Menagerie of Monsters

I suppose it was as inevitable as it was predictable: for his “all hell breaks loose” Doctor Who season finale, Russell T Davies has pitted the series’ most popular monster against its second most popular monster. And all in a story which also has to tie up all the threads that have been unsubtly and rather illogically spread across the series, introduce the idea of his new spin-off drama Torchwood, bump off Billie Piper and – apparently – reintroduce the entirely undesirable character of Mickey (the sense of dread I felt when he appeared can’t have been intended by the production team, but it made up for the lack of the same when the Daleks finally appeared after a slow and obvious build-up).

On the upside, cramming too much into his story means that Russell T Davies hasn’t had any time for his trademark padding (at least so far), and although his ideas are still as underdeveloped as usual, it’s all too busy to be obvious. But it is also exactly the kind of story a six-year-old fan would probably write, just without the crayon drawings (that was last week). Pitting the Daleks against the Cybermen is the ultimate fan jerk-off, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. In twenty-six years, the original series never once put the two together (unless you tenuously include The Five Doctors – and if there is a place for such silliness it’s once every twenty years in special anniversary stories); put a fan in charge and he does it within twenty-six episodes.

It all goes to show that Russell T Davies is more interested in spectacle than good stories. Alas, in spite of his not inconsiderable budget, his flying Daleks still look like cartoons and the whole thing takes on the look of cheap sci-fi, so the one thing the series (at its best) has (or had) going for it is completely missing.

Quite aside from the fact that it looks crap, using Daleks and Cybermen in a story which already has more than enough story shows a complete lack of restraint; if you’re going to use two such iconic baddies, why not put them in a story where there’s space to use them properly, rather than lazily chuck everything into a two-parter and hope that it will be exciting? What’s he going to do to end the next series?

Of course, there’s one more part to go, so we’ve yet to see the full extent of the folly. But for what it’s worth, here’s my prediction of what we’re in for next week:

The Daleks attack the Cybermen and all hell breaks loose; the Doctor, Rose, her Mother, Mickey and the whole of the Torchwood Institute are caught in the crossfire, but just as they are all about to be extermined and deleted with total deletion, Sarah Jane Smith blasts her way in with K9 and they escape into the TARDIS. The Doctor makes contact with previous incarnations Christopher Eccleston and Paul McGann, who argue with each other in a semi-comical manner.

Meanwhile, the Daleks and Cyberman break out of the Torchwood institute into Albert Square; the alien artefacts in the Institute are also freed and the cast of Eastenders find themselves terrorised by a menagerie of monsters, including the Slitheen and Peter Kay. As the three Doctors try to stop the chaos, the woman in charge of the Torchwood institute traps them in E-space, revealing that she is in fact the Master and engineered the whole thing all along.

However, in E-space the Doctors discover Romana, the Timelords and Gary Glitter, all of whom managed to escape the Time War by slipping into a parallel universe. They travel back to earth using the sonic screwdriver, then confront the emperor CyberDalek, who is revealed to be Davros.

Mickey sacrifices himself to destroy Davros. The three Doctors destroy the remaining Daleks and Cybermen with the sonic screwdriver. Rose realises that if she stares into the heart of the TARDIS the remaining Bad Wolf energy latent in her will open the eye of harmony and time will run backwards, bringing Mickey back to life. But when Mickey comes back to life he is revealed to be the Valeyard, who has tricked them all to try to gain control of the Hand of Omega and eternal life. But when he activates the trilithium raxamaxogelfiagogorian crystal which the Torchwood Institute stole from the Sycorax, he is absorbed into the sphere. Rassilon arrives and explains he arranged the whole thing and returns everything to normal.

Rose dies.

The Face of Bo turns up and tells the Doctor he’s sorry it all had to happen like that and gives him a mysterious message before disappearing. The Doctor is sad and wistful then suddenly returns to his bouncy self, embarking on his next adventure with a sense of wide-eyed discovery.

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