Last of the Time Lords

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187c – "Last of the Time Lords"
Doctor Who episode
DW S3.13 Last of the Time Lords.jpg
The inside of a Toclafane revealed to be a human being.
Cast
Others
Production
Writer Russell T Davies
Director Colin Teague
Script editor Simon Winstone
Producer Phil Collinson
Executive producer(s) Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
Incidental music composer Murray Gold
Production code 3.13
Series Series 3
Length 3rd of 3-part story, 52 minutes
Originally broadcast 30 June 2007
Chronology
← Preceded by Followed by →
"The Sound of Drums" "Time Crash" (mini-episode)
"Voyage of the Damned" (special)

"Last of the Time Lords" is the thirteenth and final episode of the third series of the revived British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC One on 30 June 2007.[1] It is the last of three episodes that form a linked narrative, following "Utopia" and "The Sound of Drums".

One year after the events of "The Sound of Drums", the Master has conquered the Earth and enslaved its population. He holds the aged Doctor prisoner, and prepares warships for a new Time Lord Empire. Now it is up to Martha Jones to carry out the Doctor's plan and save the universe.

This episode shows the departure of Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones and John Barrowman as Jack Harkness until Series Four.

Plot[edit]

A year after the appearance of the Toclafane on Earth, humanity is on the verge of extinction. After her escape from the Valiant, Martha has been travelling around the world and avoiding the Master's detection through the use of her perception filter. She has been contacting groups of people to find a special gun created by Torchwood and UNIT that can kill the Master. Martha meets Thomas Milligan, a former doctor who leads her to Professor Docherty. Together they manage to capture a Toclafane. Upon examination they discover the Toclafane are the humans from the far future who took the rocket to Utopia. They were driven insane after discovering that Utopia was a lie. The Master created the Paradox Machine to allow them to return to the past and kill their ancestors while avoiding the grandfather paradox. Martha and Thomas leave to find the last component of the gun, and Docherty provides the Master with Martha's location in exchange for information on her own son.

The Master's forces corner Martha and Thomas, and Martha surrenders but Thomas rushes the Master in a rage and is shot. The Master destroys the gun Martha assembled and takes her back to the Valiant so he can kill her in front of the artificially aged Doctor. The Master readies the launch of the Toclafane fleets to conquer the rest of the universe and demands Martha kneel before him. The Master basks in the glory of the last few moments of the countdown and Martha begins to smile. She reveals that the gun was simply a distraction from the real plan, she had really spent the last year following the Doctor's instructions. Martha has been preparing the surviving humans to concentrate their thoughts on the Doctor upon the completion of the launch countdown. The Doctor has spent the past year psychically integrating himself into the Master's Archangel network, which channels the collective psychic energy of the people to the Doctor. A rejuvenated Doctor overcomes his captivity and forces the Master to cower in defeat.

Martha and her family free Jack Harkness and set off to destroy the Paradox Machine while the Master tries to detonate the fleet. The Doctor persuades the Master to stop, and the Paradox Machine is destroyed. Time snaps back, and the events of the last year are erased and the Toclafane disappear. Aboard the Valiant, everyone can still remember what happened because they were at the centre of the events. The Doctor and his allies consider the Master's fate before the Master is shot by his wife Lucy. The Master refuses to regenerate for the Doctor and dies in his arms, leaving the Doctor to believe he is the last Time Lord. The Doctor burns the Master's body and leaves, but sometime later a woman's hand picks up the Master's signet ring from the ashes.

The Doctor returns Jack to Torchwood, while Martha decides to leave the Doctor to care for her family and finish medical school. She gives him her mobile phone in case she needs to contact him, saying that if it rings he must come right away. The Doctor pilots the TARDIS away and contemplates events when the bow of a ship called the Titanic bursts through a wall of the control room, leaving the Doctor confused.

Continuity[edit]

In the episode's commentary, writer Russell T Davies called the implication of Jack's nickname ("the Face of Boe") "a theory" as to the Face of Boe's origins, prompting Executive Producer Julie Gardner to urge him to "stop back-pedalling" about the two characters being the same. Davies then mentioned the addition of a line in "Gridlock" in which the Face of Boe calls the Doctor an "old friend", suggesting a strong connection between him and the Doctor. Davies also jokingly termed the hand seen removing the Master's ring from the ashes of his funeral pyre "the hand of the Rani".[2] The hand seen picking up the Master's ring was included in order to leave open the possibility of reintroducing the character at a later date.[2] In part one of The End of Time, the hand is revealed to be that of Miss Trefusis, a disciple of Harold Saxon.

