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12 February 2015 @ 09:30 pm
NuWho Rewatch: Utopia  
Courtesy of Father Christmas, NLSS Child has a "How to be a Timelord" book. This contains a number of spoilers and there was some anxious discussion about this on Christmas Day. I thought this explained her anxiety about the open Tardis door in the second half of the story. But it did not, the surprise twist was as much a surprise to her as it was to us on first viewing.

Utopia is actually a fairly simple story. The obstacles that are placed in the characters' way are mostly dispensed with fairly easily, because it it really all about the reveal. That said, there a lot of the details are surprisingly well done.

On minus side the Futurekind are clearly rejects from a 1980s pop video. On the plus side we have Chippo Chung's charming performance as Chanthro. It occasionally teeters on the edge of being too saccharine but mostly stays the right side and draws nice comparisons between her and Martha as well as underlining the tragedy of Professor Yana's transformation. I'm always surprised at how well Captain Jack works in Doctor Who given how... forced... I feel he always was in Torchwood. Even here, where the focus is mostly on dealing with the fall out of his immortality and the Doctor's abandonment he works as a welcome upbeat element amid the despair of the end of the universe (which, umm, probably wouldn't work like that, but who's worrying about the science at this point?).

It only occurs to me now that the extent to which John Smith was not the Doctor is important in laying the groundwork for the extend to which Professor Yana is not the Master. I happen to personally think, in both cases, that a stronger connection a clearer "what if" would have strengthened the story. What if the Master had been born a human? What if he had never looked into the untempered schism? But it does all hang together remarkably well. I'm also impressed that Davies was able to take a plot from possibly the best regarded New Adventures Novel and use it as a link into the big reveal of the Master's return. One is inclined to think Davies' strength was character rather than plot, but what he constructs here is a bit of a masterpiece of plotting, particularly given the disparate origins of the ideas.

I like Utopia. It may look like a 1980s pop video, but it does very well by the two characters it is (re-)introducing. It doesn't try to do anything particularly fancy, just focuses on those two particular stories, and is the stronger because of it.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/142962.html.