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It's been a quiet but lovely Christmas here in Birmingham. I'm the last one still up - everyone else has staggered off to bed after being lulled into a pleasant stupor by turkey and pudding and brandy and the Father Ted Christmas special. I've got the cat curled up next to me and a fire slowly dying in the grate, while on the opposite side of the room is a truly humongous pile of presents, including such goodies as a book of 1930s women's style pages from the tabloid newspapers, a new ash-pan for my fire (well, I think it's exciting!) and of course three Doctor Who DVDs (all of First Doctor stories).

Like last year, I willingly helped out with kitchen tasks during the earlier part of the afternoon in order to ensure that I could enjoy the Doctor Who Christmas special at 6pm without feeling guilty. It was worth it, although overall, I was rather underwhelmed by the episode. It seemed too burdened down with the need to drive forward an epic plot, with the result that the newly-introduced characters were nothing more than cardboard cut-outs, the bits that were plot-heavy lacked subtlety and the bits that weren't sometimes dragged. Even David Tennant often appeared to have all too little to do.

Then again, it was only part one of a two-parter, which over its total length is obviously going to have to wrap up all the unresolved story-lines of Russell T. Davies' entire tenure. We always knew it was going to be EPICALLY EPIC, and given what the last few years of the programme have been like, that does seem like the only appropriate way to finish it all now. So it's no good expecting subtlety or departures from established formulae at this stage, really.

Besides, Bernard Cribbins was spell-binding throughout, as was John Simms actually - something I never quite felt with his previous appearances. And there were some great individual moments. These were my personal favourites:
  • The TARDIS in the stained glass window at the beginning, which briefly made me wish I was a Medievalist so that I could make it into an icon and gloat inwardly every time I used it, instead of only getting a lararium image that was blatantly pressed out of plastic and looks too rubbish to use.
  • Resonances of at least three different Hammer Dracula films in the Master's resurrection scene.
  • John Simm creeping the hell out of a couple of innocent waste-land bums.
  • The Doctor and the Master sharing childhood memories, followed by an intense psychic moment together. I don't ship them or anything, but I do like them to have a properly conflicted love / hate relationship.
  • Donna just being in it at all.
  • The Doctor dissolving the second Vinvocci's shimmer over his shoulder without even bothering to look at him properly.
  • Wilf trying to answer the phone and accidentally pulling out his gun instead!
  • A whole world full of Masters, all of them mad and half of them in drag.
  • THAT FUCKING ENDING, which had me literally on the edge of my seat going "Oh please, oh please, oh please, OH YES!"
  • The fact that the Time Lords now have a properly lordly-looking citadel, even if it is blatantly ripped off from Star Wars.
  • And the realisation that the woman only Wilf can see in the church and on the telly HAS EVERY CHANCE OF BEING ROMANA.

I might try and have a think about what's likely to come up in the second part tomorrow, but for now I think I'm too tired and turkeyed-out. Hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and are blessedly free of post-festive hangovers in the morning.

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( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 26th, 2009 01:57 am (UTC)
John Simm absolutely rocked in this one, I think he nearly outdid DT in the acting mental stakes! And I'm sure I wasn't the only one humming the Imperial March when he was shooting that blue lightning at the Doctor. :)

Bah, I never even stopped to think that the woman Wilf saw was Romana, I thought it was Flavia. Shows how much I know, doesn't it? :D

Dec. 26th, 2009 12:50 pm (UTC)
Well, I didn't even think of Flavia, so that just shows what I know! I'd say Romana is more likely, a) because average audiences stand more chance of remembering her and b) because the woman in last night's episode was clearly sympathetic to the Doctor, which is in keeping with Romana's character. But the options are still open! :-)

Another tiny possibility, purely because of her clothing, is that she is meant to be the White Guardian. But I think that's fairly unlikely, a) because RTD has frequently said in interviews that he prefers to steer clear of those kind of 'higher powers' in the Whoniverse and b) because again I think most ordinary viewers would have no idea who the Black or White Guardians were.
Dec. 26th, 2009 11:15 pm (UTC)
Did you think the woman was clearly sympathetic to the doctor? The audience where I was were going "ooh, don't trust her..."
Dec. 27th, 2009 12:27 am (UTC)
Hmm, it seemed so to me, but I guess maybe the bit where she told Wilf not to tell the Doctor what she'd told him was a little suspicious.
Dec. 27th, 2009 12:28 am (UTC)
Yes -- the "it's for his own good but absolutely don't tell him" is a classic "could be good or could be bad" set up.
Dec. 26th, 2009 08:42 am (UTC)
I am going for all sorts of ideas based on the New adventures - Gallifrey being stored in the Master's brain like the Matrix (hence the heart beats). In the 8th doctor books he had it stored in his head.

