The Doctor, Martha and Jack return to the 21st Century eighteen months after the Doctor and Martha left. They find they've missed the election, and the new Prime Minister, Harold Saxon, is someone they've met before by another name.
With the Master having regenerated himself and taken the TARDIS, the Doctor, Martha and Jack Harkness manage to return to Earth. When they arrive, they see the new British Prime Minister, Harold Saxon, on television and Martha immediately recognizes his voice: it's the regenerated Master. He announces that he has been contacted by alien beings and that they will arrive in two days' time. Despite an attempt by the American President to take over the situation, the Master is very much in charge. The situation is particularly stressful for Martha in particular as the Master has taken her family as prisoners. Written by
"The Sound of Drums" isn't entirely without merit, but it's pretty close.
I just can't fathom the popularity of the new Doctor Who. I found this episode noisy, unoriginal, childish, and cheap-looking, and yet apparently it's being widely praised on the Internet. Either I'm a cranky moron, or Doctor Who fans are so in love with their favorite show that they've lost the ability to see its very obvious flaws.
Firstly, this is a highly repetitive and derivative episode. We already had a politics-oriented story in the first season, so the goofy Downing Street material here is much the same as what we already saw in "World War III." Also, this is the third consecutive season finale to involve flying robots attacking Earth, not to mention the eighth (or ninth, or perhaps thirtieth) story to prominently feature cellular phones as part of the plot. Oh, and the rubbish sphere aliens look exactly like the interrogation robot from "Star Wars" - so this dross is original in what respect, exactly? I feel like I've seen it all before, done better.
This episode is also hampered by some incredibly hammy performances. Martha and Captain Jack are superfluous and annoying; they seem to exist only to look worried and act as sounding boards for David Tennant's nerdy, technobabble-spewing Doctor. John Simm's Master is...OK, I guess, but his loony moments are embarrassingly over-the-top and, to me, they only serve to undermine his aura of menace.
So why can't they play the villains with genuine conviction on the new Doctor Who? Why does it all have to be tongue-in-cheek? Why all the tedious self-mocking humor? Roger Delgado used to play the Master with a wry little smile, but he could be serious too, whereas Simm just seems to be treating the role like comedy larks. I know this sort of goof-ball, insincere approach is popular in genre fiction now, but if sincerity ever becomes trendy again, this deliberately "funny" material will look horribly dated.
Yeah, I'm just mystified at this point. To me, the new Doctor Who is just a mess of tedious soap opera drama, smugness, primitive computer effects, condescending social commentary, and teeny-bopper angst. And yet, its no-talent production team is practically worshiped by Doctor Who fans. In fact, the praise for this bizarre series goes so over-the-top that I end up overcompensating by criticizing it too harshly. But somebody's got to be critical, right? Otherwise we all might end up mistaking this clichéd silliness for some kind of modern sci-fi masterpiece.
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