Saturday, 21 September 2013

Last of the Time Lords

You know I really really like Doctor Who very much, don't you? And, thanks to Confidential, and DWM, and books like The Writer's Tale, we all know how hard everybody works on the show. To write, design, light, direct, act out, film, edit or score forty-three minutes of this programme, or to do any of the other countless jobs, is to perform a labour of love. I'm so grateful for all of it, for everything that everyone puts in to make Doctor Who the best television show there is.

So much effort has clearly gone into Last of the Time Lords. The scale of it the story, its ambition, is amazing, and the execution is great. But, sorry, it just leaves me cold.

I think it's too much. Everything is hyperextended, the situation stretched so much further than normal: the Doctor turned into a pickled gnome, the Master ruling the Earth for a whole year and preparing for war with the Universe, Martha's mission. It's an extreme story, which is fine, but having pushed on so far, it is difficult to return to normal - either it should have kept going or it should have been gradually inched back into place, perhaps over many episodes. Knowing, as we do, that these events have to be reset makes this timeline false, a dead end. The fix needs to be solid, to be understood instinctively and to feel hard-won. But when it comes it is achieved in just minutes and it feels forced, neither convincing or satisfying. The Doctor's renewal, somehow powered by the happy thoughts of the people of Earth, is awkward magic at best. But I can't cope with the Doctor swaddled in Christ-like imagery, transfigured and floating serenely towards the Master, determined to forgive him. I don't know what sort of reversal would have satisfied me, but I do know that this wasn't it.

Bah. Enough of that.

For me the great thing about Last of the Time Lords is its emotional heart: Martha's story, how she survived, how she wandered the Earth. It's excellent. She's such a wonderful character, a brilliant companion, and her progress through this series has delighted me. I certainly never disliked Martha, but I wouldn't have said she was one of my favourites before I rewatched this episodes.  Hers is such a subtle storyline compared with the brazen blubbing of Rose's arc, and I think that's what I love about her: she's not brash or showy, she quietly gets the job done. Would she like more attention, especially from the Doctor? Yes, of course. Is he going to say anything about that? Hell no. How beautifully sophisticated. This is part of the reason that she is doomed to remain overshadowed by Rose. Another is that Rose has been more or less haunting the show ever since Doomsday: she's name-checked in half (seven out of fourteen) the episodes of Series Three. Considering she's going to bloody turn up again in Partners in Crime, it's like she has never left!

Bah! Enough of that too.

The boys absolutely loved this of course, and it garnered another ten from Chris. They were really struck by the relationship between the Doctor and the Master, especially the Doctor's emotional reaction to the latter's death. It is intense, and there's no doubt that Tennant is excellent at this sort of stuff, but - bah! Let's just move on shall we?


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