So; that's that then. All over for another 39 weeks.
And this time it really is 'all over'. First, they sold us 'The Doctor and Rose Show', and then Chris went, and now Billie's gone and we're back in uncharted water. Next Christmas will be the third re-launch in two years.
In March 2005, Rose's alarm clock went off and since then we've seen everything from her point of view. When the Doctor tried to dump Rose in 'Parting of the Ways', we went back to earth and sat with her in the chip shop and wondered what he was up to. But this time we stayed with the Doctor, alone again, fiddling with the TARDIS controls. We see the mysterious bride through his eyes, and like him we wonder who the hell she can be. Eighteen months ago, RTD made a Copernican shift in the focus of the show: from Doctor, to companion. Well, now we've shifted back.
And it really, really is all over, because once the Doctor has stood in the TARDIS and tried to say 'I love you' then the programme that used to be called Doctor Who has been gently, lovingly, painlessly put to sleep. It will probably now go to interesting places; and we can decide to go with it or we can decide to stay behind and regret that staying until the day we die. But we can never change things back to how they were before: if we did, the Reapers would come and get us.
And that's okay. It's not the first time the series has committed euthanasia. The T.V series that had been called Doctor Who came to an end in 1976, when the Master held Tom Baker's head under water. It probably finished the first time someone used the word 'Time Lord' or when the unearthly child was booted out of the TARDIS.
There was a story. There was Mickey, and his appearance in a Torchwood lab coat would have been a really good surprise, if it wasn't that the BBC is obliged to protect us from unexpected plot twists, because of the special way it's funded. There were Ma and Pa Tyler and they were done really rather well. Jackie got a go at being a companion, and the nice thing was that she'd changed since episode 1, but not changed beyond recognition. The look on Mickey's face when Jackie tells Pete 'There's never been anyone else' was priceless. Good call to play the scene as comedy; that made it quite touching; if it had been played as a tearjerker, it would have just been annoying. It's nice to occasionally be reminded that the reason RTD has a reputation for being a good scriptwriter is that he can, when he tries, write good scripts.
There were Daleks. And Cybermen. And I don't know what the Daleks were for. Beyond opening the rift for the Cyberpeople to come through, they had no role in the story. Billions of Daleks appear; they swap taunts with the Cybermen; the Doctor waves his magic wand; billions of Daleks disappear. But they did get Doctor Who an unprecedented third Radio Times cover, so I guess they served their purpose.
It was cute to have Daleks and the Cybermen standing around saying 'Identify yourself' 'No, you identify yourself'. I am glad this stopped before one or other of them claimed to be a lighthouse. I quite enjoyed 'Daleks have no concept of elegance'/'This is obvious'. But 'In one thing only are you our superiors: you are better at dying' is just not the kind of thing that a hate filled cybernetic alien would say. Is there no-one who can restrain RTD from this kind of meta-textual silliness? The channel hopping gags are getting boring, too. If weird aliens had invaded earth disguised as ghosts, then they wouldn't be appearing on daytime TV. It would have made more sense to show Richard Dawkins and the Archbishop of Canterbury arguing on Newsnight about whether ghosts existed or not. My mother tells me that there was an in-joke in the Eastenders clip which I didn't spot; which makes up for the occasional Doctor Who in-jokes that she doesn't spot.
But the story wasn't really about Daleks, Cybermen, aliens, ghosts or Torchwood. Those things are just there to keep the asexuals happy. (Did you notice that in the Episode 1 trailer, a human gets zapped by something which we regulars could easily identify as a Dalek death-ray. A gun, I mean, not an ice-cream. Take that, you asexuals: we'll put in spoilers that will spoil it for you, but not for anyone else – if that doesn't drive Doctor Who fans away from Doctor Who I don't know what will.) The real subject of Doctor Who – indeed, the real subject of everything, all that matters in life, is dating. It's a subject which is especially close to the heart of the pre-adolescent target audience, which is why the old series was so silly to base itself around Old Labour ideas like friendship. The chemistry between Eccleston and Piper was enough to sustain a series. The chemistry between Tennant and Piper decidedly isn't. You could have got some plot mileage out of 'Rose loved Doctor Chris, but she doesn't love Doctor David, Doctor David is hurt, because so far as he's concerned, he's still the same person.' But we didn't try: after 45 minutes of post-regeneration angst, we've just had to assume that the Doc and Rose's relationship has re-set to whatever it was before 'Bad Wolf'.
So the only question about 'Army of Ghosts'/'Doomsday' is 'Does Rose die?' And given quite how much foreshadowing there had been, it's no great surprise that the surprising answer was (look away now) 'No, course she bloody doesn't.' Which raises the question of what Satan thought he was doing making portentous predictions, and why anyone would describe 'the circumstances under which my name was erroneously added to the list of casualties of a disaster I escaped from' as 'This is the story of how I died.'
If she is really going to work for the Torchwood of Earth-2, then it probably won't be the last story she ever tells.
So the only tension was meta-textual: we kept thinking 'Is this the bit when Rose dies' because we'd been told in advance that Rose was going to die. When Rose goes back to Earth-2 with Mickey and Jackie, we all think 'Ah, perhaps this is how it ends'; and then when she is nearly pulled into the void, we think 'Aha, this is how it ends', which makes the final appearance of Pa Tyler almost unexpected. The Doctor and Rose trying to touch each other through the now-closed-off rift in space was almost as moving as in Phillip Pullman, although without the under-age shagging.
I'm usually a sucker for sentimental stuff. I was quite touched by 'Father's Day'. But RTD was trying so hard to make me cry that I didn't feel remotely like crying: although goodness gracious me isn't Billie Piper a remarkably remarkable actress; totally convincing us that her whole life has fallen apart, without going remotely over any kind of top. There are still people who say that they can't watch Doctor Who because of Billie, which I can only interpret as class-snobbery or pure straightforward misogyny: we don't want smart, competent women in our sci-fi – or at any rate, not smart, pretty competent women who speak with lower class accents and failed their A levels. I know that Tennant's Doctor is supposed to slightly aloof; I know that he is supposed to be wacky; I know that the slight woodenness is part of the characterisation. I like him as much as I've liked any Doctor since Tom Baker. But I still couldn't quite stop myself from thinking 'What could Christopher Eccleston have done with this material?'
Some people have noted some rather gratuitous religious imagery in this series; I must say I was relieved that, when the holographic Doctor meets Rose on a beach, and Rose says 'You look like a ghost' the Doctor resists the temptation to say 'Do not cling to me.' Not in so many words, at any rate.
I watched the episode with a group of Whovian friends. Everyone liked it and we laughed in all the right places. I think the last scene was meant to be tragi-comic rather than sad, so when Rose says 'I love you' and the Doctor says 'Quite right too,' we all think the line is almost as funny as it was when Harrison Ford first ad libbed it a quarter of a century ago; and when the Doctor tries to say 'I love you' but dematerialises mid-sentence, we all laughed -- laughed with it rather than at it I mean; and of course, it should have ended there, where it started, with Rose and Mickey and Jackie; not back on the TARDIS with the Doctor; because now we've seen him cry, and like the first time you see your parents cry, it's all over and nothing can ever, ever, ever be the same again.
When Rose mentions 'the baby', the Doctor automatically assumes that it is hers and is pleased. Does the Doctor think that when he dumped her, Rose immediately started sleeping with Mickey? Or is it possible that, just for a moment he thought...
No. That way, madness lies.