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Doctor Who 3.13: Last of the Time Lords

July 1st, 2007 (12:33 am)

Given that I am driving to Cornwall in ten hours' time, these notes are going to be brief.

I didn't like the Doctor's restoration very much at all. I didn't see how tuning into the 'telepathic lattice' worked - unless the concentration of humanity on the Doctor enabled him to tap into their 'energy' (of some sort) somehow and 'think' away the Master's re-engineering of his genetic code. I found it all 'emotionally true', yes, but we needed a little more.

Not quite a Year of Hell ending, in that our regulars, and a few others on board the Valiant, will remember everything that happened in the lost year. Presumably UNIT and Torchwood can massage the death of Harold Saxon, killed after he orchestrated the assassination of an American president, into something explicable to the public. Who will be the next British prime minister, though? Will Harriet return to preside over her golden age?

Still, I enjoyed the episode; John Simm's performance invested the Master with verisimilitude while retaining and exploring the 'cartoon terrible' quality of the character. In Eric Roberts's mouth this term seemed like a put-down, but used of John Simm it's an appropriate description for someone who wants to create a world of broad strokes. I am not keen on the Master being interpreted as an overgrown psychologically damaged child; RTD's reading forces this back on the Delgado Master which I don't think works.

There was an inevitability to Martha's departure, once she had gone through everything in the last year, it would have been untrue to the character to have her leave with the Doctor again at the end. Freema's performance was strong, though, and I hope she does pop up next year (though I'd be disappointed if an Arc of Infinity-style comeback was what we get). I wonder if I will be able to get near a computer on Monday to read the press release for season 4...?

Good to watch the episode in company, too. They know who they are.

Comments

Posted by: ms_rebecca_riot (ms_rebecca_riot)
Posted at: July 1st, 2007 05:53 am (UTC)

hey, cool, thanks for the report. Martha's departure does seem long foreseen- there was always much more tension than with Rose.

Cornwall- like you need a reason- but just for fun? I hope its not raining cats down there too!

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: July 1st, 2007 08:25 am (UTC)
Arthurian Logo

Yes - just for fun. It's not raining in Oxfordshire but I think that it was in Cornwall yesterday. I'll be extra careful on the waterlogged clifftops.

Posted by: hack (overconvergent)
Posted at: July 1st, 2007 07:52 am (UTC)

Just a note to say thanks for the evening --- it was great fun --- and wishing you a happy holiday in Cornwall.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: July 1st, 2007 08:25 am (UTC)
Hartnell words

My pleasure - and thanks.

Posted by: viala_qilarre (viala_qilarre)
Posted at: July 1st, 2007 10:19 am (UTC)

It's good to see that you enjoyed it! As you probably know, there's been a LOT of negative reaction in fandom, and I'm not entirely sure about my own feelings towards the episode. Trouble is, it's not just 'one episode' that if you don't really like it, you can shrug and add to the pile of weak episodes along with Horns of Nimon and Timeflight - a season finale rarely is, since they always seem to be moving and shaking, and this is the point at which we get, one way or another, the pay-off for plot strands that have been building all season.

While I think that what Martha did at the end of the episode was entirely consistent and true to her character, and emotionally realistic, it doesn't mean I enjoyed it. I was inappropriately irritated, too, that it has fed the glee of the anti-Martha/Freema faction in fandom and allowed people to argue that the libellous stuff printed in the Sun a couple of weeks ago was true. Despite every indication that a) this story was planned for Martha from the start, and b) that the production team have ongoing plans for the character which RTD has apparently described, with characteristic restraint, as 'brilliant, exciting'. This shouldn't bother me, but it does.

Which is why I'm beginning to think, as Mr Viala said strongly to me last night, that I need to step back from fandom. It's polluting my enjoyment of the show to some extent. But it's hard - being a DW fan entails interacting with others, doesn't it? You can't fully express your thoughts and enthusiasms in a vacuum. I might really ditch the currently poisonous atmosphere of Outpost Gallifrey for now, anyway (I more or less did for months last year). People have really got their knives out over there, it's disturbing.

For the record, anyway - I think that if this episode had had a fluffier Martha ending, I would've gone away feeling quite happy. Some bits were silly, but no sillier than, for instance, the Krillitane planning to take over the universe by feeding schoolchildren brain-boosting chips - and I went away from School Reunion with a happy glow. John Simm's Master was brilliant. Unlike many commentators (on OG, again), I had no problem at all with the 'dance sequence' at the start. It seemed to sum up the bizarreness of the regime that the Master had established by then. Accounts of life with real-life insane dictators chime in with it. Rolling the story forward by a year (we all KNEW it was going to be reset in the end) was, in fact, a bold move. I liked the subtle implication that the Master had become a wife-beater, but I also liked the fact that we still don't necessarily know exactly what was going on with Lucy (since it was her hand picking up the ring at the end, it could all have been a set-up agreed between them). You can count the scene where he was suggesting that his wife should get it on with the masseur as another of those things we never thought we'd ever see on Doctor Who in the old days. AND I liked the Doctor and the Master's big emo scene, I like the fact that the Doctor's desperation and grief was genuine and evident. (It was moving to see the filming of that scene on Confidential afterwards - the way that DT kind of staggered away from Simm immediately afterwards, as if he was overcome. What a strange life it must be, being an actor.)

So yes, actually, there was a lot I enjoyed. I just feel tense about the Martha situation, really. *rambles*

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: July 1st, 2007 12:41 pm (UTC)
Outsider

I plan to write my thoughts on my own LJ at length later (after I've waded through the selected highlights of seventy-odd doctorwho posts), but I was generally well-disposed to this, with a few reservations. Once again, I feel I'm the anti-fan: what fandom loves, I hate and vice versa.

Presumably UNIT and Torchwood can massage the death of Harold Saxon, killed after he orchestrated the assassination of an American president, into something explicable to the public.

If I ever update my history of Britain in the Whoniverse in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, I'll have Lucy framed by the security services for the assassinations of President Winters and Prime Minister 'Saxon'. It neatly disposes of the need to explain to the British public that they were manipulated into electing a psychopath, while ensuring Lucy is still punished for being an accessory to murder and treason. Of course, the final shot of the Master's pyre might indicate that she slipped away in the confusion...

(though I'd be disappointed if an Arc of Infinity-style comeback was what we get).

Prepare to be disappointed is my advice. I have horrible suspicions this is just a way of allowing a big-name guest companion for the Christmas special, hence the confused reports about Agyeman's departure.