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Doctor Who 3.12 The Sound of Drums

Mmmm. I'm watching 28 Days Later just to get the Ecclestoney goodness, although the film's good too...Oooh, I'd forgotten he had a posh accent.


I know Russell's been accused (by me, among others) of being too dismissive of the fans and of portraying them badly in his shows. But this was his apologetic box of chocolates, and if it wasn't quite from Montezuma's, it wasn't from the all-night garage on the corner, either. Seriously, so many good things for the fans. Old-skool shout-outs. Shippy goodness. References back to lots of NuWho eps. Random SF references among the pop cultural.

For a minute I thought the journalist woman was Harriet Jones doing undercover work, especially when she held out her ID card and introduced herself with it. Though I suppose she couldn't exactly go undercover in Downing Street. But I would have loved Harriet to come back and help out.

I enjoyed it while I was watching it, but thinking back, it seems very much to an RTD formula. But if the formula works, does it really matter? Shakespeare could be formulaic, and people like Agatha Christie made a career out of it. I'm still bearing in mind that this is technically a three-part finale, and while this episode had flaws, it had different flaws to last week's (which had a few) so they may end up being complementary to each other and the final episode.

The pop culture references weren't too jarring. I got irritated at the appearance of Sharon Osbourne, but that's pretty much my standard reaction to her these days. I was amused at Anne Widdecombe, and completely failed to recognise McFly. For some reason, I loved the Doctor and Jack in the Corsa with Martha driving, and that the Doctor wears a seatbelt and Jack doesn't. Although that could have been as much for blocking purposes as anything else. The Voodoo Child music was great because it was music within the story, rather than incidental music - it would have been far too cheesy as a soundtrack, but cheesy fits this Master. And yeah, I find cheesy and camp scary when it's attached to insane megalomaniac evil, thanks.

It's nice to see that I'm nowhere near the first person to be impressed by the correct use of "decimate". And they explained it too, more or less, so it might find its way into the vocabulary of a younger generation.

This episode tried to ship the Doctor with everyone. Doctor/ Master - I need to quote Giles, and say "the subtext here is rapidly becoming text". Their conversation on the phone was amazing, I thought. Doctor/ Martha we knew about. Doctor/ Jack, well, that subtext was just about text as well - we at least got Jack confessing his feelings. "You too, huh?" was a nicely understated moment. I'd like Jack to pull the Master - that would disconcert Ten nicely.

That bloke off Top of the Pops can act, which is quite surprising. I'm not sure about the woman who played Saxon's wife - it depends on what they tell us about her next week. I thought she was terrible at first, and then realised she was acting badly for the journalist. The Doctor's ageing mask - did they just give Tennant the same one they used for Mark Gatiss? It looked worryingly similar, and really, all old men don't look the same.

Oh, and I definitely thought the tapping was the Who theme tune. But I think I might have read or seen something that suggested that, and I'm classical musically illiterate anyway.

So, wasn't flawless, but by no means bad. I'm still looking forward to next week. And I can't believe that's the last episode. When's Heroes back? Argh.


Hee. This icon is even more relevant than usual.

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Comments

( 26 comments — Comment )
blue_condition
Jun. 24th, 2007 07:57 pm (UTC)
Mmmm. Montezuma's. I only discovered it the week before last. That 73% with chilli is near-perfect isn't it?

Normally I'm a purist and don't go for 'flavoured' chocolate but this is good!
pickwick
Jun. 24th, 2007 08:03 pm (UTC)
I've avoided the chilli, I'm really wussy when it comes to hot things! But I got a few bags of the giant chocolate buttons the other week when I was visiting people, and we ate them during Who.
principia
Jun. 24th, 2007 10:33 pm (UTC)
For some reason, I loved the Doctor and Jack in the Corsa with Martha driving, and that the Doctor wears a seatbelt and Jack doesn't. Although that could have been as much for blocking purposes as anything else.

Based on having seen the Confidential, it might also have been to give the special effects coordinator room in the back floorboard, from whence he was triggering the explosives. Yes, that was really Freema, David and John in the car the whole time, with Freema driving, and yes, they blew out the rear window with John right there in the back seat. Good times!
pickwick
Jun. 25th, 2007 11:48 am (UTC)
Hee. Wonderful. I haven't seen the Confidential yet - I sometimes avoid the ones that RTD is likely to pop up in a lot, in case he says anything that irritates me, which he usually does.
principia
Jun. 25th, 2007 12:05 pm (UTC)
You could always do what I do, which is just fast-forward through any parts that look uninteresting to me. That can include everything from RTD/PC pontificating, to overly-lengthy segments on a single effects shot.

