?efore I go I just want to tell you you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And you know what? So was I!?/i>

?arting of the Ways?was a story of moments. Scary moments, exhilarating moments, life-affirming moments, emotional moments, jaw-dropping moments, baffling moments. Whether those moments all came together to create a truly satisfying finale to this extraordinary new series of DOCTOR WHO is an entirely subjective opinion but there? really little doubt that the show exploded off our screens much as it had exploded back onto it three months earlier – in a wave of passion, energy and manic invention. DOCTOR WHO is gone for now – but thankfully he?l be back before you know it, hopefully a fixture on our TV screens for many years to come.

Moments. The stand-out moment for me in this non-stop tour-de-force of an episode is one which I? sure will live with me for as long as I? a fan of DOCTOR WHO – and I now accept quite happily and without reservation that that? going to be until the day I draw my last breath – and, fittingly, it involves the Daleks. Long recognised as the series?grittiest emobodiment of callous, unthinking, remorseless evil the Daleks have, over the years, lost a lot of their dramatic power due to tedious over-use in the programme itself and by lazy, stupid comedians have using them as figures of fun. But here in this one episode – and in one chilling sequence – Russell T Davies has made them bloody terrifying again. You know the scene; the Daleks are sweeping through Satellite Five on their way to stop the Doctor activating the Delta Wave which will wipe out the Dalek fleet (and, unfortunately, the entire human race). A hundred or so other human survivors aboard the station have taken refuge in the lower levels, following the logic that the Daleks won? bother with them because it? the Doctor and his handful of armed supporters that they?e after. But logic doesn? much come into it where the Daleks are concerned. Just for the fun of it, it seems, the Daleks trundle into the satellite bay where the other human survivors are huddledond systematically, mercilessly slaughter them. It? not what we see that makes this scene so effective – because, cleverly, the camera cuts away at the moment of mass extermination and we just hear screams and sound effects. What makes it work is the build-up, the dreadful realisation, by the audience and the characters, that the Daleks are coming and they?e going to murder them all in cold blood. The characters try to hide but there? nowhere to run. They?e panicked, they?e screaming; Roderick, the winner of THE WEAKEST LINK in the previous episode, can? cope with the unfairness of it all as his Dalek executioner bears down upon him. It? bleak, it? desperate, it? the strongest depiction of Daleks-as-Nazis since ?he Dalek Invasion of Earth?way back in 1964. And it? shown on a glorious Saturday evening in June 2005 just after 7pm.

It? moments like these – and so many others – that make ?he Parting of the Ways?work as piece of television, lifting it above any considerations about its perfunctory plot and frankly rather convenient story resolution. This series of DOCTOR WHO has, as you may have noticed, been largely about emotion – Rose? emotional voyage on discovering that there can be more to life than living on a Council estate eating chips and going to work in a shop, the Doctor? journey as the last of his kind desperate to find his place in the Universe and the various journeys of supporting characters like Rose? Mum and out-of-his-depth boyfriend Mickey. ?arting of the Ways?is where this all pays off and it? the episode where we can really see the show? debt to BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER as the whole episode had the pace and emotional feel of one of the great BUFFY season finales – complete with the slight sense of ?o what just happened???which sometimes followed the end of a frenetic final BUFFY .

?arting of the Ways?was the episode which had a lot to do. It had loose ends to tie up and it had story strands to resolve. It also had a tale of its own to tell and it had a climactic regeneration to build into its last scene as a result of Christopher Eccleston? disappointing decision not to climb aboard the TARDIS for a second trip of a lifetime. In the end the episode had simply too much to do to do it all successfully but, by the sheer power of its visuals alone, the episode managed to achieve so much of what it set out to do that by the time the credits rolled the audience is left pretty much battered and exhausted. The Doctor? rescue of Rose is dealt with swiftly and without fuss; the TARDIS materialises in a Dalek spaceship around Rose and a Dalek guard (swiftly dispatched courtesy of Captain Jack) and the Doctor confronts his ultimate enemy – the massive Dalek Emperor. The Daleks survived the Time War by the simple expedient of explaining that the Emperor? ship ?ell through Time?(this happens a lot to Daleks) and that the Dalek race has been rebuilt by harvesting human colony worlds and creating a new Dalek army from human bodies. Earth itself is next on the Dalek hitlist and it seems there? not much the Doctor can do to stop them. Cue some handy SF gobbledegook in the form of a Delta Wave and we?e off and running. The Doctor effectively doube-crosses Rose when he realises he can’t bring himself to allow her to stay on board the Satellite when he actviates the Delta Wave which he knows will wipe out the Daleks, all mankind and presumably Rose as well and sends her home. Back on Earth Billie Piper is given the chance to show off her acting chops again in scenes with her Mum and Mickey and it? here that we get to see, yet again, what a talenr Ms Piper is and, more importantly, how strong the bond between Earth girl and Time Lord has become.

