Doctor Who – The Sound of Drums

Hard to give my impressions of this one, since so much of it will depend on how it turns out in the final episode.

That said, I was somewhat disappointed. As an old-school Who fan, I’m having adjustment problems to John Simm’s portrayal of The Master. There’s far too much Cesar-Romero-as-The-Joker in there for me. Way too much over-the-top humor. I recognize that there’s no reason that every Time Lord shouldn’t drastically change during a regeneration (after all, the Doctor’s personality is all over the place from incarnation to incarnation)….but this is way beyond what we’ve seen from The Master before. The boldly-lettered cartoon packet of dynamite? The gas attack? “Here come the drums!”? I just don’t know. Feels…..forced.

Waiting for the big reveal, too — what are the Toclafane? I expected that to be the cliffhanger revelation, but no. We just got concerned-Doctor-face as the Master gloats. Ho-hum. There better be a big pay-off there.

In fact, the best things about this episode were the things it only mentioned in passing or showed in brief glimpses — “I saw the Dalek Emperor use The Cruciform”; “We were led before the Untempered Schism”; etc.

UNIT has a helicarrier. As said, all that was missing was Angelina Jolie in an eyepatch. I really couldn’t argue with that. It was total fan-service. (Just as much as the Doctor’s chiding Martha for her “is the Master your long-lost brother” speculation — loved that.)

We got to see Gallifrey, big fuck-off collars and all. That was nice. Also, for the first time, establishment on-screen that there are children on Gallifrey, dismissing the fan-favorite novel-invented “Looms” theory (read the New Adventures section of this wiki entry for details).

Still, I’m waiting to see how it turns out. The season has been somewhat uneven, with brilliant episodes (Blink) and god-awful ones (Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks), so I’m not 100% convinced that Davies will pull this one out in the end.

We’ll see.

12 Replies to “Doctor Who – The Sound of Drums”

  1. I reckon they’re timelord remnants or survival pods or something along those lines.
    The drum beat is the one from the theme tune I thought, the ‘sound of the vortex’ and if the Timelords were messing with the Master to be a good little soldier, maybe he was their ‘backup plan’.

  2. See, I liked it. Simm is doing a great job of playing the Doctor’s insane brother (and you’ll note the Doctor didn’t actually answer Martha about that)–many of the same mannerisms and speech patterns but horribly twisted. He is over the top, but given what he’s been through that’s no surprise. And I have a theory about the Toclafane?

  3. Heh, got cut off there. Anyway, I have a theory about them, which I’ll share if people want but I won’t press upon anyone.

    I also really liked both Jack and Martha in this ep–and I love the fact that the Master referred to his wife as his faithful Companion.

  4. Sure, share away! (My personal belief — given that the TARDIS has been turned into a “Paradox Machine”, which makes me think of reversing something that’s already happened — is that the Toclafane are the Time Lords, or at least connected to them somehow.)

  5. Same thought I had — especially given that the TARDIS has been turned into a “Paradox Machine” — which would indicate that it’s being used to reverse something that has already happened…..

  6. I think they’re humans. Specifically, the last humans, the ones heading to Utopia. Those spheres were designed to let them survive in space, and the all-consuming darkness they fear is the death of the universe. It would totally fit the Master’s sense of irony, using the last humans to kill all humanity, and it would require a Paradox Engine for such a thing to even occur.

  7. Something which occurs to me: What if your theory is true, but the “Paradox Machine” is intended to absorb the paradox energy created by the human race being destroyed by their future selves, and then use that energy to bring back the Time Lords? In which case, the Master was a “sleeper agent”, specifically sent out by the Time Lords as an insurance policy against their own destruction?

  8. Ooh, I like it!

    I don’t think it’s true, though. Mainly because it sounds like they didn’t send the Master out at all–he cut and ran, showing that underneath it all he’s a coward, whereas the Doctor is ultimately a hero.

    But it’s a cool theory. And I could see the Doctor channeling that energy into exactly that sort of solution, too–much to the Master’s chagrin. His worst enemy, who he’s always taunted for being so weak and soft, not only defeats the Daleks and ends the Time Wars but then brings their own race back from extinction!

  9. I watched it at a gaming con with many other fans. The general consensus from them was “uh…whuh…buh…”. Personally, I loved it. Simm’s Master is very over the top, but he’s obviously having a ball and I like it. It was the fact that he _chose a dance track to end the world by_ that got me, that combination of playfulness, egotism, forethought and weirdness.

    I wasn’t too fond of the ‘laser screwdriver’, though.

    As for the Toclafane – they’re either something to do with the Timelords, or something to do with the Utopia humans, or both. I suspect, from previews, that we’re going to be skipping at least a few weeks ahead, probably more, in the next episode. I quite like the idea of Martha turning into a ninja in time for next season.

  10. Simm in Joker mode seemed right to me. This is the first time the Master has been in a position to control his regeneration, rather like Romana in Destiny of the Daleks. He’s clearly decided that what the universe needs, right now, is an anti-Doctor. His wit and temperament steal the Doctor’s thunder, which gives the Master a real chance of winning.

    As for the Toclafane, I rather thought they sounded like 8 year olds, and that they might be the long lost dark ids of the Timelords (sort of like in Mind of Evil or the Valeyard)- all the intelligence, but none of the morals.

    Which brings me to the Doctor. I get the feeling Russell’s looking to reboot the last 18 months of Earth history, and I’m not sure whether he’ll wrap it up in Last of the Time Lords or the Christmas Special. I know you can squeeze a lot into 45 minutes, but… if there is a reboot coming, anything could happen. Heck, Rose could come back for a one-off, the Doctor could regenerate back into his younger body (would he still be the tenth Doctor?), or the universe could end!

    My biggest fear is that Russell is happy to tell lies to keep secrets, which suddenly makes me worry that Tennant might not be in Saeson Four after all.

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