Visit the official Doctor Who website

Visit the official Doctor Who website
Look to the future

Asylum seekers...

Asylum seekers...
Refuge of the Daleks

Doctor Who picture resource

Doctor Who picture resource
Roam the space lanes!

Explore the Doctor Who classic series website

Explore the Doctor Who classic series website
Step back in time

Infiltrate The Hub of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood

Infiltrate The Hub of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood
Armed and extremely dangerous

Investigate The Sarah Jane Adventures

Investigate The Sarah Jane Adventures
Fearless in the face of adversity

Call on Dani’s House

Call on Dani’s House
Harmer’s a charmer

Intercept the UFO fabsite

Intercept the UFO fabsite
Defending the Earth against alien invaders!

Uncover the secrets of the Dollhouse

Uncover the secrets of the Dollhouse
Programmable agent Echo exposed!

Hell’s belles

Hell’s belles
Naughty but nice

Love Exposure

Love Exposure
Flash photography!

Primeval portal

Primeval portal
Dressed to kill or damsels in distress?

Charmed, to be sure!

Charmed, to be sure!
The witches of San Francisco

Take on t.A.T.u.

Take on t.A.T.u.
All the way from Moscow

Proceed to the Luther website

Proceed to the Luther website
John and Jenny discuss their next move

DCI Banks is on the case

DCI Banks is on the case
You can bet on it!

On The Grid with Spooks

On The Grid with Spooks
Secret agents of Section D

Bridge to Hustle

Bridge to Hustle
Shady characters

Life on Ashes To Ashes

Life on Ashes To Ashes
Coppers with a chequered past

Claire’s no Exile

Claire’s no Exile
Goose steps

Vexed is back on the beat!

Vexed is back on the beat!
Mismatched DI Armstrong and bright fast-tracker Georgina Dixon

Medium, both super and natural

Medium, both super and natural
Open the door to your dreams

Who’s that girl? (350-picture Slideshow)

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Master Class


Sir Derek Jacobi’s portrayal of, initially, Professor Yana and, latterly, the Master in the latest episode of “Doctor Who”, “Utopia”, was quite simply exemplary. I don’t think it an exaggeration to say that his is the finest performance the series has seen since its return a little over two years ago. I’ve already read accusations of hamminess levelled at the moment Sir Derek is revealed to be the Doctor’s arch enemy but, for me, he executed the transition from good to evil with consummate ease. Just for one episode, Jacobi gave back dignity to “Doctor Who”! Which is more than can be said for successor John Simm!! Post regeneration, the Master had undergone a complete character transplant, which I know is often the case with Gallifreyans, and started to act like a total buffoon in order to fit in perfectly with the RTD vision of the “Doctor Who” universe!!! I suppose I don’t blame Simm. He can only work with what Russell writes. But, he was out-acted by the boy who won the “Blue Peter” competition! And, in a way, the “Life on Mars” actor undermined the good work the Knight of the Realm had put in hitherto. Just as David Tennant undercut much that transpired in “The Parting of the Ways”, with his first few words at the end of that episode, and as Catherine Tate’s supposedly humorous appearance at the end of “Doomsday” detracted from Rose’s emotional departure, so, too, did John Simm diminish what had gone before.

There were some very strange time anomalies in “Utopia”! The Doctor had never seen equipment of this type before even though the Professor was using regular jack plugs! Then, there was the 21st Century lorry that delivered the retrieved TARDIS!! But, best of all, was the black phone the Doctor used which is already out-of-date even by today’s standards!!! It was supposed to be the furthest forward the TARDIS had ever been. Are these artefacts included so the general populace can relate to the story? If so, science fiction really isn’t for them. The rest of us might like to enjoy some material which doesn’t anachronistically reference life as it is in the present day but actually employs the imagination to wonder what it might really be like in the far-flung future! And, what of Futurekind itself? This sabre-toothed clan looked like bikers or wasters you see hanging around city centres with nothing better to do than marvel over each other’s multiple piercings and tattoos! “Utopia”, if nothing else, certainly helped to demonise them!! Aside from their appearance, I thought they were one plot idea too many. It is a tradition, in the programme, to feature outlanders of one sort-or-another but their inclusion only added clutter to what little narrative drive the episode had already. The one little spark of imagination in the yarn came in the concept and design of Chantho, and in her portrayal by Chipo Chung. I warmed to her and, like Captain Jack, wasn’t put off by her speech impediment! Imagine Sir Derek as the Doctor with her as his companion!! It would work for me for a season!!!

5 comments:

Karen said...

