The Sound of Drums
Martha: Yeah, and what is he to you? Like a colleague or…?
The Doctor: He was a friend, at first…
Production Code: 3.12.
Doctor Who Season: S29 (Ep12).
Story Number: 187b.
The electorate explain…
“And I liked him.”
“Why do you say that? What was his policy? What did he stand for?”
“I don’t know. He always sounded good.”
A man with no real policies. Voted in. A smile and a wink and laugh.
Enough about the recent extremely narrow victory of Boris Johnson.
A brilliant Doctor Who episode.
It’s one episode in which the music is a large reason of its brilliance. Murray Gold’s theme “All the Strange Strange Creatures” which has been prominent throughout the season gets a particularly epic extended airing, and an equally epic “This is Gallifrey” appears.
These two themes highlight two different kind of sequences that give these 45 minutes their satisfying pace: action, an awful lot of running; quiet reflective scenes.
The mobile phonecall between the two Time Lords is one of those quieter scenes.
“I was there when the Dalek Emperor took control of the Cruciform. I saw it. I ran. I ran so far. Made myself human so they would never find me, because I was so scared.”
RTD again will some well chose words manages to conjure up whole other unseen stories. Although it introduces the Master well for a new audience, it’s also chock-full of continuity this episode – even the Master watching the Teletubbies is a callback to the Classic era Master watching The Clangers.
“Televisions in their stomach. Now that is evolution” – and even the Teletubbies jokes tie into the season’s theme.
After some more frantic running, something wholly unexpected at its time of broadcast. The Doctor spinning tales around the campfire, and suddenly the screen is saturated with Technicolor continuity, as we see fan-favourite Gallifrey onscreen in Nu-Who for the first time.
RTD manages the astonishing feat of turning a continuity geekfest into Saturday Night Prime Time entertainment for the nation.
It’s a bold move to portray the Master as an 8-year old – will the mystery of the show be gone if the Time Lord equivalent of Muppet Babies appears onscreen? – but it actually makes sense to portray the Time Vortex as magical cauldron for the new Harry Potter generation audience.
“Some would be inspired, some would run away, and some would go mad.”
The Master actually has a finely tuned plan though he’s been putting into action over the past 18 months (it’s a genius plot-device – the Doctor fusing the TARDIS to only be able to move to the year 100 Trillion or “now” with a leeway of 18 months, tieing into the continuity of The Christmas Invasion).
The Classic idea of the Master as hypnotist extended to the whole of Great Britain.
“Oh, I know what it’s like. It’s like, it’s like when you fancy someone and they don’t even know you exist.”
Two characters with swoopy coats, and Martha rocking the red leather jacket, they look good moving through the city like ghosts – trying to foil this grand plan.
“I could make grits. What are grits anyway?”
The episode ends though with the Doctor defeated, the Earth defeated.
The Simm portrayal of the Master as even more ebullient than Tennant’s Doctor – whose portrayal of the good Time Lord is dialled down to a more sober and grimmer determination.
It’s an amazing last scene with the oft-overshadowed-this-season companion having to steel herself with the same determination.
“I’m coming back!”
Unlike previous finales there’s a real unease with the idea of the villain actually conquering the Earth.
“And I looked down upon my new dominion as Master of all, and thought it good”.
Rating for this middle episode of the three-parter: 5/5