Doctor Who Review: Last of the Time Lords

Series three concludes. Will somebody please stop Russell T. Davies writing any more episodes?

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
Alexandra Moen as Lucy Saxon
Tom Ellis as Thomas Milligan
Ellie Haddington as Professor Docherty

Written by Russell T. Davies

Directed by Colin Teague

Originally aired on the 30th of June 2007 on BBC One in the United Kingdom.

Synopsis

One year later, the human race has been turned into a slave race, building hundreds of thousands of rockets to launch the Master’s war against the rest of the universe. Martha Jones, after travelling the world for a year, returns to British shores for the final confrontation.

High Point

  • “What would the Doctor do?” They got that bit right at least.

Low Points

  • Removing the Doctor’s ability to regenerate turns him into a small creature with large eyes? What?
  • Possibly the lamest way to defeat a villain in history.

The Scores

Originality: this episode bears many similarities to the First Doctor story The Dalek Invasion of Earth, but without the interest. Three out of six.

Effects: aged-Doctor was impressive. Super-duper-aged Doctor wasn’t, and the missile fields were entirely average. Four out of six.

Story: I could spend some time talking about how utterly straightforward and formulaic the story was, but then I’d have to note that the only reason I didn’t see the ending coming was because I never imagined it would be so awful. At least maybe after the very final scenes we can take a break from Doctor-Companion suppressed romantic tension for a bit. Two out of six. Yes, two!

Acting: with a script like this, what could they do? I liked Ellie Haddington’s performance as Professor Docherty though. Suitably eccentric. Four out of six.

Emotional response: I was interested for a bit, but the story soon drove me into the point where I didn’t care anymore. Two out of six.

Production: three cheers for filming in quarries! Four out of six.

Overall: tedious and dreadful. The best thing about this episode is that we don’t have to suffer any more of it until series four starts next year. One out of six.

Last of the Time Lords receives a total of twenty out of forty-two.

29 replies on “Doctor Who Review: Last of the Time Lords”

  1. x00 says:

    It doesn’t feel like Doctor Who any more.
    You’re not wrong about RTD writing more scripts.

    The only good thing here was The Face of Bo, though even that could have been written better. It would have been nice if Cap’n Jack actually had something to do for three episodes. Except flirt. And die. A lot.

    I liked the fact that Martha stayed home, after a year like that (and a traumatised family) who wouldn’t want some time off?

    Please please please, must they save the world and/or universe at the end of every series?

  2. Chillum says:

    Against my better judgement..
    ..I actually really enjoyed it :-) yes it was a bit silly in places, but I don’t wanna start analysing that in case the fun wears off!

    Can’t really argue with anything in the review and I can totally see where you’re coming from, but somehow it worked for me!

    • Babbster says:

      Re: Against my better judgement..

      ..I actually really enjoyed it :-) yes it was a bit silly in places, but I don’t wanna start analysing that in case the fun wears off!

      Can’t really argue with anything in the review and I can totally see where you’re coming from, but somehow it worked for me!

      I’m with you. It seems like people keep expecting the series to become something it’s not – hard science fiction. I find the silliness refreshing, and the climax that people are harping on made plenty of sense in the context of The Doctor using The Master’s work against him.

      Besides, John Simm was excellent and I can only hope that we see him again.

      I thought it was interesting that they didn’t bring up at all the question of how many regenerations are available to Time Lords. This issue is brought up in fan talk all the time but the episode didn’t even give it a nod or a wink. Is it possible that The Doctor (and The Master, if that last bit indicates he’s actually still alive) have unlimited (or at least too many to worry about) regenerations now that the rest of the Time Lords are gone? Could it be that the number of regenerations were shared amongst the Time Lords, leaving the two (or handful – I’m certain they’ll find more along the way) remaining all that the ones who died in the Time War had? Just a thought.

      • joe__gee says:

        Re: Against my better judgement..

        Besides, John Simm was excellent and I can only hope that we see him again.

        He was incredible. I love his manic, evil energy. I think he’ll be back. Hopefully RTD won’t be writing for him. :)

        -Joe

        • J_W_W says:

          Re: Against my better judgement..

          Besides, John Simm was excellent and I can only hope that we see him again.

