I should mention that the finale has not aired here yet, but in fear that I might accidentally stumble over key spoilers on the web, I took it upon myself to temporarily acquire viewing copies (don't ask how, please) so that I might be able to watch spoiler-free for a change (having been too curious to wait with the first 3 seasons). I don't think I'm giving anything away when I say the bad guys are beaten and the universe saved, but at a personal cost. Some of the heroes end up happily, some are lost, and the Doctor is again alone.
The difference this time is that the writer/producer Russell T Davies, who has tweaked this storyline since the series revival in 2005, has made the losses more palpable, and made no effort to alleviate the Doctor's loneliness. And this is ostensibly a CHILDREN'S SHOW. Granted, loads of adults like myself watch with great interest, but it's still marketed and advertised for the youth.
So I can't help but wonder if RTD isn't being self-indulgent - his work is traditionally racy, dark, and undeniably mature (as is illustrated by his adult series Torchwood) and I think he has ended his 4-year run with DW (he's moving on to other projects) with a real downer of an episode. I know he's clearing the deck for the next writer/producer Steven Moffatt (who has done some of the best episodes of the last 4 years, and has a reputation for NOT killing off characters!) but I came out of it feeling undeniably sad.
They've made the series that aired for decades into a considerably more dramatic and weighty vehicle; previous doctors never got particularly emotional, and moral dilemmas never seemed to be all that much of an issue. But that is now the heart of the series, and although I can appreciate the artistry and how easily it can make me cry at times, I wish sometimes they could just let it be Fun and Adventure, and not so much Tragedy. A good cry is great once and a while, but it seems like I've been doing a lot of it this series! And I can't help but wonder what children make of this; if they are made depressed by this recurrence of grief. I'm not one of those people who think kids should only ever hear happy stories and should be shielded from all of life's difficulties, but there's just so much sorrow one can take in an entertainment before it's too much.
There were happy moments; some great comedy, and some lovely resolutions. But I've been feeling melancholy all weekend after a Who Marathon of the last 4 episodes, and that hardly seems like a desirable result for a TV series!