Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Doctor Who turns 50 part 10: Utopia, Sound of Drums and Last of the Time Lords

Tennant is my Doctor. Though I watched all of Eccleston's run he wasn't around long enough. Tennant was. It was his run that got me hooked. Plus it always amuses me that TENnant was the TENTH Doctor. Ahh wordplay.

The act of the Master going to the one point in time Time Lords never go to and using a chameleon arch is fantastic, and Martha pointing it out but realising she should tell the Doctor is also really well done. I think with a lot of the older companions they'd just go “WAHEY! NEW TIMELORD! OPEN IT!” and all hell would break loose. Here it's still the companions fault, but Martha was clever enough to run off to tell the Doctor and not give the game away, unfortunately the damage is already done. It stops that moment of screaming at Ace or Jo to stop being idiotic. Some nice writing.

Then the Master appears. We might only get to see Derek Jacobi for five minutes as The Master but Holy Jesus he's awesome. Then John Simm, who comes across as a lot more manic now I've seen the old Master. He's still brilliant, of course he's also the only one to be driven by the sound of the drums, although retroactively they've all heard it. It's a truly genius plan by him, and I love that he manages to get a hynoptic field in the way of the Doctor interfering before it's too late.

However, watching this not only after Old Who, but after three years of Moffat as well, Russell T. Davies really went a little too bombastic on finales. I already complained about Eccleston and the Daleks, here the Master comes back and is killed again, only for him to be resurrected again two years later for the end of Tennant's run. It's as bad as comics in the nineties. It's made me appreciate Moffat's tenure more too. At least he's not smashing the toys up every five seconds only to realise he needs them back together.

And once again it's all comes down to the companion, as Martha is the one to escape the Master's ship and spend a year building the resistance. I'm not saying I have a problem with companions being the solution to a problem, but RTD really did like using the trope for the big finale. Here, at least, it's the Doctor's idea rather than in The Parting of Ways where Rose just went off on one. And the Doctor's rebirth was ingenious, though the execution I'm less sure about. The act of all thinking “Doctor” at an exact time after he's tapped into the Master's psychic network is cool. However, his Christ like hovering around the bridge before he cradles the Master really isn't. The Master refusing to regenerate because the Doctor needed him to was great though.

Speaking of Martha, I always liked her. Partly because I'm shallow and Freema Agyeman is up there for Best Looking Companion, yet the whole unrequited love with the Doctor doesn't sit well with me at all. though the little repartee with Jack about it was fun. I guess if they just left it at that level it'd be fine. It's more the final goodbye, the first speech in the TARDIS about needing to be with her family was great. Then for her to come back and cry about him not loving her back ruined it. Maybe I'm thinking of her appearances post-Season 3. Except for that shoe-horned Mickey marriage.

Oh yes, Jack's finally back, and he still can't run and gun, though he's got a little better with a season of Torchwood under his belt. But only a little. His interactions with the Doctor are great and I wish we could have more of this, and in general Jack is fantastic. I was a bit disappointed that the paradox machine just needed shooting to undo it after the Doctor says he can't stop it till he knows what it's intended for. But I love Jack as a companion and it's a real shame he only turns up for a couple of finales really. Alongside someone like Rose or Martha he works how I imagine Romana should, the one who has a decent grasp with what's going on and vaguely keeps up with the Doctor's plans. I also like that he's the one who will do the odd thing that the Doctor won't, such as leading the Dalek resistance in the The Parting of Ways.

This trilogy stuck in my mind as one of the best finales Doctor Who has ever had. Yet my memories of this were mixed in with The End of Time because of the Master. It's still good, and wonderfully timey-wimey though. Both Derek Jacobi and John Simm seriously help it too.
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