I heartily wish they might devote some of the time in the Confidentials to things like deleted scenes and unused alternate takes if they're not going to include them all on the DVD. I've heard about too much cool stuff that I don't know we're ever going to get to see (e.g., the alternate Doctor-at-the-wall take in Doomsday) for them to be blowing so much time on repetitive clips of the same show we just finished watching.
pickwick
Jun. 25th, 2007 12:14 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I should really tape it so I can do that.

It's just the 15-minute cutdowns that appear on the DVDs, isn't it? I can't remember, I don't even have S2 yet. But I'd far rather see alternate takes than 19 people telling me how funny John Barrowman is, yeah.
principia
Jun. 25th, 2007 12:32 pm (UTC)
The Cutdowns vary in length from about 15 to 22 minutes, probably based on what they felt they could remove from given segments without rendering them nonsensical.

You know, I'm tempted to write the BBC to point out that people would really love to see alternates on the DVDs. They already include a few deleted scenes, but they really should just put them all in.
momentsmusicaux
Jun. 25th, 2007 03:25 am (UTC)
The tapping is most definitely the bassline from the theme tune.
Who's the Top of the Pops guy?

I thought the whole ageing think was a bit naff.
redatt
Jun. 25th, 2007 05:13 am (UTC)
It kept morphing in my head into the Boléro every time the Master and the Doctor started flirting with each other.

pickwick
Jun. 25th, 2007 11:50 am (UTC)
Martha's brother, whose name I've forgotten, is played by Reggie Yates who used to present TOTP. He was fairly crap at it, so I'm impressed that he can actually act OK!
parhelion_spark
Jun. 25th, 2007 05:23 am (UTC)
I dunno, I thought the age makup looked relatively Tennanty. I studied it a bit the second time I watched the epi.. the wonky right eyelid seemed properly aged! That was enough for me. Also, they managed to keep the bird!mouth looking birdmouthy. I suppose that was distinctive enough for me, though maybe it's unintentional and the prosthetics have nothing to do with eyelids or birdmouths.

His head looked too damn BIG is my only complaint. I figure they had to hide alot of hair, but YEESH.

(because of all the things to comment on, THIS WAS COMPLETELY THE MOST RELEVANT PART. yes. a winner is i!)
pickwick
Jun. 25th, 2007 11:52 am (UTC)
Yeah, I noticed the mouth was OK, though I'll have to look at the right eyelid when I re-watch :D

And yeah, his head looked huge. I think maybe that's why I thought it looked like the Gatiss one, too. I need to go look at screencaps now!
principia
Jun. 25th, 2007 12:08 pm (UTC)
It looks to me like an exaggerated version of the makeup from Family of Blood; I wish they'd gone to the same amount of trouble to keep DT's eyes readily available for emoting.

What's unfortunate about using prosthetics for this sort of thing on DT is that he's so very thin and I would think that as he aged he'd only get more so, and just end up looking very, very fragile and bird-like. Which I guess would almost work better with standard theatrical applications that unfortunately don't film well.
pickwick
Jun. 25th, 2007 12:19 pm (UTC)
Yes, exactly - he just looked wrong, somehow. I hope there's a good reason for ageing him, plot-wise, apart from just to make him a bit useless, because there are tons of other ways to do that.
principia
Jun. 25th, 2007 12:30 pm (UTC)
Well, if the show were post-watershed The Master would probably have The Doctor trussed up and be torturing him, but that's just not going to happen at seven o'clock.
pickwick
Jun. 25th, 2007 12:34 pm (UTC)
Heh, yeah, with lots of BDSM innuendo going on. There's actually much more freaky relationship stuff going on in Who than there is in Torchwood, which is quite impressive.
redatt
Jun. 25th, 2007 05:39 am (UTC)
Seriously, so many good things for the fans. Old-skool shout-outs. Shippy goodness. References back to lots of NuWho eps.

