Episode 14: End of the World

CONTENT WARNING: Discussion of transphobia, body dysmorphia and eating disorders

We jump back to modern Who with the 2005 episode End of the World.  As Rose jumps 5 billion years into the future to witness her planet be consumed by fire, we witness the continuing attempts of Russell T. Davies to make Doctor Who work in modern TV.  Does this attempt work better for us than his pilot episode? WILL ANYONE SURVIVE? ARE THERE KITTENS? (There aren’t.)

Daleks Aren’t Robots!? is a podcast in which two Whovian friends take two non-Whovians on a deep dive through the show from the very beginning.

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Podcast Contents Include

Editor’s Note: The following are my original notes for the podcast, slightly edited for readability. They’re very far from the full contents of the pod, though.  – Kari

SUMMARY

The Doctor takes Rose to the End of the World, 5 billion years in the future, which is the worst idea for a first date ever. A bunch of rich people are watching the sun go nova, but one of them sabotages the space station they’re on. Rose gets stuck in a room while the Doctor saves the day.

OUR TEAM

  1. The Doctor is the star of this episode… to the detriment of every other character in it. It seemed super familiar to me but I couldn’t place it, and then I realized what it reminded me of: Twilight. In this episode specifically, the Doctor is Bella Swan and the other characters only exist to develop his character, to tell him how great he is and to flirt with him, unless they’re bad guys. Then they exist to be killed by him.
  2. I think it’s from the way that they basically hired fans of the Doctor to write the show. And they were fans of the Doctor, so at least in this episode, they did a fanfic, putting their OC version of the Doctor center stage to show off how cool he is. Like Twilight, it’s basically a canon fanfic, and not a good one. Every version of the Doctor I’ve seen has been arrogant, but the show KNEW it and didn’t frame it as a good thing, and allowed him to get his comeuppance from time to time. This show or at least THIS EPISODE doesn’t know it.
  3. I do like the characterization here of the Doctor as childlike and a bit giddy. He does murder someone on screen though, with nary a lampshade to be seen…
  4. After a whole episode setting up Rose as our POV character, in this episode she gets damseled hard at about the halfway mark and is reduced to lying down and whimpering while she waits for the Doctor to save her and everyone else. It’s not just that it’s kind of sexist, although it is, but it’s also bad writing. You spent that long setting up a POV character for the audience and then sidelined her to create a second POV character who is then incinerated? Sure, Ian. Sure.

THE OTHERS

This episode seems to have issues with women.

  • Jabe, the tree, exists to flirt with the Doctor, to feel sorry for the Doctor, and then to sacrifice herself so the Doctor can be a hero. It’s a shame, because her design is neat and she seemed like an interesting person. It almost seems like Rose was supposed to help the Doctor at the end but they replaced her with Jabe at the last minute or something.
  • Raffalo, the plumber, chats with Rose a bit but then is killed by the plot.
  • Cassandra, the “Last Human,” is heavily female coded but says she was a “boy.” She is racist. Her main trait is that she’s vain and has gotten plastic surgery so many times she’s just skin stretched on a rack with some makeup on it. On the bright side she did convince me to up my moisturization regimen, so there is that.
  • Jackie only appears for a few minutes but still manages to talk about how Rose should get her money back for something and tell her to pick her up a lottery ticket, because the greedy poors want the moneys, I guess.
  • The Steward is not a woman, but the plot kills him off pretty quickly to show that the spiders are a murder weapon for sure.

THE SETTING

  1. The Setting IS the characters in this one, mostly, and they are actually pretty great designs. Some of them look a bit silly, yes, but the designs are different and interesting, and it’s good to see the show taking advantage of its newly-acquired budget of more than pocket lint. The trees look really cool, and so did the giant face. One thing–Rose says they’re very ALIEN aliens and I just thought: no they’re not, they’re just people who look a bit funny. The plumber in particular was just like anybody but bluer.
  2. The observation room set Rose gets stuck in looks cool, and so do the images of the exploding earth and the sun. The engine room is a little bit dodgier, as it seems to be mostly composed of bad CG. It’s not bad enough to hurt my suspension of disbelief though.
  3. They do mention that there was a war and the Doctor’s planet was destroyed, and he’s the last son of Krypton I mean the last Time Lord. (Doctorgirl is gonna be a thing, right? Is there a Bottle City of Gallifrey?)
  4. The future is SUPER classist, and plumbers have to be given permission to talk even after being asked a direct question. And the motive for the crime here is money. Somewhere Marx is crying. They could imagine a future without religion but not without capitalism? Religion predates capitalism, guys.
  5. The three songs they bring up as “classical,” which are meant to be a joke? They’re all three actually really good pop songs. Sorry, but Tainted Love, Toxic and Disco Inferno are all pretty great songs in their own right, so that doesn’t read as a joke anymore.
  6. They explain the Tardis translation thing, which is nice.
  7. Psychic paper is stupid.

THE PRODUCTION

  1. Is Lady Cassandra a trans woman or what? What’s with the boy stuff? Queer coding villains, bleh.
  2. Were those dwarves or children?
  3. What WAS the budget on this?
  4. Do any of these alien groups come back or were they one-shots? I liked the trees a lot, I hope they come back. (Editor’s Note: The trees do not. 😦 )
  5. How much of this was Giant Rat of Sumatra stuff? It’s an incident mentioned as an aside in a Sherlock Holmes story and then never brought up again–are they going to do a fanfic thing and backfill it for continuity porn? I hope not. I don’t mind a little of that but sometimes a giant rat is better not explained.

Sources Include

General Info

Short Crespallion Actors

North/South England Material, Accents & Class Issues

Trans Issues in Doctor Who: Cassandra

Rose and Jackie’s Character

Russell T. Davies and Religion

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