Doctor Who: 2007


#261

Martha is off, and Captain Jack is the Face of Bo...

Well, what's next? It's a very strange show, but who would want it any other way?

As much as this show frustrates me, it's as close to literary sci-fi as we've ever had. I'll take it.


#262

Martha's not off the show, is she?

I don't think so. AFAIK, she's back for Season 4 proper, just not the Christmas special. Although there are other rumours floating around.


#263

It's been confirmed that she'll be back, just not in every episode. She's already started filming for season four, which is now rumored to be RTD and Tennant's last. She'll be making appearances in Torchwood as well.

Personally, I didn't mind the episode, but I can partially understand the negative reaction to what many people see is the Doctor "becoming Jesus because the world prays really hard".

However, I've also noticed many of the same people saying that having missed out on the explanation given that the Angel satellite network, which psychically amplifies the Master's hypnotic powers, could also work in reverse after the Doctor tapped into it and changed it over that year. I don't have as much of a problem with the idea of six billion people concentrating on one being while tied together through a Time Lord psychic magnifier might be able to temporarily give him telekinetic powers like Sylar.

As can be expected, there are also a large number of "Deus Ex Machina" complaints about about the episode, but they're kind of negated by the simple fact that the paradox device and the Angel psychic network were established pretty early on in episode one, unlike the magical Tardis de-aging feature back in Boom Town.

There were also some interesting subtle plot points. Like the fact that the Master's wife was sporting a bruise under her eye in the second part.


#264

I really think it's not necessarily so, though it is pure geeky justifications on the scale of arguing whether the Enterprise could defeat a Star Destroyer.

For one thing, the Face of Bo died, and he basically died of over-exertion. Having his energy drained to keep a computer system running wouldn't have killed Jack from what we know of him, so it wouldn't kill the Face of Bo if that were Jack.

Second, the Doctor never showed any disgust or unease around the Face, while he explicitly tells Jack that he's hard to look at, because he can tell at a glance what he's become.

Third, it's a super super dumb idea and I refuse to believe it :)


#265

Well, something obviously happened that made him that giant face to begin with.

Second, the Doctor never showed any disgust or unease around the Face, while he explicitly tells Jack that he's hard to look at, because he can tell at a glance what he's become.

But he's over that now. That was the whole point of the talk in episode eleven. They actually call it out on the confidential episode for that one.

Third, it's a super super dumb idea and I refuse to believe it :)

I guess it doesn't bother me that much. It also means that Torchwood won't last forever.


#266

Although it would be very lame to actually have an episode where he became a young Face of Bo.

And with Torchwood being Torchwood...end of season 2? Disturbingly non-zero probability.


#267

Wow, the disappointing aspect of Russell Davies's writing has always been his deus ex machina resolutions -- over and over again he throws in some ludicrous quick resolution -- but this one really was over-the-top crazy. A "Clap if you believe in faeries" ending? That's really pathetic, even for Russell T.

Everyone thinking his name, amplified by a telepathic amplifying persuasion system....gives someone the power to biologically de-age 900 years, create forcefields and telekinetically zap things around? I can accept the crazy Rose as God deus ex, I can accept the "open the void and suck 'em in" deus ex, but man, he's not even trying to make sense anymore. Just embarrassing.

But that all said, I still liked a lot of the show. For the most part Davies makes up for his inability to logically resolve plots by being so good with characterization. I'm glad the spheres turned out to be the Utopian guys, and not time lord remnants or something similar. I wish Captain Jack had killed the Master, which gave the Doctor an excuse to kick him out and back to Torchwood. I really wish Jack was a permanent companion instead of being exiled to that show about incompetent, gay, hedonistic traitors.

Man, the lectures about "killing/violence" being bad are also getting ludicrous on the show though -- we get it, violence isn't generally the answer, and often makes things worse (that's always been one of the morals of the show), but waxing on about how "we're better than that", when you're talking about killing an evil alien who has massacred the human race, is a bit much (such an important message they emphasized it twice, with Martha and her mother). That's even more ludicrous than the "boy soldiers vs scarecrows" episode, which preached about how it was better to not defend yourself under attack ("I'm putting a stop to this!", said the Doctor), because using weapons to effectively save yourself is apparently so horrible that it's preferable to run away and let the evil aliens slaughter you. Crazy stuff.

But the bottom line about the show is it's just a different sort of sci-fi show. It's as far from a Star Wars/Star Trek/Battlestar Galactica retread as you can get, and I like it, warts and all, but still prefer it when it plays things largely straight and makes sense.


#268

For the most part Davies makes up for his inability to logically resolve plots by being so good with characterization.

Davies is fantastic at characters, concepts, and dramatic/social dialogue. He utterly sucks at comedy, resolutions, and arcs. Which is why it's so annoying that he repeatedly shoves his best skills into the background to focus on the other stuff.


