Doctor Who Review: The Sound of Drums

Penultimate episode of series three. World is in peril again.

Primary Cast and Crew

David Tennant as the Doctor
Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones
John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness
John Simm as the Master
Adjoa Andoh as Francine Jones
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Tish Jones
Trevor Laird as Clive Jones
Reggie Yates as Leo Jones
Alexandra Moen as Lucy Saxon
Colin Stinton as the President

Written by Russell T. Davies

Directed by Colin Teague

Originally aired on the 23rd of June 2007 on BBC One in the United Kingdom.

Synopsis

Earth, early 21st Century, and Harold Saxon has become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, he’s not a loyal British subject, but an insane, evil Time Lord.

High Points

  • Hurrah for UNIT! Finally the new series notices them.
  • “Who’d have sonic?”

Low Points

  • The Master’s behaving more like the Doctor than I’m entirely comfortable with. I keep thinking how John Simm would make a good Doctor.

The Scores

Originality: another series ending, another invasion of the Earth, doom of humanity, yadda, yadda, yadda. Just for once I’d like the Earth not to be doomed at the end of the series, even if it is by a different person each time. Three out of six.

Effects: ripping open the sky and destroying civilisation isn’t easy. Five out of six.

Story: while everything’s woven together very well, hints from earlier in the series coming to fruition, I’m left puzzled by the motivation the Master has to destroy the world this time. Perhaps we’ll find out next time. Four out of six.

Acting: John Simm is a superb actor. I didn’t think he’d be quite this insane, and quibble with the characterisation all I might, he acts it extremely well. Tish seems a bit wooden though. Five out of six.

Emotional response: my strongest response is a sense of revulsion at what the Master’s done to the British government and police. That mass hypnosis is very effective, but it’s creepy. I’m not sure I care very much about the end of the world though – you just know they’re not going to actually destroy the entire planet. Five out of six.

Production: the sound of drums mentioned in the title is carried in rhythmic form throughout the soundtrack in a very effective way. The locations are a lot more interesting than last week’s corridors as well. Five out of six.

Overall: I’m disappointed, but it actually improves a little on second viewing. It must be the shock of what they did with the Master wearing off. Perhaps we can have some evil that’s not played for comedy next time? Four out of six.

The Sound of Drums receives thirty-one out of forty-two.

34 replies on “Doctor Who Review: The Sound of Drums”

  1. Alexius says:

    "Hear come the drums! Hear come the drums!"
    <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voodoo_Chile>The Song</a> from the song didn’t really do it for me outside of the episode, though.

  2. J_W_W says:

    My low point
    Aging a timelord. I mean the Doctor’s already really old, but if he got so old he died, he’d just regenerate. Or he could kill himself and regenerate. Also, didn’t the anti-aging device turn that guy into a monster? Why doesn’t the aging device turn the Doctor into a monster? That just bugged me. True, the Master needed to capture the doctor, but this point just bugged me.

    However, I think the answer to what the Master’s plans are will be answered by a closer look at whats in the machines. Don’t they seem a lot like little Dalek globes???

    • TomSwiss says:

      Re: My low point

      Aging a timelord. I mean the Doctor’s already really old, but if he got so old he died, he’d just regenerate.

      Time Lords have a limited number of regenerations (at least normally), and the Doctor mentioned before giving up several years of his life to jump-start the Tardis. Yes, he could eventually regenerate and get young again, but for now he’s very weakened, powerless witness to the Master’s domination – just as the Master wants.

      Also, didn’t the anti-aging device turn that guy into a monster?

      That was an early version made by a mere human; presumably the Master has worked out all the bugs.

      • J_W_W says:

        Re: My low point

        Also, didn’t the anti-aging device turn that guy into a monster?

        That was an early version made by a mere human; presumably the Master has worked out all the bugs.

        Presumably…. eh.

    • y42 says:

      Time Lords are better than you

      didn’t the anti-aging device turn that guy into a monster? Why doesn’t the aging device turn the Doctor into a monster????

      Pitiful human.