It? now, though, that the story structure starts to wobble a bit. Having created a world-shattering scenario with no particularly obvious resolution, Davies has no choice but to resort of some rather unsatisfying mystical mumbo-jumbo to sort it all out. The excitement level mounts as the Daleks invade the station and there are, yet again, some glorious moments here. The death of BIG BROTHER contestant Lynda Moss is both beautiful and appalling – sucked out into space as Daleks blow out the window (the scene with the Daleks floating up through space, the ?ead lamps?of one of them flashing silently, four times, as it prepares to ?X-TER-MIN-ATE?is stunning), the deaths of the Games Controllers is awful in its inevitability after their brief character-defining moment and Captain Jack? last-man-standing scene is punch-the-air stuff (ruined later on when Jack is ?agically?resurrected – a mixed blessing as his death is hugely dramatic but the character is just too good to dispense with just yet). But then Rose makes her way back to the Station – the scenes where she tries to pull open the TARDIS console so she can gain access to ?he heart of the TARDIS?by use of a pick-up truck and a chain are surreally hilarious – and we drift into the sort of mystical supernatural territory which BUFFY could get away with because it was a supernatural series. DOCTOR WHO, however, resolutely isn?. The old series very clearly created scientific rationales behind supernatural phenomena – but ?arting of the Ways?is quite happy to allow Rose to absorb the power of the Time Vortex (?) to become some sort of super-destructive supreme being able to see all Time and all Space, wipe out the Daleks, bring Jack back from the dead and, presumably, get back home in time for tea. It? dramatic, it? spectacular, it? portentous – but it just seems a bit lazy and ill-thought out. The ?eart of the TARDIS?stuff was all set up a couple of weeks ago in ?oomtown? of course, but it still doesn? seem to make a lot of sense because it? a bit vague and ill-defined. So too the ultimate resolution of the ?ad Wolf?thread seeded across the series. Rose declares that she is ?ad Wolf? having used the words of the Bad Wolf Corporation which ran the Games Station on Satellite Five and spread them across Time and Space as some sort of forewarning. Personally, if I? been Rose, I might have been more inclined to scrawl the words ?OCTOR, THERE? A BIG ARMY OF DALEKS OUT THERE AND THEY?E GOING TO KLL US ALL!?in big, friendly letters everywhere I could but maybe I? not as subtle as Rose.

Ultimately, Rose unleashes the power she? harnessed to annihilate the Daleks once and for all (yeah, right!) but the Doctor realises that the energy will kill her. He has to get it out of her. DOCTOR WHO purists across the world may well have been wailing ?oooooR as the Doctor puckers up and gives his girl a big fat kiss and sucks the destructive energy out of her. Get over it, I say – these two have clearly been gagging for one another since the series started and a rather chaste little end-of-season kiss is the least they both deserve.

Back aboard the TARDIS, with a resurrected Captain Jack having missed the boat and looking crest-fallen about it, the Doctor and Rose look forward to good times ahead – until the Doctor realises the energy he? absorbed is destroying every cell in his own body. Eccleston is at his joyous best here as he tries to explain the forthcoming process of change to a baffled Rose – and then it? done. Rivers of lights, torrents of FX, sprouting of hair where there was no hair before – and a bright and breezy new man is born, carrying on where his predecessor left off, grinning broadly in best DOCTOR WHO fashion. David Tennant is DOCTOR WHO.

So there we have it. ?arting of the Ways?- an episode which had too much to do to do it all successfully but it came pretty damn close. As a narrative it was far from perfect but as a pulsating spectacle with its own particular dynamic of doom it worked superbly. No-one who? watched this series can have been really disappointed by this series finale whatever their own expectations may have been. It? tragic (but not disastrous) that we?e lost Eccleston but, as Davies himself has pointed out previously, his casting gave the show an instant credibility it would never have enjoyed had the role gone to almost anyone else. DOCTOR WHO has successfully re-established itself and a lot of that it down to the tireless enthusiasm of Eccleston and the never-less-than energetic performances he delivered. So now it? on to the next one safe in the knowledge that Davies and his team will be working harder than ever to make the next batch of episodes of DOCTOR WHO even more fantastic than this one.

It? what Christopher Eccleston would want.]]>

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