Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Story 188 - The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords

In which the Doctor and his companions escape from the planet Malcassairo using Jack's Vortex Manipulator. They find themselves in present day London. The Doctor explains that he fused the TARDIS controls so that it could only travel between its last two destinations - present day Earth and the year 100 Trillion. The Master could have arrived six months or so ago, however. Martha realises they have just missed the General Election, and they see a TV screen showing the new Prime Minister and his wife. She suddenly realises where she had heard the Master's voice before - he is Harold Saxon, the new PM. The Doctor and Jack accompany Martha to her flat, where the Doctor tries to work out how the Master could have achieved this coup. Before the election he had been responsible for the Archangel Network of communications satellites, and the Doctor realises that he has used these to send out a hypnotic signal. At the newly re-built Downing Street, the Master holds his first cabinet meeting - at which he promptly murders everyone in attendance with poison gas. Martha's sister Tish has suddenly found herself working for Mr Saxon. A journalist named Vivien Rook meets with Mrs Saxon - Lucy - and tries to convince her that her husband's biographical details are a lie. He has invented an entire history for himself yet only appeared a few months ago. The Master arrives, along with a metal sphere which materialises out of thin air. The sphere attacks and kills Rook.

The Master then makes a TV broadcast, hinting that he knows the Doctor and his friends have arrived, and tells the world that he has made first contact with a race of aliens called the Toclafane, who will arrive the following morning. They find that a bomb has been placed in the flat and escape seconds before it explodes. Martha fears for her family's safety and insists on going to her mother's home. When they arrive, her father urges them to run whilst they can, and they see him and Francine being bundled into the back of a van by armed police. Tish is also arrested at Downing Street. Martha is able to warn her brother Leo to go into hiding with his family. The Doctor, Martha and Jack go on the run. Their faces are shown on TV as wanted criminals. Martha then receives a phone call from the Master, which the Doctor takes. The two discuss previous meetings, and the Master asks about the outcome of the Time War. He reveals that the Time Lords had resurrected him to fight, but he had fled and hidden himself in human form. The Doctor asks him about the Toclafane, as he knows these were creatures from nursery stories on Gallifrey, but the Master refuses to tell him anything, and informs them they will be hunted down. They take refuge in an abandoned building, where the Doctor tells his companions of the Master's history back on Gallifrey - of how children had to face the Untempered Schism. This was a hole in space / time. Some ran away from it, and others went mad. The Doctor did the former, whilst the latter may have happened to the Master.

Each of them has a key to the TARDIS which has perception filter properties. The Doctor adapts these to allow them to move around. They go to an airbase where the President of the United States is due to land. He is furious that the British PM has initiated first contact unilaterally and insists that the UN takes over. They see Martha's family being forced onto a plane which is taking everyone to the UNIT ship Valiant. The Doctor and his companions follow using the Manipulator, and find that the ship is a sky base. The Doctor finds the TARDIS here - cannibalised to become a Paradox Engine. The time for the Toclafane to arrive approaches. A group of spheres appear. The President tries to take control of the situation, but they obey only the Master. The world watches in horror as the President is killed. The Master uses his laser screwdriver to incapacitate the Doctor and to kill Jack. He has the Doctor's hand, giving him the Doctor's DNA. Coupled with technology developed by Professor Lazarus, he uses his screwdriver to cause the Doctor to age greatly, his ability to regenerate suspended. The Doctor whispers a message to Martha then she departs using the Manipulator. The Paradox Engine is activated and the sky splits open - forming a bridge to the far future. Millions of Toclafane emerge and are sent to decimate the Earth's population. Martha looks on helplessly as London is attacked...