    • hans says:

      Re: My low point

      Aging a timelord. I mean the Doctor’s already really old, but if he got so old he died, he’d just regenerate. Or he could kill himself and regenerate. Also, didn’t the anti-aging device turn that guy into a monster? Why doesn’t the aging device turn the Doctor into a monster? That just bugged me. True, the Master needed to capture the doctor, but this point just bugged me.

      Not to mention the BBC (and almost everyone else) just CAN’T DO artificial aging. He looks terrible, as in not at all like the doctor or the actor would look when aged. Every time they try this, they fail so very miserably. They need to just stop trying. I was watching a Monk rerun the other day and they did an absolutely amazing job of making the actors look 10 years younger, and special effects isn’t the forte of detective shows. Maybe they should be making people younger instead of older, it might be easier to get right.

  3. fsphil says:

    Good and bad!
    Good: The Master is great.
    Good: The spheres are great too.
    Bad: The ‘solution’ to last episodes cliffhanger. Ooch.

    Are they just going to completely ignore the future kind, and Utopia – whatever that was.

    Bad: I’ve got that song in my head now. Urgh!
    Good: Gallifrey!

    • TomSwiss says:

      Re: Good and bad!

      Are they just going to completely ignore the future kind, and Utopia – whatever that was.

      Probably – and they should. It’s fine to leave the eventual fate of the human race at the end of the universe open to our own imagination.

      • joe__gee says:

        Re: Good and bad!

        Are they just going to completely ignore the future kind, and Utopia – whatever that was.

        Probably – and they should. It’s fine to leave the eventual fate of the human race at the end of the universe open to our own imagination.

        I think the fate of the futurekind and humanity will be decided in the first few episodes of next season. The Doctor and/or Martha won’t likely forget the Master has sent a shipful of the last humans to a location on a map that may or may not be harmful to them.

        This is an episode that is only slightly less than a year away.

        We can wait.

        -Joe

  4. vanyel says:

    Too predictable
    It was all too obvious what was going to happen to the cabinet and the US president. And I just don’t believe the companion having to fix things all on her own all the time. I’m not sure that’s a valid complaint, but it feels like it after Family of Blood and now Martha ending up isolated on the planet with a 1-in-10 chance of getting vaporized before she even gets started. Why didn’t she touch at least Cap’n Jack, if not both of them, before transporting?

    But the tap tap tap tap…tap tap tap tap… is insidious. I found myself doing it at work yesterday ;-)

  5. joe__gee says:

    Gallifrey
    How could that not be a high point? I loved the special effects, and I noted that the Time Lord costumes appeared to be original. The old fellow standing away from the city at the beginning of the montage could have been the original Chancellor. The cell phone discussion between the Master and the Doctor was excellent. I could care about the Toclophanes the Master’s true "voodoo children," I suspect: "if I told you the truth, your hearts would break" they’re personality clones of some sort, or they’re essence of the dead Time Lords put to horrible use.

    Other high points for me, the excellent use of music through this episode, and the homage to Tom Baker, which I first noticed with the PM exclaiming "Britain! Britain! Britain!" The jelly babies, the Master’s general manner. I see him as Tom Baker’s Doctor gone horribly wrong.

    I also enjoyed the Master’s anti-assistant. The murder of the ersatz reporter was evil, over the top, and delicious in a Hannibal kind of way. Loved the pause in the scream too.

    I enjoyed this episode. It was fun. I’m looking forward to next week’s. :)

    -Joe

    • Vulch says:

      Re: Gallifrey

      … the homage to Tom Baker, …

      In other homages, a flying aircraft carrier with an indestructable captain on board? Maybe RTD is angling for a job with Gerry Anderson after this.

    • J_W_W says:

      Re: Gallifrey

      I also enjoyed the Master’s anti-assistant. The murder of the ersatz reporter was evil, over the top, and delicious in a Hannibal kind of way. Loved the pause in the scream too.

      -Joe

      I thought it was great that the Master’s companion was evil as well and not just misguided. That scene was way over the top and also great.

      • joe__gee says:

        Re: Gallifrey

        I thought it was great that the Master’s companion was evil as well and not just misguided. That scene was way over the top and also great.

