Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

What makes a good final episode for a Doctor or companion? Join Deb, Katrina, and Liz as they discuss just that.

What do you think are the hallmarks of a good last episode? Let us know in the comment!


Also covered:

Download or listen now (runtime 1:11:33) 

Comments on: "Episode 130 – A Good Last" (18)

  1. Reblogged this on Confessions of a Curator, Editor, Geek and commented:

    New Verity!

  2. What Peter Capaldi wanted, Peter Capaldi got! Mondasian Cybermen.
    Now, isn’t that lovely?

  3. Steven Brown said:

    This episode prompted me to dig out (and minorly edit) a limerick I wrote in 2005:

    At the fates of companions you’d scoff
    Those who from Doctor Who were struck off.
    But see if you can’t
    Spare a thought for Jo Grant–
    Up the Amazon with a Welsh prof!

  4. terminuspodcast said:

    I definitely agree that a surprise!regeneration would be excellent to see. I still remember at the end of ‘The Stolen Earth,’ with the fake-out regeneration of Ten, when fandom — at least on LiveJournal — went into *total* emotional meltdown, because everyone was taken by surprise and thought TPTB had pulled a fast one and Tennant was leaving earlier than we’d thought (in fact, I’m pretty sure we’d known Tennant was leaving by that point, so it kinda made sense). I know that I, for one, totally freaked out at that regeneration fake-out and that night posted an LJ rant about not being ready for him to go, with lots and lots of capslock! And I wasn’t even the biggest fan of Ten, as I was still a embittered Martha fan, at that point — but I think it was the shock of the surprise that had gotten me most.

    (Of course, by the time the *real* regeneration of Ten came around in ‘End of Time’, I hated that story *so* much that I was totally one of those people shouting at the screen to ‘get on with it and go already!’. But then after the whole I’m-actually-dying-and-another-man-is-walking-off-even-though-I’m-the-same-freaking-man BS and that horrid tantrum-rant at Wilf after the four knocks, I’d well and completely fallen out of love with Ten by then and really just wanted him gone. Which is sad, as I’m a huge fan of Tennant, but just not his Doctor on the whole.)

    By the way, I do find it interesting about how people often mention how Moffat brings everyone back and RTD doesn’t, because to me, RTD did the same thing in his stories (at least with the main characters). Yes, he does it in a different way than Moffat, but there are still lots of dying/leaving ‘fake-outs’ nonetheless. For example, with Rose you have a set-up of ‘this is the day I died’ in her leaving story, but instead she doesn’t die, she lives (and then is stuck in a parallel universe she can “never” get out of, only to return in S4, on top of that). There’s Martha who leaves, but comes back in S4 as well (though she did leave her phone with Ten, so that makes more sense). There’s Donna who doesn’t die in ‘Journey’s End’ (as many in fandom were worried about in S4), but instead will supposedly die if she ever remembers the Doctor and her adventures with him again…except for when she *does* remember in ‘EoT’ and she’s all right, because the Doctor put a fail-safe in her brain. Or something. So, yeah, TL;DR: both RTD *and* Moffat aren’t very good with killing their darlings. I mean, all that to say, I don’t find the impact any more emotional with a dying/leaving RTD (main) character than a Moffat one (or even Classic series one), because I know with RTD, they’ll likely be back within a few episodes by some bending of plot.

    P.S. I completely agree with the assessment of Liz that ‘The War Games’ is the best regeneration story. Yes, it’s long, but for me, it just flies by and is just packed with great storytelling and character moments. God, I love it muchly! ❤

  5. Nicole said:

    Hi ladies. Very much enjoyed this episode. Reminded me of my first time through Doctor Who on Netflix. When I started watching I knew Matt Smith was the Doctor so the concept of regeneration wasn’t a surprise however I did not know anything aside from that. So once I was completely hooked (“Dalek” during season 1 was when I tipped over into fandom/addict), I was completely head over heals for the Eccleston Doctor and couldn’t wait for all the adventures Rose, the Doctor and Jack were going to have .. until… UNTIL … they didn’t. And I had no idea. And I was viserable upset like the rug had been pulled out from under me. And it took me until School Reunion to even consider liking 10. Then Army of Ghosts to actually like him. I was sad when he regenerated but it was time. I was sad when 11 regenerated as well, but I watched it on tv and knew it was coming. Nothing prepared me for the shock of 9’s regeneration because I was surprised it was so soon. I just had fallen in love and now had to say goodbye. And I know no regeneration will ever be like that again because once I caught up in time for Series 8, I realized that being part of the active fandom is different than watching in an isolated bubble. Not bad. Just different. The only other real, real surprise I had was Face the Raven. Which I cried openly. But then Moffat ruined it. But that’s a whole other rant for another day. 😉 Thanks for the great podcast! Can’t wait to hear more.