One year later, the Master rules the Earth from his base in the sky. Toclafane patrol everywhere, killing for pleasure. Whole countries have been destroyed and the Master has begun to build a vast war fleet. He aims to turn the Earth into the new Gallifrey and launch a war throughout the cosmos. Lucy is a shadow of her former self, having suffered continual abuse at the hands of her husband. An escape attempt by the Doctor, Jack and Martha's family fails. She, meanwhile, has been travelling the planet and it is rumoured that she has found a means of stopping the Master. She arrives back in England where she is met by a doctor named Tom Milligan, who is going to help her. Milligan takes her to meet a scientist named Professor Docherty. Martha reveals that she has found a way of disabling a Toclafane, after one was brought down by an electrical storm in South Africa. The Master makes a TV broadcast, directed at Martha. He uses his laser screwdriver to harm the Doctor further - aging him even more so that he ends up a tiny wizened creature. Martha, Tom and Docherty manage to bring down a Toclafane and open up its casing - hoping to learn more about them so that some weakness might be found. Within is a human head with cybernetic implants. The creatures are what the future human race will become, the inhabitants of Utopia in the year 100 Trillion. The Doctor had worked this out. The Paradox Engine has allowed them to travel back and destroy their own ancestors.

Martha claims to have a weapon which comprises three chemicals which can kill a Time Lord. She has come to Britain to obtain the third of these. Docherty's son is a captive of the Toclafane, and she informs the Master of Martha's plan to get him released. At a house in South London, Martha tells the slave workers about the Doctor. She is then captured by the Master, who kills Tom. On the Valiant, the Master is getting ready to launch his war fleet. Martha's family and Jack are brought to the bridge to witness her execution. However, Martha refuses to take the Master seriously. The Doctor points out that he would never have asked Martha to use a weapon. She had known that Docherty would betray her, so that she would be here in this place at this time. Her travels across the globe have been to tell the people about the Doctor, and they have all been urged to think about him at the point when the missiles are to be launched. The Doctor, meanwhile, has mentally tuned himself into the Archangel Network. As everyone on the planet thinks about him, he is returned to normal, harnessing all the mental power. The Master flees to the surface, determined to blow up the rockets - but the Doctor knows he would never commit suicide. They return to the Valiant as Jack destroys the Paradox Engine. Time is thrown backwards to the moment when it was first activated, though everyone on the ship is immune to this effect. The Doctor intends to keep the Master prisoner in the TARDIS, but Lucy shoots him. He refuses to regenerate and dies. The Doctor burns his body, but later someone finds and removes his signet ring. Jack is taken to Cardiff to be reunited with his Torchwood team. As he walks away, he hints that he might eventually become the Face of Boe... Martha decides she must stay behind and look after her traumatised family. She has held romantic feelings for the Doctor and knows they will never be reciprocated.
The Doctor leaves alone, but a short time later the TARDIS collides with a vessel - the Titanic...

The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords were written by Russell T Davies, and were first broadcast on 23rd and 30th June, 2007. They mark the finale of the third series, and see the departure of Martha Jones as the regular companion.
For fans of the show, one moment of the first half stands out as the Doctor reminisces about Gallifrey. We see the planet for the first time in the new series, including the Citadel of the Time Lords which we had never seen the exterior of before. The young Master wears black and white robes akin to those sported by the Time Lords in their very first appearance - at the Doctor's trial in the final episode of The War Games. Other adult Time Lords wear the costumes first designed by James Acheson for The Deadly Assassin. The Seal of Rassilon makes its first appearance since the TV Movie. For the first time on screen we see a black Time Lord - though Big Finish had featured a black incarnation of Rassilon a few years before.
As mentioned before, many see these episodes as the second and third parts of a trilogy, but RTD himself tended to think of them as a separate two part finale.
There are lots of references to previous stories - not just to this series' arc. The Master watches Teletubbies on TV - a nod to the scene in The Sea Devils where his earlier incarnation had viewed an episode of The Clangers. The rebuilding of Downing Street goes back to its destruction in World War Three, and the whole election of Mr Saxon owes its origins to the Doctor's breaking of Harriet Jones in The Christmas Invasion. The severed hand of the Doctor from that episode also comes into play, coupled with references to the work of Prof Lazarus in The Lazarus Experiment, where it had been stated that he was being funded by Harold Saxon.