#269

I liked it, but I'm sad that Jack and Martha are both gone. The whole dynamic between the three of them was much better than the Doctor alone or with a single companion. I really hope they decide to mix it up more next series. The reset button each season is getting kinda annoying.

I knew what was coming with the ending, because if you think about the rest of the whole series this year, the whole running theme has been Hope. From Gridlock to 42, everything involved hope as an undercurrent. It was pretty much the "Bad Wolf" of this series.


#270

I think the, "Don't kill, you're better than that!" excuse rings very hollow after what the Doctor did to the The Family at the end of Human Nature. Particularly since what The Master did (and tried to do) was considerably worse than what The Family was up to. You can't have it both ways, Doctor! I choose to believe that he only said all that because, still feeling some kinship with him, he wanted The Master to live.

All in all I thought the episode was okay - I've learned to swallow the Russel T. Davies 'Deus Ex Machina' thing by now. However, Davies has a big thing about "The Doctor as God" and while I think it's a cool concept, it always feels like foreshadowing and then it doesn't go anywhere particularly new.


#271

I think they were implying that he becomes the Face of Bo just through extreme age (other than the whole giant jar thing, I guess). Nothing that would render him unrecognizable to the Doctor or susceptible to harm, but of course they can and will do whatever they want.

The conversation is something like:

Jack: I'm still aging. What happens if I live a million years?

Doctor: I don't know.

Jack: Oh well. Blah blah blah I'm the Face of Bo!


#272

I almost forgot - did anyone else think of Flash Gordon at the end there? The ring thing? I almost expected a "The End ........ ?" to pop up. :P


#273

Not to mention Jedi.

As for Jack aging, he doesn't show the last, what hundred-odd years at all.


#274

Hell, I was hoping/expecting it as soon as it was apparent that he was warbling his last words, no joke. Flash Gordon is one of the best movies ever made, and it is not as though I thought for a moment that The Master would come to an end. That'd be like having Moriarity die of ass cancer, or Moby Dick ending with a techinical description of how blubber jerky is made.

My thought is that since he refused to regenerate, Simms will be back as The Master again at some point, which is superb, since he is a fine actor and clearly relished the role. And I'm terribly unaware of whatever passes for "canon" these days, but isn't The Master running out of regenerations at this pont? Regardless, he must be at the point where he's concerned that regeneration isn't a get out of jail free card, he must want to save them for as long as possible. ("You are wating for a technician. Press space to respawn in the next reinforcement wave." "Fuck that, I'm on a limited respawn server!") Simms can be The Master until the actor dies, for all I care, he's awesome. (p.s., if you haven't watched Life On Mars yet, you're clearly misprioritizing your time and deserve a beating with a rubber truncheon. A severe beating.)

And anyone whinging about a Doctor Who episode, recent or otherwise, that culminates with an unabashed deus ex machina switcheroo deserves to be removed from the gene pool, tout suite. What show have you been watching, for fuck's sake? This kind of thing is a surprise?? RTD is a bit of a gomer when it comes to this kind of thing, but it is not fair to get on the scorpion's back and be a whiny bitch when he stings you. As stated before, RTD has brought back the series in a big way, so, whatever. Lead on, champ.

My only concern for the next season is that many of these plot threads ((what becomes of The Master's companion (and what her story has been in the first place), The Doctor's guilt at ignoring a perfectly good woman (which would be almost acceptable if Eccleston had been more invested in the role), Martha's complete inability to attend to the needs of her family (they were fucked up already, don't tell me that hanging out and 'caring' is going to fix all that, I don't care if you saved Universe, Martha, what have you done for them lately?), Barrowman being The Face of Beau (fuck you with a spiked, rusty, poison dildo if you think that 'Bo' is the canonical spelling at this point), and the farcical idea that the rest of the universe was blissfully ignorant of the events on Earth (I imagine that this was the point of the preview slammer that described the announcement to the rest of Universe that 'Earth is closed,' if Jack is running around with a personal time machine, don't feed me this malarkey that no one else is able to tap into these events)) are going to be not touched upon next year. Lack of respect for continuity is what killed Star Trek dead, and I can easily imagine the same thing happening to Doctor Who. Mind you, it wouldn't kill the show for several years, but I like to take a long view.

Of course, the next season is already in pre-production, so my comments don't mean a fucking thing, so any of you Whovians with tits needn't bother contacting the production crew to tell them that someone with a sense of persepective still watches the show. We're beyond that.

Short version for you fuckers who can't be bothered to read a long post: A++, will watch again. Also, blow me.


#275

The Master ran out of regenerations back in 1976, as per The Deadly Assassin, and had hoped to use the destruction of Gallifrey to spark some new life in his old body, but falls into the chasm that the Eye of Harmony is located in.

He stole the body of a Trakenite in The Keeper of Traken, which gave him vitality again, but not regenerations.

He was offered a new set of regenerations to do the Time Lord High Council's bidding in [, but never gets the chance to collect. He tried to use the healing gas in [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planet_of_Fire]Planet of Fire](]The Five Doctors[/url), only to be last seen being consumed by fire thanks to the Doctor. There story does not confirm or deny that a new set of regenerations were triggered here.