  6. Lovely podcast, as usual!

    In terms of dramatic and emotional impact, the classic and new series are very different beasts. The main emotions I associate with the classic Who I grew up with (early 70s particularly) are excitement and fear! The new series is much more about tugging the heartstrings with dramatic character arcs, and that’s fine – the show wouldn’t have been a success otherwise – but there is a tendency to overdo it. It’s become a bit stale too. We now expect angst-ridden character arcs for every companion. I kind of miss the way they used to come and go without too much fuss!

    Having said that, I remember one of the most gut-wrenching departures was poor old Peri. I remember being pretty shocked and horrified at the way she exited the show, whether it was having her brain removed then shot, or married off to Brian Blessed! And then she got replaced by Bonnie Langford! That was when my enthusiasm for the show started to seriously falter.

    On a happier note, I’m looking forward to hearing what Deb thinks of The War Games, when she eventually watches it. I’d say the only thing it and The Sensorites have in common is that the Sensorites FEELS like it’s 12 episodes long…:D

  7. Sarah said:

    Ahh, thank you for the validation re: just wanting the Tenth Doctor gone in “End of Time.” I was disgusted with his creepy, selfish ranting about how he could’ve done SO much more in that persona (he had four years of episodes!), and it wasn’t FAIR that he had to sacrifice himself for Wilf, who was old and had lived his life. And then he temporarily wrecked the TARDIS by resisting regeneration for so long that the energy went boom. Narcissistic git. Also, that whining “I don’t want to go” line is modern DW totally mishandling a situation yet again — it feels as if that’s RTD and Tennant moaning about leaving when they don’t want to, which may have contributed to pro-RTD fandom still being so vicious about the EVIL Moffat taking over. Instead of something like ‘It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for,” there’s a whiny “Oh, no, we’re leaving! We were the best thing ever! Can the show survive without us?!” attitude that hasn’t helped matters.

    Moffat brings everyone back and RTD doesn’t? How many times did Rose show up again after she was gone?

    Back to Classic DW — I love “The War Games.” Yes, it’s so long, and a fannish friend refused to watch it because she decided she couldn’t handle that, but it’s worth it. If one can’t handle watching it all, at least watch the last episode.

    • Deborah Stanish said:

      I didn’t clearly state what I meant with “Moffat brings everyone back”. What I meant was a Moffat “death” is only temporary. Rory, River, Amy, Clara…He likes to kill them, he’s just not fond of them staying dead.

  8. Risa Romano said:

    Please do War Games! It doesn’t feel very long. It’s only 10 episodes and they’re short episodes. I re-watched it before Gally, thinking I’d split it up over 2 or 3 days and instead watched the whole thing in one go.

    I like Green Death in context of the season. I love Inferno (can’t say that about a lot of Pertwee), but it isn’t really a leaving episode, just Liz Shaw’s last. I like Sarah Jane’s leaving scene, but don’t know that Hand of Fear is a great leaving story. Dragonfire’s not bad (for the most part), but feels more like an into to Ace than a good-bye to Mel.

    It would be kind of cool to hear you talk about Night of the Doctor as 8’s leaving story. Parting of the Ways is a fairly good ending (my first Doctor regeneration. I was inconsolable). I think Doomsday is great, but considering how most of your line up feel about 10 and Rose that might not go over so well. And I LIKE End of Time a bunch, but I recognize it has flaws.

    I’m optimistic that the next departure will be a good strong leaving story (though it will be hard to say good-bye to Capaldi’s Doctor).

    • Deborah Stanish said:

      You were not alone in being inconsolable. The tenth Doctor and Rose is still my top companion/Doctor pairing – despite it’s bumps and flaws. I cried ugly.

      And great idea about Night of the Doctor! I was so pleased that we finally got that Regen. Although somewhere Colin Baker is still shaking a fist at the sky. 😉

  9. David Thiel said:

    Eh, I know that “The End of Time” is a mess (loved the Rassilon/Time Lords stuff; not so much the Pikachu Master), but I am absolutely fine with 10’s farewell tour. It was a chance to check back in on old friends. It was also the final appearance of Sarah Jane Smith in proper Doctor Who, and I wouldn’t give that up for anything. And I thought that 10’s brief conversation with pre-TARDIS Rose wrapped the RTD era in a perfect bow.

