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.
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.