The episode that introduces The Master we deserved, desired and in the end were denied (oops, spoilers)
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The Tenth Doctor, companion Martha Jones and stowaway Captain Jack Harkness go to the planet Malcassairo and *ahem* “the end of the universe” in this, the first instalment of the three-parter comprising Utopia, The Sound of Drums and The Last of the Time Lords (or possibly this prequel to the two-parter comprising the latter duo).
There, they encounter rubbish Mad-Max-type cannibals bereft of intellect or any discernable skills, yet oddly capable of elaborately tattooing and piercing each other’s faces. These are the Futurekind. Also on Malcassairo are regular, straight-up, no-nonsense human beings, lead by Professor Yana (masterfully portrayed by legendary thespian Derek Jacobi). Yana is constructing a rocket ship (or ark, if you will – I can’t believe we didn’t make that reference on the show) to ferry mankind to “Utopia”, allegedly a safe haven beyond the universe.
Will Doc & Co be able to help Professor Yana send off mankind in time? And is Yana all he purports or indeed believes himself to be? Listen to our review now!
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My biggest issue with this episode, is how far in the future they go, and the speed at which they get there. First of all The Doctor say they go to the year 300 Trillion, which just made me lose all faith in RTD for having good science fiction. I am a Hard Science fiction fan, and this just launched us into the world of (bad) fantasy. Given that the current theories say the Universe is only 12-15 billion years old, and we are about a third of the way through its lifecycle, and in another 30 Billion years all energy will be expended and all the stars and galaxies will either have moved all the way apart, or started collapsing back in upon themselves and become a massive black hole. Either way, 300 trillion years is still 6000 times the expected lifespan of the universe! I know RTD doesn’t have a sense of scale, but this is ridiculous and too far fetched (literally).
Second, and this is an issue I have with the writing in a lot of New Who episodes, is that this journey only takes a couple minutes, and the Doctor is watching how fast they are going. In classic Who, you get the idea that travel by TARDIS is a lot like a steam liner. The companions all have bedrooms, some have laboratories, and there are a lot of amenities which you would not call for if every trip took only a few minutes, or even a couple hours if you compare it to an airliner.
Now, given that the Doctor has described the Time Vortex as a ball of string, I can see how traveling to one destination that seems far away might take less time than one that is closer/sooner, but going to the extreme end of the universe, especially one so far in the future, should have still taken days. Not to mention the amount of fuel it would have taken.
Another thing I don’t remember you talking about in the podcast, was Jack’s “Doctor Detector”, ie the hand the Doctor lost in “The Christmas Invasion”, pops up in a few more episodes, and becomes the mechanism for creating the Metacrisis Doctor in “Journey’s End”. In my opinion, this is the best plot device/story arc in Doctor Who.