    I still love Tennant’s Doctor. It remains a toss-up between him and Capaldi for all-time favorite. Yes, he was being selfish near the end of his run, but the show fully acknowledged that this was bad behavior on his part. When he said, “I don’t want to go,” I shouted, “THEN WHY ARE YOU LEAVING?!”

  10. jediwan said:

    Frankly, I’m still stuck on Hell Bent as a Goodbye episode. Clara’s exit from The Doctor’s life (and entrance into her(?) T.A.R.D.I.S) was Excellent! The two most codependent (YEAH, I SAID IT…) beings in the universe had to part ways, and I really dug the way it was handled; even down to Foxes cover of “Don’t Stop Me Now” (because Clara was actually leaving this time) playing in the background.

    Eleven’s departure was, possibly, the most gut wrenching punch in the…gut; and throat–and may be the best Doctor exit. I think that “The War Games”, however, gave us a…nice, yet somewhat harsh, end for The Companions and The Second Doctor.

  11. Hey Kat, despite the fact that Deb think it’s weird, I, too, got to DW by way of Torchwood. I started watching it because I watched a lot of BBC America back then, and I was at least part way, if not all the way through season 2 before I found out that it was a Doctor Who spinoff. I finally got to DW a few episodes into series 4 – I think Fires of Pompeii was the first episode I watched.

    Anyway, great episode, ladies! Keep up the good work 🙂

  12. Francis said:

    Even though it was never intended as such, Survival is a wonderful last episode for Ace, and for the classic series as a whole. In a comment on an earlier episode (the one announcing the ‘lasts and loves’ theme) I think I said that I quite like how Ace never had an proper on-screen exit, which allowed her travels with the Doctor to live on indefinitely in the NAs (even though they ended up giving her multiple leaving stories), Big Finish etc……..but at the same time, as ‘official’ exits go, that walk off into the sunset with McCoy is pretty perfect.

    • terminuspodcast said:

      Seconding ‘Survival’ — especially in lieu of the fact that we’re getting the writer Rona Munro back this series. 🙂

      P.S. The voice-over at the end of that story is seriously one of my favorite things written in the Whoniverse. I know it was written by Andrew Cartmel and was sort of tacked on after the fact, but I still feel that it ties up the Classic series so well. 🙂

  13. Not so much of a comment, but a question .. where can I get The Savages?

  14. Andrew said:

    Very enjoyable discussion (as always) – thanks again! Some random thoughts:

    It’s hard to think of a better contender for “final story” than Jo’s departure in The Green Death. It’s one of two moments in Doctor Who that brings tears to my mind every time I watch it. (The other moment being Tom Baker’s scene in the 50th anniversary special – it’s hard to articulate the range of resonances and feelings that brings up in me.)

    The departure of a Doctor has never really impacted on me as strongly – possibly because I grew up with Tom Baker’s Doctor on TV (my first memory of the show is from his first story) and read huge numbers of Target Books novelisations, so I knew the broad tapestry of the show and regeneration had always been there as a fact of that universe for as long as I could remember. Before he left, I got to see repeats of Jon Pertwee, so by the time he actually left it was just a natural event – the show was still there, there would be a new Doctor who was good in a different way and everything was fine.

    (I also missed the final episode of Earthshock and was told about it the next day at school, so even Adric’s death missed the chance to impact on me properly.)

    I think the “Moffat never kills characters” thing is overstated. It doesn’t match up very well with his work on other shows, nor is it really accurate if you look at his tenure as showrunner and thus somebody who approves the content of every story – a counterexample which springs to mind is the Capaldi episode “Into the Dalek”, which wasn’t shy about killing off characters. I think it’s more that he’s interested in exploring different ways of telling stories and in trying to fool his audience (or engage their brains in problem-solving) – getting around what looks like a death is a storytelling challenge he likes to explore, and it works against lazy storytelling choices where death becomes an easy tool to create a cheap emotional impact.

    And good to see more love for “The War Games”! The novelisation was one of my favourites as a kid, but I later “learned” via “received fan wisdom” that it was 8 episodes of padding followed by the good bits. When I eventually saw the full story I thought it was extraordinarily well paced, consistently introducing new aspects of the story from episode and retaining my interest throughout (both on first viewing and all subsequent re-watches).

    Oh and “The Time Monster” is still fantastic, flaws and all – I hope Liz picked it as her focal episode for the year! It’s been waiting too long to be showcased on your podcast 🙂 And despite her more-hate-than-love relationship with the books, I’d love to know her opinion of the sequel “The Quantum Archangel”, possibly the most fanwank-y of all of them (in a good way).

    • Andrew said:

      That bit about War Games should read: “…new aspects of the story from episode to episode…”

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