The alias adopted by the Master is as Olde English as you can get - hinting at King Harold Godwinson and the Anglo-Saxons of the country before the Norman invasion. He gains his own companion - wife Lucy - just as the Doctor has always had companions, though this being the Master he cruelly abuses her. He is also seen to favour jelly babies.
The Toclafane derive from a monster idea from the 2005 series. Had the production team been unable to secure the use of the Daleks, then these would have been their replacements.
John Simm is obviously the main guest artist as the Master. Joining him are Alexandra Moen as Lucy, Tom Ellis as Tom Milligan, Ellie Haddington as Prof Docherty, and Nichola McAuliffe as Vivien Rook. Colin Stinton portrays the US President, Winters. Elize Du Toit returns as the sinister woman" last seen in 42.

A party political broadcast for Saxon features cameos from the band McFly, Sharon Osbourne, and former MP Ann Widdecombe.
Adjoa Andoh will return in the following series as Francine Jones, but this is the last appearance for Trevor Laird as dad Clive, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as sister Tish, and Reggie Yates as brother Leo. The latter features only briefly in the first half.
For the story arc points - see above. The cliffhanger sees the Toclafane descend on the planet to decimate the population, as the elderly Doctor is forced to watch, whilst Martha observes the carnage from a hill overlooking London.

Overall, a great story in which the Master actually gets to rule the world for a change. Jack is woefully underused, and even David Tennant is largely absent for the second half  - though this does allow Freema Agyeman a far bigger role to play. As with all RTD finales, the conclusion depends on a great big Deus Ex Machina, and this one is particularly overblown as the Doctor gains god-like powers.
Things you might like to know:

  • The boy Master is played by William Hughes, who had played the young Casanova in the RTD penned series starring David Tennant, just before he got called up for TARDIS duties.
  • Vivien Rook appears to have been named in reference to veteran journalist Jean Rook, who had once written an article attacking Doctor Who for being too scary for children.
  • Jack's claim to have been called the Face of Boe as a young man, as he was used as a poster boy for the Time Agency, seems to hint that he will eventually evolve into the big head in the glass jar as seen in the first three seasons. This is not necessarily the case. He might have known about the Face and that the Doctor and Martha had met him, and was just pulling their legs.
  • When the Master broadcasts to the planet just after the death of President Winters, he paraphrases the same opening as his earlier self when broadcasting his demands in Part Four of Logopolis - "Peoples of the Universe. Please attend carefully...".
  • The Time Lord collars were originals - borrowed from the Doctor Who exhibition at Blackpool. David Tennant made sure he got photographed wearing full Time Lord regalia, as the Gallifrey scenes were shot at the same time as the climactic scene of the Doctor and Master confronting each other over the detonation of the missiles.
  • Martha's TV was built by Magpie Electricals - a company which surprisingly survived the events of The Idiot's Lantern.
  • Winters actually refers to himself only as President-Elect, which would set this story firmly in the middle of winter if the US election was a conventional one.
  • He mentions that the First Contact protocol dates back to 1968, which is when The Invasion was broadcast (and took place, depending on your views on UNIT dating).
  • One of the Toclafane voices is provided by Zoe Thorne, who had featured as the Gelth in The Unquiet Dead.
  • RTD joked that the female hand seen picking up the Master's signet ring at the end belonged to the Rani. The hand actually belonged to production manager Tracie Simpson.
  • It had been planned to show the final episode on a big screen in Trafalgar Square as part of the LGBT Pride celebrations, and Freema Agyeman and John Barrowman were in attendance, but a recent terrorist action prevented this taking place.
  • As soon as the final episode was broadcast, it was announced that Martha Jones would return for a trio of stories in the second season of Torchwood. Then she will be working for UNIT, and will be engaged to Tom Milligan.
  • Before the cliffhanger of the Titanic smashing into the TARDIS is resolved, we have the Time Crash Children In Need sequence to insert.

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