The End of Time

Region 1
box set

Region 2
box set
Standard DVD

See below for Blu-Ray options
(Doctor Who Story No. 207, starring David Tennant)
  • written by Russell T. Davies
  • directed by Euros Lyn
  • produced by Tracie Simpson
  • music by Murray Gold
  • 2 episodes @ 60 min. and 73 min.
Story: After an extended jaunt full of unseen adventures, the tenth Doctor returns to confront the prophecy of the end of his life, and a resurrected Master is seen to be at the heart of it. But how is Donna's grandfather Wilfred Mott connected? What is the mysterious machine that the rich and sinister Joshua Naismith and his daughter are working on? And why is the "end of time itself" being heralded?

DVD Extras include:

  • Part One audio commentary by David Tennant (The Doctor), Catherine Tate (Donna Noble), and director Euros Lyn.
  • Part Two audio commentary by Tennant, Lyn, and John Simm (The Master).
  • Doctor Who Confidential documentary: Lords and Masters (57 min.) with Tennant, Lyn, Simm, Bernard Cribbins (Wilfred Mott),
    Jacqueline King (Sylvia Noble), Sinead Keenan (Addams), June Whitfield (Minnie), Lachele Carl (Trinity Wells),
    writer Russell T. Davies, 1st assistant director (producer?) Peter Bennett, executive Julie Gardner, designer Ed Thomas, and others...
  • Doctor Who Confidential documentary: Allons - Y! (57 min.) with Tennant, Lyn, Simm, Cribbins, Keenan, Davies, Bennett, Gardner,
    Timothy Dalton (Lord President), and others...
  • David Tennant's Video Diaries (20 min.)
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (2 min.) - introduced by Davies
  • "Doctor Who at Comic-Con" convention panel in California, summer 2009,
    with David Tennant, Russell T. Davies, Julie Gardner, Euros Lyn and John Barrowman. (21 min.)
  • Doctor Who Christmas 2009 BBC Identification clips

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have
already seen the program. To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide version instead.

This adventure easily turns out to be the best and most enjoyable in the "Complete Specials" box set, making good use of its extra length. Although it feels fairly typical of writer Russell T. Davies' recent season finales, Davies plays more towards his strengths in this tale, and chooses a cast of characters that better suit those strengths.

The opening narration - itself not so unusual when you consider stories like "Doomsday" (story no. 181) or "Father's Day" (story no. 167) - seems to be meant to impart the gravity of the stakes in the adventure, but actually has an opposite and disappointing effect. Threatening Earth yet again, and in the present day to boot? Well, that does give away the fact that the planet in danger will be spared, now doesn't it? Had this been a different previously unheard of planet, anything could happen. The audience could be kept in suspense so much easier. Davies may think he's doing things on a grand scale, but it rather shows how small his galactic imagination really is. I can't believe he originally titled this story "The Final Days of Planet Earth". That could be the title of nearly all of Davies' stories for goodness sake. It says nothing.

Christmas is gotten out of the way fairly quickly in this tale, with a melancholy opening that emphasizes the prayerful side of the holiday. Apart from a gift exchange scene later on, the sci-fi story itself takes center stage so successfully afterward that Christmas merely becomes background, as it should be.

The Doctor certainly starts this story off VERY right, with a solid materialization for the TARDIS on a half-decent alien planet. As Ood Sigma fulfills the traditional role of the Doctor's companion through a few critical set-up scenes, we learn that the Doctor's travels between this story and the last one have been quite numerous. This is EXCELLENT. This is space for audience imagination, fan fiction, spinoff audio projects, official novels, Steven Moffat's referenced encounters with Professor River Song, and later multi-Doctor appearances of David Tennant to be squeezed into his known chronology in a manner easily accepted by all fans. This is so much better than the compressed continuity links of dreadful prophecy that plagued the last two stories, not to mention its all-too-early introduction in "Planet of the Ood" (story no. 196). The only thing missing for perfection would have been to make David Tennant up as a much older man, to indicate that the Tenth Doctor had had a full life of something like 150 years of traveling and exploring before needing to regenerate into yet another, younger form. As for reports of his age, Davies and co. remain blissfully ignorant of where he was at previously during the Sylvester McCoy era: 953 years old. Anything less than 1000 years of age now seems very wrong.