          He was incredible. I love his manic, evil energy. I think he’ll be back. Hopefully RTD won’t be writing for him. :)

          -Joe

          Personally, I think that the woman’s hand that picked up the master’s ring, is a new regeneration of the master. BTW: have any timelords ever changed sex on regeneration? I’m thinking its never happened, but I wouldn’t rule that out on the new Doctor Who. I mean just look at Starbuck for example :-).

          • Chillum says:

            Re: Against my better judgement..

            Personally, I think that the woman’s hand that picked up the master’s ring, is a new regeneration of the master. BTW: have any timelords ever changed sex on regeneration? I’m thinking its never happened, but I wouldn’t rule that out on the new Doctor Who. I mean just look at Starbuck for example :-).

            I seriously doubt it.. s/he’d have to call him/herself ‘The Mistress’ from then on surely? Doesn’t quite have the same ring (no pun intended) to it :)

          • joe__gee says:

            Re: Against my better judgement..

            Personally, I think that the woman’s hand that picked up the master’s ring, is a new regeneration of the master. BTW: have any timelords ever changed sex on regeneration?.

            Unless you count Joanna Lumley in "The Curse of Fatal Death," a spoof. :) She was the Doctor’s third or fourth regeneration in that "episode". Other regenerations were Rowan Atkinson, and Hugh Grant.

            -Joe

          • y42 says:

            The Master is a genius

            the woman’s hand

            Faithful companion, hypnotic Master.
            A Timelord’s essence contained in a watch.
            A genetic manipulator miniaturized in a laser screwdriver.

            • TomSwiss says:

              Re: The Master is a genius

              Faithful companion, hypnotic Master.

              Yes. I suspect we’ll find that the Master’s "death" was staged to escape from the Doctor. After all, he’s been dead before and it didn’t take.

      • Dark Nexus says:

        Re: Against my better judgement..

        ..I actually really enjoyed it :-) yes it was a bit silly in places, but I don’t wanna start analysing that in case the fun wears off!

        Can’t really argue with anything in the review and I can totally see where you’re coming from, but somehow it worked for me!

        I’m with you. It seems like people keep expecting the series to become something it’s not – hard science fiction. I find the silliness refreshing, and the climax that people are harping on made plenty of sense in the context of The Doctor using The Master’s work against him.

        Besides, John Simm was excellent and I can only hope that we see him again.

        I thought it was interesting that they didn’t bring up at all the question of how many regenerations are available to Time Lords. This issue is brought up in fan talk all the time but the episode didn’t even give it a nod or a wink. Is it possible that The Doctor (and The Master, if that last bit indicates he’s actually still alive) have unlimited (or at least too many to worry about) regenerations now that the rest of the Time Lords are gone? Could it be that the number of regenerations were shared amongst the Time Lords, leaving the two (or handful – I’m certain they’ll find more along the way) remaining all that the ones who died in the Time War had? Just a thought.

        They pretty much established it was an individual limit back in the Peter Davison days. Not to say the Master doesn’t have a clean slate from however the hell the Timelords brough him back though.

        Not to say they wouldn’t decide to change it though, possibly based somehow on your first theory. Some freaky transfer thing or unintended side effect.

        • Alexius says:

          Re: Against my better judgement..

          Not to say they wouldn’t decide to change it though, possibly based somehow on your first theory. Some freaky transfer thing or unintended side effect.

          There’s also conjecture that they aren’t laws of nature so much as legal limits imposed by the Time Lords. With no other Time Lords, they can do what they want.

          (There’s an older episode where The Master is offered a fresh set of them.)

  3. Alexius says:

    I have to agree:
    The LJ group Ihasatardis said it best, I thought.

    And as someone else pointed out to me, in Gridlock, the Face of Boe says "I am the last of my kind, as you are the last of yours," but then proceedes to tell The Doctor that he isn’t alone, because of the guy helping the other humans at the end of the universe.

    Not to mention the poor way that this line was tacked on. I think RTS forgot to add it to the script until the very end. He should stick to the Sarah Jane adventures.

    I liked Martha, she was very smart and capable, but the writing didn’t live up to her, so I’m happy she’s moving on. It’d be nice to see a companion who isn’t in love with the Doctor for a change.

