The Case for… The End of the World
Guest contributor David Selby thinks the Series 1 episode deserves another look.
The End of the World was the Ninth Doctor and Rose’s second story. The general view of the episode in the fan community isn’t awful and definitely not as bad as the reaction to episodes such as Love and Monsters, Fear Her, Evolution of the Daleks or Journey’s End, but considering how good the episode is, the response could be considered as unjust.
The pre-title sequence to The End of the World is one of my favourites, up there with the openings of episodes like The Angels Take Manhattan and The Pandorica Opens. You may indeed be wondering why this is, but in examining the series, you will realise that this scene was the first ever full VFX sci-fi space shot in the whole of Doctor Who.
The scene was enhanced by many other factors, too – the performance from Christopher Eccleston and Biller Piper was, as per usual, top-notch, and the music added magic to the scene.
I loved the idea that this story was set billions of years in the future. Doctor Who stories seldom take place any further than the 55th Century, so such a large hop into the future was daring to say the least. However, this worked as an excuse for the fact that there were many parts of the episode which were unrealistic.
One of the most common issues with the episode is considered to be the eccentric range of slightly, perhaps, unlikely guests on-board Platform One. I believe this statement to be unfair.
For a start, the budget back in 2005 was considerably lower than what the BBC are provided with these days – meaning that costumes are bound to look a little fake, however the ideas could be considered a stroke of Russell T. Davies genius, if you excuse the slightly surreal results.
Many of the guests were ‘jokes’ – especially those such as The Moxx of Balhoon, and namely Cassandra – but they were jokes that worked very well, although it’s advised not to take them seriously.
Cassandra as a character felt to be there almost just for the gags – the jokes about her many husbands, a chance to mock plastic surgery and ‘unnecessary’ operations (“When I was a little boy”/”I’m going to have a word with Michael Jackson over there”), and her revelation wasn’t exactly a massive surprise. However, her fate related to the subject on how cold and merciless the Ninth Doctor was, recovering from the macabre events of the Time War. (Cassandra was, of course, to be explored and developed drastically in New Earth the following year.)
The Time War is another point I’d like to relate to on a scale of how and why this episode achieved its goals, and why the guests of Platform One weren’t all attempts at humour – Jabe is who I’m referring to here.
Jabe revealed to us all that the Time Lords had been killed, in a beautifully poignant scene which illustrated the impact that the Time War had on the Doctor.
One final point – although Rose was absent for much of the episode, and a little stroppy for the parts she was in, her performance at the end was perfect – her reaction to the end of the world, her returning back to present day, watching Cassandra perish – every second of it was unbelievably moving.
I for one love series one, it remains my preferred series and in my view, soars beyond the others. So it seems fitting that as this episode is my favourite of the series; I will always treasure it, watch it with immense pleasure, and of course defend it, as from one angle, it is probably one of my favourite Doctor Who episodes ever.