Doctor Who Review: Utopia

The return of Captain Jack sets us up for what looks like a non-stop sprint to the end of the series.

Cast and Crew

David Tennant as the Doctor
Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones
John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness
Derek Jacobi as Professor Yana
Chipo Chung as Chantho
Rene Zagger as Padra
Neil Reidman as Lieutenant Atillo
Paul Marc Davies as Chieftain
Robert Forknall as Guard
John Bell as Creet
Deborah Maclaren as Kistane
Abigail Canton as Wiry Woman
John Simm as the Master

Written by Russell T. Davies

Directed by Graeme Harper

Originally aired on the 16th of June 2007 on BBC One in the United Kingdom.

Synopsis

Martha and the Doctor stop off in Cardiff to refuel the TARDIS. As they are leaving, they pick up an unexpected passenger and arrive at the end of the universe, where an old enemy awaits…

High Points

  • Derek Jacobi does evil very well
  • John Simm does it too
  • It all ties back to Human Nature, making the last half of the season start to feel like a cohesive story

Low Points

  • Why are the futurekind yet another variant on super-evolved formerly human savages? Why can’t superevolved humans ever have electricity?
  • It’s not my imagination that RTD-penned episodes seem to be rather more generic and predictable than those by certain other authors.

The Scores

Originality: The most original thread in the plot is probably that concerning the Master. The rest is fairly standard end of the universe fare. Four out of six.

Effects: Par for the course. Was it just me, or did the scene with the refugees boarding the rocket look like it had been rendered at half the necessary frame rate? There’s nothing special here, but there’s nothing bad either. Four out of six.

Story: Happily this episode is not a complete story. It brings back Captain Jack, which is definitely going to be a popular move, and it returns us to themes from earlier episodes, including Human Nature, and the Face of Bo’s prophecy. It could be a good end of season, but most of this episode is fairly humdrum. Four out of six.

Acting: Look at the new cast for this episode: Derek Jacobi, John Simm, John Barrowman. They are all in fine form, although it’s not brilliance. Five out of six.

Emotional response: I must admit this episode made me very happy, as it may signal the end of the new series’ most irritating premise. It’s also entertaining, but there’s nothing really deep to tug on the heartstrings. Four out of six.

Production: Too many anonymous corridors. Four out of six.

Overall: It’s okay, but after last week it’s rather a let down. Four out of six.

Utopia receives a middling twenty-nine out of forty-two.

20 replies on “Doctor Who Review: Utopia”

  1. TwistyHat says:

    irritating premise?
    What irritating premise?

    • Timeshredder says:

      Who in Canada
      The CBC has final picked up this season, starting next week.

      • y42 says:

        Re: Who in Canada

        The CBC has final picked up this season, starting next week.

        It’s good that they aren’t waiting until the French language dub starts to air in Canada, this year.

      • joe__gee says:

        Re: Who in Canada

        The CBC has final picked up this season, starting next week.

        The CBC coproduces this series with BBC Wales. It’s pretty much guaranteed. Lucky Canada. :)

        -Joe

    • KILNA says:

      Re: irritating premise?

      What irritating premise?

      Given the context I think he means the permise that The Doctor is the last of the timelords (which is different than the original Who series).

      I personally think that his tortured and lonely nature makes The Doctor’s character more interesting. I don’t think I’d be as driven by a show about him challenging and bickering with dozens of other timelords all bordering on the omnipotent.

  2. sinesurferNZ says:

    Utopia
    Started out as the usual type of go somewhere, meet someone and do something then…… the timelord failed to perceive the past and future of someone he encountered and things changed.

    Without spoiling the end, it’s a two or three part story that answers some questions, at least we now know how (Group) Capt. Jack got from 200100 back to the 21st Century.

  3. TheScarf says:

    Got some explaining to do….
    Last we saw the master, he was sucked into the Eye of Harmony and he had no more regenerations. It seems the Eye of Harmony was affected by the destruction of the Time Lords since the Dr has to recharge in Cardiff every now and then, but they still need to fill in the gaps. If this was done in one of the books they still need to introduce it on screen.

    • iamlegion says:

      Re: Got some explaining to do….

      Last we saw the master, he was sucked into the Eye of Harmony and he had no more regenerations.

      Indeed; a friend who has watched far more Who than I ballparked that this is something like regen #18 for the Master… And that doesn’t count whatever he’s done between the Doctor’s usual temporal stomping grounds and the literal end of the universe.

      All I can say is that they bloody well better elaborate what compelled the Master to use his watch in the first place.

