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Feigning normality since 1973

Doctor Who Series 3 (episodes 10 - 13)

Filed in: Doctor Who.

This season was pretty good, all in all. The only clangers being the Dalek two-parter and, to a lesser extent, The Lazarus Experiment. As always, spoilers are liberally given below.

Blink: In a derelict house, Sally Sparrow finds a message which sends her hurtling into a world of time travel and danger.

This episode affected me profoundly. If it doesn't win at least a dozen awards, Steven Moffatt has been robbed. The Weeping Angels are the scariest thing I've seen in Doctor Who, and time travel has never been used in such an inventive manner before. Athought the Doctor and Martha aren't in it much (they're paying him over a million pounds, you'd think he could be in the whole season) the new characters make up for it. Is this the first time a televised Doctor Who story has had a female main protagonist? Or does Rose (the first episode of series 1, that is) hold that title?

[Weeping Angel]

Utopia: In the far far far far far distant future, humanity struggles to survive in a dying universe.

Back in the old days, the New Adventures line of books tended to include a lot of what was known as "fanwank", or continuity references back to the past of the series. The final three-parter of the series also has a lot of what you'd term fanwank, much of it admittedly caused as a side effect of bringing two characters back. Captain Jack is returned from Torchwood here, as the Doctor and Martha end up in the distant future with him. The A plot of humanity trying to launch a rocket so they can head for Utopia (and their pointy-toothed foes seem a bit much like the Reavers from Firefly to me) feels like a massive red herring, and the really important part of the episode is centering on Professor Yana, but perhaps that was the writer's plan all along.

The Sound of Drums: The Master returns to present-day and gets himself elected Prime Minister.

It was pretty much obvious that the Doctor was going to fix Jack's wrist time machine in order to get them back, so I wasn't much surprised when it happened as the first shot of the episode. This episode has enough plot for about half an hour, and the rest is John Simm being evil, basically. Like Utopia, pretty much everything important happens in the last ten minutes, though as soon as the Paradox Machine was mentioned, it was pretty much obvious that it was going to be used in the next episode as a reset button.

We've already had the cabinet killing the PM (Aliens of London) and now we have the PM killing the cabinet...

[The Master]

The Last of the Time Lords: With the Doctor and Jack prisoners of the Master, Martha searches for a weapon to use against the evil Time Lord.

Putting aside for a moment CGI Dobby Doctor (when's the action figure out?), this is the best of the season finales so far (the previous finales being basically plotless fight scenes). There's fanwank, revelations aplenty, the tying up of plot arcs, Martha pwning everyone, and plenty of fanfiction fodder, I'm sure. More importantly, NO DALEKS!

OTOH, the whole Doctor gaining godlike powers from the combined psychic energies of others might at a stretch be compared with a similar scene in the season finale of Buffy season 4. And the rewinding time was naff when the TV Movie did it (but at least UNIT get to keep their nifty flying aircraft carrier; Does this mean UNIT will eventually be renamed SPECTRUM?).

So, ranking the episodes in order of awesomeness:

  1. Blink (10/10)
  2. Human Nature (10/10)
  3. The Family of Blood (10/10)
  4. Gridlock (9/10)
  5. 42 (9/10)
  6. The Last of the Time Lords (8/10)
  7. The Shakespeare Code (8/10)
  8. Utopia (7/10)
  9. Smith and Jones (7/10)
  10. The Sound of Drums (6/10)
  11. Daleks in Manhattan (6/10)
  12. The Lazarus Experiment (5/10)
  13. Evolution of the Daleks (4/10*)

*On reflection the rating I originally gave for Evolution of the Daleks was much too high.

Previously: Episodes 1 - 5, Episodes 6 - 9.

Posted July 5, 2007 8:43 PM


I like what you did with the Angel picture. Caught me off guard. :)

Posted by: Thad Ritchards | July 6, 2007 12:28 PM

I thought "Last of the Time Lords" had a very New Adventures-ish feel to it.

Consider. The Doctor's sidelined for the whole story. The companions--Martha and, to a lesser extent, Jack--do the heavy lifting. The villain's defeated by a giant chess-like plan that isn't even obvious until it's revealed, and then you realize that most of the pieces were already in play, so what looks like a deus ex machina ending isn't quite so deus ex machina as it first appears. Also, the god-like Doctor, a trademark of the New Adventures, makes an appearance. Having literal god-like powers.

Okay, that last one isn't really New Adventures-ish. I don't remember the NA Doctor being a god, just a master manipulator. Yet I've thought all season that the tenth Doctor is developing into a cuddly version of the New Adventures Doctor--he looks cuddly, but cross him and he lay the smack down and you'll thank him for it.

The Doctor-as-God motif isn't all that new. "LotTL" struck me as "Death Comes to Time" done largely right in that regard.

I'm thinking this is the strongest of the three seasons of the RTD era.

Season four, now... that's got me curious.

Posted by: Allyn | July 7, 2007 1:19 PM

Blink is definitely the best. 42 is crap. The Dalek ones hover at 2/10 - you are too kind, my friend. Nature/Blood was cliche'd soap opera rubbish, which Tennant's power-acting almost hid. Almost. Smith & Jones is best summed up by the fact that I had to think for a moment to remember
what the hell it'd been about. Last Of The Time Lords was Torchwood without the swearing. :)

I agree with the rest. Gridlock is RTD's best story by miles.

Love the balls thing, Alden. This is what you Net people call a "win", yes? Odd that you should use
a slang term derived from Scientology. :)

Posted by: Jeff Stone | July 25, 2007 2:39 AM

It is made of win and engrams!

Posted by: Alden Bates | July 25, 2007 8:32 AM

When is the weeping angel figure out to buy in the shops and are character going to bring out a Sally Sparrow figure?

Posted by: Jonathan | August 2, 2007 2:18 AM

Holy ****. I blinked and the GIF for the weeping angels changed.

Posted by: Tanner Griffin | December 27, 2009 5:58 PM

Blink sucks!!!! The Sound of Drums, The Last of the Time Lords and Evolution of the Daleks are all (10/10)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Posted by: James | December 28, 2009 9:02 AM

The Master rules! That's right, rules! So OBEY your lord and Master on high! Or else when the end of time comes...he'll fry you, then EAT you!

Posted by: SailorNova | November 18, 2010 10:52 AM

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