (because of course Rose is busy trying to calm herself).

This is the first episode set in space (although we have yet to visit some alien planets) but it is not really a big part of the episode, in fact I do not even think we get a reaction from Rose that she is literally in a space station – in actual space. The episode is instead a typical “who-dun-nit” murder mystery that is surprisingly easy to solve. What I did really like though is that everyone on the space station came there to witness the earths destruction but once it happens they are all either dead or get so caught up in trying to save their lives or to save the space station that nobody actually sees the earth getting destroyed (Rose spends that moment with her eyes closed). What I would have liked though is for the audience not to see it too but of course I understand why they did, as it is quite a haunting image.

What is also disappointing is that this premise is definitely not a bad one in theory as it shows a bleak future were religion is forbidden on the main platform in the space station, the guests treat the destruction of the earth as some kind of excuse to have a party and the character Cassandra is a very relevant image of plastic surgery in the future etc.… these are all great ideas that could have made for a very interesting and rather dark tone for the first adventure in the TARDIS – but that is not what Russell went for as the darker moments clash with comedy as Cassandra show the other guests some remnants of earth like an ostrich egg and an “iPod” for comedic purposes but it pretty much falls flat on its face as it is not very funny.

Once again Christopher Eccleston is excellent in the role, this is the episode were we find out the Doctor’s home planet Gallifrey is gone due to the Time War which makes us understand why this Doctor has this darker and less eccentric personality than the others before him. Another standout actor (apart from Billie Piper) is Zoë Wanamaker who played Cassandra, the actress is mostly known for playing Madame Hooch in ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’. Zoë brings such a spoiled and bratty attitude to Cassandra’s personality that you almost end up feeling really bad for the human race that this is the type of person who is now being called “the last human”.

The attention to detail in the visual effects though is really impressive as you can even see blood pumping through Cassandra’s veins (and if you have not seen the episode and wonders what she looks like; the picture featured on the left is her). It is a great design but sadly most of the other aliens just look very cheap and generic and does not enhance the believability in any way.

The best part of the episode though is the ending as the Doctor and Rose return to 21st century earth. Rose watches the humans around her living their daily life as the Doctor explains what happens to his planet but also gives an optimistic outlook on the future which neatly ties all those themes together. Sadly the rest of the episode is pretty dull and does not manage to top the first episode as the comedy is pretty flat, the mystery is too easy to solve and it is very inconsistent. Definitely not the worst but it is not an episode I would ever feel the urge to re-watch. It is the worst kind of episode, it is not bad but it is not good – it falls right in the middle and just ends up being forgettable.


- Lucas


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