Why did I start reviewing this series?Now I have to come up with things to say about this episode, running the risk of actually remembering 45 painful minutes that will no longer innocently lie in the land of ‘what could be’ as I awaited the 2nd part of the 3 part season finale.
Firstly, let me return John Simm into the hero Sam from the incredible series Life on Mars.
There… that’s better. I like that show. Best UK TV program I’d seen in ages. Season 2 will be airing on BBC America this summer they say.
Oh right… I have this episode Doctor Who to review.
12. The Sound of Drums
Part 2 of the 3 parter finale begins with our heroes warping into view via an escape that we then flashback to. The first sign that this is going to be a rough ride. Showing the audience the result of an event that you immediately flashback to… sigh.
We are then thrust into the arms of John Simm. When I first heard that Simm was appearing in the series, I was very excited. A capable actor, he would surely bring out the best in Tennant and the show in general. How wrong I was. Simm delivers… how can I put this… a terrible performances designed, so it seems, as a send-up to Tennant‘s ‘whee look at me!!!’ Doctor.
The Master implants the bass line to the Doctor Who theme tune into every cellular phone to hypnotize the planet and aquire the position of British Prime Minister.
That is what he did, right?
John Simm then mistakes the role of the Master for Jim Carey impersonator and prances like a fool uttering lines of dialogue that make me dislike him more with every scene he is in.
This should not happen.
As I explained earlier, I like John Simm a lot.
But the script, direction, editing and camera angles are so dire and painful that his portrayal of the Master allows Eric Roberts’ performance in the forgettable Fox TV Movie to climb up a rank from it’s former ‘worst Master ever’ position.
The plot is almost entirely a ‘wait until next week’ affair with aliens that are not explained, a massive McGuffin called the paradox machine that is not explained and a gigantic cliff hanger that can only be resolved with the dreaded ‘magic button press’ that we as an audience have come to expect from the new Doctor Who program.
The conclusion involves an artificially aged Doctor which is a very interesting idea (so interesting that RTD nicked it from the Classic Series episode the Leisure Hive), an unexplained alien invasion (what do you think is inside the spheres??), and a villain taking the Doctor‘s place as the ‘waltzing victor.’
Y’know what I mean… the scenes where Tennant leisurely waltzes around the room while anyone could stop him but instead they all wait for him to finish talking. In this instance it was Simm as the Master who casually provided exposition and ordered the decimation of the entire human race while no one raised a finger to stop him. Saying that his ‘drum machine’ hypnotic tech stopped anyone from standing in his way is defeated by the hordes of humans on the planet running in fear and Martha who has no real reason to not be enthralled by the Master defiantly declaring that she will stop him.
Let me pause to say that I thought I was having a very bad trip when ‘Voodoo Child’ boomed out of my speakers and the heavens tore open. I understand RTD had to have three extra pairs of underwear on hand in the studio to contain his glee from this moment.
I experienced what survivors of disasters must call trauma.
The only real pay off to this episode is, of course, lovely Martha. Next week it looks like her show which I am in full approval of. Yet I smell a ‘tragic finale’ where her magic button press will eliminate her ever meeting the Doctor and the entire season.
I should be so lucky to have forgotten this season. It began quite well and had glimmers of goodness, but in the end it’s another bead in Russel T Davies’ necklace of missed opportunities.
I dislike being so negative about this series. I really enjoy Doctor Who, but this program is just… not Doctor Who.
The series I watched before 2005 was silly and oftentimes just plain boring (I use many Peter Davison tapes to cure my insomnia when I have it) but it never made me sigh with sadness thinking ‘why did they do that??’ while watching it.
I maintain that it can be saved by a new production team and from the frenzied pace and energy of this week’s half-baked attempt at story telling, I can only hope that Russel T Davies is done with Doctor Who and someone else can take over.
But then I thought I’d enjoy tonight’s episode, so I better not bank too much on that hope.
So while we wait a week for the finale, I’d like to open it up to the readers:
What is inside the spheres?
The Master offers a hint that if the Doctor knew, it would surely break his hearts, so… what is it?
- The Timelords
- The Daleks
- The people from the parallel world last seen in Doomsday
- The Futurekind
- Earthlings from the future on their way to Utopia
- Other (come on, give me a clue!)
My vote is for 3 because of the constant build up this season of Rose (every episode the Doctor harps on her and Martha pouts) and the irony that Martha saves the day and as a bi-product never meets the Doctor thanks to the Paradox Machine.