The Planet That Cried Wolf
"That's the trouble with regeneration stories. You never quite know what you're going to get."
There are few things in life more fraught with difficulty than pulling off a Doctor Who regeneration story. A feat perhaps only surpassed in the hardness stakes by promoting a fund raising benefit gig on behalf of Gary Glitter, or acting as public relations officer for a Bolivian cannibal or by being a Gordon Brown speech writer.
The fable of planet that cried (Bad) Wolf.
Should you revisit previous examples of the genre to understand how to craft a fitting exit or just do the usual and grasp at a few loose ends left untidily dangling like an amateur Brazilian wax gone wrong in an attempt to give some sort of closure to a period of history that shall be forever called the RTD era?
Doctor Who: The End of Time, Part I
I like to think of this version of Who, not as the Welsh series, but as the Zimbabwean series (mainly because everything's hyper inflated to the point of losing any sort of value). They'll say things like "the stories are global in nature" and "it's got a cinematic feel" where what they actually mean is they've gotten hold of a series of cheap captions, some stock footage and have employed 3 street urchins to babble throughout behind you belting the back of your seat - turning your kidneys into pate - whilst you're trying to enjoy the spectacle.
The Majestic Asterism of the Imperious Obfuscation
Those of us of a certain age can remember when the Doctor would sacrifice himself to save a single person. These days he doesn't seem to be interested unless the number of people in jeopardy outnumber the toes on a 4 trillion footed hyper gibbon from the Majestic Asterism of the Imperious Obfuscation (see - anyone can make this stuff up [two parts Rutger Hauer's lines towards the end of Blade Runner to one part Douglas Adams]).
That said I was fully braced for another sensory onslaught with peril on an unimaginable level (unimaginable to all but those who'd witnessed the last four season finales) that made no sense. And I wasn't disappointed. Six billion humans in jeopardy - check. Impending Universal doom - check. Another final day of planet Earth - check. How many final days has Earth seen now? It's basically the fable of planet that cried (Bad) Wolf.
And I think that's why I basically enjoyed it. Yes. That's right. Enjoyed it.
Nerys. She was the Doctor all along.
Even screwing my face up and screaming out in agony at some very suspicious dialogue ("Hold on... does that mean she be called Temple Noble") didn't stop me laughing like a drain at the Master's elaborate build up to what was a very weak gag (John Simm there, being paid by the maniacal cackle). Even the quite frankly bizarre decision to not only name check Obama, but also include an audio clip of the President, didn't derail my enjoyment. By that point, another bacon brazil and a quick shout out to all the Voord in the 'Hood and I wouldn't have batted an eyelid. There's a spoof DVD extra in there somewhere, taking the form of a fast moving West Wing style walk and talk featuring an embattled BBC Washington bureau hack who is dispatched to persuade an official from the Obama administration to let them use an audio clip of the Prez.
And so to part two. In which I confidently predict that Donna's friend Nerys will be revealed to have been the Doctor all along, that Wilf will turn out to be Omega or Rassilon or some shit like that, the Doctor's regeneration will be sparked as a result of an argument over as parking space, Captain Jack will get Little Captain Jack out on tele and slap a Menoptra around the mandibles with it and Russell himself will finally make a cameo appearance - in the part he was born to play - as The Terrible Zodin herself.
Happy New Year.