Yeah, ok, this was a bit of shit in places, I'll admit it.
But I'll staunchly stand by it. I will. In ALL THREE PARTS.
Year One, we had people muttering Bad Wolf under their breaths, in helicopter microphones, on posters no one was looking at, and in German on a falling bomb. Yeah, we're going to read it there, right before we blow up.
Year Two, we had the Torchwood death star, the Torchwood Coming Soon (sponsored by Queen Victoria), some space miners working for the Torchwood archives, and some very polite people applauding for the Doctor.
Year Three, we're given Saxon to chew on. But, I really feel, Saxon was a mislead. Like the big announcement that John Simm was the Master, then having Derek Jakobi saying the iconic "I am the Master!", very nearly stealing Simm's thunder before he starts charging around the TARDIS, channelling a strange mix of Mark Hammill and Jack Nicholson, sans facepaint, but just as dangerously lunatic. But I'll get back to him.
Saxon was the biggest joke played on us this year. We were so focussed on Saxon as a meme, when it was all right there in that video camera moment of John Simm smiling, almost looking like a photograph, before his head turns and his smile turns chilly. I knew who and what Saxon was all about right there. Our REAL meme for this year, and one that few people seemed to have noticed (hell, I didn't notice it until just after I'd finished watching TLOTTL).
Russell. I see what you were aiming for. You very nearly got there. Thank you for trying, seriously. Each year I feel you're getting better and stronger with this, and please don't take this the same way, but write two less episodes next year. Give Cornell or Moffat one more. They deserve it. Let lovely Helen write one more, granted hers were the weak spots this year, but I think she can do much much better if she's not given such a shopping list (ahem).
With that out of the way..
OH LOOK THE MASTER MADE HIM A CUTE LITTLE SUIT!! That had me in giggles. I loved it. It's just the sort of thing a lunatic would do if he had a "grow your own Yoda" kit.
I mentioned themes. I plan to explain that. Out of every episode, there are a couple of themes that carry on through the rest of the episode to the end.
> Smith & Jones - Look it's Martha!
> The Shakespeare Code - Power of words
> Gridlock - The Face of Boe, You are not alone
> Daleks in Manhattan - I lose everything..
> Evolution of the Daleks - ..while they keep coming back
> The Lazarus Experiment - Age controlling technology.
> 42 - Sinister woman with Martha's mum.
> Human Nature - Chameleon Arch, Fob watch
> The Family of Blood - The price of being human, the Doctor's dark side
> Blink - This was just a nice break before the finale.
> Utopia - Professor Yana, the humans of the future, Utopia
> The Sound of Drums - The drums, Gallifrey, the Master, Toclafane, Lucy Saxon, Cloudbase/SHIELD Helicarrier/The Valiant, the Time Lords and much more
All leading into Last of the Time Lords. But wait, how'd we get here first? Let's get stuck in:
So, three weeks ago, in one of the best opening scenes I've ever seen, we have Captain Jack doing drama!run towards the TARDIS at a speed I think I could muster barefoot on gravel, the Doctor looking suitably dodgy, and Martha being suitably disney-faced as she figures out yet another weird occurance in the world is the Doctor's fault. Queue iconic scene of Jack clinging to the TARDIS like Peter Parker's forgotten his outfit, triggering reams and reams of arguments that can be settled with two words: HAIR GEL.
So. Futurekind. I feel a little bit uncomfortable, but if I don't dwell on it, I can see it. Slightly vampiric, hostile, savage humanoids. That's not much of a stretch. My favorite bit though, is hearing how humans have evolved through sentient gas clouds, downloads(!), and other forms before returning to humanoid bodies. I'm sure these are at least more efficient than ours, considering I didn't see much in the way of food rations or toilets, and that one guy was outrunning, for quite some distance, the futurekind, so I'm guessing these physical forms are a bit more evolved than ours as well.
Chanto, by the way, is the hottest looking insect I've ever seen. Yes please, with a can of Raid on the side.
Now Professor Yana. There's a character. This guy was so well written and acted, I'm actually tempted to write a bit of fiction in the style of "From the Journal of Professor Yana." You can imagine so much of a history and backstory, brilliant and absent-minded, and everything we loved about the first few Doctors, down to making machine wiring out of food rations. Brilliant. Making it even more painful when we all realized just who he was. I'm wondering though, to HIS memory, he was found as an infant on the shores of the Silver Devastation, but how long ago REALLY was the Master put through the Chameleon Arch? I'm seeing a big plan here with the Face of Boe, having prior knowledge of future events, assists the Master in Arching, and introduces him to a trusted friend in Chanto, they then work together for some time, as he ages naturally as a human until the events of Utopia.
The opening of The Sound of Drums has caused some cries of foul from viewers, but I'm letting that one go. We knew Jack had a teleporter. We knew the Doctor had the sonic screwdriver, we knew there was a sense of urgency to de-arse that area. It was a good way out, and I honestly didn't see any other way.
