Doctor Who: The Sound of Drums

Recap
Thanks to Captain Jack’s time hopper, our heroes are able to return to the twenty-first century- only to find that the Master got there eighteen months before them. Having taken on the role of politician Harry Saxon, the Master has just managed to get himself elected as Prime Minister, and it seems certain that he isn’t going to use this position of power for the good of the people. Can the Doctor hope to foil the plans of his old nemesis, or is there no stopping the Saxon administration?

Alien Guide

  • Time Lords (updated): At age five, young Time Lords are sent to stare into the heart of the Time Vortex; some are inspired, others run away, and a few go mad. The Doctor was one of those to run, whilst the Master believes that the vortex chose him for great things. Later, when the Time War was about to break out, the Time Lords resurrected the Master (explaining how he circumvented using up all his regenerations) to fight for them, but he ended up leaving to pursue his own agenda.
  • Toclafane: Floating round spheres with childish voices and a simplistic outlook at odds with the array of deadly weapons they are capable of deploying. They appear to obey the Master, and according to the Doctor, are not even a genuine alien race, but something else. As part of the Master’s plan, six billion of them appear to terrorise humanity- roughly one for each person on Earth.

Technology Guide

  • Laser screwdriver: Really, who uses sonic anymore? Functions include the ability to artificially age a person whose biological data has been input.
  • Archangel: A satellite network covering Earth, used to carry various signals including those of all UK mobile phone networks. The Master encoded a four note drumbeat into it to subliminally affect the populace, causing them to vote for Harry Saxon despite his lack of policy.
  • Valiant: An aircraft carrier in low orbit, designed by the Master to facilitate his plans.
  • Perception filter: Already, seen in previous episodes, here the perception filter allows anyone wearing a Tardis key to go largely unnoticed- provided they don’t do anything to draw attention to themselves, people’s eyes will simply pass over them without comment.

Episode Thoughts
Although not my favourite of the season, this was nonetheless a solid and enjoyable episode. Although not really as I imagined the character, Simm makes a good foil for Tennant, with the same manic and “almost but not quite held in check” quality, as well as the ability to fit in with the series but not taking himself too seriously. Meanwhile, the trio of Martha-Doctor-Captain Jack makes me wish that the captain was a regular on the show, and the fact that the writers bothered to include a few lines about Torchwood was more than I expected- I thought they might just gloss over the existence of Doctor Who’s sister series.

Nitpickers’ Corner

  • If the Toclafane can just dissolve people, why do they need all the knives etc for extended killing?
  • At least we can deduce now that Martha’s mother was probably willing to listen to Saxon and his people as a side effect of the brainwashing.
  • Not a nitpick, but an observation- we can say it was the Doctor’s fault that the Master had the chance to become Prime Minister because he brought down Harriet Jones’ government with his six words.

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