Who’s bothered by homage?

There’s been plenty of debate about this elsewhere, much of it far more erudite than anything I could contribute. But now they’ve been drawn to my attention, I’d just like to say how much I’ve enjoyed spotting the television and film references in the Doctor Who series finale ‘Last of the Time Lords’.

Quite apart from the glaringly obvious, like the most recent Flash Gordon movie homage (right down to the laugh) as a mysterious woman(?) collected the Master’s ring from his funeral pyre, many fans, largely over on Outpost Gallifrey, have noted references to Battlestar Galactica, Dan Dare (there’s a space battleship Valiant in “Operation Saturn“), Captain Scarlet (Cloudbase), Terrahawks (Zeroids), Men in Black, Lord of the Rings (the Doctor is Gollum!), Brazil, Star Trek (the universe restored to normal, as often happened in modern epsiodes from the franchise such as Star Trek: Voyager‘s Year of Hell two-parter – not my favourite Star Trek storytelling device, I must say), the first Superman movie, Star Wars… even, perhaps, the anime Dragonball Z.

Others have noted mythological/religious themes – the Doctor resurrected (or the Doctor as Tinkerbell, as some unkindly suggested).

Then of course there are the references to past Doctor Who itself – I couldn’t help but think the power station in this episode bore at least a passing resemblance to the one in Claws of Axos (okay, perhaps that’s a little tenuous), and the Master’s statue echoes the giant face of the Doctor in The Face of Evil. Plus, there’s echoes of the Seventh Doctor’s battle with the Master in Survival; and mass alien invasions/attacks have become synonymous with series finales in the last three years – the Toclafane’s ‘swarm’ akin to mass Dalek armies on the move in Doomsday and Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways.

A lot of fans have criticised all this ‘homage’, but I have to wonder just how much is genuine and how much fans are reading too much into their viewing of the episode.

For me, this was a great finale to the season. While some episodes this season left me disappointed — ‘Blink’ and ‘Family of Blood’ were my favourites overall — I think Doctor Who ended on a roller coaster of a high note (lack of science fiction aside). I’m as usual looking forward to the Christmas special and season four.

And yes, that includes the return of Catherine Tate.

* Many of the screen grabs featured in the montage above sourced from the fab Adventures in Time and Space site. Cheers! (Jesus and his puppy from here)

* Broadcast reports the season finale of Doctor Who far outstripped any other show on Saturday evening with 7.1m (36.9%) tuning in at 7.05pm to see if he managed to save the world once again. The 50-minute show, starring David Tennant, grew its audience to 8.2m (39.4%) by the end of the nail-biting episode. The figures were especially impressive given that the series average has already set a high bar of 6.7m (36.7%). and its nearest rival, ITV1, was quite some way off the pace with 3m (16.1%) watching the movie The Mummy.

Categories: Doctor Who

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