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Doctor Who: "The Stolen Earth"

Illustration for article titled iDoctor Who/i: The Stolen Earth
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Illustration for article titled iDoctor Who/i: The Stolen Earth

I've never been let down by a Doctor Who finale. From the first season on they've always brought out the best in the series. I wasn't even bothered by the tiny-Doctor-made-big-by-people-wishing-it-so development in the last season. It was silly, but it worked. (Same goes for much of the show.) So maybe I came into this, the final finale shepherded by Russell Davies with too-high expectations. The season long build-up worked. Last week's prelude worked. I was still intrigued as to what was up with the bees. Also: Guest stars aplenty. This was going to be good.

And it was good. Enough. I watched this episode and next week's episode back-to-back, so pardon me if my feelings for both bleed together a bit. I'll try to get the facts this episode straight and save some of the opinion for next week. But as a bonus, I'll tell you about the Doctor Who panel I went to at Comic-Con yesterday. Deal?

We open, with a sense of urgency, on a familiar-looking suburb street. Although I'm not sure its familiarity is supposed to be part of the point. I just think the show is frugal. After the Doctor and Donna leave the TARDIS, return to the TARDIS, then attempt to leave again, they find the Earth has vanished beneath them. This can't be good. Cue the view from New York where Martha, and others try to figure out what's going on. Switch to Cardiff and Torchwood. Then to London and Sarah Jane and son. Then Chiswick and the Noble home. Enter Rose and a big-ass gun. It's as if Davies is gathering together all the pieces he's been moving around for several seasons, on this show and others. Clearly we're in for something.

Trouble is it's a bit too much of something big. We get Daleks and Space Rhinos (what are those guys called again? Judoon!) And a lot of people running around trying to accomplish stuff. There's scarcely a moment for anyone to catch their breath. The moment between Donna and the Shadow Architect is refreshing in its intimacy. Beyond that, it's mostly our heroes panicking, separately as we all build up to the revelation of… Davros!

Davros? I'm the first to confess that my Who fandom only stretches back to 2005. I might seek to correct that some day but for now I'm fine being a newb even four seasons in. But that never mattered when it came to the introduction of Daleks, and Cybermen, and The Master. I caught up. It helped that those were all cool characters. Here we have a mean old guy in a chair. Which would also have been fine if he'd actually turned out to do more than he does… But I'm getting ahead of myself.

And, to be fair, we end with no small amount of excitement. We get a Dalek rage and some regeneration, and other cool stuff that will pay off gangbusters next week. Right?

Grade: B

So, about that panel. It was supposed to feature Davies, Steven Moffatt, and executive producer Julie Gardner, but only Moffatt and Gardner showed, explaining that Davies was writing new Torchwood material, which got some cheers. Moffatt was totally charming and he and Gardner were fun together. As an example of their production process, they talked about the great back-and-forth concerning the "Girl In The Fireplace" episode, in particular the shot of the Doctor crashing through a mirror on a horse into a ballroom. Turns out it's not as easy to get a horse into a ballroom as you might expect.

Moffatt also related a funny story about getting stopped by airport security and then eluded any questions that might spoil future developments. But he did say this when asked if River Song recognized David Tennant's character as The Doctor or simply recognized the essence of The Doctor. He said he thought she had met the Tennant Doctor before but had also spent time with other Doctors. Is that an escape clause or a spoiler? You decide.

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