No attempt is made to hold back on the Master's involvement in this story, allowing one to market his presence in the tale without really giving away any spoilers. Early on, Davies needs to tidy up the mess he last left the Master in during his last adventure, and it's not any particular improvement in quality or believability than much of what occurred during that tale. However, once past that mandatory bit, we get to see John Simm's Master at his best so far. He still leans towards the mad side, but doesn't seem to be as over-the-top with it as before. I think a lot of that is simply down to the way other characters are written to respond to him - in this story you can easily believe it.

The plot remains successful in its simplicity early on, allowing its two obvious opposition forces to clash like superheroes against a vast and cinematic urban backdrop - a section of the story that is very effectively directed and executed. Nice stuff.

Davies tends to enjoy focusing on the discovery and exploration of as many characters and new sci-fi concepts as possible while ignoring the "goals vs. obstacles" stratagems that many action stories require. This story successfully avoids pigeon-holing any of its characters into good or evil stereotypes, which helps play down the requirements for opposing stratagems and boosts the importance of conversation and investigation into character and motivation. While on this safer ground, Davies turns out a cracking good tale while playing more towards his own writing interests and strengths. Nice one.

Bernard Cribbins is always wonderful as Wilfred Mott, and here his role is expanded until he becomes the de facto companion for the adventure. EXCELLENT move. Cribbins hasn't had this much importance and screen time since "Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150" back in the sixties. Donna's mum is back as well, and gets to showcase her comic timing - possibly her most enjoyable appearance in the show yet.

The TARDIS remains quite busy in this story, getting to showcase its usual trick dissolves on several occasions, as well as the relationship between interior and exterior. Sadly still absent without explanation is the Master's TARDIS, although that isn't too surprising considering the situation his last adventure left him in.

Davies continues to indulge his obsession with Earth governments. This time President Obama holds a press conference, on Christmas Day don't forget, to announce that he's ending the recession. !!?!! Are you havin' a laugh? I don't think there's a major politician alive both smart enough and gutsy enough to recreate their currency in a transparent and value-based manner that frees taxpayers from the debts governments owe to bankers. If there was enough value-based currency in the system, we could all trade goods and services with each other abundantly - and that is the definition of a healthy, thriving economy. If Davies wanted to make such a statement, he fell far short. Without articulating the real crux of the issue, it feels like so much idle wishful thinking, having a whole world waiting for a public hero to solve their problems. Just as naff as having characters waiting for the Doctor to show up and save the day.

A good plot does brew up after a while, all building to a spectacular cliffhanger. Oh yes.

Well, we predicted it five years ago. When the writers were ready, they would of course bring Gallifrey back. Thanks to CGI, Gallifrey's Capitol gets the establishing shots it always deserved. Bizarrely though, this time around they decided not to bother building a set. Don't know what that's about.

Timothy Dalton is great casting as well, giving us the strongest and most commanding presence any Lord President has ever had. Nice one.

Though the exploration of ideas and character are once more the strongest focus, we do get a very lively action sequence building towards the final confrontation in this story with excellent strategic countering in place - one of Davies' finest moments.

Figuring out who to root for does become problematic though, as the story progresses. This isn't too bad, as it's partly a story point. But once again, it feels like too much mythological history has taken place amongst the Time Lords between the end of the classic Doctor Who show and the beginning of the New Millennium version, and the television audience is not being given enough of it to be able to wrap their hearts around it. Perhaps it's in the novelizations and/or extra audio CD stories. It certainly has crystallized in Russell T. Davies' head. Too much is still being left out for me to agree with his current take on it though. Sure, various High Council members and other Time Lords may always be getting corrupted - a great source of mystery and conspiracy plot lines. I just think we should always keep the planet in an accessible location, and honour the healthy smattering of good Gallifreyans occupying the place. Surely most of them are still noble at heart.

Well, we fans who watch these things over and over again will always find little points to pick at and argue over, especially if we're in our intellectual left-brain while watching. But try switching to the emotional right-brain for a viewing. Everything flows, and makes sense within its own context. David Tennant and his co-stars give amazing performances. The special effects and exciting soaring scores are all there. Director Euros Lyn is in top form and produces his best work on Doctor Who yet. The whole thing is excellent and thoroughly enjoyable.

