John Simm

U is for Utopia

“Utopia” is one of my favourite episodes of series three (and of the whole of Doctor Who in general to be honest) and it’s a great lead in to the series finale.

“Utopia” does for Martha what “School Reunion” did for Rose, showing what the fate of the Doctor’s companions can be; left behind somewhere and no longer being mentioned to the new people the Doctor travels with.

It also has Derek Jacobi as both the Professor and the Master and absolutely killing it as both. The contrast from a well-meaning and brilliant scientist to someone who has just realised all that’s been hidden from them, the power and knowledge they really hold is excellent. Though he only portrayed the Master for a few minutes, they were great and were a nice stepping off point for John Simm’s more eccentric take on the character.

What I really love about “Utopia” though is how it’s the return of Captain Jack Harkness and both the character and the viewer gets some answers about what happened to him. I watched Torchwood so knew about his newfound immortality and with being a viewer could put together that it had something to do with Rose and the heart of the TARDIS, but Jack wouldn’t know any of that – just that he’d been left on a satellite full of dead bodies in the year 200,100.

The dynamic between the Doctor and Jack is interesting from the outset. It’s clear that the Doctor doesn’t want to see him and he’s standoffish until the mention of Rose. There’s resentment from Jack for being left behind and there’s annoyance from the Doctor for having to face up to his past when all he ever wants to do is keep moving forward.

Their conversation when Jack’s in a chamber full of radiation is so good – it’s honestly one of my favourite moments in Doctor Who. Having this door between the two of them with the Doctor standing at the window, gives them the opportunity to talk without being in each other’s personal space while simultaneously not being able to avoid any questions because they’re both right there waiting for a response. You get your reasoning behind the Doctor leaving Jack behind and seeing what a prejudiced Doctor is like, calling Jack “wrong” and it being painful to look at him because of his Time Lord senses. It’s such a different side to the usually tolerant and open Doctor that it’s jarring and really drives home how different Jack is to the rest of humanity. At this point Jack has lived for almost 140 years as an immortal and it’s clear that the thought of never being able to stay dead is taking its toll on him.

This scene is great as they get a chance to be honest with each other and while the Doctor still has issues with Jack being a “fixed point of time” having hashed it out a bit, they can start to work together better and without snapping at each other as much. The Doctor is practically immortal, so I do like the idea that they can meet Jack at any point in their life and have a friend that is pretty much a near constant – the Doctor could always do with someone like that.

E is for The End of Time

“The End of Time” two-part story was the end of an era. It was the end of David Tennant’s run as the Tenth Doctor and was the end of Russell T Davies’ time as the showrunner. It is perhaps an overly sentimental story but I don’t care, I absolutely loved it.

It has the return of the Master (played by John Simm), it has Wilfred Mott getting to fill the companion role, the potential return of Gallifrey, and it’s also fun, action-packed and has a twist that blew my teenage-mind when I first saw it.

It’s the different character dynamics I love so much in these episodes. The Doctor and the Master have such an interesting almost love/hate relationship and Tennant and Simm have great chemistry too. The Doctor and the Master understand one another in a way that humans cannot, they have so much history and even the Master still cares about the Doctor in his own twisted way. One of my favourite moments is the Doctor and the Master saving each other, especially the little smirk the Master has after he realises what the Doctor plans to do.

Then there’s Wilf and the Doctor. On rewatch, every single conversation between the Doctor and Wilf made me cry – especially when they’re both on the spaceship. The Doctor saying he’d be proud to have Wilf as his dad and Wilf begging him not to die. They care about each other so much and they’re connected by their love of Donna and their desire to protect her. Bernard Cribbins is just fantastic in these episodes, and whenever her appeared in Doctor Who to be honest. He makes Wilf so warm and kind, and is exactly the kind of man you’d love to be your own grandfather.

The reason I say “The End of Time” is perhaps sentimental is how the Doctor gets to have a farewell tour of all his companions, but as I said, I don’t care because I absolutely love that they gave the Doctor that moment. The Tenth Doctor made himself a family, in part thanks to the groundwork laid by his previous regeneration, and he had all these people that he cared about and who cared about him. He saves Luke Smith, Sarah Jane’s son, from a being hit by a car, he saves Mickey Smith and Martha Jones from a Sontaran, he gets Donna a winning lottery ticket from money given to him by her dead dad, and he gets to see Rose Tyler, the woman this Doctor loves, before she’d even met him. The Doctor/Rose shipper in me loves the fact that she’s the last face that regeneration saw.

I think the Tenth Doctor had earnt that farewell tour of his family. As I said, it was an end of an era and it was a really nice way to wrap everything up so when a new Doctor and a new showrunner took over it could be pretty much a clean slate. The RTD era is still my favourite, perhaps for nostalgia reasons and because that was my introduction to Doctor Who so for better or for worst everything next will be compared to it.