Also with the timelords apparently being interested in the end of time I am seeing them being a big bad taking the place of the faction paradox
Dec. 26th, 2009 12:58 pm (UTC)
Ah, I didn't know that about the Matrix being in the Master's brain. (I'm largely ignorant of the spin-off novels). Interesting stuff, and definitely possible, although it would take quite a lot of explaining to get it to work for viewers who knew nothing about the novels.

I'm not sure whether the Time Lords en masse will turn out to be evil, or whether it's just that the Timothy Dalton character is a kind of evil tyrant who has the rest of them under his control. Certainly, the preview trailer on the official site shows at least one female Time Lord speaking up against him, so there may be dissent within the ranks. The resolution for part 2 may well be that the evil tyrant needs to be overthrown, and someone nicer (I'm hoping Romana!) installed in his place. Obviously with Terrible Sacrifices going on in the process, though.
Dec. 26th, 2009 12:42 pm (UTC)
And did you notice the name on the side of the bus? Sparrow. Pure genius.
Dec. 26th, 2009 12:59 pm (UTC)
Yes - apparently someone on the bus was called Sally, too, though I didn't pick up on that myself.
Dec. 26th, 2009 01:29 pm (UTC)
Yes; though she had a non-speaking part, so it really was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment.
Dec. 26th, 2009 12:44 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid I only saw the opening bits but it was enough to make me think I wouldn't miss anything too great by going to bed. Mr Pops had recorded it as we were eating when it was on at 6pm.
Dec. 26th, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
Ah, I made everyone eat at 7 in our house so that I could watch it first! ;-)

Yeah, I think you'll live without having seen it. And you can always catch up on it later anyway if you have recorded it.
Dec. 26th, 2009 01:15 pm (UTC)
John Simm as the Master was an absolute hero (Sylar or Peter Petrelli, not sure which...)
Dec. 26th, 2009 01:21 pm (UTC)
Ooh, yes - definite touches of Sylar there. I've only seen season one of Heroes, so may be a bit out of date with Peter Petrelli - does he go a bit nuts after he blows himself and his brother up?

PS - good icon choice!
Dec. 26th, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC)
TBH you haven't missed that much - season 1 was the best, but after that it went a bit samey. I think PP did go a bit no-more-mr-nice-guy for a bit, but there were two of him, one with a scar, and it was all a bit confusing!

I have a suspicion I fell asleep before the end of Dr Who (I recorded it and watched it last thing) but will try and watch the last bit again before the finale!
Dec. 26th, 2009 03:06 pm (UTC)
The last bit was the best, so you definitely want to be fully up to speed with that!
Dec. 27th, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
OMGROMANAIHOPESO. I hadn't thought of that AT ALL.

V excited about Gallifrey being back. GALLIFREY!!!!! Also thought John Simm made sense for the first time ever (I didn't like the last Master episodes: I could only think John Simm was doing John Hurt's Caligula, but without [a] as good a script or [b] Derek Jacobi to anchor the crazy in actual human-scale acting. And they even got Derek Jacobi in to show us how good it could have been! Oh, the humanity.)
Dec. 27th, 2009 05:06 pm (UTC)
Given that it would unfortunately be impossible for Barbara to come back now, Romana is the single Classic character I would most like to see making a return in New Who. So I may be indulging in wishful thinking a little bit. But the way she seemed to be alive but in some kind of parallel plane did rather fit with Romana still being in E-space.

And yes, I have felt the absence of Gallifrey and the Time Lords sorely. I know they haven't always been portrayed in a very thoughtful or interesting manner, but the IDEA of a complicated, archaic society of corrupt, in-fighting bureaucrats overseeing the workings of time and space is genius, and setting the Doctor off against them is even better. Plus The Deadly Assassin is one of my favourite episodes ever, which helps a lot. I am really looking forward to seeing them portrayed with the full pomp and ceremony which the clips we've seen so far have suggested.
Dec. 28th, 2009 05:21 pm (UTC)
Donna's fate intrigues me. Presumably she was (at the start of the episode) still half-human half-timelord? Could she possibly now be transformed into a full timelord and in fact, specifically half-Master and half-Doctor?

Also is there more to Wilf than meets the eye? Why was he not converted into the Master? We learnt in the episode that he didn't fight in the war, but which war? Hmm ...

I don't think Romana will feature in the next episode. Plenty of time to find her later if the Timelords are to return.

Dec. 28th, 2009 08:17 pm (UTC)
Yes, the fact that Donna didn't turn into the Master like everyone else does suggest there is something non-human about her. Whether that's the result of some of the things which happened to her during her adventures with the Doctor, or something that was already the case before he met her, remains to be seen.

I'm not so sure about Wilf, though. He and the Doctor were both inside the protective chamber when the Master carried out his transformation, so that is the immediate reason why he didn't transform. The result is that we don't know whether he would have transformed if he'd been outside it or not. It may mean we're being kept in suspense about his true nature, or it may be a double-bluff and he is a perfectly normal human being after all. I think I would prefer the latter, as to me an ordinary guy who copes with enormous things is a much more interesting and poignant character than someone who turns out to have been more than human all along.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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