Leading to the drums

s3_e12Lazy and messy are character traits you do not want to combine, but sadly they are prominent in both me and my husband, resulting in stacks and stacks of videos and games in no order, as well as some loose discs, sitting on any flat surface we can find. However, unlike my husband, I have a tolerance limit for this kind of thing, and I hit it on Saturday, and resolved to reorganize the entire mess. I now have all of the TV series videos together and in order, and all the Marvel cinematic universe videos together, and all the anime videos together and in order (not very many, true, but they’re at least ordered now). All of the video games are together, and at least grouped by system. And then all of the other stuff is at least piled nicely on shelves. No, I’m not going to alphabetize them. Only one disc didn’t have a case. (Note: This does not count the Doctor Who videos, which I keep in pristine condition, prominently displayed in order on their own shelves. When we watch one, as soon as it’s done, it goes back in its case, and the case goes back in the right place on the shelves. I know what’s important in my life.)

I knew that the task was going to take a couple of hours, and what better background noise for it than a two-part episode? I rarely watch two-parters (except for “Human Nature”/”The Family of Blood,” which I just have to watch every so often), because for some reason, when I sit down to watch the modern show, I always feel like I don’t want to devote enough time to watch two episodes. Of course, after I watch the first 45-minute episode I choose, I have to watch another, so why don’t I just choose a two-parter in the first place? It’s one of the mysteries of my life.

So, this Saturday, I selected “The Sound of Drums”/”Last of the Time Lords,” a set I haven’t seen in probably six months. It’s one of my favorite two-parters, except for the gnome Doctor at the end (I know I’ve said this before, but why couldn’t they just have relied on makeup and Mr. Tennant’s acting ability to make the Doctor older and older?), but I can overlook that because of the great story and the relationship between the Doctor and the Master. I’m a bit sad that they didn’t get the chance to have more stories with John Simm’s Master and Tennant’s Doctor, because they were fantastic together.

One thing that amazed me about the episode, though, was how much they used the season to prepare the audience for it, without actually letting you know they were doing it. Of course, the theme throughout the season was the repeated mentions of Harold Saxon, starting with his shooting down the webstar in “The Runaway Bride”; the RTD era is known for the theme that runs through each season that you only find out about at the end (“Bad Wolf” in series 1, “Torchwood” in series 2). Saxon is referred to both episodes that takes place in the modern time, but as a throwaway line, until his minions start to work on Francine in “The Lazarus Experiment.” Only at that point do you realize that something’s up with him, but his real identity is not even hinted at until these episodes.

But more than that, so many of the concepts and events in “The Sound of Drums”/”Last of the Time Lords” – and in “Utopia,” the lead-in episode – were explained long before, in other episodes, so that they didn’t have to be explained during the episodes.

  • The chameleon arch was introduced in “Human Nature”/”The Family of Blood,” allowing Martha to recognize the watch that Professor Yana carried, to create tension as she and the audience wonder which Time Lord he could possibly be.
  • The perception filter was first introduced in Torchwood, and then in “Human Nature”/”The Family of Blood.”
  • Saxon sponsored Lazarus’ de-aging research partially to attract the Doctor’s attention, but also because he wanted to reverse it to debilitate the Doctor.

It’s very obvious that the previous episodes were designed to support the season finale, and I’ve always loved how the RTD seasons were planned so that they didn’t seem like they were interconnected but then turn out that they were, with a story that you can only see in hindsight. I think part of it is that I prefer the concept of the Doctor as a traveler who gets into these odd situations and is  just trying to do his best, rather than a mythical figure that everything revolves around. In this particular season, the antagonist was targeting the Doctor, but on a personal level, and only as a small part of his grand evil plan; in the previous two series, the Doctor wasn’t the target at all – he just happened to be the person there to stop the bad guys’ nefarious schemes.

So, next weekend, I need a new task to do while watching another two-parter. Don’t worry, there’s plenty to clean up in our house. Sigh.