Doctor Who #738: Doomsday

"Technology using the one thing a Dalek can't do. Touch. Sealed inside your casing. Not feeling anything ever, from birth to death, locked inside a cold metal cage. Completely alone. That explains your voice. No wonder you scream."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jul.8 2006.

IN THIS ONE... The Battle of Canary Wharf spells the end for Rose who is shunted to the parallel universe (almost) for good.

REVIEW: Where to begin? Doomsday is hugely entertaining, relentlessly exciting, and ultimately heartbreaking, so yes, where indeed? Anywhere will do, I suppose, so let's start with the Daleks and the Cybermen. They've never been in a story together before, and it was worth the wait (AND the resurrection of the Cybermen in any form) if only for the catty bitch fight they have upon seeing each other. Not only is it a hilarious sequence, but the Daleks are thoroughly badass in this, correctly assessing that they need only one Dalek to destroy 5 million Cybermen. When the Cult of Skaro later empties a Time Lord prison ship with millions of flying Daleks inside, all the while completely ignoring Torchwood and Cyber-forces firing at them, well... Epic stuff. And yet, Rose stands up to them (though I do wish she wouldn't gloat about murdering the Emperor, it's unbecoming). They get nervous when the Doctor's name is mentioned. And in the end, both sides get sent to "hell" in a crazy CG sequence.

The action barely ever calms down, but when it does, it's for moments of intense emotions. Yvonne Hartman walking bravely to her death, shaken for the first time in the story, for example. She returns later as the only person to have fought off the effects of Cyber-programming (some of that Torchwood psychic training?), crying tears of blood. Rose's decision to stay with the Doctor while sending her mother to a parallel dimension is another. The Doctor tries to pull the same trick he did in The Parting of the Ways, but she's having none of it. This is a companion who won't be made to leave as so many have before. No wedding that comes out of nowhere or getting left at the airport for Rose Tyler. The only real relief - and even that has an emotionalism to it - is the scene where Jackie and alt-Pete meet. Jackie is often played for laughs, and the bit where she asks about Pete's financial status is just a touch too much caricature, but the expression on Mickey's face when she tells Pete there was never anyone else is priceless. In fact, full props to Noel Clarke from having taking the character from cartoon to sensitively played human over the course of two years; I also love his pained reaction to Rose bawling at being left in the wrong universe.

Ok, let's talk about that ending, because the rest is really just a big action set piece leading up to the Big Moment. The mechanics of it aren't perfect, let's come right out and admit it. How does Pete know that Rose is about to fall into the Void, and why isn't he sucked into it himself as soon as he materializes? But we're hit hard by what comes next, so most people don't question it. I've had issues with Rose, but Billie Piper is excellent at making the character blubber, which makes the last act of Doomsday a touching experience. (I've even had someone at my home watching it for the first time heave and sob violently for several minutes; it was a little shocking.) A great part of it is Murray Gold's Doomsday theme - lonely piano, haunting voice and driving strings - never more powerful than the way it was cut for television (sorry soundtrack CD and BBC Proms!). Seeing the tight pair separated by an interdimensional wall, perhaps aware of each other, and the Doctor leaving first, is bad enough, but the scene on the beach is positively harrowing. Rose has never been so human as when she follows awkward jokes with admitting she loves him, and crushed when she can't hear those words bounced back at her. It's obvious the Doctor was going to say it (though prefaced with mitigating terms), and this is where critics usually start feeling queasy about the Doctor showing these kinds of feelings for a mere human (or anyone). We should remember that Rose was the first post-Time War companion though, and that his melancholy at losing her probably also churns up feelings about Gallifrey and his return to dangerous solitude. It's a very heavy ending, a real tearjerker, and so RTD ends it on a moment of comic relief (as he arguably did at the end of The Parting of the Ways), as Catherine Tate in a wedding dress appears on the TARDIS. What?! I'll tell you what: Moving right along. As Doctor Who always should.

VERSIONS: A deleted scene on the DVD has the Doctor completely lost about what to do (just before the Cyberman tells his he is proof emotions destroy people) and offering to run away with the Cyberman in his TARDIS.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: The TARDISode is a garbled news broadcast about the Cyberman attack, interrupted by a Dalek announcing his kind are the masters of the Earth.

SECOND OPINIONS: In Rose: A female Doctor?, I tried to justify/apologize for Rose's Series 2 attitude by saying something of the Bad Wolf stayed inside her.

REWATCHABILITY: High - A powerful finish for New Who's first companion, which is probably why she should never have returned.


FreddyB said...

A tiny nitpicky problem with this one which has always bothered me. Why do no cybermen enter the rift? You see loads of Daleks flying past the Doctor and Rose, but not a single Cyberman. My son recently came up with the theory, that while flying across the earth getting sucked into the rift, the Daleks exterminated them all.

Anonymous said...

I've never been a fan of the Doctor feeling quite that much for a human, but given that it happened, they handled it pretty darn well.

Well, I could see it with certain humans -- Madame de Pompadour, for example -- but Rose was never much of a match for the Doctor. I much prefer Matt Smith with regard to Amy Pond: her face was the first one he laid eyes upon, that makes her particularly special to him. "Special" is good; "in love with", not so much.

CiB said...

My major dissapointment with this one is that we're told "this is the day Rose Tyler died" and she didn't. Not only did she not die in any way shape or form, she was all the Doctor talked about for most of the next season and after that the one after that was all about her imminent return...

What happened to "companion leaves, companion stays gone?"

jdh417 said...

You really need to see this, if you haven't:

Doctor Who: How Doomsday should have ended.

Siskoid said...

jdh: That Superhero Café with Matt Smith is pretty funny too!

CiB: I dealt with the cheats in the previous review, but of course, the criticism extends to Doomsday as well. And I completely agree that given the epic nature of her departure, she should NEVER have been allowed to come back.

Anon: I prefer the "best friends" dynamic too - Donna, Amy, Clara, and of course, Sarah Jane long before any of them.

Freddy: I didn't notice no Cybermen were painted in flying past! OMG THEY'RE STILL HERE!!!


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