Monday, 7 July 2008

Journey's End. A review of the Russell T Davies era of Doctor Who!

I don't normally write up reviews, but as a lifelong Doctor Who fan, I just wanted to offer my thoughts on this latest era of Doctor Who, which was brought to an end this Saturday.
We still have 5 Davies-penned specials to go, but this was the end of HIS series, and the series finale very much celebrated this.

I think its important to judge the revival of Doctor Who under Davies by both it's impact upon the general public, and also the long standing fans.

Barbara Ellen in Sunday's Observer said "....the adults who rave about Dr Who all seem faintly depressing: like superannuated nine-year-olds, only with mortgages and Cranford boxed sets."

This is missing the point spectacularly. Doctor Who is escapism on a Saturday night for the whole family. NO other show does this, or has done this quite as brilliantly.
Fashions come and go and yet the story of the wanderer through time and space with his faithful sidekick has endured.

What Russell T Davies did was to
understand this fact so perfectly.
Back in the 60's Doctor Who
captured the public's imagination with
terrifying Daleks on London streets.
It seems common place today, but at the time it genuinely scared people who had seen nothing like this before.

Then it happened all over again in the 1970's with showroom dummies coming to life.
It's no coincidence that both of these unsettling images were replicated in the new series. What Davies did however, was to make a new generation terrified and enthralled, by combining the shock tactics of old with a bristling new contemporary energy and characters that people could relate to. The creation of the entire Tyler family was a stroke of genius, pulling in a brand new breed of fan, raised on soaps and returning drama
and allowing them to invest in these lovable characters.

And most importantly, through Rose, Martha and Donna, Russell T Davies allowed us to see this mysterious wonderful Time Lord through their eyes.

In casting Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant, and guest-casting Simon Callow, Derek Jacobi et al. Davies also gave Doctor Who credibility. Something that had been diminished during the eighties. We all painfully remember the casting choices of Paul Daniels and Sane Ritchie in The Sun prior to the show's return in 2005...

So, Journey's End drew a line under the Davies era. A coming together of the 2 spin-off shows and all the companions from the current series.
It was a distillation of everything that Davies represents in Doctor Who. Fun, adventure and sheer joy.
It's not everyone's cup of tea, to be sure, but last week the whole nation seemed to be talking about Doctor Who and the viewing figures bore that fact out too.
After 4 years of Doctor Who, people are still talking about it as 'event television'. How many series could you honestly say that about?
If the Davies era is remembered for nothing else, then this is a quite brilliant legacy for him to leave.

From my perspective, I can only thank him from afar, for making me feel like an 8 year old boy again on a Saturday night. Forget mortgages, career worries, credit crunches, price of petrol etc. Saturday night has been about grinning from ear to ear and being excited again.

Thank you Russell T Davies

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