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15 February 2015 @ 05:30 pm
NuWho Rewatch: The Sound of Drums/The Last of the Time Lords  
It's odd that The Sound of Drums/The Last of the Time Lords is mostly very good, but its good bits are overshadowed by a couple of missteps.

In particular Martha walking the Earth, her double bluff with the gun, and her task of inspiring humanity to one moment of collective action is all great. In fact pretty much the whole Martha plot thread in The Last of the Time Lords is excellent. Martha has become significantly more independent than Rose ever did. Of course, Rose never got anything like this opportunity to demonstrate her abilities but it seems unlikely the Doctor, protective as he was, would have allowed them to her. Martha had already had an experience of operating independently of the Doctor in a strange world and her experiences in Human Nature/The Family of Blood look like a rehearsal for this.

And then all comes crashing down in a combination of Dobby Doctor and Tinkerbell. I'm not sure exactly what you could have replaced that with, and its possible that better special effects would have sold the moment, or possibly some more thought about exactly how humanity might manipulate the Archangel network in the Doctor's favour. Once suspects RTD's tendency to become gradually more and more behind with scripts until he was scrabbling to complete the series finale may be coming into play here. Just as he ran out of time (in his own opinion) to come up with a satisfactory resolution for Rose's storyline, its possible he ran out of time to come up with a satisfactory link between humanity thinking of the Doctor and the Doctor defeating the Master.

As for the rest of the story. I dislike Simm's portrayal of the Master, though it is mostly the character he's been handed which I dislike. I prefer Delgado's calm and measured villainy to the hyper-active mood-swinging version we got here. I find it tedious and irritating, but that is probably just me.

The interactions between the Doctor, Jack and Martha are great though NLSS Child had, apparently, entirely missed the fact that Jack was basically omnisexual and had to have his reference to pining over the Doctor explained to her. This then also required a back explanation to all the times the Doctor had said "No Jack" every time he greeted someone in the previous episode. She was delighted by the Face of Boe reference though, and had to stop the DVD in order to discuss her reaction with me. Martha's departure is one of her good moments. It almost, but not quite, makes up for all the pining. The Toclafane are one of the few times RTD allows his pessimism to come to the fore (even though it is hard to see how Utopia could have possibly lived up to its promise). Their grisly backstory adds a nice gravitas to their child-like personas.

There are a few bits in these stories I really dislike, which is a shame because they have some great moments and plot threads. I suspect it is a case of mileage varying because none of the things I really dislike should really be deal-breakers but somehow they are and ultimately I was mostly glad to see the back of this.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/143534.html.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on February 15th, 2015 05:59 pm (UTC)
I actually quite like this (plus Utopia - I see it as a three-parter), which is odd as this is my least favourite period of Who and the season finales usually sum up the ethos of the era. I agree with you about the Master, but it was probably done to parallel the hyperactive tenth Doctor. Or both were the product of the same zeitgeist - sarcastic, fast-talking, pop culture-referencing regular characters are pretty common on TV. I would have liked Jacobi to be the Master throughout, although Simm was cast first and I assume Jacobi was cast to provide contrast.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on February 16th, 2015 09:13 am (UTC)
I think Utopia is better than these two, though I agree that they essentially form a three parter. I think, when you look over Masters, Delgado increasingly looks like the odd one out. Simm and Gomez's performances both seem to me to take the same starting point - mercurial, unpredictable, unstable - and I suspect that interpretation has its roots in Ainley's mad cackling though he was less likely to arbitrarily kill someone, and considerably less likely to play with them first. But I preferred a Master the Doctor could have a sensible conversation with, and I don't think he can do that with the modern ones.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on February 16th, 2015 11:17 am (UTC)
You may be right about Delgado no longer being the definitive interpretation, except for old fashioned fans. Eric Roberts fits the new paradigm better than the old. That said, although I have mixed feelings about The Keeper of Traken, I've warmed to Geoffrey Beever's understated, insidious Master in recent years. I suppose he's the Derek Jacobi of the eighties.
adaeseadaese on February 15th, 2015 06:03 pm (UTC)
Haven't seen any of these since the original broadcast - but my impression then certainly was that both Simms & Dobby!Doctor suffered badly from coming immediately after Jacobi. His brief outing as the Master was so powerful, no mere animation stood a chance.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on February 16th, 2015 09:14 am (UTC)
It's hard to be certain how the special effects looked at the time, because nothing ages quite as quickly as a special effect that is pushing the combined limits of budget and technology (which Doctor Who's often are). But I definitely felt the fact that some of this looks pretty silly isn't helping.