    And are we actually getting a double dose of The Doctor for the XMas episode? Or will we see Christopher Eccleston clinging to the side of an ice berg at the end?

  4. fsphil says:

    *Evil Laugh*
    Spoilerified…

    Ok, good/bad mode again…

    Bad: Flash Gorden ending.
    Bad: Of all the billions of spheres, what are the odds Martha had met it before?
    Bad: I didn’t know Dobby was a time lord!
    Bad: The ending went on to long.
    Bad: The ending in general.
    Bad: They used a reset button.
    Good: The Master walks among us!
    Good: The sense of hopelessness at the beginning.
    Good: Martha leaving – not that I don’t like her, I think she’s great – but it’s great that a companion choose to leave, especially considering the circumstances.
    Good: The effects of Dob.. er, old Doctor. Some of the best CGI creature effects I’ve seen on this show.

    • paulm says:

      Re: *Evil Laugh*

      Spoilerified…

      Ok, good/bad mode again…

      Bad: Of all the billions of spheres, what are the odds Martha had met it before?

      That was explained, they had a shared consciousness.

  5. J_W_W says:

    Written into a corner
    I think RTD wrote himself into a corner with the last episode ant this one. I really like the reveal of what the spheres really were and I don’t think Martha actually met that sphere, she just remembered that child. The effects for the really old Doctor were really good, but all I could think of was "When 900 years old you reach, tiny you will be, hmmmm." Anyway, back to writing into a corner, I think the dread and despair were well written and the Master always seemed to be in total control and always have the upper hand, so at that point they needed to have a "believe in fairies" moment to restore the Doctor so he could save the day. Although it was childish it did also kind of remind me of the confrontation in Vegas in the TV-miniseries "The Stand", but still it was a very, very, very weak climax. The revelations on the Face of Bo, were fantastic however and like I said the drama and despair were well done, the resolution, however was really really bad.

    • joe__gee says:

      Re: Written into a corner

      really old Doctor were really good, but all I could think of was "When 900 years old you reach, tiny you will be, hmmmm."


      I kept thinking "it’s nice to see Dobby the house elf getting work", which just ruined the whole mini-doctor thing for me.

      The beginning was great. It was great, up until the [email protected]#$ climax, which was weak, oh so very weak. I love the show, pretty much liked this episode, but that climax. AUGH.

      The whole thing was somewhat redeemed by the scenes that followed with the Doctor and Martha, but I kept thinking "what did Captain Jack really do, other than put more money in John Barrowman’s pocket for an actor currently on hiaitus."

      One thing I did note that I enjoy, no one can pack more punch into the word "what" than David Tennant. He’s said "what" in an indigninant, disgusted way more times. :)

      And Freema Argyman isn’t done yet. Isn’t she still signed on for the next series?

      -Joe G.

      • joe__gee says:

        Wots up wif’ Marfa
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/news/cult/news/drwho/2007/07/02/46692.shtml

        Sorry ’bout the title, I just spent twenty minutes looking at Ihasatardis’ macros over on livejournal. :)

        Does this mean I have to start downloading episodes of Torchwood again? Did anyone here keep watching Torchwood after episode three? Did it get any better?

        -Joe

        • Chillum says:

          Re: Wots up wif’ Marfa

          Did anyone here keep watching Torchwood after episode three?

          Yes.

          Did it get any better?

          No.

          Can’t remember what number it was, but the episode with the Cyberwumman had me laughing out loud at the sheer cheesy awfulness of it all, especially that blubbing welsh bloke. Apart from that it wasn’t enjoyable at all, and I kept getting distracted by that gap between the welsh bird’s front teeth :)

        • Alexius says:

          Re: Wots up wif’ Marfa

          Does this mean I have to start downloading episodes of Torchwood again? Did anyone here keep watching Torchwood after episode three? Did it get any better?

          Depends: Does guy-on-guy turn you on?

          • joe__gee says:

            Re: Wots up wif’ Marfa

            Depends: Does guy-on-guy turn you on?

            It has its moments, but not really in the context of the Doctor Who universe.

            Wait, is that a new episode of "Monstrously Obese Women Sumo Wrestling for Root Canals" over on channel 7?