        I didn’t have many problems with this episode. The Master’s new incarnation is the perfect villain for the "bowels in, bowels out" generations. I don’t know how many people would have been able to appreciate the old, scheming, quietly evil Master, and I do see this series as more of a re-imagining of Doctor Who, instead of its continuation.

        Maybe that’s a problem, and I am too easily mollified by pabulum. Quite possibly. In any case I just enjoy this new Master and his Heather Graham look-alike assistant. :)

        They’d be a ball of fun right up until they killed you. :)

        -Joe

  6. Vulch says:

    UNIT
    They’ve been around at least twice. The Doctor watched them going into Downing Street on TV in Aliens of London, and Harriet Jones, Prime Minister, (Yes, we know) and her entourage were beamed up to the Sycorax ship from a UNIT facility in The Christmas Invasion.

    Torchwood presumably gained the upper hand when a large section of UNIT was killed by the Slytheen, but after Canary Wharf UNIT is back.

  7. TheScarf says:

    RTD, please step away from the script

    ARRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!

    RTD is the single worst thing about the new Who. The best episodes are the ones he didn’t write. He can come up with the seeds of some great ideas, but in the execution he treats us like a bunch of 5 year olds and kills it.

    I know Time Lords change a bit when they regenerate, but the common threads that should link them all were largely broken in the Master’s case. Everything about the Master suddenly mirrors something about the Doctor. Ignored assistant, blond assistant, laser screwdriver (mega ugh!), jelly babies, a healthy dash of mania. Does RTD just lack the ability to create a unique interesting characters, or does he think that having two Time Lords with different personalities and different methods to be just too complex for us idiot viewers? He did the same thing with the Doctor regenerated, they are virtually the same personality.

    I miss the sane, purely evil Master of before, now replaced with a insane clown who we should feel sorry for because he was traumatized at a young age by those nasty Time Lords with some affliction he never happened to mention before. I was so hoping the Master would pull out his TCE and shrink that reporter, but no, we get a silly gag death instead. Can’t help but wonder if the Master used the TCE on Jack, if he would shrink and live as a small guy or what.

    Then you have plot elements copied from other sources. Flying aircraft carrier taken right from Sky Captain, aging the Doctor taken straight from The Leisure Hive (one of my favs), TARDIS Deus aux machina (again), massive destruction of the earth (again) except this time its in the present and chances are they will just use the Paradox Machine ™ to roll it all back so they can keep shooting cheap earth based stories.

    Then you just have dumb stuff, like everyone sitting around asking why the Master just put a gas mask on after threatening them, Jack telling Martha to teleport off the ship with him, but she doesn’t, then a couple minutes later she takes off without Jack.

    There are several good aspects of it, I like how the drumming is taken from the Dr Who theme, but it’s hard to feel entertained by something that insults my intelligence. Utopia was really good and I hoped he still had something in him to pull this off, but he doesn’t.

    • y42 says:

      step away from the internet

      TARDIS Deus aux machina (again)

      The Doctor is a god, his TARDIS is a machine.

      TheScarf, your trolling is idiotic. STFU and DIAF.

      • Chillum says:

        Re: step away from the internet

        TARDIS Deus aux machina (again)

        The Doctor is a god, his TARDIS is a machine.

        TheScarf, your trolling is idiotic. STFU and DIAF.

        Whoah… I thought the guy had some good points and I agree with a lot of what he said, am I a troll too? Chill out mate..

        • y42 says:

          Re: step away from the internet

          Whoah… I thought the guy had some good points and I agree with a lot of what he said, am I a troll too?

          No, you’re just falling for it. Inserting things people can agree with allows the troll to hide his true intention.
          Concern troll: Noun, derived from "internet troll." A more subtle beast than your standard troll, this species posts comments that appear to be sympathetic to the topic being discussed but who, in reality, wishes to sow doubt in the minds of readers.

          In a Doctor Who thread, there are simple litmus tests for a "your favorite band sucks" troll, and that is complaining about the god out of the TARDIS. It’s easy, if you don’t like the premise of this 44 year old children’s* television show, don’t watch it, and don’t go complaining about it in its discussion forums.

