Final Thoughts

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Where Did It All Go Right?

Much overdue but here, at last, are my considered thoughts on “Last of the Time Lords”, the final instalment of series three of Doctor Who. Even though it was loved and loathed in apparent equal measure within the picky world of fandom, the broadcast secured some very positive viewing figures that we all now seem to take for granted from these finales and fairly widespread acclaim.  Even the BBC invested a little extra in this televisual treat by commissioning an extra 8 minutes of the show in order to save some scenes from the cutting room floor. Whether this was a wise decision remains open to question.

Preconceptions that this story would follow on directly from the preceding episode were dismissed in the opening seconds as the Galactica-esque “One Year Later” tagline was plastered over the screen. The Last of the Time Lords marked the end of the first chapter in Martha’s story, so it was fitting that we began with our new, favourite heroine as she came ashore in Britain for the first time in 365 days with a new swagger and confidence that betrayed her newly revealed “legendary” status. She was on a mission for the Doctor and nothing was going to get in her way. Despite the missing year, the tone and pace of the story didn’t miss a beat.

Back aboard the Valliant we soon caught up with the other protagonists and the Master was still in full control. Cue the first “Scene of Some Controversy” as the Master selects track three from the ship’s iTunes tracks (or something like that), which results in the manic tones of the Scissor Sister’s “I Can’t Decide” being pumped around the vessel. Even though some people found the song and dance routine that followed a little camp/ distracting/ misplaced/ downright ridiculous* (* = delete as applicable), I found it to be a somewhat macabre that the Master had become so extremely, and in a very literal sense, power mad.  A facet that John Simm played to a tee. The scene also gave an opportunity to see what had become of the good guys.

The terribly aged Doctor had been given a rather grimy little tent to live in, Jack was chained up in the lower reaches of the ship, Martha’s family were reduced to menial domestic helpers and, perhaps most tellingly of all, Lucy Saxon, was apparently (albeit subtlety), on the receiving end of an abusive relationship. It only became apparent much later in the episode why it took them all so long to begin their rebellion but at the time I found it more than a little annoying that they had spent a year just hanging around doing nothing as the Earth was decimated below. However, after the first attempt at an uprising took place, at least the first one that we as viewers had seen, the Master’s quashing of it came with a heavy price and the second “Scene of Some Controversy”.

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The arrival of Dobby the House Elf took us all by surprise. The first question I had was as old Doctor Who itself… “How is he going to get out of that one?”, although I was guessing he would simply reverse the settings on laser screwdriver before the episode closed. I guessed wrong. Second, was “What on earth were they thinking?” by taking David Tennant out of the action. Surely the face-off between the last two Time Lords in existence should have been something more than John Simm talking to empty cage and another bar-raising, SFX challenge for The Mill, especially given that the first face-off  between the two in this story had been over a mobile phone. Thirdly and finally I asked “Whatever happened to the concept of the suspension of disbelief?” and before you answer that, I know that anything is possible in the world of sci-fi and that perhaps I should be more open to more fantastical elements but it just seemed like they were all trying too hard.

Despite all that, I approached the denouement to the trilogy of episodes and indeed the whole series, with an eager anticipation and I have to confess that RTD really delivered with talking point after talking point. The psychic power of the Archangel network was reversed as Martha’s mission improbable to get the whole of humanity to synchronize their thoughts came to fruition and managed to resurrect the Doctor and give him the power to float across the room… erm… it just sounds weird when you say it out loud but at least it gave us “Scene of Some Controversy” #3. Then Lucy finally fights back by shooting the Master who refuses to regenerate and dies in arms of a distraught Doctor who is alone in the universe once more. This was a beautiful and moving scene that was brilliantly realised by the actors.

After the Master’s funeral pyre was ablaze, the Doctor, Jack and Martha arrive back on Earth (although not before a mysterious female hand pulls the Master’s Galifreyan ring from the dying embers of the fire), with the year from hell wiped from the memories of all but the people aboard the Valliant. So, Jack goes back to Torchwood but not before questioning what could happen if he lived for “a million years”. The reveal that he was, in fact, going to become The Face of Boe was a great touch and, in spite of the fact that this was verified in the episode commentary, it didn’t stop it from becoming the final “SoSC” for the disbelievers. Martha then shocked everyone other than those who believe what they read in The Sun, by leaving the Doctor. Well, for the time being at least. And just to wrap things up nicely, the R.M.S. Titanic crashed into the console room of the TARDIS.

Love it or, for some in this instance, hate it, but you can’t help but keep on watching. It wasn’t the ending I had hoped for but still better that 95% of the rest of the stuff on telly.  166 days till Christmas and counting.

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