The Master makes reference to the Sea Devils (which the Third Doctor and the Master encountered together in the 1972 serial The Sea Devils) and the Axons (which they met in 1971's The Claws of Axos).[3] Earth is referred to as Sol 3, the third planet from the star Sol, as it was in The Deadly Assassin.[3] The Master's laser screwdriver is said to have isomorphic controls, a property the Doctor attributed to the TARDIS controls in Pyramids of Mars. Clips from "Smith and Jones", "Utopia" and "The Sound of Drums" are used in this episode.

The Doctor's desire to meet Agatha Christie is fulfilled in the episode "The Unicorn and the Wasp". Martha mentions that both UNIT and Torchwood have been studying Time Lords for several decades. Torchwood was set up in "Tooth and Claw" for the specific purpose of tracking the Doctor, while the Doctor worked for UNIT in the mid-20th century. During the Doctor's tenure with UNIT, a full season of stories revolved around the Master, ending in his capture by UNIT in The Dæmons. The 2007 Children in Need mini-episode "Time Crash" takes place within the last few minutes of this episode. The Story of Martha, a new series novel, chronicles the journey and tales of Martha Jones during her year on Earth. In the series 4 episode "The Sontaran Stratagem", Martha is engaged to Thomas Milligan, the pediatrician she travels with during this episode. However, by The End of Time she has instead married Mickey Smith.

Outside references[edit]

The Master refers to the aged version of the Doctor as "Gandalf" from J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

Whilst attempting to mend a television to pick up the broadcast from the Master, Professor Docherty remarks on a fondness for Countdown and states that "it's never been the same since Des took over. Both Deses", referring to Des Lynam and Des O'Connor's hosting of the show after the death of Richard Whiteley in 2005.

When Professor Docherty was interrupted by Martha Jones, she said she didn't care if it was the Queen of Sheba.

While working on a troublesome computer to access the data from the one Toclafane struck down by lightning, Professor Docherty says, "Who ever thought that we would miss Bill Gates?"

Production and publicity[edit]

"Last of the Time Lords", along with "Utopia" and "The Sound of Drums", are treated in several sources as a three-part story, the first such story in the revived series of Doctor Who. However, Russell T Davies has said that he regards "Utopia" as a separate story, but notes that the determination is arbitrary.[4] "Last of the Time Lords" was a subtitle proposed at one stage for a film version of Doctor Who that was in development from 1987 to 1994.[5]

This episode was planned to be broadcast live to the crowds attending Pride London in Trafalgar Square via a giant screen. However, a local curfew after the nearby attempted terrorist bombing the previous day prevented the screening. Freema Agyeman and John Barrowman attended the event.[6][7]

In order to keep the episode's details secret, access to preview copies of this episode was restricted.[8] There was a similar moratorium on copies of "Doomsday" the previous year and on the series four finale "Journey's End" the following year.[9] The episode was allocated a 50-minute timeslot for its initial broadcast,[10] as with "Daleks in Manhattan" previously, and 55-minute timeslots for the BBC Three repeats.[11][12] According to Russell T Davies in Doctor Who Magazine 384, this is because it ran over-length but they did not wish to lose the material. The final episode of The Trial of a Time Lord was also extended by five minutes in 1986. In the audio commentary, the producers reveal that Graeme Harper filled in to direct some scenes after director Colin Teague was injured.

At the start of this episode, The Master enters the bridge of the Valiant as "I Can't Decide" by the Scissor Sisters plays in the background. He refers to it as "track 3", its place on the Scissor Sisters' second album, Ta-Dah. Two sets of audio commentaries were recorded for the episode: one with producers Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner, and Phil Collinson, which was intended for podcast broadcast to coincide with the episode's initial UK telecast, and the other featuring actors David Tennant, Freema Agyeman, and John Barrowman, which was included on the UK DVD release of the episode as part of the Series 3 box set. However, the Region 1 (North America) release of the DVD saw the actor commentary replaced by the earlier podcast version, although a production error resulted in the set's booklet not indicating this substitution (and the booklet also omits Tennant's name).[13] This episode marked the last regular-episode use of the Doctor Who theme music arrangement by Murray Gold that had been introduced in 2005 and used (notwithstanding minor modifications and an extension of the closing theme in 2006) thereafter. The opening theme would be heard once more in its 2005 arrangement in the Time Crash short episode, before both opening and closing themes would be revised beginning with Voyage of the Damned and continuing into Series 4 in 2008.

