Tuesday, March 3, 2009

nu who redo: utopia, sound of drums, last of the timelords, time crash

These last three episodes nearly save the season for me. I've mellowed on it some since the first time around, and I don't think it's as bad as I once interpreted it, but it's still laced through with these emotional tones that I find uncomfortable, and it's so unhappy, so thwarted and sort of dark-verging-on-bitter... But these last episodes are great. Silly, way over done in that climax, but overall, very likable.

Utopia brings us Chantho and the return of Captain Jack Harkness, and all the bouncy fun of him intereacting with the Doctor and the Doctor knowing all his tricks. Love the running joke about Jack introducing himself, the Doctor shooting him down, and everyone not minding. And it brings us Professor Yana, who's a genius and a weirdo and a sweet absentminded professor-- and how utterly different he is as soon as he opens that watch. And that poor doomed hope of saving the human race from the end of the Universe (and how horrible would it be to be witnessing the last moments of the whole Universe?). We finally get to see the Doctor dealing with what happened to Jack and admitting that Rose isn't just hidden, she's gone and he can't see her again. Big news. Marfa doesn't get to do much, but the sweetest scene in the episode is her's-- when she gets Chantho to talk without saying 'chan' and 'tho'.

And the Sound of Drums / Last of the Timelords brings us the Sexy Master who is just as overbearing, but way more entertainingly insane than the old one. He's the dark image of the Doctor-- his companion gets messed up by traveling with him, he gets very involved with her (they're making out all over the place, her marries her, and he beats her), he enslaves Marfa's family, he kills people left and right, he humiliates the Doctor... He's like when MyFutureHusbandDavidTennant took over the role-- manic, bouncy, fast-talking, fresh, twitchy-- but all warped in the direction of badness, evilness. And yet, there's still this little bit that makes him almost likable, almost three dimensional-- he wants the drumming to stop, and wants the Doctor to make sense of it, to be as messed up as he is; he's almost sweet to Lucy when he isn't driving her insane, pulling the chair out for her before he sits down himself, comforting her when she freaks out that someone has figured out their plan...

Poor Doctor. What a way to cap a bad year-- that's actually several bad years. He traveled with Marfa, but our count, somewhere around a minimum of three years experienced time, and we just saw the highlights, all of which were rough. And then here comes the end of that phase of his life, and he has to ask Marfa to Walk The Earth while her family is beaten and enslaved, he has to take the Master's mistreatment for a year while he works on his plan, he has to watch the world being taken down, the Toclaphane proving to be the people he tried to save, his Tardis being cannibalized and used to warp reality... It's awful. And then the whole world believes in him and he's a god for a moment, all be it one that's made so by tapping into a technological feedback loop, and then he's so entirely the Doctor. There's no vengance there. For once-- and maybe he finally worked through that angry and destructive phase. He forgives him. He takes responsibility for keeping the Universe safe from him, and seems to think maybe he can help the Master-- which is a nice nod to their history: he was never one to kill or damage the Master, only to stop him when he needs stopping and maybe to find a way to contain him, to help him. 

But the Master won't be contained, and he's entirely himself, too-- better to die once and for all then be contained by the Doctor, who he knows is better than him, and who he hates because they're opposites. One last wound for the Doctor.

So he gets a Vader death, though I don't know if he deserves it, and then there's that last shot where a lady's hand with red nails claims his ring. So there's an out if they want him back, though hopefully they won't overuse him like they did in the past and the daleks have been used in this series.

Other points:
- The Doctor eats. I find this weird because he never is shown eating in the new series, though he always was in the old one, and I'd kinda decided that he doesn't eat and doesn't sleep because he's an alien who's only pretending to be like a person and who gets sustenance some other way. I suppose it could still be that, and eating and sleeping are just human affectations he's taken on as part of his obsession with Earth... which could be why broken-hearted season 3 Doctor doesn't do either until this episode: he's not trying to seem human these days...
- Jack is the Face of Boe? It would make everything make sense, but it's a silly way to do that. 
- Torchwood in the Himalyas? Really? You couldn't think of something better than that? ::sigh::

And then there was Timecrash! With the return of Peter Davidson, who is lovely. My second favorite Doctor before 10, now about tied with 4, who was my previous fav. It's a nice little antidote to the sadness of the season right before it, and it's fun. Joky. Written by the Moff, who so far has written all the best episodes. Well, most of them. And it plays with the Doctor Who mythos without being mean and while still being a good little episode-- the Doctor gets to be self-aware on both sides of the rift, there's sciencing the fiction, there's averted disaster, and it's lovely. I know the sadness will continue into Voyage of the Damned, but I also know that Series 4 is lighter and brighter and more fun, and this little moment of relaxed joyfulness in being the Doctor is enough to get me through.

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