          * The other litmus test is complaining that the show is not mature enough.

          • Chillum says:

            Re: step away from the internet

            In a Doctor Who thread, there are simple litmus tests for a "your favorite band sucks" troll, and that is complaining about the god out of the TARDIS. It’s easy, if you don’t like the premise of this 44 year old children’s* television show, don’t watch it, and don’t go complaining about it in its discussion forums.

            Sorry but I disagree.. I really dislike RTD’s habit of casually tossing *even more* magical powers to things which are already extremely powerful. He did it in the series 1 finale (the Heart of the Tardis), he did it in one of the Xmas specials (car chase Tardis). Don’t even get me started on the sonic screwdriver.. IMHO the lamest instance in this series (although not an RTD story I think, but it must’ve been sanctioned by him) was Dalek Sec having the magical ability to absorb a human being… why would a Dalek creature have that power? Then we have the Doctor able to transmit his DNA via lightning…

            It’s nothing other than lazy writing and should be avoided, I really don’t see how pointing this out can be classed as trolling. Even the fact that it sometimes happened in the original series too shouldn’t be used as an excuse, it was just as lame then..

            • y42 says:

              Re: step away from the internet

              Dalek Sec having the magical ability to absorb a human being… why would a Dalek creature have that power? Then we have the Doctor able to transmit his DNA via lightning…

              It’s nothing other than lazy writing and should be avoided, I really don’t see how pointing this out can be classed as trolling.

              That’s not trolling, that’s pointing out something lame in an episode. It’s not something general about the premise of the show, it’s a low point.

              But whining about the sonic screwdriver, let’s just say I’m glad you didn’t get started ;-)

            • gnovygirl says:

              Re: step away from the internet

              Sorry but I disagree.. I really dislike RTD’s habit of casually tossing *even more* magical powers to things which are already extremely powerful. He did it in the series 1 finale (the Heart of the Tardis), he did it in one of the Xmas specials (car chase Tardis). Don’t even get me started on the sonic screwdriver.. IMHO the lamest instance in this series (although not an RTD story I think, but it must’ve been sanctioned by him) was Dalek Sec having the magical ability to absorb a human being… why would a Dalek creature have that power? Then we have the Doctor able to transmit his DNA via lightning…

              It’s nothing other than lazy writing and should be avoided, I really don’t see how pointing this out can be classed as trolling. Even the fact that it sometimes happened in the original series too shouldn’t be used as an excuse, it was just as lame then..

              I am fairly new to Doctor Who (just started watching with the 2005 season) so I don’t really know anything about the old episodes … I have to say that I REALLY hate the episodes that get TOO crazy, namely the stuff that has been mentioned in this thread.

              I REALLY REALLY like Doctor Who, and I really like the new Doctor, and I like most everything about the show, but after seeing The Sound of Drums, well, frankly, I don’t want to watch it anymore. It’s bad enough that people remember all this alien stuff happening on Earth. That’s already a bit over the top for me.

              It’s like when X-Files, which had been my favorite show, decided to start doing the whole Super Soldier thing.

              I like sci-fi, and I understand that sci-fi is weird and has no limits, but I don’t like when writers decide to go against their own rules, make up new stuff that doesn’t make sense, or gets WAY too weird.

              I think the best episodes of Doctor Who were written by Steven Moffat … Girl in the Mirror and Blink.

              Oh, and BTW, Desperate Martha annoys me. I want Rose back!

          • TwistyHat says:

            You are the troll

            It’s easy, if you don’t like the premise of this 44 year old children’s* television show, don’t watch it, and don’t go complaining about it in its discussion forums.

            If you don’t like what he writes then don’t read it.

          • J_W_W says:

            Re: step away from the internet

            * The other litmus test is complaining that the show is not mature enough.

            Amen to that. I watch Doctor Who with my son every week, so what if its enjoyable to children and not _mature_ enough. It the one thing that actually bugs me a little about Battlestar Galactica. The original Galactica and yes earlier Doctor Who too (heck that show was on before I was even born) evoke great childhood memories for me. Thats why I really like the new Doctor Who, because kids can watch it.

