The final adventure for current Doctor Who actor, David Tennant, is filled with surprises and returns of some of the most beloved characters of the series revival. Outgoing Executive Producer and Head Writer Russell T. Davies always brings something new and fresh to the series of Doctor Who, which has continued with only a brief interruption since 1963. The build up between Season Four and the forthcoming Season Five has done little but fan the fires of the devoted. Once it was announced that David Tennant, who plays the time travelling Doctor of the series title, was leaving the role, fans clamored for more information and waited patiently for the promised “specials” of 2009.
First came the Easter special, Planet of the Dead, with Michelle Ryan. Waters of Mars, which broadcast in mid-November, was next and starred Lindsay Duncan as Adelaide Brooke, one of the pioneers of Earth’s deep space exploration program. Each special did little to appease the appetite for more Doctor Who amongst fans. Everyone wanted to know the outcome of David Tennant’s 10th Doctor. Each actor who has played the regenerating Time Lord has brought their own particular feel to the character, building on the mythos established long ago. Christopher Eccleston portrayed the 9th Doctor for only one season, to help re-launch the series. The baton was passed from him to Tennant and Tennant carried the banner high for three complete seasons.
Each Christmas Season brings a special Christmas episode of Doctor Who since the re-launch in 2005. First was The Christmas Invasion, the first episode of David Tennant’s tenure as The Doctor and starring Billie Piper as his companion Rose Tyler. The next Christmas brought The Runaway Bride with Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, who would return after the third season to become The Doctor’s fourth season companion. Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue played waitress Astrid Peth in The Voyage of the Damned, the 2007 Christmas special and David Tennant’s former Blackpool co-star David Morrissey showed up in last year’s The Next Doctor Christmas special. But this year’s Christmas special, The End of Time Part 1, is linked to the final “special” of David Tennant’s tenure, New Year’s Day’s The End of Time Part 2, which will usher in the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith, who will take over the TARDIS as new Executive Producer and Head Writer Steven Moffat, known to Doctor Who fans for some of the best episodes of the current run of the series.
The End of Time will bring back several characters from Tennant’s run as The Doctor, but not all of our favorites. Returning is, of course, Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, along with the woman who plays her mother, Jackie, Camille Coduri. Although we did not see either in Part 1, New Year’s Day’s Part 2 promises us both Piper and Coduri, along with Captain Jack Harkness, played by John Barrowman, Elisabeth Sladen (who has played Sarah Jane Smith, a companion of The Doctor since 1973’s The Time Warrior), along with Tommy Knight (who plays her “son” Luke Smith on her companion series The Sarah Jane Adventures), plus Catherine Tate’s return as Donna Noble with her mother Sylvia (played by Jacqueline King) and her grandfather Wilfred Mott (played by Bernard Cribbins). It’s Bernard Cribbins’ part in this two-part epic that warms my heart the most. Cribbins is old-school Doctor Who, having starred with Peter Cushing in 1966’s Daleks’ Invasion of Earth: 2150 AD, a movie version of the popular television series. But the biggest return is the return of John Simm as The Doctor’s rival Time Lord known as The Master. Simm’s portrayal of The Master in the third season finale gave viewers a sign of things to come.
The most venomous critics of Doctor Who’s renewed series has focused their hate on the fact that Russell T. Davies killed off the Time Lords. The Doctor comes from the planet Gallifrey, home of the Time Lords. The Time Lords, who perfected time travel, were mere viewers of the universe. The Doctor chose, instead, to run and take part in the universe, which often led to problems with the authorities from his home world. However, Russell T. Davies made the new Doctor Who a real loner; a man without a world, a man without a people. When The Master returned, fans wondered quite loudly if Davies would bring back the Time Lords before the end of his time on the show. Prepare yourself, if you haven’t seen the show yet, because a spoiler is coming, at the end of Part 1 we do get to see Timothy Dalton, who had been acting as the story’s narrator, as a Time Lord addressing a hall filled with Time Lords.
Other highlights of Part 1 include June Whitfield’s portrayal of Minnie Hooper (also known as Minnie the Menace), who is among the elder citizens helping Cribbins’ character track down The Doctor. Whitfield, a veteran actress with over sixty years in show business, played on the very successful Absolutely Fabulous as the Mother/Grandmother. Her scene with David Tennant are priceless humor. Alexandra Moen returns, briefly, as Lucy Saxon, the human who married The Master prior to his becoming Harold Saxon, Prime Minister of Great Britian back in Season Three. Although her scene is very brief in Part 1, Moen’s character had a very important role to play. The only depressing thing about this finale is the absences of Freema Agyeman and Noel Clarke, who played third season companion Martha Jones and Rose Tyler’s ex-boyfriend and sometime companion Mickey Jones during seasons 1 through 4 respectively, however both figured prominently in the fourth season finale.
If you have not gotten a chance to see The End of Time Part 1, make plans to see it. It does not fail fans in story or scope. The end is coming for David Tennant’s Doctor, but the future is bright for the series. New Doctor, Matt Smith, has been busy filming episodes for the fifth season, and if history tells us anything, Doctor Who will last well past The End of Time.