Crappiest RTD ep thus far in New Who. Actually not quite, but it's on an equal footing with Love and Monsters as far as I'm concerned. What is up with the New Who finales? Most of them start out well and end up crap. Now we're almost at the end of his tenure, I'm thinking that RTD just doesn't know how to write a three-part story. In particular, maybe the final fifteen minutes of this episode are what really made it bad. Not just how Donna's story ended, but also the part where she started babbling like Ten. It was like she was playing a character on her sketch tv show, not Donna.
Also, there wasn't nearly enough unexpected naked!Ten. But that's really child's play compared to everything else...
So many characters got wasted here. The return of Mickey and Jackie was amazing (I squeed when Jackie shot the Dalek!), but they hardly did anything. I'm also annoyed that Gwen and Ianto had barely any screentime after the previous episode. Will however admit to LOLing very loudly at Gwen with the machine gun going 'RAAAAAH!'. Oh, dear. But anyway, it felt like this episode could've been done with just Ten, human!Ten, Rose and Donna, rather than throwing everybody in for a big ol' crossover/reunion ep. The part where Ten got all of Team TARDIS to help him pilot the TARDIS to tow the Earth back was the corniest montage ever, but I'll admit to liking everyone hugging each other. Sarah Jane's comment about the Doctor's big family was really great too, very befitting of the Doctor and his companions.
Don't get me started on Donna. This was like the shittiest companion exit ever. Even worse than Adric going boom in Earthshock (not that I liked him much, but companion deaths are always sad) or One locking Susan out of the TARDIS in The Dalek Invasion of Earth. I know, plot plot plot, but companions ideally leave the Doctor with their amazing memories and so forth. Donna developed incredibly over the series, she's a textbook example of how travelling with the Doctor can change a character for the better. Which is why this ending sucks so bad. Gaaah, I'm not sure I can quite forgive Rusty this particular blasphemy. Thank goodness he's only got two more eps to pen before leaving the show. :/
Rose's ending was like fanservice gone wrong. I should've been gleeful that Rose got what was effectively a blow-up doll version of Ten to live out her days with, but it wasn't the sort of ending that screams 'CLOSURE!'- more like an ending that still seems quite open for Rose and her human!Doctor to return. However there've been no rumours about Billie appearing in the specials and I doubt that Steven Moffat will use the character, which gives me hope that this angsty chapter is finally over. Besides which, I've found that Billie is way better in 'Secret Diary of Callgirl', which has just finished screening here- the scripts for that show are fantastic and I think it's one of the best things she's done.
In fact, I felt like the only sort-of happy ending to come out of the story was Mickey's. He got closure in the parallel world with his gran, so he decided to move back and get a fresh start. Really, really hoping he pops up in Torchwood. With Tosh gone, Mickey could easily become the technical wiz there.
Stuff I liked? Er....besides the novelty of all the New School companions together and Jackie shooting the Dalek? Well, Doctor!Donna kicked so much ass, Julian Bleach's Davros was amazingly good (and for all intents and purposes, Davros is alive, although they should wait a few years to bring him and the Daleks back) and I liked Davros' big speech about the Doctor's soul and so forth. But yeah, anything good about this episode more or less got cancelled out by the sheer fuckwittery of Ten's retconning Donna (and that she was begging him not to do it, which made it all the more worse).
So, I didn't have high expectations for series four, but I enjoyed it far more than I expected to. Catherine Tate was an unexpected delight as Donna, and if it had been anyone but her as the companion in some of the eps, I would have been much more disappointed. I'm undecided about whether I'll buy the box set yet, but I probably will, just for the sake of completeness. I haven't yet re-watched series three, so that's on the agenda first, once I get the thesis out of the way.