Sunday, August 24, 2014

Doctor Who--"The Sound of Drums"

The penultimate episode of the third series was a mixed bag. It was an exciting bridge to the finale next week, but I could not help but feel we have seen it all before. Russell T. Davies’ worst habit is retreading past success to the point it becomes cliched and boring. Here we have the United Kingdom being mind controlled (“Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel”), the government being taken over by aliens (“Aliens of London/World War III”), a massive alien invasion of Earth (“The Parting of the Ways” and “Army of Ghosts/Doomsday”), the companion’s family specifically in peril (Ibid) and the companion being dumped, but still heading back to save the day. Not to mention the first thought that comes to mind seeing the mindless destruction of the Trochefane is the Daleks. I certainly hope it does not wind up being them again, but there is more to that I will get to in a moment.

Last week’s cliffhanger is quickly resolved as our heroic trio of the Doctor, Martha, and Captain Jack use Jack’s wrist teleported to follow the TARDIS from the end of the universe to the 21st century. Once there, the Doctor discovers the Master is Harold Saxon, the new Prime Minister of Great Britain. The Master has used some sort of subliminal messaging through cell phones to make voters unquestionably favor him. Once in power, he kills the Cabinet and prepares the country for first contact with a new, supposedly peaceful, alien race. He attempts to kill Martha by hiding Wile E. Coyote sticks of dynamite in her flat. Our trio, who had been hiding there, escape, but our declared enemies of the state. The Master has Martha’s family captured in hopes of luring them out.

The US president arrives and demand to oversee the meeting with the aliens. He is a clear satire of George W. Bush, even once claiming he could become master of the world if that was God’s will. I rolled my eyes at that one. The Master and the Doctor play cat and mouse a while, even giving us a glimpse of Gallifrey and the Time War in the process. The Doctor and his cohorts eventually make it to UNIT’s ship, Valiant, where he fins the TARDIS booby trapped by the Master. The Doctor is captured and, using the Lazerus technology from a few episodes ago, aged 100 years. We watches helplessly as the sky fill with six billion alien ships that immediately begin attacking Earth. Jack urges Martha to teleport away to fight another day. To be continued.

Like a I said above, a mixed here. One thing I have to mention as a fancier of linguistics. The Master orders the aliens to decimate the population in the literal sense, not the commonly accepted one. They are to kill 1/10th of humanity. There is a nice, proper use of terms. I am not so sure how much I like John Simm’s turn as the Master. He seems too much like a funhouse mirror version of the Tenth Doctor. He is manic, hyperactive, with an arrogance that allows him to be cruel. More cruel than the Doctor, granted, but he till does not strike me as a mastermind kind of villain. I want Ras al Gul, not the Joker.

The alien spaceships look a lot like the sphere the Daleks were hiding in last season. The resemblance opens the possibility the denizens of the spheres might be Daleks, the Time Lords, or the revamped Cybermen. I would groan if the Daleks are used again, but I would not put it pased RTD. Could it e the Time Lords gone mad? The Master told the Doctor if he knew what was inside the spheres it would break his hearts. There have been some hints through official channels the Cybermen are back from Hell and in the spheres. I think that would be a cheap move to use them out of the blue, especially when they have been so easily defeated twice before. You know, I am almost rady to say they have something to do with Rose and her stint as the Bad Wolf. That would certainly upset the Doctor. I do not know yet, but I hope I am not disappointed

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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