I think that while the Dr and Jack didn't recognise the technology that involved sending the silo into space the rest of it worked for me. If humanity is down to it's last dregs it stands to reason that everything else would be the same. They would be pulling together everything they had to put the rocket together. The items they use may be recognisable where the end result might not. Does that make any sort of sense?

Steve said...

We thought Chantho was excellent too - full marks for the actress who played her as her performance really made the character work.

I'm hoping John Simm will settle down and become a lot darker and restrained once the "regeneration madness" wears off. We'll see...

Like you I was perturbed by the 20th/21st century technology that seemed to proliferate that far in the future... it showed a distinct lack of imagination to my mind.

doppelganger said...

Perceptive as ever Timewarden...

How nice to see at least one timelord portrayed as a twinkly-eyed Edwardian gent, at least for a while. Shame we couldn't keep Sir Derek as The Master for a bit....

Elsewhere - Even though it is a show that rests on a box bigger on the inside than out, it can still be 'too' ridiculous...

Troubling to me is the notion that the Tardis literally moves through space in a solid form, rather than dematerialising... thus enabling Capn Jack to cling to the outside! Too stupid for words - how can we allow RTD to defile one of the most imaginative concepts on telly in such a way? Still - I suppose it was thus cos he needed it for a bleedin' CAR CHASE at Christmas.....

Old Cheeser said...

Like you I really enjoyed Derek J's performance, Time Warden...I thought he was excellent in the dual roles of Professor and Master, proving what a versatile actor he is. The hardness in his eyes and face when he became the Master was unnerving. A shame we didn't see him in the role of the Dr's arch nemesis for longer.

And like you my first impressions of John Simm weren't, I'm afraid to say, very favourable, in particular the "how does my voice sound" and the "Bye Bye!" bit. Yeuccch! Very camp. As you say I think the "new" Master has been conceived to fit in with the RTD version of DW - a younger, more energetic, jokey version in suiting with David Tennant's incarnation of the Dr? I can kind of see the logic behind this but PLEASE don't make such a potentially great character into a mad panto villain (as Anthony Ainley became). As Steve says, I hope he'll have calmed down a bit when we see him in this Saturday's episode and his real menace is revealed! Evil deeds can be achieved without ranting and acting stoo-pid! Certainly the clips of "The Sound of Drums" look promising - I really hope it lives up to the hype. I look forward to seeing how they're going to explain exactly how the Master/Mr Saxon manages to manoeuvre his way into becoming PM! Not to mention how the Dr and co manage to escape from Malcazero and get to Earth sans TARDIS! I'm sooo excited! (And I can hardly believe the season is almost over...sob...)

Apart from my John Simm gripes I did actually like the episode a lot - even if the plot was rather thin on the ground (broken rocket needs fixing so last humans can escape to Utopia) with character development given more of a front seat. When the drumbeats in the Professor's head began and the fob watch was revealed I was on the edge of my seat!

It was also great to see Jack back in the fold and he had some good dialogues with the Doc.

As for the technological time anomalies thing, fair point, but I have to say I didn't really notice...I was just too caught up in the drama...

And I know what you mean about the Futurekind, I didn't think they looked too bad - I'm sure I've seen many of them in Camden.

I really liked Chantho too - a genuinely endearing character and I agree she would have made a lovely companion - such a pity she got bumped off. Oh well, as with Martha/Adeola, maybe she'll turn out to have a distant relative or something who can join the TARDIS crew(even if she was meant to be the last of her race!) These things are never impossible in the Whoniverse! I was actually thinking after Martha they need an alien companion for contrast - too many Earth girls starts to get repetitive...

TimeWarden said...

I don't think anything of today will survive as long as accidentally-suggested by the episode, Karen, technological or otherwise, let alone find itself halfway across the galaxy as well!

This "distinct lack of imagination" suggests the Producers aren't really setting "Doctor Who" in any kind of consistent reality. Eating a bag of chips grounds a story in the present day but, unfortunately for "Utopia", so does a black phone!!

Lovely description of Derek Jacobi's performance, Doppelgänger. "Twinkly-eyed Edwardian gent" sums it up perfectly!

I didn't like Jack clinging to the outside of the TARDIS either. I know he'll shag anything but that was going too far! "Stop it"!!

Re: John Simm, we seem to be in agreement on this one, Simon! I cringed when he said "Bye, bye" too. I didn't even like the way he started one of his sentences with "Anyway" as though he was summing up before he'd barely begun!!

As for Futurekind, maybe they've already taken over Camden market! They could be hiding out in the Roundhouse where the 7th Doctor first caught the acting bug!!