Friday, September 21, 2007

It's Friday! You Know What That Means!

Today's episode of Doctor Who here in the US: "Utopia." Which means you may now talk about it here. Or about anything else you like. Just remember, no spoilers for later episodes, yadda, yadda, you know how this goes by now.


  1. So, hands up... How many people managed not to get spoiled for this one, despite the best efforts of the Sci-Fi Channel and the tempting, temping lure of the spoiler-laden internet?

  2. Oh man! Ha Ha, I wasnt spoiled, and was it cool. Martha said she knew the voice of "The Master". Whats up with that? Great story.

    Am going to Kennedy Space Center tomorrow. Want anything?

  3. You'll see what's up with that next week. In the meantime, see if you can guess. There have been hints. ;)

    And bring me back a space shuttle!

  4. Cloak and dagger, maybe

  5. I don't remember all the questions or comments I haven't been making in order to avoid spoilers, but I know the Master was definitely one of those things I was tap-dancing around.

    A couple of things right off the bat:

    Derek Jacobi is pretty damn terrific in this. Much as I enjoyed what's to come, I was a little disappointed he wasn't going to be the Master for much longer. (Although he was apparently the Master in the online "Scream of the Shalka" as well.)

    Captain Jack is more delightful in his first minutes here than in all of Torchwood combined. (Which, okay, I still haven't watched all of yet.) I'm all for exploring the darker edges of the character, but I feel like the Who writers better understand what's so great about the character.

    It's also nice that what's ostensibly a pretty standalone episode is such a huge turning point for everything that's to come.

    I'm sure more will occur to me.

  6. Yeah, there was frantic tap-dancing around that particular plot point. :)

    Jacobi is terrific, isn't he? What I thought was especially great is the fact that the instant he changed over, from his face, his voice, there was no doubt in my mind exactly who he was, who he had become. Dude had the Master nailed, even just for the five minutes or so he actually got to play him.

    I agree about Captain Jack. Torchwood has done things with him that are potentially interesting, but for the most part they've managed to lose a lot of the character's charm in the process, which is both unnecessary and rather sad. I much prefer DW-Jack to TW-Jack, and I was delighted to see him back to something that feels much more like his old self.

    And, yeah, those last few minutes of this episode -- which is otherwise pretty much a decent but un-exceptional standalone -- are pivotal. Possibly this will begin to explain all the tongue-biting those of us who'd already seen the rest of the season have been doing in the presence of the yet-unspoiled. Given the premise of the new series, the re-appearance of another Time Lord is obviously a hugely big deal, and it becomes difficult to talk about the season as a whole without taking it into account. Also, a new-series look at a Time Lord who isn't the Doctor is clearly going to have implications for all those discussions we seem to want to keep having about the Time Lords... Not, I should add, that the Master is any more a typical Time Lord than the Doctor is. But that's a discussion to revisit next week. :)

  7. It was like the instant Jack appeared on screen that I thought, "Oh yeah! That's why they gave that character a spinoff!"

    Hopefully said spinoff will start making use of that.

    And I don't remember, but did they say how many years the Master had lived as Professor Yana?

  8. There are a few moments in Torchwood where the fun old Jack comes through. I'm hoping now that he's perhaps worked out a bit of his angst and found some of his answers so that there's less excuse for him to be mopey and dull, we'll see more of that.

    It's not actually entirely certain how long the Master was Yana for. Chan-tho says she's known him for 17 years, so it's been at least that long. Yana says he was "found as a naked child," though. That would seem to indicate that he's lived nearly an entire human lifespan, assuming it's not an artificial memory. Even if it's not, "child" could mean anything from "tiny baby" to "young man," of course. But, still, if the Master had been trapped in that watch for fifty years or so, I can understand why he was so pissed off when he came back. :)

  9. Even though I had already been spoiled I thought the episode was good but the very end was awesome!!! I was actually surprised by the use of the watch. I like how when The Doctor looks at him I think he knows it's him. When he locks himself in The Tardis immediately The Doctor says something like everything's changed it's just us now. but why did The Doctor go off and leave the door open in the first place.

    Love Derek Jacobi, not sure about the other guy yet though- Derek Jacobi is a guy who has been in some really great things and some really really awful even B type things at the same time. Good to see him here.

  10. Yeah, that's a powerful ending, isn't it? Poor Doctor. And, yes, I'm pretty sure he knows who it is. He clearly figures it out very quickly. Actually, I saw somebody who is more-or-less new to the show asking somewhere else how the Doctor knew who it was, and, while there are a couple of more practical answers, really, I think the actual answer is "Well, of course it was him." :)

    Why he left the TARDIS open, I don't know. Unless he didn't, and the Master was just able to break in. Maybe he was pulling stuff out of it when they were doing the work earlier, and just left it unlocked figuring nobody was going to bother it.

    Jacobi is probably the single most prestigious actor they've ever had on the show, and by all accounts he was delighted to do it. Like Fred, I do wish we could have seen him as the Master for longer. The "other guy" is John Simm, best known for Life on Mars. His version of the character is very different, and it took me a while to decide that I liked him. You can judge for yourself next week.