Cast notes[edit]

Reggie Yates is credited as playing Leo Jones; however, the character Leo only appears in this episode as background. The audio commentary for the episode mentions that Leo was originally scheduled to appear in the sequence showing Martha's return to Britain, but Yates was double-booked. Zoe Thorne also voiced the Gelth in "The Unquiet Dead". Uncredited as the hand that picks up the Master's ring was production manager Tracie Simpson.

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Overnight ratings showed that "Last of the Time Lords" was watched by 8 million viewers with a 39% audience share.[14] When finale ratings were calculated, figures rose to 8.61 million viewers.[15] It received an Audience Appreciation Index of 88, considered "excellent" for a drama.

Stephen Brook, writing on The Guardian '​s blog, said the episode was "certainly an epic conclusion... but not a satisfying one." He felt it was too epic and too rushed, and "the resurrection of the Doctor... left me cold."[16] SFX reviewer Dave Golder gave the episode three and a half out of five stars, concluding that it was "Good solid fun, with some great performances and memorable visuals but possibly the least satisfying New Who finale so far". Though he thought there was "loads to enjoy" such as John Simm as the Master, Freema Agyeman's performance, and the effects, he wished to explore more of the dystopian world and said of the conclusion, "I liked the message it was trying to get across, but the shots of a ghostly Tennant floating down the steps did unfortunately look like something out of a panto."[17]

IGN's Travis Fickett rated "Last of the Time Lords" 8.4 out of 10, believing it the "weakest entry" of the three-part finale, though it had some "fine stuff", especially the final confrontation between the Doctor and Master and Martha's departure. However, he thought the biggest "misstep" was sidelining the Doctor and the "logically muddy" conclusion.[18] Mark Wright of The Stage called it the "weakest of the season finales for Doctor Who to date", with much of the plot being "lazy" or not making sense and "[played] out as silly and lacks substance". While he praised Martha and the emotional climax, he found Jack "criminally underused" and criticised the representation of the aged Doctor.[19] Stephen James Walker, in his book Third Dimension: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who 2007, summed up the episode as "bleak and depressing", and listed the ill treatment of the Doctor, the use of a reset button and the underuse of Captain Jack as among the problems he had with the story.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Doctor Who UK airdate announced". News (Dreamwatch). February 27, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b ""Last of the Time Lords" Podcast". 2007-07-27. Retrieved 2007-06-30. 
  3. ^ a b "Doctor Who - Fact File - "The Last of the Time Lords"". Retrieved 2007-07-01. 
  4. ^ Davies, Russell T (4 March 2009). "Production Notes". Doctor Who Magazine (Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Panini Comics) (406): p 4. "And I certainly feel the Series Three climax was two stories, no matter what the DWM season poll says. I'm sorry! I just do! I could rattle off the reasons, but we're into the mystical land of canon here, where the baseline of the argument simply comes down to "because I think so!"" 
  5. ^ Lofficier, Jean-Marc (1997). Doctor Who: The Nth Doctor - An in-depth Study of the films that almost were. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 0-426-20499-9. 
  6. ^ "Gripping finale of Doctor Who closes Pride show in Trafalgar Square". Pride London. Retrieved 2007-06-25. 
  7. ^ "Doctor Who dropped at London Pride 2007". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2007-09-11. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  8. ^ "What did Lizo think of Doctor Who?". CBBC. 2007-06-18. Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  9. ^ "Fear Forecast: "Army of Ghosts"". BBC Doctor Who website. BBC. Retrieved 2007-02-25. 
  10. ^ Doctor Who - Saturday, 30 June, Radio Times
  11. ^ Doctor Who - Sunday, 1 July, Radio Times
  12. ^ Doctor Who - Friday, 6 July, Radio Times
  13. ^ BBC Worldwide press release, quoted on TV Shows on DVD, Nov. 18, 2007 (accessed Nov. 20, 2007)
  14. ^ Dowell, Ben (2007-07-02). "Doctor Who masters rivals". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  15. ^ "Weekly Top 30 Programmes". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  16. ^ Brook, Stephen (2007-07-02). "Doctor Who: it's season finale time!". Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  17. ^ Golder, Dave (2007-06-30). "Doctor Who 3.13 "Last of the Time Lords"". SFX. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  18. ^ Fickett, Travis (2007-10-08). "Doctor Who: "Last of the Time Lords" Review". IGN. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  19. ^ Wright, Mark (1 July 2007). "Doctor Who 3.13: Last of the Time Lords". The Stage. Retrieved 10 July 2013. 
  20. ^ Walker, Stephen James (2007). Third Dimension: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who 2007. Telos Publishing. p. 264. ISBN 978-1-84583-016-8. 

External links[edit]

Reviews[edit]