      • joe__gee says:

        Re: Got some explaining to do….

        All I can say is that they bloody well better elaborate what compelled the Master to use his watch in the first place.


        It has been indicated that every Time Lord the Daleks could find, except the Doctor, was destroyed. I’d say we’re being asked to believe that the Master, being a self-obsessed coward, ran to the edge of time and changed himself to avoid detection by the Daleks.

        I would have expected something similar from him.

        -Joe

    • TwistyHat says:

      Re: Got some explaining to do….
      They don’t NEED – and they probably will chose not to – its too confusing for new viewers, and old ones … well they’ll just make somthing up :)

  4. TheScarf says:

    Other questions….
    What was it with the drums that Yana kept hearing? It could have come from the watch, but I don’t know why it would be drums rather than the Master’s voice.

    Second, The Dr could have hitched a ride like Capt. Jack did, but I suppose the Master has his own TARDIS around somewhere. Anyone spot anything that could be a TARDIS with a working chameleon circuit?

    • hans says:

      Re: Other questions….

      What was it with the drums that Yana kept hearing? It could have come from the watch, but I don’t know why it would be drums rather than the Master’s voice.

      I think we heard it too, and it sounded more like a TARDIS than drums, but he wouldn’t know that would he?

      Second, The Dr could have hitched a ride like Capt. Jack did, but I suppose the Master has his own TARDIS around somewhere. Anyone spot anything that could be a TARDIS with a working chameleon circuit?

      Maybe not – Jack can do things that would vaporize people after all. As for spotting something – that’s the whole point of a chameleon circuit isn’t it?

      • Chillum says:

        Re: Other questions….

        What was it with the drums that Yana kept hearing? It could have come from the watch, but I don’t know why it would be drums rather than the Master’s voice.

        I think we heard it too, and it sounded more like a TARDIS than drums, but he wouldn’t know that would he?

        Second, The Dr could have hitched a ride like Capt. Jack did, but I suppose the Master has his own TARDIS around somewhere. Anyone spot anything that could be a TARDIS with a working chameleon circuit?

        Maybe not – Jack can do things that would vaporize people after all. As for spotting something – that’s the whole point of a chameleon circuit isn’t it?

        Who needs a TARDIS? Captain Jack has his broken time travel wristwatch thingy, quick blast of the sonic screwdriver and it’ll be working fine :)

    • GSVNofixedabode says:

      Re: Other questions….

      What was it with the drums that Yana kept hearing? It could have come from the watch, but I don’t know why it would be drums rather than the Master’s voice.

      I had a feeling afterward that the Drums were something to do with his tardis. Ok, who can remember the sound of the Master’s tardis engines? I’m sure it was different to the Doctor’s but memory from those years is fading ;-)

      • babasyzygy says:

        Re: Other questions….

        I had a feeling afterward that the Drums were something to do with his tardis. Ok, who can remember the sound of the Master’s tardis engines? I’m sure it was different to the Doctor’s but memory from those years is fading ;-)

        No, every TARDIS we’ve heard sounds the same. The Doctor’s, The Master’s, The Rani’s…

  5. joe__gee says:

    This Master so far has been deliciously evil …
    I’m delighted to see him return. I suspect we will see some excellent television involving him.

    He’s really bad, and it was really nice to see an evil character who (so far) doesn’t seem to be "misunderstood", "disaffected", "dispossessed," "conflicted," or "unloved." He seems to be pitiless, egotistical to the extreme, and bent on doing Nasty Things just for the joy of doing Nasty Things. Excellent. :)

    Please let him outlive the end-of-season cliffhanger/resolution.

    -Joe G.

  6. y42 says:

    You guys are slipping
    The TARDIS landed in a quarry!

    A glorious, dark, QUARRY!!! :D

    • Chillum says:

      Re: You guys are slipping

      The TARDIS landed in a quarry!

      A glorious, dark, QUARRY!!! :D

      Yeah that made me smile :) wonder if it was a deliberate tip of the hat to the old series for this particular storyline..

      • Chillum says:

        Re: You guys are slipping

        The TARDIS landed in a quarry!

        A glorious, dark, QUARRY!!! :D

        Yeah that made me smile :) wonder if it was a deliberate tip of the hat to the old series for this particular storyline..

        ..or on second thoughts, just more budget balancing!

  7. Chillum says:

    Teeth

    Why are the futurekind yet another variant on super-evolved formerly human savages?

    My guess is they overspent on the budget, and only had enough money left for pointy rubber teeth, rather than the traditional rubber costumes :)

Comments are closed.