I'm sad, because although I was a little bit 'meh' about the episode, I find myself wanting to hit some Old-skool fans over the head for grumping about the Master. He was just a bad parody of the real Master, apparently, which just makes wonder, yet again, if the Old-skool Guard remember/rewatch old episodes in a rose-tinted haze.
pickwick
Jun. 25th, 2007 11:53 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'm a bit baffled by it - I've still never seen much Old Who, but I got the impression that the original Master was a typically hammy Evil Overlord type with an evil goatee...
redatt
Jun. 25th, 2007 02:24 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure that I quite share that impression of the original Master, but like the Doctor the Master was/is never the same incarnation twice and I really don't get this 'it's just not the Doctor/Master' attitude some people have. (Also, the Master has rather been through the mill a bit!) It's been going on since the first regeneration! You'd think folk would have got over it by now :oD

I liked some of the old Doctors and Masters and companions and not some of the others, and of course I understand the comparisons people make and I also find somethings a bit 'off' here and there, but still ... actually, it this is *now* the Doctor/Master ...
principia
Jun. 25th, 2007 12:17 pm (UTC)
Old School fan checking in here:

The 'real' Master some folks are referring to is the original Master as played by Roger Delgado. At the time the character was a thinly-disguised scifi version of Moriarty to The Doctor's Holmes.

Fast forward past the interim appearances of the Master in a decayed state, to Anthony Ainley. According to later interviews with Ainley and other members of the production staff, his/their original intent was to have him play The Master in a similar manner. Unfortunately, they kept getting overruled and Ainley's Master was usually over the top to the point of panto.

What The Master hasn't been, up until now, is a deliberate source of humor, other than the occasional snark (with the exception of when The Master was watching telly while imprisoned and thought the Clangers were really aliens). He's also never been portrayed as outright insane.

I think that might be where most Old School fans are taking issue. To my mind, if the point of The Master is to be, as David Tennant put it, the yin to The Doctor's yang, then having him be a funhouse reflection of The Doctor isn't necessarily inappropriate. What I find interesting is that The Master's currently behaving like a Bizarro version of The Doctor from last year, not how he's currently behaving. I don't know if there's a reason for this choice on RTD's part, unless he just missed writing the wacky.
pickwick
Jun. 25th, 2007 12:23 pm (UTC)
Ah, I see. That makes sense. Me, I find wacky, kind of insane evil just as creepy, or more so, than someone trying very hard to be menacing.

The other difference is the attitudes to mental health in the 60s and now - then, I think, they couldn't just go "He's insane", but now they can because there can be a bit more subtlety. In general we know a lot more about mental health and about psychology, so we can see that he's probably got PTSD, and he was kind of sociopathic anyway. We know more about the specifics of mental problems, rather than just "Yeah, he's just a nutter".
pickwick
Jun. 25th, 2007 12:33 pm (UTC)
Argh. "Be a bit more subtle", even.
sovietkiki
Jun. 25th, 2007 06:34 am (UTC)
McFly?

Eh?

o_o
pickwick
Jun. 25th, 2007 11:54 am (UTC)
You know, I can't even remember WHEN they were in it now. I think they probably did a vox pop supporting Saxon. But I only found out it was them when I was on Wiki looking for the name of the woman who played the journalist. Because I still think she looks like Penelope Wilton.
marrog
Jun. 25th, 2007 09:09 am (UTC)
Doctor/ Jack, well, that subtext was just about text as well - we at least got Jack confessing his feelings. "You too, huh?" was a nicely understated moment.

Much as it could be read that way, and possibly with RTD and his Fabulous Gay Agenda it was meant to be, but his 'you too, huh' could just have been a ref to everyone falling for the doctor and him never noticing.

Yes, the tapping is the same rhythm as that of the bassline for the theme tune.

I thought John Simm got a little over-the-top here and there, but eh, Doctor Who is camp, and always has been.

And that was definitely a custom ageing mask made for Tennant especially - they got the nose and the mouth and the eyelid right and stuff. The real problem with ageing masks is that when you're adding latex it's basically impossible to render sunken cheeks and eyes and so on - David Tennant, being a bit birdlike in build, will be a frail, skeletal sort of old man, I imagine, and ageing masks can really only do fleshy-old, not sunken-old.
pickwick
Jun. 25th, 2007 11:56 am (UTC)
Didn't he say something in the same scene (or nearly so) about how he'd waited 139 years for the Doctor, and it was worth it and he'd do it again, etc? But yeah, I suppose he could have been thinking about Rose (and Sarah Jane, I guess) and going "Oh, not you as well..."

I hadn't really thought of the practical problems with the masks, but I think you've put your finger on why it annoyed me - it just didn't seem like the kind of old person Tennant would be.
( 26 comments — Comment )

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