As mentioned in other places, the bulk of The Sound of Drums was some serious amount of fanwank, but wow it was fun. To paraphrase the Doctor, fifty-seven fanfic authors just punched the air. I hear those were the exact same Time Lord collars from Deadly Assassin. That dome was gorgeous, and the fact that the Time Lords have a door into the Temporal Vortex just sitting on a beach somewhere is wonderful. I like that there was a black Time Lord in canon as well. Makes me a little giddy, considering how much I enjoyed Don Warrington's turn as Big Finish's Rassilon.
I'll tackle the issue of pop music now. Those songs are starting to grow on me. I don't know if it's the memory of Doctor Who that they bring up, but they're a catchy couple of songs. It helps that they are actually played in-story (or, as we're all so fond of saying now, diagetically). They strike me as the sort of songs that would be played by a raving lunatic.
Anyone notice though, how much Lucy Saxon seems to have changed over this last year? She seemed rather expressive in Drums, but come Last of, she was sort of...empty. You have to wonder what he's done to her in the last year, why she's stumbling around barely speaking like a zombie, hollow-eyed and limp-armed. The timing of her shooting was odd, too. Just when it looked like Simm's Master would survive, just when it seemed he'd be stuck in the TARDIS with the Doctor, Lucy shoots him, completely blank-faced and emotionless. There's something more there. We're going to come back to this moment again, probably sometime in season 4 or 5. Especially considering the red-nailed fingertips picking up the Master's ring. I'll go on record with these two words: Female Master.
I'm probably the only one, and I'll proudly say it, I loved the Yoda!Doctor. I thought the CGI was wonderful, and it was a great touch how it still just managed to look like David Tennant, who truly has an iconic face. And no one need make fun of the outfit. Yes, we know that he didn't shrink the suit, it was there on the floor with the Yoda!Doctor. The Master, being the aforementioned lunatic, is the type of guy to wheel his archnemesis around the room in a wheelchair, singing in his ear to too-loud pop music before careening him into a wall, is just the type of guy who, after shrinking him into a talking Yoda doll, would tailor an outfit for him. After all, a Universe with a super-aged nude Doctor doesn't bear thinking about. It's only common decency, people..
Whew. I've put it off long enough. THAT scene. That rising from the dead, christ on a quidditch stick, Jean Grey on disco ball finale. As far as my famous psuedo-scientific explanations go, I can rationalize it. I won't completely excuse it, but I'm going to throw Russell a dirty look while I explain what happened, from MY point of view.
*ahem* An arts & crafts store exploded on the bridge of the Valiant. No really, ok I'll be serious now. It's all the Master's fault for setting up a worldwide network of telepathic satellites. Back in series 2, Reinette tells us that "A door once opened, can be walked through in either direction." Those satellites opened a door that, once opened to influence the people of the world to first Vote Saxon, and later Fear the Master, was walked through by the people of the world. I'm assuming the advanced LazLabs technology was used to build the satellites as well (c'mon, big place like that? Sure they wouldn't focus all their technologies in one insane basket..). The Doctor spent the last year tuning his own limited telepathic abilities to that of the Archangel satellites, in effect hacking the satellites so that they'd do what he told them to, once control was wrested away by the people of the Earth.
Now, having said that, it's complete bollocks, because even without mind control being an issue, there's no way you can get a group of people over 12 or so to agree on the same issue. Can't be done. Not even with a suspension of reality.
Special mention goes to two points. John Simm's unconcious imitation of the Doctor, when he realizes it's all gone horribly wrong, saying "Stoppit!" and "NO NO NO NO NO!!" in the EXACT same tone as Tennant. If nothing else did the trick, that conveyed that sense of mirroring the two of them. Second is the death scene. Wow. For those few moments alone, I can excuse anything else, up to and including the potteristic resurrection. Tennant had me bawling as his Doctor realized that he'd just gotten a piece of his people back, only to have it spitefully die in his arms as he begged it not to. Ouch that hurt. I'm almost afraid to watch it again, lest the waterworks flow again.
Coming (not terribly) soon: The Titanic crashes into the TARDIS. I'm hoping that somehow, considering there was no water in the TARDIS, no water on the hull of the Titanic, and the fact that it CRASHED INTO THE INTERIOR OF THE SHIP, which is located in another dimension of sorts, this is some odd version of the Titanic floating around in a similar dimension to the interior of the TARDIS. Could be another TARDIS. Or, could be an excuse to have a certain big-eared former Time Lord make a cameo. Wouldn't that be fun? Oh, and NO MORE SANTA ROBOTS!!
The Tachyon TV Bumper Book of Made Up Doctor Who Facts has this to say about The Last of the Time Lords: Throughout the entire three-part finale of the 2007 series, the entire population of the viewing audience was thinking one word, over and over again. Ironically David Tennant summed it up at the end of the final episode: WHAT?? WHAT? WHAT??!?!