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New Who: The Story Thus Far – Series 3 (Episodes 8-13)

John Hussey continues his series analysing the revival, this time with Series 3.

Human Nature & The Family of Blood

‘Human Nature/The Family of Blood’

Human-Nature-The-Family-of-BloodThis two-parter saw the Tenth Doctor in a deadly situation as he was forced to become human using the Chameleon-Arch. This in turn led to the Doctor’s consciousness being placed within a fob-watch while his body was occupied with the identity of John Smith, a school teacher living in 1913. Martha Jones was placed with her greatest challenge yet by watching over John Smith under the identity of his servant. This challenge became greater when the Family of Blood arrived to track down the Tenth Doctor in order to steal his Time Lord biology to become immortal in their conquest of spreading across the universe. Mother (Rebekah Staton), Father (Gerald Horan), Son (Harry Lloyd) and Daughter (Lauren Wilson) of Mine tried everything possible in order to bring the Time Lord out of hiding, to the point of killing innocent people, attacking a school and nearly killing a group of school-boys along with attempting to bring World War I to England a year early.

Martha desperately tried to convince John to look into the fob-watch and grant the Tenth Doctor’s return but was met with many complications. Firstly Tim Latimer (Thomas Sangster) stole the fob-watch on the Time Lord’s instructions and secondly John’s reluctance to give up his life. The dilemma and emotional decisions John had to face made the narrative that more dramatic and saddening. The Tenth Doctor’s choice in becoming human made grave consequences and didn’t think about the complications his human-form would hold, nor did he put into consideration the fact John Smith might want existence. It just shows how cold the Time Lord can be from time to time.

In the end ‘Human Nature/The Family of Blood’ showed John Smith was the better and stronger man by sacrificing his life in order to bring back the Tenth Doctor. The Family of Blood were met with a dark demise as the angered Tenth Doctor granted them immortality in eternal imprisonment of the cruellest kind. Sadly it left Joan Redfern (Jessica Hynes) a broken woman after John Smith was tragically taken from her and had to suffer with the memories of her loss and the evil events the Tenth Doctor’s evasion from the Family of Blood brought upon them. At least Tim got a happy ending as the fob-watch saved him from a near death experience during World War I and then was happy to see the Tenth Doctor and Martha visit him at a memorial service many years later. The most important element of this story was the progression of Martha’s character and her relationship with the Tenth Doctor as well as the introduction of the Chameleon-Arch and fob-watch which would bring about important plot- twists in ‘Utopia’.

‘Blink’

blink-key-artSteven Moffat returned with the debut of one of his greatest creations, i.e. the Weeping Angels, in this brilliant example of a Doctor-lite episode. ‘Blink’ brought in character Sally Sparrow (Carey Mulligan) who investigated the abandoned Wester Drumlins estate, later coming across a message from the Tenth Doctor from the past giving her warnings about the present. Later she was presented with a letter from her friend Kathy Nightingale (Lucy Gaskell) from the past also despite only just talking to her within the present. Finally Billy Shipton (Michael Obiora/Louis Mahoney), a DI she had briefly encountered during her police inquiry, was presented to her as an old man who gave her further messages from the Tenth Doctor.

This timey-wimey narrative was cram-packed with emotion and brilliant storytelling. The idea of the Weeping Angels killing their victims kindly by transporting them back in time was just inventive and so, so cruel. All of their lives, relationships, friendships and families were taken away from them and they themselves were left deserted within the contents of the past. That and the fact they only move when not being observed truly made them a deadly and malevolent villain for the Time Lord to face (which in this case left him trapped without a TARDIS). The part where the Tenth Doctor used Sally’s notes from the future as an auto-cue within the past was truly creative. Also the episode was just quite frightening, especially during the part where the Weeping Angels pursued Sally and Larry Nightingale (Finlay Robertson) through the house. Who’d have thought the Weeping Angels would become so popular and make countless returns plaguing the Doctor and his companions?

‘Utopia’

utopia-cast-tennantAnd now we come to the brilliant Series Three finale told over a fantastic three-part story (the only one of its kind within New Who unless you class ‘The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People’ and ‘A Good Man Goes to War/Let’s Kill Hitler’ as a continuous story thereby classing it as a four-part story). ‘Utopia’ brought about one of the biggest revelations within New Who (and for good reason). Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) came crashing back onto our screens, after being absent since his abandonment in 2005s ‘Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways’, by clinging onto the outside of the TARDIS through the Time Vortex. It was discovered that he’d attempted to return to Earth in the 21st Century but ended up in the 20th Century and had to relive history, ultimately joining the Torchwood Institute as depicted within the spin-off show Torchwood. Now reunited with the Time Lord for more adventures they find themselves at the end of the universe where the last of mankind was plagued by the Futurekind as well as the fear of extinction.

Professor Yana (Derek Jacobi) was the last chance for salvation in order to bring everyone to Utopia, the supposed last place for humanities’ survival in the collapsing universe. The Tenth Doctor aided Yana in making this happen and slowly discovered a dark secret that lay with the innocent old man and the constant drumming within his head. Jack on the other hand discovered that the Tenth Doctor abandoned him due to Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) using her Bad Wolf powers to bring him back to life but due to not having control of said powers she caused Jack to become a fixed point in time. He can never die. Upon Martha discovering Yana with a fob-watch identical to the Tenth Doctor’s from ‘Human Nature/The Family of Blood’ everything fell into place and the best story-arc build-up within Russell T Davies’ era finally unfolded. The fob-watch revealed that Yana was in fact the Master. The best part was his name forming the initials for the Face of Boe’s (voiced by Struan Rodger) message: “You Are Not Alone”. The Master was back to plague the Doctor all over again after he made himself human. Shot by his assistant Chantho (Chipo Chung), whom the Master previously attempted to kill with an electric cable, the Time Lord’s evil nemesis regenerated into a younger and more insane man. The newly regenerated Master (John Simm) stole the TARDIS and left the Tenth Doctor, Martha and Captain Jack stranded on Malcassairo at the mercy of the Futurekind.

