What sometimes get forgotten about this story is that it was a Christmas special, and it is one of the best. Again, RTD got the balance right between Christmas and sci-fi, which was important as this was also a regeneration story. There were a few strange aspects though. Firstly, the way the Master was brought back to life seemed weak, and dare I say it, a bit of a rip off of Voldemort’s revival in Harry Potter. And the Master was overpowered. I liked seeing flashes of his skeleton as his revival did go wrong, but the ability to fly and have an unlimited amount of strength to escape from the straight jacket did seem rather strange and unnecessary. John Simm played the Master brilliantly once again though, and his insanity really was fearsome. I enjoyed following Wilf’s gang in their hunt to find the Doctor. The scene were the Doctor went from chasing the Master to having his photo taken with Minnie within seconds was hilarious and did add some comic relief to this Christmas special. Another brilliant scene was in the cafe when the Doctor opened up to Wilf about dying. We’d never really seen any Doctor confess how he felt about regenration before, so it was intriguing to see that changing really did upset him. When Wilf stepped aboard the TARDIS and proclaimed “I thought it’d be cleaner”, he hilariously displayed all of the characteristics of a great companion and I wish he got a longer run travelling with the Doctor. The immortality gate that changed the human race to the Master was valid, although the way the transformation happened wasn’t produced as well as it should’ve been. It looked almost comical when it should’ve been a dark and scary moment. The cliffhanger of the Time Lords returning, their first appearance in Doctor Who, was magnificent. Overall this was a solid first part that did its job of not only a regeneration story, but a Christmas special too. 8/10


As regeneration episodes go, this was a brilliant effort. The scale was simply epic and the inclusion of the Master and the Time Lords worked well. Rassilon was brilliant, to see the President of the Doctor’s race so corrupt and so determined to survive at all costs was shocking and he was played majestically by the brilliant Timothy Dalton. Donna’s defence mechanism was a bit dubious. I didn’t really get how she didn’t change with everyone else, and then how she overcame the surrounding versions of the Master, that was a poorly explained sequence. The episode really kicked into life when Wilf and the Doctor talked on the spaceship. Seeing the Doctor tell Wilf he’d be proud if he was his dad was a lovely moment. It was thrilling to see the Doctor finally take Wilf’s gun when he discovered the Time Lords we’re going to be present. It added to the mystery of what actually happened during the Time War. I didn’t get why the a Doctor jumped from the ship into the mansion though. We saw Wilf simply walk in moments later so why couldn’t he have just done that? And surely the fall would’ve caused him to regenerate? I discussed this in more detail in my recent “regeneration theories” post. Looking past that, the scene where the Doctor pointed the gun at Rassilon and the Master alternatively was breathtaking. You really didn’t know who he was going to shoot. Breaking the link by shooting the operating system of the immortality gate was a valid resolution. It was also great so see the Master fight with the Doctor to defeat Rassilon as he blamed the Time Lods for the drumbeat that’s hampered him for all of his life. And then there was that moment where we thought the Doctor had survived, but RTD cruelly brought us back down to Earth with a smash as Wilf knocked four times, in what was one of the most shocking and clever twists in the show’s history. Nobody had suspected Wilf, the man who we first saw selling papers in Voyage of the Damned two years earlier, would cause the downfall of the tenth Doctor. David Tennant’s performance in the following scene where he was almost cruel to Wilf was simply stunning but then his uttering of “Lived too long” showed that he was still the kind hearted Doctor we all knew, despite everything he’d just been through. We had seen this incarnation go from one of the most light hearted and entertaining to one of the darkest, but it was fitting that his death was caused by a moment of selflessness in saving Wilf. I am one of the fans who did like the Doctor claiming his “reward” and visiting all of that incarnation’s friends before he regenerated, although maybe meeting the great granddaughter of Joan was a step too far. Giving the Nobles a lottery ticket that was paid for by the late Geoffrey Noble was a nice touch. The Doctor’s regeneration was extreme and I didn’t see why the TARDIS exploded. Having said that, it was a beautifully emotional end for the tenth Doctor as he said “I don’t want to go”. Murray Gold’s “Vale Decem” that played throughout the regeneration sequence is the most exquisite musical piece in the show’s history. There are aspects to this episode I didn’t like, including Matt Smith’s rather annoying first scene. However this is a fitting ending for David Tennant and Russell T. Davies. 9/10