Doctor Who 3.13 "Last of the Time Lords"

Written by: Russell T Davies

Directed by: Colin Teague

Rating:

Why do I always get the difficult ones to review? I say that not just because I’m required to write this in a stream of consciousness to hit a 9.00pm deadline to
get it online, but because if any episode this season requires a second or third
watch to judge it fairly, then “Last of the Time Lords” is the one. So, this is going to have to be gut reaction stuff.

Unfortunately, my gut’s
telling me it’s got indigestion. It’s telling me I’ve had a huge multi-course
meal, full of rich, scrummy food and a few side orders of my least favourite
vegetables that I still ate out of politeness, even though they made me gag a
bit on the way down.

It was certainly epic in scope, and for the most part felt epic, and there
was loads to enjoy. John Simm, astoundingly good as the Master; Freema giving
her best performance yet; the brillant FX work; the typically sparkling RTD
dialogue. Who didn’t breathe a sigh of relief, though, when that cod
fantasy-epic nonsense about the gun turned out to be a red herring, though on
the other hand the “I do believe in fairies, I do, I do” resolution may have not
have been any less “magical” to satisfy a lot of fans demanding a more hard SF
approach in the show (personally, I liked the message it was trying to get
across, but the shots of a ghostly Tennant floating down the steps did
unfortunately look like something out of a panto).

Also, for a story that was so packed, there did seem to be a couple of
pointless scenes stuck in either to give Barrowman something to do, or add some
action while Martha went walkabout. A bit if a shame, as it would have been nice
to see more of what the world was like under the Master’s rule (though probably
too expensive to realise).

Oh yeah, before I forget – a list of random influences that came to mind,
inserted here inelegantly because I haven’t time to be elegant: Flash Gordon
(someone picking up the Master’s ring), Superman: The Movie (Earth spinning
backwards), Return of the Jedi (baddie on funeral pyre), Peter Pan (“I do
believe in fairies”) and The Lord of the Rings (didn’t you want to hear the Doctor
go, “My precious?).

Okay, the revelation about the Toclafane wasn’t much of a surprise, but hey,
wasn’t the effect great when they opened the sphere? And the closing scenes with
Martha didn’t have anywhere near the emotional ooomph of Rose’s departure (but
then, we don’t really believe she’s gone for good, do we?). The Gollum Doctor
was just a bit too cute and manga-ish to take seriously and Barrowman fans must
be moaning about how little he had to do. Or the fact that Captain Jack may one
day lose his looks… and limbs… and er, everything but his head, which will
inflate to a size befitting his ego. Good gag, though.

Overall? Good solid fun, with some great performances and memorable visuals
but possibly the least satisfying New Who finale so far.

Though I may change my mind…

Reviewer: Dave Golder