            There are some episodes of Galactica I won’t let my son watch and thats disappointing because its a great show, but at times is too _mature_ and in my opinion for no really good reason.

            • TheScarf says:

              Re: step away from the internet

              * The other litmus test is complaining that the show is not mature enough.

              Amen to that. I watch Doctor Who with my son every week, so what if its enjoyable to children and not _mature_ enough. It the one thing that actually bugs me a little about Battlestar Galactica. The original Galactica and yes earlier Doctor Who too (heck that show was on before I was even born) evoke great childhood memories for me. Thats why I really like the new Doctor Who, because kids can watch it.

              There are some episodes of Galactica I won’t let my son watch and thats disappointing because its a great show, but at times is too _mature_ and in my opinion for no really good reason.

              I’m asking for buckets of blood or adult themes, RTD’s sexual and political agenda getting worked into so many of his stories is not something I’m fond of either. I’m just asking for logical, intelligent, well written stories that don’t assume I’m some kind of idiot that can be sold a poor story as long as they include some good special effects. Just because it’s a kid show doesn’t mean it has to be stupid or silly, and truth is there are tons of adult fans too.

              One of the things I loved about the old series is that a lot of time they worked into the story something that educated kids about real science a bit. We had some of that in 42 (happy primes) but I’d love to see more of that and a lot less meaningless technobable.

              • TheScarf says:

                Re: step away from the internet

                I’m asking for buckets of blood or adult themes,…

                Opps, that should be NOT asking for buckets of blood or adult themes etc. etc.

              • joe__gee says:

                Re: step away from the internet

                I’m not asking for buckets of blood or adult themes, RTD’s sexual and political agenda getting worked into so many of his stories is not something I’m fond of either. I’m just asking for logical, intelligent, well written stories that don’t assume I’m some kind of idiot that can be sold a poor story as long as they include some good special effects. Just because it’s a kid show doesn’t mean it has to be stupid or silly, and truth is there are tons of adult fans too.

                One of the things I loved about the old series is that a lot of time they worked into the story something that educated kids about real science a bit. We had some of that in 42 (happy primes) but I’d love to see more of that and a lot less meaningless technobable.

                I can understand this. I guess one of the reasons I am fond of it though is that, even though it has a lot of RTD in it, compared to most of the US tripe I’m used to having to eat huge steaming platefuls of, this at least has enough shining moments to make a weekly download worthwhile.

                BSG is the only other sci-fi show I give a damn about. :)

                -Joe

              • fsphil says:

                Re: step away from the internet

                RTD’s sexual and political agenda getting worked into so many of his stories is not something I’m fond of either.

                Ah so it’s not just me then!

      • TheScarf says:

        Re: step away from the internet

        TARDIS Deus aux machina (again)

        The Doctor is a god, his TARDIS is a machine.

        TheScarf, your trolling is idiotic. STFU and DIAF.

        I made valid observations backed up with evidence, I love Doctor Who, can’t stand RTD’s writing. Your post is far more a troll than anything I’ve ever posted.

        • Eldhrin says:

          Re: step away from the internet

          TARDIS Deus aux machina (again)

          The Doctor is a god, his TARDIS is a machine.

          TheScarf, your trolling is idiotic. STFU and DIAF.

          I made valid observations backed up with evidence, I love Doctor Who, can’t stand RTD’s writing. Your post is far more a troll than anything I’ve ever posted.

          You made many of the same points I made in the review (and at greater length). Good for you. TV.com has review scores for the series finale three-parter only slightly below the score obtained by Blink. Some of us have to keep our heads on straight to counter this insidious influence.

      • TwistyHat says:

        Re: step away from the internet

        TARDIS Deus aux machina (again)

        The Doctor is a god, his TARDIS is a machine.

        TheScarf, your trolling is idiotic. STFU and DIAF.

        Hey kid get overyourself, people are entitled to an opinion. Of course what TheScarf is overlooking is that this is a childrens show not serious science fiction.

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