    Speaking of spoilers, I was in something of an interesting position when I first saw this episode, myself, because I had heard the Master was returning, but I also knew he was supposed to be played by Simm. And I'd managed to avoid learning any of the details. So the pocket watch took me totally by surprise. It was a beautiful moment. :)

  11. No, The Master didn't break in they clearly showed a close up earlier in the episode where the door was of The Tardis was open

  12. Gotcha. It'd been a few weeks since I'd seen it last. :)

    I can believe the Doctor left it open, anyway. It's not like he hasn't done that sort of thing before.

  13. I mean, isn't that how he ended up with Tegan? :)

  14. First off, I'm like Pop: unspoiled and completely in the dark about the identity of The Master. (Although I will guess that, since the watch appeared identical with The Doctor's, they are related - perhaps brothers, but father-son (Master being the watchmaker father) would allow for far more dramatic dialogue.)

    I was kind of hoping for a more descriptive name, although "The Doctor" doesn't tell us all that much, either.

    I was bopping along, more wondering why Yana was the way he was than worrying about Jacobi's performance, but then he became The Master and nailed me to the sofa.

    So the Asian-Amphibian says "Chan" and "Tho", and she's called "Chan-Tho". Since she, too, is the last of her species, can we make it a hat trick and call her species that, as well?

    How The Master got into the TARDIS doesn't concern me. What I want to know is how he was able to lock out The Doctor.

  15. Although I will guess that, since the watch appeared identical with The Doctor's, they are related - perhaps brothers, but father-son

    That's an interesting speculation. Hold on to that thought for the moment. :)

    Actually, though, we're sort of out of spoiler territory here, because the Master is a character that people who are familiar with the original series will already know. Although, never fear, the show will give you enough info about him to be going on with (as well as a few details that will be new to everybody, and of course I'm not going to talk about that any more right now). For the moment, suffice it to say that they have a long, long history, the early stages of which we know only a very little bit about. For the last several hundred years, their relationship has been... Well, the Doctor once described him as "my best enemy," which is exceedingly apt. The Master seems to have some interestingly twisted psychological issues where the Doctor is concerned. And the Doctor has issues with the Master being, y'know, evil.

    I was kind of hoping for a more descriptive name, although "The Doctor" doesn't tell us all that much, either.

    Actually, the fact that he calls himself "the Master" tells you quite a lot about the guy. :)

    Since she, too, is the last of her species, can we make it a hat trick and call her species that, as well?

    I think her species is actually referred to somewhere. It seems to be called (or have been called) "the Malmooth." I admit, I had to look that up.

    What I want to know is how he was able to lock out The Doctor.

    The guy knows his way around a TARDIS. And he's really good with technology.

  16. Speaking of The Master, Tegan and TARDISes(sp?)

    ".....he(The Doctor) decides to repair the TARDIS's chameleon circuit, which has frozen it into the shape of a police box. In order to do this, he intends to materialise the TARDIS around a real police box (thus disguising it), and then obtain its precise measurements in 37 dimensions. With these measurements, he will have the inhabitants of the planet Logopolis produce a mathematical calculation — a block transfer computation — to reset the circuit. However, the "police box" he materialises around is actually the TARDIS of the Master, who has survived their encounter on the planet Traken. When the Doctor materialises around the Master's TARDIS, a recursive loop of TARDISes within TARDISes is formed."

  17. I love "Logopolis." :)

    Although I really don't believe the Doctor ever actually cared all that much about fixing the chameleon circuit. He just pretends to want to fix it every few centuries when he's looking for something to do. He even admits later that he likes it that way. :)

  18. And the blue police box has become such an iconic element of the show...

    Of course, reinvention and discontinuity are key forces in the show, so probably anything is up for grabs.

    It's funny that what might just be a hole in the plot has to be explained in terms of the Doctor's motives. Why did he leave the Tardis open? Because if he hadn't, the Master couldn't have gotten in.

  19. Almost everything is up for grabs. Not the police box. :)

    And half the fun of being a fan of a show like this is getting to fill in the plot holes with character motives! In this case, y'know, I think he would have been perfectly happy with Professor Yana getting in.

  20. Yeah, he seemed to really like Yana.

    Which leads to all sorts of interesting speculations on its own -- like, why did the Master choose this specific personality? (Assuming he did, of course, in the same way that the Doctor chose schoolteacher John Smith with his watch. It's unclear how long he's been there and what memories are real or fake.) Because while he's hiding as far from the other Time Lords as he can get, he's also put himself in a position to be the very person the Doctor would want to meet up with if he ever visited.

  21. It is full of interesting questions and possibilities, yeah.

    he's also put himself in a position to be the very person the Doctor would want to meet up with if he ever visited.

    Now, that isn't a thought that had occurred to me, but it's actually entirely plausible.

    I think my own vague assumption is that he didn't program in a particular personality or much in the way of memories... I can't help but think that if he were going to do that, he could not possibly resist the urge to keep himself more, well, Master-like.

    Which in itself leads to other interesting thoughts, because Yana, while he shares the Master's technical genius, is apparently just a really nice guy and not an evil megalomaniac at all. Which leads me to think that there is the potential somewhere in the Master for him to have been a decent person (a thought which is supported by the fact that he was once someone the Doctor could consider a friend). Which just makes his whole life story really sad.