In Survival, the Master got infected by the virus that created the cheetah people, which gave him the vitality and savagery of an animal, as well as the ability to teleport, at least until the planet was destroyed.

In the Fox Television Movie, the Master was put on trial and incinerated by the Daleks. The Doctor, who was taking his ashes back to Gallifrey, gets attacked when the Master reveals the ability to become a liquid snake and steal the body of a human, only to fall into the Eye of Harmony (again).

In Utopia, the Master reveals that the Time Lords brought him back and gave him a new set of regenerations to fight in their Time War. Too bad Utopia is the new Canada for time-travelling draft dodgers.

So all that said, The Master CERTAINLY isn't gone forever. He's already come back from being set on fire before, so I have no doubt we'll see Simms again before too long.


#276

Every since the Castellan mentioned in The Deadly Assassin that the Doctor had foresworn his birthright and gone renegade, my theory has been that renegades—through either necessity, custom, or choice—take on an alias. To my recollection, no renegade on the show has ever had a "real" name. And I make a distinction between criminals/castaways and renegades since Time Lords like Morbius and Omega never truly left Gallifreyan society.

I tend to think it's more of a custom, since the Time Lords themselves use their aliases instead of their real names. And we at least know that "The Doctor" is not his real name thanks to episodes like Silver Nemesis and The Girl in the Fireplace.


#277

Furthermore, we clearly see that Sylvester McCoy has aged before turning into Paul McGann in the TV movie. Mot to mention that Tom Baker was looking a little worse for wear toward the end of his run. Still, 100 years should meant a little gray around the temples, not California Raisin-time, so I'm going to subscribe to your handy-dandy rationalization.

One thing that's always bugged me though is the devil-may-care attitude some Time Lords have about regenerations. Once it was established that there are a finite amount, they become infinitely more valuable. So punishing The Doctor with a regneration at the end of the War Games is a pretty harsh sentence. And Romana blithely changing from one pretty young thing to another seems like vanity on a ludicrous scale.

But if the Time Lords are able to grant more regenerations, is twelve a cultural rather than a natural limit? That's how I expect them to get around The Doctor's eventual end if the show ever makes it to a Fourteenth Doctor.


#278

I would think so, considering the Martha mentioned the Face of Boe right in front of Jack during the rocket launch in Utopia.


#279

And now for the two-parter itself:

Sigh

After RTD's bang-up lead-in with Utopia, I was really geared up for a grudge match of the ages. Alas, in resurrecting one of The Doctor's deadliest foes, RTD also resurrected his plotting inadequacies. The first half was fine in this regard; nothing stellar, but fun to watch. However, the second half was pathetic, culminating in The Doctor's rescue through the Power of Positive Thinking. Meister, I get that The Doctor was telepathically linked into Archangel. What I don't get is how that resulted in a telekinetic fountain of youth. In fact, in the few seconds before the swirly lights began, I thought Martha's explanation would lead to a concentrated psychic feedback attack that would incapacitate or momentarily stun The Master. That I could buy. But no.

I'll leave it there, since most everything else has been mentioned, but I do want to discuss Simm's Master. Most of the time, it is still too Frank Gorshin for my taste. And each time the dancing starts, I'm reminded of that embarrassing Joker-dancing-and-defacing-fine-art sequence from Tim Burton's first Batman. I see little difference between his manic moments and his supposed bout of regeneration sickness at the end of Utopia. Of course, the blame mostly falls on the shoulders of our pal, RTD, who writes him that way. Much like Tennant, Simm's best moments are when he underplays, and I actually thought the death scene was quite good. Here's hoping Simm returns under the auspices of another writer.

But I'll give RTD credit, as I always have, for his character moments and his interesting ideas. Martha's departure was unexpected, yet it makes absolute sense. A season or two more of her pining over the Doctor would get old and would be uncharacteristic for someone as confident and forthright as she is. His continuity references are always fun, and even though I strongly disagree with his choice to claim that The Master has always just been loony, I do appreciate how he worked it into the story. Even winking at himself with the whole brother red herring was fun. And he even had the good sense to leave The Master his customary escape route out of certain death.

Speaking of The Master's inevitable return, I wasn't surprised that they left that door open, especially since Lucy had a blank expression on her face when she shot him. Looked like some old-time Master-y hypnotism to me. And I thought it was an especially nice mind game to play on The Doctor, perhaps the cruelest thing he did in either episode. And thanks for the laughter voice over for the shot of the ring. Some traditions are best maintained.

So, yeah, definitely the weakest closer of the three, but there were still a few gems sprinkled throughout. Let's just hope RTD doesn't relapse in season four (30).


#280

I don't think it's been said yet, but the hand that retrieved The Master's ring evidently belonged to "The Rani".

I guess that next year we'll be seeing her as well.