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By Matt Kamen
July 06, 2007
The Doctor, Martha and Captain Jack turn freedom fighters in the third season finale of DOCTOR WHO.
And once again, it comes time for us to bid the good Doctor farewell for another year. While season three of the regenerated Doctor Who has been the strongest since the show's return, the finale, fittingly titled 'Last of the Time Lords' was sadly disappointing, wasting the scenario established in the preceding two wonderful episodes.
Spoilers ahead for anyone outside of the UK or United States of Bittorrent.
The Master rules the Earth, having taken power as the fictional Harold Saxon. The Doctor and his friends – plucky companion Martha Jones and the immortal Captain Jack – are captured and six billion murderous alien spheres are at the Master's command. One year on and only Martha is free, the last chance to save not only the Earth but also all of time to come. It was a gripping set up and the country was bouncing on the edge of its proverbial seat to see the conclusion.
That'll teach us for getting our hopes up.
OK, first the good – John Simm, of Life On Mars fame, was beyond reproach as The Master. His portrayal of the evil Time Lord was perfect - exciting, scary and yet strangely endearing. Extending the character's long-standing role of being a twisted reflection of the Doctor by giving him his own companions – gentle insectoid girl Chantho and wife Lucy, both of whom he breaks in one way or another, be it killing Chantho or fracturing Lucy's mind by showing her the end of existence – was a fantastic touch, one that made The Master much more threatening. If the Doctor supports and improves the lives of those he travels with, how fitting that the Master does the opposite, and seemingly without even realising the damage he does.
Over the course of the three-parter, we also got some much-needed closure for Captain Jack; how he got back to our time following the end of the first season, why he can't die, even a hint at his future (though a fairly contentious hint, to some). There are a few questions remaining regarding his past but hopefully Torchwood will address those in its next season. 'Last of the Time Lords' saw Jack put to great use as an action hero, fighting off robot drones with guns blazing and using his immortality to comedic and strategic effect. Irrespective of all else, this episode had lashings of action, executed far better than expected for the show. Jack isn't the only one to get some emotional closure with regards to the Doctor as Martha leaves his company by show's end, finally breaking the cycle of unrequited love with the Doctor and staying behind to support her family and complete her own Doctor training. Martha has rapidly become quite possibly my favourite companion in the show's history so it was sad yet satisfying to see her leave but at least, character wise, it was on her own terms. Thankfully, she will be back next year (see below).
The bad – In short, Russell T. Davies turns in another sloppy, plot hole-ridden and schmaltzy script, replete with heavy-handed Christ metaphors and deus ex machina resolutions. It's clear enough by now that RTD thinks we should all accept The Doctor as our personal saviour. We could certainly do without the metaphor being driven home with seemingly endless scenes of him suffering for humanity's sins, only to be resurrected through prayer and, in spite of his personal suffering, forgive Satan. Sorry, I mean The Master. The Doctor's salvation, via reducing Martha to his prophet and improbably uniting all the people of Earth to chant his name to overload a psychic mobile phone network stretched believability well beyond my liking. This was all made worse by the Doctor then floating across the room as if lifted from a crucifix to give the Master a hug. Aww.
Throw in two very contradictory fights between Doctor and Master (First the Master gives up on detonating his doomsday weapons because he doesn't want to die himself but later refuses to regenerate after being killed by Lucy because his death would spite the Doctor? Clearly consistency is for lesser writers than Mr. Davies…) and a predictable reset of the year in which the Master ruled the Earth and 'Last of the Time Lords' was perhaps the weakest ending the new series of Doctor Who has yet seen.
Despite the poor ending, the season was overall a great one and I can't help but be excited at the hints of what's to come next year, both in Who and in Torchwood. A female hand picking up the Master's ring at the end? We're lead to think it's Lucy Saxon retrieving it but personally, I think we'll be seeing the Rani sooner or later…
The Companion Piece
With Martha's departure from the TARDIS, only to return in Torchwood and the next season of Doctor Who, there's a seat to fill in this year's Christmas special, Voyage of the Damned. Into that seat will bounce Australian star Kylie Minogue, starring as a waitress on board the Titanic. Try not to hold Street Fighter: The Movie against her.
Further, the BBC announced Tuesday that Catherine Tate would be returning to Doctor Who as the new companion for the entirety of season four. Tate was previously in 2006's Christmas Special "The Runaway Bride" where she was notable for being, well, a prime bitch, much like her own characters on "The Catherine Tate Show." Are we bovvered? Yes - but probably not in the way Tate and producer Russell T. Davies hopes. Sally Sparrow, from season three's tenth episode "Blink", would have made a much better choice…
New UK DVD Picks for 09/07/2007
Highlander: Search for Vengeance
Is it anime? Is it American? Who cares, it's beautiful, if a little shallow. Another side-story in the fractured Highlander universe, unsurprisingly featuring another member of the Clan MacLeod. Search for Vengeance follows Colin MacLeod's life over the course of two thousand years in search of the immortal who killed his wife. Extras include storyboards, photo gallery, Highlander Anime mini-special and a pack-in comic book.
.Hack//Sign: Complete Collection Box 2
Tsukasa's journey through the living online game 'The World' concludes here, with the second and final collection of episodes. Also included are the third and fourth OVA specials, previously only available with the PS2 games, creditless opening and endings and a documentary on the .hack universe.
Doctor Who: Timelash
One of the shorter stories from Classic Who gets its chance to shine, thanks to the uniformly excellent BBC releases of the series. This Colin Baker two parter boasts a commentary track by Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Paul Darrow, a twenty-five minute documentary covering the making of the story, photo gallery, production notes and some DVD ROM content.
That’s it for this week. Thoughts? Comments? Hatemail? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org