‘The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords’

The Sound of Drums & Last of the TimelordsAfter the nail-biting cliff-hanger of ‘Utopia’ the Master’s story continued in ‘The Sound of Drums’ where the Tenth Doctor, Martha and Captain Jack barely escaped the Futurekind via the quick thinking of the Time Lord’s genius. They then stumbled upon the fact that the mysterious Harold Saxon was none other than the Master in disguise, now Prime Minister of Great Britain. The Master was truly displayed as being absolutely bonkers as he brought an evil demise to his parliament members through the usage of poisonous gas. Later scenes that displayed this were when he took control of the Earth and ordered the execution of President Winters (Colin Stinton) and then ordered the decimation of one tenth of the human population. His character was certainly well-rounded with hints of emotion sewn in with his typical insane characteristics. The conversation between him and the Tenth over the phone demonstrated that the Master wasn’t all mighty due to his choice in being a coward and running away from the Time War. The Time Lords resurrected him believing the scared relic of their civilisation would prove useful fighting against the Daleks as a warrior but became frightened upon the Dalek Emperor taking control of the Cruciform and fled the battlefields before disguising himself as a human at the end of the universe.

The Master was briefly shocked by the news that Gallifrey was gone but soon taunted the Tenth Doctor about his part in destroying their people through the Moment. This scene was a prime example, among many others, as to why the Master is a brilliant villain within Doctor Who and my personal favourite. The Daleks and Cybermen are impressive and all but the Master is an all-rounded humanoid character who can really challenge the Doctor as an equal. ‘The Sound of Drums’ demonstrated this perfectly. For the first time the Doctor was made enemy number one and forced to go on the run without access to the TARDIS or any reinforcements. He was alone and near enough powerless which made the Series Three finale that more impressive. The Master was literally in control of all the cards and the Tenth Doctor had to really think of a way with his limited resources of how to stop his arch-nemesis.

last-of-the-time-lords-tennant-aged-oldWhen the Master finally did take control it was made perfectly clear he had beaten the Tenth Doctor and made him little more than a pet, as displayed later on in ‘Last of the Time Lords’. The Tenth Doctor was turned into an old man through the usage of Professor Lazarus’s (Mark Gatiss) technology from ‘The Lazarus Experiment’, which was engineered by the Master. This then lead to his mastery over the Earth through the Toclafane, whose sinister origins are unveiled to be the surviving members of humanity the Tenth Doctor, Martha and Captain Jack met on Malcassairo. The darkest part of the story was the torment that Martha’s family had to endure. Francine (Adjoa Andoh), Tish (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Clive (Trevor Laird) were made the Master’s slaves and were forced to watch countless exterminations of their own race whilst the insane Time Lord laughed at his victory. The Master’s insanity had risen when he declared to make a new Time Lord Empire through the Toclafane and invade the universe. It truly was a demonstration of the Doctor being utterly beaten and left powerless which is what I love most about the Series Three finale. It was the question of how will the Tenth Doctor win?

In ‘Last of the Time Lords’ Martha was forced to endure the ultimate challenge of travelling the Earth for an entire year to build the Tenth Doctor’s weapon against the Master. What was at first thought as a special gun to kill Time Lords later was revealed to be a physic link combined by everyone’s thoughts using the Master’s own Arch-Angel Network, which he had used to hypnosis the world into believing he was Harold Saxon, against him. With everyone thinking about the Tenth Doctor he was allowed to return to his normal self and overpower his nemesis. It was an interesting revelation to discover the Master’s entire reign of power was all in vein as the Tenth Doctor had already planned against him using Martha. Due to the Master’s over-confidence he didn’t anticipate her escape would lead to his downfall.

master-no-death-regen-last-of-the-time-lordsThe tragic resolution brought about the Master’s demise at the hands of his wife Lucy Saxon (Alexandra Moen), whom the Master had tortured physically and mentally to the point of insanity. The Master refused to regenerate and choose to die in the Tenth Doctor’s arms even though the Tenth Doctor pleaded he didn’t want to be alone anymore. It was truly an emotional scene that made you truly feel for the Doctor. Little did he know though that after the Master’s cremation his Time Lord Ring fell into the hands of a mysterious person, indicating his possible return. Captain Jack decided to return to his team at Torchwood, shocking the Tenth Doctor and Martha in the process due to indicating he may become the Face of Boe. Martha sadly chose to leave the Tenth Doctor after revealing she was fed up of chasing the Time Lord for the love she would never recieve. At least after all that speech she left on a positive note by leaving the Tenth Doctor with her phone in case she ever needed him in the future. The Tenth Doctor then prepared for his next destination which left him shocked and totally confused by the sight of the Titanic crashing through the hull of the TARDIS.

My Verdict

  • ‘Human Nature/The Family of Blood’ – 10/10
  • ‘Blink’ – 10/10
  • ‘Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords’ – 10/10

Continues next month with Series 4.

Step back in time...

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