Last of the Time Lords.



TV Yesterday, I rewrote someone else’s article to express why I think fans love Doctor Who, and I think tonight’s finale was the ultimate expression of that. It has to be said the reaction hasn’t been kind (Dave et al) and I’m not trying to say you’re wrong. In fact to a degree this whole wam-bang season finale-itis is quite tiring in a way and indeed it’s not difficult to hanker for the days when the most you got was a relatively low key story ending in a chat in the console room to close out a series. Everything has to be BIG and EPIC these days and when you do BIG and EPIC you’re riding on a laser-screwdriver edge.

The CGI was fairly tiring in places and I don’t mean the old old Doctor which I thought was a masterpiece (considering -- and let’s not forget this people -- it was created for television). The reveal of the paradox machine as the big red reset button was too predictable for words (even if it sorted out all of the potential problems some of the continuity freaks amongst fandom were probably having). Even the reveal of who these Troclofane where actually lacked bite simply because we knew that as this was a three parter, a major element such as the Utopia rocket and the remnants of humanity couldn’t simply be left in the future.

But however unfortunate many of these things are, I fundamentally couldn’t hate it because I loved the central concept, that all along the Doctor and Martha were playing the long con. From the moment the Doctor whispered in Martha’s ear and she zapped herself from the ship the Master was done for. A whole episode ahead of schedule. It didn’t matter what he did in the mean time, how many people he killed, the good time lord and his companion’s own trust in humanity that ultimately they would have trust in him is what saved the day continuing the seasons central thematic connection, the power of faith and one in particular.

It’s actually been quite surprising to see this Judeo-Christian thread through the season, from ’To Be A Pilgrim’ in The Family of Blood to interestingly named Lazarus ultimately being vanquished in a church to The Old Rugged Cross in Gridlock it’s crept in throughout and even an anti-monotheist like me has found it heart-warming. It bespeaks of a spiritualism and in each case of humanity winning out. It’s nothing new of course but it’s interesting that Russell’s writing has gone from what could be seen as an anti-religious stance in The Parting of the Ways’s version of the Daleks to the whole of the surviving humanity stopping and shouting one name in order to cause his resurrection.

It was also a showcase for performances. Although Tennant had little to do for much of the episode, encased in prosthetics for one half of the time, a CGI character most of the other, he was redeemed in the closing moments both for his very real breakdown over the death of the Master and his understated understanding of Martha was leaving. Agyeman gave a spirited defence against the naysayers from a certain tabloid whose name I dare not speak with a wonderfully layered performance holding her own against the massed ranks of thesps. Simm’s work was just as flamboyant as last week but somehow less incongruous and more like the Master we’re used to. Barrowman wasn’t given all that much to do, but I’d like to think this return to the sparky Jack of the past will be appearing in the next series of Torchwood. Please.

And see, once again, even though the fan reaction has been particularly sour and even a quick look around the photosphere suggests that the general populace aren’t that please, it’s still possible to see expressions of love surrounding the reveal of Captain Jack as potentially being the Face of Boe and all the implications that has. The moment after the Return of the Jedi re-enactment when the Master’s ring was retrieved indicating he’s not gone yet. The Sea Devils. The Axons. The playing about with the convention of someone saying one thing and doing another with Martha walking out of the Tardis, walking back into the Tardis, then walking out again and into the arms of her family, a reprise of the situation at the end of The Lazarus Experiment.

Will Martha return? Of course she will and actually in some ways I’m hoping she’ll be a semi-regular companion, calling the Doctor in when Earth’s in danger Brigadier-style (and wasn’t the reference to a UNIT headquarters in London such a tease?). I rather like the stories when the Doctor lands and there’s someone of the place to fill the proto-companion role. And the Gallifrey quest is still on and I still don’t think those pesky time lords are gone for good. Wouldn’t it be an interesting symmetry is the 10th Doctor‘s regeneration at the end of the next series is brought about by sacrificing himself for their return?

In the meantime: Titanic. Expect Celine Dion references. Oh, my heart will go on…

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