Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Blogtor Who Top 50 - No. 9

Here it is! Blogtor's personal countdown of his 50 favourite Doctor Who television stories, one a week till the big day in November 2013. Now, just to point out, this choice is purely my own. So don't expect reasoned debate or objectivity. Or even the need to please every fan out there. This is my list, and I stand by it. I will also add that I've seen every Doctor Who story released (at least twice), so I feel like I know what I'm talking about. Anyway, enough chittle of the chattle, let's begin...

UTOPIA
First broadcast 16/6/2007 starring David Tennant

YANA. Who can forget that moment?

For me, it's one of the greatest moments in Doctor Who history. A moment so astonishingly shocking, and so absurdly surprising that I was rendered completely without speech. Poor Blogtor simply gawked slack-jawed at the most audacious reveal the show has ever proffered; a revelation that could only have come from the pen (or probably computer) of Russell T Davies. And one that was just amazing for its shock factor, but also the deep, meaningful emotional resonance this twist contained.

I mean, the bloody Master was back!

Although we knew the "renegade" was returning, this was such an unexpected and brilliant move to have his identity unveiled out of the blue. I banged the floor in sheer amazement (with my hands, fact fans). The fob watch maneuver, as I've just christened it, had such a profound resonance for the entire series - not just the episode itself. Everything came together for that one spellbinding moment.

Derek Jacobi, who was utterly loveable and endearing as Professor Yana, turned on a sixpence, as it were, and became evil incarnate - his eyes transformed into malevolence personified whilst he spat out chillingly, "I am The Master!" One of Who's great one-off performances.

Likewise, David Tennant gets much to do here, just watch his impishness and mischievousness when he leaves Captain Jack running behind in Cardiff. Witness his almost unpleasant attitude towards him on Malcassairo. And then the chamber scene with Harkness, Tennant's sneer and suspicious eyes followed by his admission as to why he did what he did on the Game Station. All make for a very interesting Time Lord moment.

Utopia isn't all about that final third though. Jack's return was welcome and fun (and, as just mentioned, bringing out some unexpected truths from The Doctor) and it also meant the re-appearance of his buddy's hand (a great plot device that served the show very well) whilst Yana and his wonderful companion Chan'tho were a terrific couple - and the slow unraveling of the old scientist's past is a meaty mystery to savour.

There's also a great sadness and tragedy about the episode, triggered by the following finale. That journey, that final journey for the human race went nowhere. All those people perished, and The Doctor was unable to stop that happening. It was The Master's gain.

Russell T Davies' construction of the second half of Series Three was pure Doctor Who, yet it was so new and vibrant. One story fed into another whilst stories would have backward reverberations on previous adventures. For me, and for many others, it spawned "that Utopia" moment for Doctor Who - a moment oft imitated but one that almost stands alone in all twisty-wisty awe-inspiring goodness. It was clever. So very clever. But, best of all, it was damn entertaining. And joyously breathtaking in a very real and literal sense.

6 comments:

Whelks said...

An excellent choice and well worthy of a top ten placing.

Amazing really, considering the rather bleak fate awaiting those on their voyage to Utopia...

liminalD said...

I freakin' LOVE this one. I think people tend to forget it because of its association with the less-beloved Sound of Drums/Last of the Timelords, but I think it's pretty near perfect. Great choice :D

Mark Attwood said...

I just rewatched Utopia last night with my 9 year old. Utterly brilliant. Breath-takingly good on every level. It made me realise how much I miss RTD.

bromley001 said...

I remember, as Martha clocked (no pun intended) the watch, just smiling - grinning! - and thinking how brilliantly plotted the whole storyline was.

Kevin Fisher said...

Agreed. As someone who's been watching since the 70's, the last 10 minutes of "Utopia" are the best 10 minutes in Doctor Who history. Absolutely chilling, exciting and audacious.

Anonymous said...

The reveal is incontrovertibly excellent - but the bulk of the episode's narrative, specifically pertaining to the futurekind "base under siege" conceit is about as trite and unedifying as the show gets. Are we going to see the awful rebel flesh-two parter on your list on the strength of its jaw-dropping cliffhanger?