            <changing the channel>

            -Joe

  6. y42 says:

    It’s like wrestling!
    The more people cheer for him, the stronger he gets! lol!

    Uneven episode, some great moments, some cringing, good FX overall, and the singing Master at the beginning was just excellent. Deliciously evil.
    I like where the Master got his spheres, creepy. I like Martha’s mission, the misguided scientist, the bruises on the Master’s wife. I didn’t like Yoda Doctor, I’m reserving judgement on the Phoenix Doctor, and I liked Martha’s choice, it’s nice that she’s taking control of her own life.

    • GrimSean says:

      Re: It’s like wrestling!

      The more people cheer for him, the stronger he gets! lol!

      Isn’t it more like Dragonball Z?

  7. paulm says:

    Biggest downer in the episode
    Is the way humanity ends up at the end of the universe. I mean for all the positive vibes given about how humanity survives and accomplishes amazing things throughout time how do we end up when all is said and done?

    • Alexius says:

      Re: Biggest downer in the episode

      Is the way humanity ends up at the end of the universe. I mean for all the positive vibes given about how humanity survives and accomplishes amazing things throughout time how do we end up when all is said and done?

      I took it that once they found out Utopia was bad, that The Master shows up, and does his hypnosis thing, and 6 million of the remaining humans decide he’s right and it’s a good idea to get the Dalek treatment, and become indistinct orbs.

      Disappointing, but accurate.

    • y42 says:

      Wishfull hope

      Is the way humanity ends up at the end of the universe. I mean for all the positive vibes given about how humanity survives and accomplishes amazing things throughout time how do we end up when all is said and done?

      The Doctor could still go stop the Master? There’s the paradox in play, they might yet find skies of diamond.

  8. TheScarf says:

    Gag…
    So, anyone still think I was trolling for flames last week?

    What would have been a much better plot would be for the Master to attempt to create a new Time Lord society in his image, starting with turning the sun into a new Eye of Harmony, ah well, perhaps later…

    RTD seem to use the show as some kind of therapy for his obvious discomfort with religion. Anything having to do with God has to be linked to Doctor Who (this time, having people pray to him), or turned into a source of fear and death (weeping angels, Christmas star attack, evil Santas, murderous Christmas trees, etc. etc.). Interesting that he reserves actual supernatural existence for evil (The Satan Pit). Given that the Black and White Guardians are more powerful and immortal beings than the Doctor, this whole deification of him is very odd to me.

    As for next season, I could have really done without that ending. The TARDIS was in the vortex at the time, so either that isn’t THE Titanic, or the Titanic has been sucked into the Vortex as well. Even so, no collision should have busted up the TARDIS like that. Another poorly though out idea latched onto just for the gee-whiz factor. If they fix it by having the TARDIS regenerate (if that’s the right word for it) a new and better looking interior I won’t mind as much. I would favor a more HG Wells-ish looking wood and brass and stained glass setup than the dirty junkfest it is now.

    I’m hoping against hope that they will break away from picking yet another young single female companion who has a thing for the Doctor. The old series had variety, we had people form the past, from the future, young and old, man and woman, human and non-human.

    • Chillum says:

      Re: Gag…

      I’m hoping against hope that they will break away from picking yet another young single female companion who has a thing for the Doctor. The old series had variety, we had people form the past, from the future, young and old, man and woman, human and non-human.

      The Beeb has announced that the new companion is Catherine Tate’s character from The Runaway Bride xmas special. I’m struggling to find words to express how I feel about this..

    • y42 says:

      Re: Gag…

      So, anyone still think I was trolling for flames last week?

      Yes.

  9. GSVNofixedabode says:

    How to curdle a series in a single ending.
    2005 was fanTAStic! 2006 was pretty good. 2007 had some brilliant bits (Blink anyone?) but that last episode soured it.

    Both my teenage daughters loathed the Godstuff of it all: Martha walking the Earth talking about Him, and the prayer bit at the end were embarrassingly bad. A telepathic boost over the phone network was ok and consistent, but floating around the room like that? puh-lease! After getting a new generation in the household hooked on the Doctor in the last few years it’ll take a bit to get them back.

    RTD, step AWAY from that typewriter.

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