No real complaints on subsequent viewings, but the first time through, I did groan at the design of the radiation booth. It's not designed with any real scientific or safety practicality now is it? The design is purely contrived for dramatic purposes, thus reducing its believability.

Music by Murray Gold
A suite of original music new for this story is available on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who: Original
Music from "Series 4: The Specials".
2-disc Audio CD album

More info & buying options

In the end, considering the running arc and prophesies of this "season of specials" and previous seasons as well, I think tragedy works better when spontaneous. When it becomes planned, and articulated through riddles, you increase the disbelief in it, because it gives the protagonists extra time to devise strategies successful at achieving less tragic results. Spock's sacrifice in Star Trek II works so well because it isn't planned. He debates it with no one before taking the plunge. There isn't time.

Additionally bizarre is this story's lengthy coda. Davies' indulgent parade of favourite characters and actors from seasons past felt like it was dragging on far too long on first viewing, and implausibly too with the Doctor's fatal wound not bothering him at all for hours or days or however long it was for him. Let's get to the eleventh Doctor already, I thought..... On subsequent viewing I was much more lenient, and enjoyed most of it. Captain Jack's scene could still be left out, as it's far from his character's best moment. Great to see Mickey and Sarah Jane again, as well as the mysterious woman at the bookstore.... And though I'm never all that keen to see more of Rose, I think Billie Piper makes her best exit yet on the show in these final moments. Nice one.

David Tennant's final moments are well done, and anguishing. I don't want him to go either. Ah well, the baton's been passed yet again. A jarring music cue doesn't help our first impression of Matt Smith, but of course, it's usually a mistake to judge any new Doctor until he's well past the unnecessary regeneration trauma crisis that writers usually throw his way. I think he's got potential....

But perhaps most promising of all is the TARDIS interior falling apart as it crashes - maybe we'll get a new interior more reminiscent of the glorious white one we had in seasons 15 through 25, itself quite reminiscent of the very first one we started out with in season 1 in 1963? One lives in hope. I hope the TARDIS isn't crashing into Earth though; we've just left it, and we do still have trouble setting an entire story properly outside of its orbit. We'll want to pick up a companion of course, but how about an alien one, like Nyssa or Romana or Turlough? One lives in hope.... Let's see the galaxy!

"The End of Time" turns out to be the best New Millennium Doctor Who story first broadcast during Christmas holidays, and one of the higher ranking of all David Tennant stories. Though it perhaps goes a little too crazy in many places to be a masterpiece, it does deliver a very engaging and moving emotional ride, sending Tennant out with style. It's a worthy cap-off to the successful Tennant/Davies era.

And Doctor Who continues.... Onwards!

Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "The Eleventh Hour"

International Titles:

Deutsch: "Das Ende der Zeit"

Magyar: "Az idő végzete"

Français: "La Prophétie de Noël"

Русский: "Конец времени"

Italiano: "La fine del tempo"

"The Complete Specials" Rankings:

Best Story:

  1. The End of Time
  2. The Next Doctor
  3. Planet of the Dead
  4. The Waters of Mars
Best Writer seems a moot category for the specials,
since Russell T. Davies hogged the position and
acknowledged no contribution from 
"Planet of the Dead" co-writer Gareth Roberts.

Best Director:

  1. Euros Lyn (The End of Time)
  2. Graeme Harper (The Waters of Mars)
  3. Andy Goddard (The Next Doctor)
  4. James Strong (Planet of the Dead)

Euros Lyn's best directing on Doctor Who so far:

  1. The End of Time
  2. The Girl in the Fireplace
  3. Tooth and Claw
  4. Silence in the Library
  5. The Runaway Bride
  6. The End of the World
  7. The Idiot's Lantern
  8. The Unquiet Dead
  9. Fear Her

"The End of Time" has become available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

DVD NTSC Region 1
5-episode box set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
5-episode box set
for the U.K.
DVD NTSC Region 1
2-episode volume
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
"Winter Specials"
3-episode volume
for the U.K.

Blu-Ray NTSC Region 1
5-episode box set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada

Blu-Ray PAL Region 2
5-episode box set
for the U.K.

Blu-Ray NTSC Region 1
2-episode volume
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada

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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "The Eleventh Hour"

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