Sunday, July 01, 2007

Doctor Who - The Last Of The Time Lords

Well, this episode certainly proved once again what we all know - that when you want subtlety, you go to Paul Cornell or Steven Moffat, and when you want a proper finale, it just has to be RTD. His particular brand of wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am writing doesn't always leave you satisfied in a mid-season episode, but no-one else could do the season closer. Only RTD would have the whole world more-than-decimated, only RTD would juxtapose that with a musical number featuring deep humiliation of the Doctor. This episode didn't *do* shades of grey, but hey, we've got other writers for that. I've gotta say though, that at one point, this black-and-white approach prompted me to have a little wobble. When the Master made the Doctor's 900 years show, and the Toclafane sphere was opened to reveal the mutilated human face, in that moment, it entered my mind that perhaps they'd gone too dark. On Confidential they've always said that they'll go as dark as they can, they'll just take out the gore. But I wasn't sure... I knew that RTD would balance out this low with an amzing high, but would little kids, faced with that horrific machine-head thing?! It freaked me out enough.

But what a bit of plotting. We'd assumed that Utopia would have to come back into it, but I can't imagine anyone had worked out exactly what was going on - the human race, coming back to kill their ancestors, and the inherent paradox of that stabilised by the Tardis. Just like the brilliant revelation that the Genesis Ark was a bigger-on-the-inside prison ship, this was one of those hugely satisfying moments that we all had faith would turn up, after last week's rather plodding affair, Master aside. Talking of the Master, John Simm continued to be brilliant - finding an actor that can equal Mr. Tennant's charisma must have been a difficult task, but they did it. Taking the Doctor out of the equation by aging him so dramatically was brave, given that he's the heart(s) of the show, but the team's faith in Simm to temporarily take over that role was thoroughly rewarded. Of course, it's only disappointing that Simm can never be our central hero... and that it appears that the next Master will be a woman, kinda ruling him out. (EDIT: Ok, I may have slightly misunderstood that... haha)

This wasn't The Master Show like last week, though; this was Martha's story. And yes, she was great. Strong, loyal, and self-reliant, Martha finally came into her own - she even became a myth, just like The Doctor himself. She saved the world. And Freema? We all know that when she's given something to do, she does it well, and this was undoubtedly her finest moment. I still don't believe that I've been unduly harsh on her before - I honestly don't think that there is anything special about her as an actress - but she has, undoubtedly, been ill-served by the writers. She has *not* gone on a journey, until last night, and a whole series of chilly relations between Doctor and assistant is not terribly enjoyable to watch, and, importantly, did not endear us towards her. Was Martha's ultimate victory enough of a pay-off for all of that? I'm not sure. I get the feeling that she'll be a different woman when she pops back into the show next season; the Martha Mark II version we saw last night, and the woman we'd have rather she had been from the beginning.

And the ending? Well, yes, the high did balance out that crashing low. The moment when the human race brought back our Doctor brought a little tear to my eye, and the Master's reaction - stop it, don't you dare - actually made me laugh out loud. But 'I forgive you'? Where's the 'no second chances, I'm that kind of a man' Doctor? Well, just as Martha is now a different woman, the Doctor is a different man. Rose made him feel less alone, and he lost her. The Master made him feel less alone, and he can't bear to lose him too. But he does - the Master wins. Not after another bit of pitch-perfect acting from DT, though - he has given superlative performaces throughout this series.

All of this should have been enough, but RTD had that final revelation... that Captain Jack is very slowly aging... that he used to be a poster boy... that they called him the Face of Boe. My jaw quite literally dropped. A twist of that much brilliance... well, it almost makes you forget those early dodgy episodes.

EDIT - Oh, and to be clear.... I thought it was excellent!

5 comments:

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

You're right about the lack of grey. And yes, my jaw too dropped about Bo. Awh, bless his vain little face...

I'm off to watch it again now.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

PS excellent!!! And BONKERS...

Stu-N said...

Soooo many people hated it. Sooo many people are wrong.

Marie said...

I hated it. Absolutely hated it. But I had forgotten the wheelchair song and dance, that was cool.

clickting said...

two years late, but brilliant review!